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3 Takeaways for Team Liquid from Spring Split Week 2

Team Liquid holds a 3-3 record after LCS Week 3.

The LCS completed Week 2 of the 2021 Spring Split this past weekend, and viewers are getting to see a little bit more from their favorite teams. Some lineups, like TSM and Dignitas, showed marked improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. Others, like Cloud9 and FlyQuest, looked about the same. But if one team looked noticeably worse in Week 2 compared to Week 1, it was Team Liquid. Here are three takeaways from the games.

[Related: 3 Takeaways for Team Liquid from Spring Split Week 1]

Live or Die by Large Early Gold Leads

In LCS Week 1, Team Liquid held the league’s second-highest early game rating, according to Oracles Elixir. In Week 2, they dropped to eighth. What happened? During the Lock In, TL’s bottom lane averaged nearly 1,100 gold ahead at 15 minutes and Santorin had his own 192 gold lead. So far in Spring Split matches, those have dropped to +700 and -353, respectively. Alphari remains lane dominant, but slightly less so, while Jensen remains right around even gold-wise, but lost his XP lead from the Lock In.

Team Liquid has changed their role priority in the draft (Oracles Elixir).

Team Liquid has changed their role priority in the draft (Oracles Elixir).

The counter-pick rates for each player exacerbates this worrying trend. Jensen is tied for the highest counter-pick rate in the league (83 percent), while Santorin and CoreJJ rank very low for counter-picks (17 percent for both). No other team in the LCS is blind picking jungle and support this much. Junglers can augment the early power of solo lanes, while supports generally dictate the early power in bottom lane.

During the Lock In, Alphari and Jensen took way more blind picks, while Tactical, Santorin and CoreJJ got more counter-picks. Team Liquid should lean into the Gangplank, Renekton, Orianna and Azir blind picks.

Viewers compared Team Liquid's draft to G2's 1-3-1 composition against Rogue.
Viewers compared Team Liquid’s draft to G2’s 1-3-1 composition against Rogue.

The Drafts are a Problem

Blaming drafts for losses in pro play is almost always overblown. The draft is rarely the only reason a team loses. That being said, Team Liquid’s drafts against TSM and 100 Thieves do raise some questions. Leaving Galio and Twisted Fate up for Damonte? Blind picking Jhin and Graves when there are a dozen available champions with higher presence? What’s going on here?
Maybe Team Liquid were feeling like particular strategies might work well against these teams, rather than targeting high-priority individual champions? Against TSM, TL ended with a long-range poke/pick comp, but the Graves doesn’t fit that style as well as a Nidalee or perhaps a Pantheon. The draft against 100T started much more standard, but TL decided to ban Orianna and 100T took Twisted Fate. Alphari got his Quinn counterpick to Renekton, and Jensen hovered Sylas, but switched to Ryze for the final lock-in.
It’s hard to tell what TL’s plan was going into these drafts. TSM may have thrown them off with the first pick Azir and blind pick Gnar. But 100T drafted pretty predictably outside of Ezreal. Viewers compared Liquid’s composition to G2 Esports’, who had a drawn-out win over Rogue using a 1-3-1 strategy. The big difference was the enemy’s composition. Rogue drafted Azir and Vayne, mostly immobile scaling hyper-carries, as Kai’Sa, Lucian, and Twisted Fate were banned. 100T got to draft Twisted Fate-Ezreal. Their composition was much more mobile and more able to catch out a side laner.

Team Liquid are Still in a Better Spot than Last Year

Team Liquid had a poor Spring Split in 2020.
Team Liquid had a poor Spring Split in 2020.

The first two takeaways may seem critical, and they are, but do not lose perspective. Even ignoring the Lock In tournament, Team Liquid are already ahead of themselves at this time in 2020. If that statement does not seem true, then just watch the VOD of 100 Thieves beating Team Liquid in LCS Week 3 last year.

Keep in mind, that was the roster including Meteos, Ryoma, Cody Sun, Stunt. But don’t worry, Team Liquid also lost to Golden Guardians that same week (VOD), starting the split 2-4. They only beat Dardoch and Kobbe TSM in Week 1 and FlyQuest in Week 2 when V1per ran it down with Mordekaiser. 2021’s Team Liquid has shown dominant wins from Lock In to Spring Split Week 2. Fans might be more worried if the Lock In tournament never happened. However, these are fixable issues that should work out when it counts. Remember, TL finished ninth in Spring Split 2020 and ended the year as North America’s strongest team.

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