Team Liquid are the 2021 LCS Lock In tournament champions, following their 3-2 victory over Cloud9 in the finals. While this win does not contribute towards TL’s chances of going to the Mid Season Invitational or Worlds, it does mean they are the team to beat coming into Spring Split. Each and every player got to show strong performances through the course of the tournament. Liquid played 14 games over the course of three weeks, giving them plenty of practice preparing, drafting, and playing best-of-ones, a best-of-three and two best-of-fives without the pressure of official standings implications. Here are three takeaways for TL from Lock In Week 3.
Team Liquid is Not Infallible
Heading into the finals, Team Liquid had only lost one game to 100 Thieves. It was easily explained away. Alphari had a technical difficulty that caused Jensen to Teleport bottom lane without him. Armao started that game, not Santorin. 100 Thieves had more pre-built synergy. So after TL beat TSM, then won 2-0 over FlyQuest and 3-0 over Evil Geniuses, they seemed unstoppable. Luckily, Cloud9 took two games off them in the finals, giving Team Liquid a wake-up call to know they are not perfect.
Imagine if 100 Thieves won that Game 3 against Cloud9 in semifinals. And imagine Team Liquid pulls off the same 2-0 lead they had against Cloud9 in the finals. Do 100 Thieves have the fortitude to turn it around in that Game 3? If TL skunks 100 Thieves in the finals, they might not get as much learning opportunity from the Lock In to benefit them going into Spring Split. As Coach Jatt mentioned in his recent interview with Travis Gafford, “The better option for overall growth for the coaching staff and the players, and even the viewers, is the five-game series.”
Udyr being meta was a defining aspect of Lock In tournament. Two of Liquid’s wins, including the final match, involved Udyr in the composition; Cloud9 won once with him, lost once with him, and banned him in Game 3. Jensen even said “It was kind of Udyr diff in the end,” in his Player of the Series interview following the Game 5 win. The Spirit Walker only accounted for 31 percent presence and a 58 percent win rate across the Lock In tournament. However, he had an 84.6 percent presence, 76.9 percent pick rate, and 70 percent win rate in Lock In Week 3 (semifinals and finals).
Udyr strategies are not going to work in Spring Split, as this champion rarely breaks into the pro meta. A patch or two from now he will not be a factor. Pantheon will not remain pick-or-ban, and Kai’Sa might not remain the premier marksman pick. This alone should show that the Lock In tournament can only bring so much true value to Team Liquid as far as Spring Split goes. There is value in the preparation, drafting, adaptation, etc., but beyond that the Lock In should be left behind in the actual strategy of the team.
Learn From Other Regions
All of this leads to a somewhat obvious point, but Team Liquid needs to make sure they take other regions’ strategies into account. The best way to continue climbing and preparing for international competition is to look at what they are doing and try it. Of course, they might already be doing this, and there’s a fine line between experimenting with new strategies and trolling. But few would bat an eye if Team Liquid mixed in new champions and compositions every once in a while, assuming they come out to an early lead in Spring Split.
Looking globally, a few champions come to mind that Liquid has not shown. In the LPL, FunPlus like to play Rumble mid and EDG has Maokai support (also played in most leagues already). In the LCK, Gen.G have found success with Akali top, while Deft has won Hanwha two games on Vayne. So far in the LEC, Rogue are on a tear with Twisted Fate and G2 won with Ivern top. Team Liquid might not gel with all of these champions, or maybe they don’t fit the team identity. History shows that North America’s most dominant teams tend to struggle to keep an edge domestically and do well internationally. If 2021’s Liquid roster wants to transcend to the next level, they need to break the cycle of safe, consistent, meta rigidity and branch out.
Listen to The Liquid Lowdown Episode 1: https://www.spreaker.com/user/10719087/liquidlowdownep1
“From Our Haus to Yours”