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Predicting Team Liquid’s All-Pro Awards for Spring 2021

Tactical was Rookie of the Year in 2020.

The 2021 Spring Split finished off its last competitive weekend a few days ago, and the lead-up to Mid Season Showdown is officially on. Cloud9, TSM, Team Liquid, Dignitas, 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses move into the competition to decide who represents North America at Mid Season Invitational. However, before those matches start, LCS teams, casters, and the media get to cast their votes for All-Pro awards. Team Liquid will be among the most difficult to place in the voting. Here are the most likely outcomes.

Alphari – 1st Team All-Pro

Team Liquid’s top laner should be the most straightforward vote. Alphari had a stellar performance almost every game. Although he and his team showed some difficulties coordinating in some plays, Alphari individually stands out as one of the strongest laners globally, let alone in North America. The 17 solo kills, the 520 damage per minute and the absolute consistency make it difficult to argue against putting Alphari 1st Team All-Pro. He may even snag some MVP votes.

Team Liquid won Coaching Staff of the Split in Summer Split 2020.

Team Liquid won Coaching Staff of the Split in Summer Split 2020.

Santorin – 2nd Team All-Pro

Santorin is an interesting case. Last year he was such a fixture of FlyQuest’s gameplay that any success they found felt directly tied to him. Not so much this year so far. Team Liquid’s top and bottom lane generally gain priority on-demand, while mid-lane remains self-sustaining. It gives Santorin a lot of freedom in the early game, which has worked well during the farming jungle meta of Udyr, Olaf, Lillia and Hecarim.

However, Santorin will quickly rise to the top of most people’s lists due to the process of elimination. He didn’t blow everyone’s minds with outplays, but he also never blew anyone’s minds with poor play. Sure, Blaber is virtually guaranteed 1st Team All-Pro, but who comes next? Spica’s main claim is Smite stealing to turn losing games around. Dardoch had a strong start to he split with his “A to Z” challenge, but has he really played better than Santorin? Maybe he steals some 2nd Team votes. Svenskeren and Closer both have memorably poor individual matches to point to, which have contributed towards their teams’ decline since Lock In. Therefore, Santorin probably gets 2nd Team All-Pro with significantly fewer votes than Blaber.

Jensen – 3rd Team All-Pro

Jensen always has fun during All-Pro voting. He has been voted to an All-Pro team nine times, been LCS Champion twice, and even Finals MVP in 2019, but the man has never won All-Pro MVP for a regular season. The debate always revolved around Jensen versus Bjergsen, and now that Bjergsen turned to coaching it was supposed to be Jensen’s time to shine.

But he hasn’t really been in the spotlight this split, despite this year’s mid-lane pool having overall uninspiring performances so far. Perkz, PowerOfEvil, Soligo, Damonte, Ryoma, Jiizuke, Insanity, Soligo, Pobelter, rjs, Ablazeolive, Palafox–did any stand above the rest as a clear number one? Making a tier list and grouping similarly skilled players would be much easier. At the end of the day, Perkz’s high highs and statistics will win him 1st Team All-Pro, while PowerOfEvil, Jensen, and Jiizuke divide the next group of votes. Some will fall on PowerOfEvil’s side of cool, collected late-game reliability, while others turn to Jiizuke’s hard-carry focus to win games. Jensen being somewhere in-between will drop him barely into 3rd Team All-Pro.

Tactical – No Award

Unfortunately, Tactical may be the second easiest choice for All-Pro voting regarding Team Liquid’s players. While he and CoreJJ have put enemy bottom duos on the back foot in most matches, Tactical has single-handedly thrown several leads from poor positioning. Call it greed, or arrogance, or fatigue–Tactical has died randomly while Team Liquid was fairly far ahead. There are at least three other bottom laners who have shown greater consistency and less liability. Tactical may gain some support from those who ignore his missteps, but probably not enough to earn All-Pro awards.

CoreJJ was MVP of Summer Split 2020.
CoreJJ was MVP of Summer Split 2020.

CoreJJ – 2nd Team All-Pro

Support is going to be one of the most difficult positions to vote for. Like mid-lane this spring, no support players really stand out as the clear 1st Team choice. Vulcan, SwordArt, CoreJJ, Aphromoo and Huhi all have decent cases. CoreJJ won’t get many 1st Team All-Pro votes, but he probably gets more 2nd Team votes than everyone else. They will give him respect for his and Tactical’s strong laning phase, and CoreJJ has been much better in the mid game than Tactical, but no one will have the confidence to put him first.

For a team that secured MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coaching Staff of the Split, a 1st Team, two 2nd Teams, and a 3rd Team in last summer’s All-Pro awards, Spring Season 2021 feel like an overall step down for Team Liquid. Expectations were high coming into the year when they added Alphari and Santorin. They grew even higher when TL won the Lock In tournament. Alphari is the only front-runner for 1st Team this split. Santorin, Jensen, and CoreJJ will most likely get All-Pro awards, but some of them may not. Tactical almost certainly will not, and Team Liquid’s coaching staff will not either.

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