Team Liquid’s LCS team has shown some of the most dominant wins and some of the most confusing losses in the league this year. Spring Split has been a bit of a doozy, considering this is the team that came sprinting out of the gate to win North America’s first ever Lock In tournament. Just past the first round robin of the split, Team Liquid resides in fifth place with a 6-5 record. Tied with Evil Geniuses, only one win above Immortals, and behind Dignitas, TSM, 100 Thieves and Cloud9, TL has a long way to go to truly become contenders for the title.
Recapping the Games So Far
Each team has played 11 games in Spring Split thus far. Team Liquid has played every team once, except TSM and FlyQuest, who they have played twice. Here is a quick recap of the matches.
Week One – IMT, DIG, FLY
Team Liquid started the split 0-1, following a surprise defeat by Immortals. Revenge drafted Irelia as a counter-matchup to Alphari’s Kennen and solo killed him in lane. Destiny’s Blitzcrank also proved effective at countering CoreJJ’s Tahm Kench, landing several key hooks to throw TL for a loop. In the end, IMT never let off the gas, and TL fell back down to Earth by losing the first game that actually counted towards international qualification.
Game 2 of TL’s Spring Split was the start of DIG Dardoch’s “A to Z jungle challenge,” as he locked in Dr. Mundo jungle. It started out pretty well for him, but the rest of DIG had a rough time. Team Liquid was ahead in gold in every lane by 15 minutes, particularly Alphari on Renekton. He ended the game with the highest kill participation and damage per minute for TL.
Liquid’s win over FlyQuest was even more dominant, with Alphari’s Gangplank the star of the show. The top laner put up his career best damage per minute–1005 over 30 minutes. Team Liquid blossomed a 5,600 gold lead by 16 minutes, leaving FlyQuest with very little opportunity to gain a foothold in the game. After this match, the Immortals loss was looking more and more like a fluke.
Week Two – CLG, TSM, 100T
CLG held strong for the first 15 minutes of their match versus Team Liquid, keeping the gold right about even. However, every fight post-15 minutes went the way of Team Liquid, who closed out by 24 minutes. CoreJJ put on a show with Alistar, utilizing Hexflash and Hextech Chemtank to constantly keep CLG on the back foot. Team Liquid team-gapped CLG on several levels.
The shoe went to the other foot when TL faced TSM, as every move from Liquid backfired. Firstly, the draft felt off on the side of Team Liquid. And secondly, Huni and PowerOfEvil repeatedly saved their Teleports to join fights ahead of Alphari and Jensen. A Quadra Kill to PowerOfEvil in the bottom lane alcove put the game fully in TSM’s hands. TL’s solo laners had lane counterpicks, but TSM’s teamwork won out on the day. SwordArt’s Pantheon kept his sights on Tactical, who was kept uncomfortable all game.
Draft woes continued to plague Team Liquid in their matchup versus 100 Thieves. They let Twisted Fate slip through, his second best all time champion (Qiyana being his best). Not to mention, Twisted Fate had 100 percent draft presence up until this point anyway. Alphari’s Quinn counterpick did not dominate Ssumday’s Renekton as it should, and the 1-3-1 composition never really came online. FBI’s Ezreal was a surprising monster, and 100 Thieves came away with the win.
Week Three – GG, EG, C9
Team Liquid bounced back from the 1-2 weekend by trouncing Golden Guardians in Week 3. In their fastest win yet, Santorin camped top and Alphari pulled off the Ignite-Teleport Camille versus Niles’ Pantheon. Not much needs to be said, as Liquid racked up an 8,000 gold lead by 19 minutes. They snowballed perfectly.
Of course, Liquid followed up their dominant victory with a throw versus Evil Geniuses. Again, Santorin camped top lane for Alphari’s Ignite-Teleport Camille. And again it set Impact very far behind. However, Evil Geniuses did not completely hemorrhage gold. A few over-extensions from Tactical and a patient Jiizuke on Yone made for a massive throw from Team Liquid. Impact picked up 10 assists before it was all said and done, while IgNar ended with more assists than Team Liquid’s teamwide kills.
Cloud9 came into Week 3 as the team to beat, and Team Liquid heeded the call. Truth be told, Team Liquid massacred C9. Between Alphari’s Renekton flanks, the double-horse composition from Santorin and CoreJJ, and CoreJJ’s clutch Tahm Kench versus Blaber and Zven’s Skarner and Ashe, Team Liquid snowballed pretty hard. By 18 minutes, they held a 6,600 gold lead, and by 30 minutes they closed the game with a 10,000 gold lead. Again viewers believed Lock In Team Liquid entered the chat.
Week Four – TSM, FLY
Team Liquid got their rematch with TSM on Friday, and it went kind of like their EG match from Week 3. At 13 minutes, TL accrued a 2,600 gold lead, which would have been the death knell for most teams, but TSM found their openings. Some mispositioning from Tactical and two clutch Smite steals by Spica turned the game on it’s head like the first 20 minutes didn’t matter. TSM took the game, and with it the 2-0 head-to-head.
FlyQuest put up a bit more of a fight in their second run-up with Team Liquid. However, they still got behind 3,200 gold by 15 minutes without anyone having First Blood. TL gained the lead purely from outfarming their opponents, securing the first two dragons and Rift Herald, and knocking down two turrets. The pre-24 minute Ocean Soul certainly spelled defeat for FLY, and Team Liquid Aced the entire team shortly after securing it.
Predicting the Rest of Spring Split
Week 4 – IMT
Immortals is the third opponent for Team Liquid this weekend. They last faced each other in Week 1, when Revenge took over on Irelia. Honestly, that game feels like a bit of a one-off, not because Team Liquid cannot lose, but because Team Liquid rarely loses the early game. In most matches, Alphari calls the shots in top lane for the first 15 minutes. The Irelia and Blitzcrank picks will not hold as surprising as before. IMT went 0-2 to Dignitas and 1-1 to Golden Guardians. This should be an easy win for TL.
Week 5 – GG, C9, CLG
Team Liquid gets their easiest and toughest opponents in the same week. Golden Guardians and CLG should be the easiest wins in the league. CLG has had stronger early games, and carry a 100 percent First Blood rate, but neither of these teams has a mid-game to speak of. Team Liquid will win at least two lanes in the early game versus CLG, and they will out-teamfight at all stages. They already beat both of these opponents handily, and neither team has really improved much since their last meeting.
The C9 match will be more difficult to call. Cloud9 still sits in first place, only dropping games to Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses. Both matches got out of Cloud9’s control from the start and completely unraveled. Both games had Vulcan on a hook champion and the enemy support on Tahm Kench. This is a point of interest for the draft. Team Liquid also beat Cloud9 in the Lock In finals. They should be able to win this one out, but odds are more like 50-50. Since TL won the first round robin, it’s probably best to assume this one goes to C9.
Week Six – DIG, EG, 100T
This final week will be a great test for Team Liquid. Dignitas, Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves all occupy the top six in the standings. Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves defeated TL in the first round robin. Dignitas beat TSM and Evil Geniuses. These could be anyone’s games, as each team is equipped to take advantage of errors from Team Liquid.
DIG is most likely the easiest of the three. Team Liquid will take advantage of their weaker laners across the board, earning early objectives. Evil Geniuses should theoretically be second most difficult. They are more sound in teamfights and less predictable than DIG on the Rift. Individually, EG’s players match up better than DIG’s against TL. EG won out in the first round robin, but it was mostly a throw from Team Liquid. They cannot count on that happening again. Team Liquid should be able to win out both these games.
The 100T match will be the most difficult to predict in Week 6. If Team Liquid can respect them in draft, then it should be fairly straightforward. Team Liquid takes control early and ends sub-30 minutes. Alternatively, if TL gives 100T the power picks they are looking for, and they fail to start snowballing the early game like last time, then 100 Thieves will win out. Since Team Liquid has not had a 3-0 weekend yet, 100 Thieves will probably win this one.
End of Regular Season Standings
Assuming the other teams do not completely surprise, Team Liquid would wind up with an 11-7 record. That’s most likely good enough for fourth place. Cloud9 is a pretty strong lock for first. TSM and 100 Thieves will finish second and third, depending on who wins their matchup in Week 5. Dignitas and Evil Geniuses have a shot at finishing above Team Liquid, but it seems unlikely with their performances and remaining strength of schedule.
In the end, this all means Team Liquid will need to turn it on in the Mid Season Showdown if they want a shot at Mid Season Invitational. The top six teams compete, and this year’s competition includes a loser’s bracket. Team Liquid has plenty of time to pull everything together, and Lock In should be demonstrative of their best-of series strength. This team still has an opportunity to rise to the top, but it is unlikely they finish first in the Spring Split regular season.
Listen to The Liquid Lowdown Episode 3: https://www.spreaker.com/user/10719087/liquidlowdown3
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