How and why Team Liquid failed at Worlds 2021

Nicholas James • October 26, 10:29

Team Liquid has been the unstoppable juggernaut of the LCS ever since the league franchised. However, recent years have seen TL supplanted by Cloud9, TSM, and even 100 Thieves. The former repeat champions have had a tough time claiming another trophy in 2021. Worlds 2021 was no different and despite the first-ever four-way tie in the competition, Team Liquid was unable to make the playoffs. What made Team Liquid fall short at Worlds?

On paper, Team Liquid has an array of international talent fully capable of challenging the best teams when at its peak. Barney “Alphari” Morris proved himself time and again in the LEC, even when surrounded by poor rosters. Lucas “Santorin” Larson has rapidly become one of the strongest junglers in North America, receiving acclaim from professionals and fans alike for his clean and consistent play.

In the mid lane, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen won his first domestic title on Team Liquid after many years on Cloud9. Jensen had proven himself in Cloud9’s runs at Worlds before.

With world champion Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in as support, the most untested part of the roster is AD carry Edward “Tactical” Ra, who has established himself as a top-level competitor domestically. It’s not a lack of talent that explains Team Liquid’s struggles to reclaim its MSI runner-up peak. Instead, it’s an easily readable play style that its opponents predict too often.

Enemy teams read Liquid too easily

Team Liquid’s play style can be clearly seen in its champion picks over the course of Worlds 2021. CoreJJ plays champions capable of engaging fights and peeling for Tactical. Tactical tends towards safe marksman champions like Ezreal and Tristana to enable CoreJJ’s roams into other lanes. Jensen opts for mages with lane priority and coordinates with CoreJJ to crack the map open while Alphari remains mostly on an island in the top lane until team fights arrive.

Alphari played a variety of champions, only doubling up Gnar. Much of Team Liquid follows that pattern, playing a selection of champions twice, and then a mix to balance out their pool. Santorin made out with an 88% kill participation rate, though his damage remained low.

This style is a relatively standard way to play League of Legends, but it relies on moments of individual skill to gain crucial advantages. If the enemy team studies your play well, a lot of these crucial movements can feel telegraphed and easy to predict.

Team Liquid’s surprising Fandex journey

Despite not making it out of the group stage, Team Liquid proved a valuable payout for those who invested in it early on in the first week or during week two. Team Liquid started out just above $10, but quickly partway into the first week. The end of the first week and the beginning of the second week were the best time to pick up Team Liquid shares before the three-way tie shot its value way up.

Team Liquid’s potential profits prove you don’t need a team to crush the tournament to win out on the Fandex market. Instead, look for teams who can overperform, even by just a few games, and time your buys well.

Fandex continues through the rest of the playoffs. The semifinals resume on Saturday, October 30.

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