Should Alphari return to the Team Liquid starting roster in LCS?

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After just one game into the 2021 LCS Summer Split, Team Liquid decided to bench Barney ”Alphari” Morris from the starting roster. But should the British top laner really sit on the bench?

It didn’t take more than a single game and a loss to TSM for Liquid to make the first roster changes of the summer split this past weekend. Out of nowhere, Academy top laner Thomas “Jenkins” Tran got a shot on the starting roster to face off against CLG and Cloud9 respectively. The unexpected player swap got fans wondering why a star player like Alphari would get demoted to the Academy roster so early in the split. 

While the reasoning behind the roster move hasn’t been disclosed, several theories have come up in the past few days. Even though Jenkins is a talented player, it seemed weird to most that Jenkins would get a shot this early in the season over Alphari who was brilliant in spring. 

The swap that seemed to happen in an instant would, later on, prove to be a decision made over a longer period of time. According to Liquid head coach Joshua “Jatt” Leesman, it wasn’t a “spur of the moment decision” and has likely been underway for a while. What this indicates is that there might be some internal issues for Liquid behind the scenes that have ultimately led to the decision.  

Doublelift calls out Team Liquid for benching Alphari

The reasoning behind most mid-split roster swaps is performance-based. In the case of Alphari, this seems to be less likely. In fact, Alphari was, without discussion the best-performing top laner during the spring split and came in second in the spring split MVP race, only beaten by Cloud9 jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang. 

Alphari’s performance since coming to North America speaks for itself and got former Liquid bot laner Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng to share his thoughts on Twitter. According to Doublelift, Liquid should be playing with Alphari or they are “running it down for Summer Split.” 

Doublelift backed up his tweet with stats from Alphari during the last split, where the top laner placed either first or second in all of the meaningful stats for a top laner. Alphari was first in KDA, kills, CS per minute, and much more out of all top laners in the league. This talks about the individual skill of Alphari, which was likely what made Liquid pick him up in the first place. 

If or when Alphari will return to the starting roster is still unknown. Liquid will play its next game on June 12 where it will be facing Dignitas.