The offseason was all about Liquid and TSM because of the transfer of AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng from Liquid, where he had won four consecutive LCS splits, to TSM. It was a controversial move, and was followed by more controversy around TSM president Leena Xu. The LCS failed to address any of these issues and the league continued with business as usual despite the furor.
A player facing his former team is always an interesting narrative, and Liquid versus TSM is no exception. Even if right now the odds are even at 1.85 for each team, it’s possible to predict the outcome of the match based solely on the players in every role.
They say, “If it isn’t’ broken, don’t fix it.” TSM ignored this saying and years ago decided to fix a roster that was the best in North America. The team did it at a critical point when TSM was about to enter the newly franchised LCS setting. The consequences of that change were grave: five splits without a title and no international appearances in the past two years.
One by one, TSM has been reacquiring the pieces it let go in 2018. With three out of five of the former members in the roster, it’s starting to feel like a homecoming for TSM. It might be a little too early to put TSM as favorite to take the title in spring. While the team has its prior synergy going on for it, it’s impossible to ignore the jungle situation.
TSM is again jumping onto the Summoner’s Rift with Spica, a rookie jungler that failed the first time around. The team is confident that Spica can perform and get big wins for TSM. Spica’s teammates complimented him for being a player with a good attitude, but you need more than a good attitude to win in the LCS and beyond.
Historically, TSM is a team that is extremely dependent on its jungle working correctly. Without a playmaker in the jungle, the team falls behind and loses sight of its goal. Spica, while mechanically talented, is not the outstanding playmaker that TSM needs. Another detail that cannot be ignored is that Spica is going against one of the best junglers that Europe has ever produced.
Liquid had everything ready for a fifth consecutive title, but visa troubles got in the way and kept Broxah from joining the team on time.
Liquid’s issues really started when the team announced Broxah as its starting jungler. At the time, Doublelift said that replacing jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero was a mistake. Doublelift’s attitude towards the coaching staff and his teammates only got worse throughout the split. The relationship went completely sour, and it forced Liquid to make drastic changes.
The only time Liquid looked somewhat comfortable was when the team started Tactical. A rookie addition to the squad, Tactical is not a hyper carry like Doublelift used to be, but he seems to work better with the team. Liquid is back in shape now that Tactical is the starter. Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne ranked Liquid in third place for the summer, behind only C9 and FlyQuest. According to C9’s ADC Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen, Liquid is the only good team C9 has faced in scrims.
Liquid players have a lot going on for them. Broxah is a top-tier jungler, Jensen and Impact are consistently playing at a high level, and bottom lane duo CoreJJ and Tactical are solid.
When you look at this roster, you know that it will work. This is unlike TSM’s roster, which could be considered more volatile.
This series will be decided by the jungle difference. It’s a test not only for Spica, but for TSM as a whole. Can the squad repeat its previous success with three players from that famous 2017 roster?
TSM and Team Liquid play on June 13 at 4 PM CST.