Liquid has been exceeding expectations at Worlds ever since the play-in stage, where they qualified directly to the main event. While Liquid didn’t get the result that fans had hoped for, one player in particular has truly proven himself.
Bot laner Edward “Tactical” Ra had a stellar performance at his first international event, after just having played his first match on the LCS stage back in February. Following a turbulent spring split, Tactical took over the starting spot in the bottom lane after Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng left the team to play for Team SoloMid. Since then, Tactical has been improving immensely and might be the future bot lane star of the LCS.
As a rookie at Worlds, Tactical exceeded most expectations. While Tactical had some off games where he ended up dying more than he should have, he managed to be a deciding factor for Liquid in its wins while showcasing a strong champion pool.
His Twitch was a particularly pleasant surprise, as he pulled it out against MAD Lions in his international debut. Twitch being picked at Worlds was anticipated after seeing it used while the pros duked it out on the Chinese super server in the weeks leading up to the tournament. Tactical was clearly one of the bot laners that had found confidence in the stealthy rat, and he was not afraid to go ham with it against the European fourth seed.
The win against MAD Lions gave Tactical the confidence boost needed at his first international event, and he didn’t look back through the rest of the play-in stage. The young talent also pulled out Ashe and Caitlyn during play-ins with great success.
Qualifying for the Worlds main event was already a big win for a rookie like Tactical, but he still had more to show. Even against much better opponents, Tactical was able to stand his ground along with former world champion support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-In.
Tactical got to pop off on Kalista in TL’s win against G2 Esports, where he ended up with a 6/2/12 scoreline. He followed it up shortly after with the game of his life against Suning in which he accrued 10 kills on Jhin. The performances were not enough for him to carry his team to the quarterfinals, but was more than enough to make a statement that North American rookies can play with the best teams in the world.
Tactical ended the tournament with some decent stats in the main event, placing in the middle in many statistical categories among the best bot laners in the world. Most notable is the amount of kills he secured through the group stage, with a total of 24. That is the seventh-highest among all players at the event regardless of position, and it puts him in some lofty company.
One of the biggest concerns about Team Liquid this year has been how they were going to make it without veteran bot laner Doublelift. The team released Doublelift in April and has since then been building up its synergy bit by bit. With Tactical and jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen on the team, Liquid has refined its playstyle and improved game by game.
While Liquid didn’t win any LCS trophies this year, it’s clear that the team is heading in the right direction but needs a bit more time. The experience at Worlds 2020 will be valuable for Liquid going into next season.
Going into the organization’s first Worlds competition without Doublelift, fans were left wondering how the team would perform. The answer is that Liquid has not been performing better or worse than when the star bot laner was on the roster. Liquid leaves Worlds 2020 with a 3-3 record in the group stage, which is similar to Liquid’s performance at Worlds 2018 and 2019.
The organization has still not managed to get out of groups at Worlds, but will certainly be looking to try again next year. If Tactical can keep improving at his current pace, then Liquid might just have the extra gear required to make it happen in 2021.
The solid performance by Tactical has yet again opened up for the discussion about domestic talent in North America. The LCS has been known to import star players for years, without developing as much domestic talent as the other major regions.
The LCS is still relying on veteran players and imports from Korea and Europe mainly, but a shift towards more native talent development seems to be happening. The Academy league is booming, at least for some of the competing organizations. The league has a lot of new talent to offer and that talent is slowly starting to get playtime on bigger stages.
2021 could be a decisive year when fans will get to see many new talents succeed and take over spots from grizzled veterans. Tactical is without a doubt a prime example that NA domestic talent is worth investing in.