It is a story that has been carved out in stone, and yet Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng refuses to believe it. For another year in a row, North America’s top seed has fallen in the group stages of Worlds. It is another disappointing end for Doublelift and Team Liquid, who has felt the dull pain of defeat one too many times at international stages. Beating down the opposition in the NA LCS is nice. However, the rush of another North American title must be waning for the superstar ADC. He knows that the ultimate goal is hoisting the Summoner’s Cup, a feat he had never accomplished in eight years.
It was a series of disappointing games that would seal the fate of what many were considering “the best hope for North America”. Team Liquid just could not find a plan that would work when it mattered. Instead, they will find themselves wracking their brain with “what-ifs”, with the biggest question being, “What if they had only found a win in their first set of games?”
None of what made Team Liquid the best team in North America was on display today. Jake “Xmithie” Puchero was not the rock that Team Liquid could lean on. Eugene “Pobelter” Park was faltering against two of the best midlaners in the world. The whole team was struggling, and it was disheartening to watch as a North American fan. However, you could say that this was a Group of Death of sorts. With top seed Korean team KT Rolster and top Chinese team Edward Gaming, this wasn’t a group anyone could scoff at. However, it is still reasonable to expect your number one seed to perform at least a tad better than how they did this week.
Meanwhile, KT Rolster and Edward Gaming move forward to the quarterfinals as they were able to dominate their group. KT Rolster would take down EDG, Team Liquid and MAD Team pretty convincingly. They are clearly the best team at the tournament, with their superior macro and micro skills on display this week. I think it’s safe for KT fans to get excited about this team once again.
On the other hand, Edward Gaming was also pretty impressive this past week as well. Day seven actually had EDG take down KT Rolster in 32 minutes in a battle of juggernauts. However, we can say that KT Rolster gave Edward Gaming some amazing picks in Urgot, Akali and Kai’sa. Still, this unfortunate upset from EDG would also knock Team Liquid out of contention for a possible rematch against KT.
What could Doublelift and company change in order to avoid having the same fate as the teams before them? Many fans are calling for the heads of multiple members of the team. However, this may not be the best course of action. Just look at Team Solo Mid, a fellow former top seed turned Worlds disappointment. The team would change up their roster in order to find more international success. They would end up dropping Doublelift and budding star support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang for superstar European duo, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez.
The worst year in TSM’s history would follow, with the team failing to make Worlds for the first time. This iteration of Team Liquid is still young, so should they really break apart the team after one year together? They were so dominant in the NA LCS, so should they risk changing the formula now that they have felt the sting of defeat? The answer to this question is simple, break off a piece of the team.
When thinking of the most glaring weakness this team had at Worlds, most eyes would turn towards the mid lane in Pobelter. Simply put, he was getting outplayed by most of the midlaners in their group. Even in the NA LCS, Pobelter has had trouble keeping up with top talents like TSM’s Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, Cloud9’s Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage to name a few.
What Team Liquid could possibly do is find a carry mid laner overseas, and try to pick up a native North American support to pair up with Doublelift. As amazing as Doublelift is, it is clear that he cannot carry his team and drag them through the mud to victory every time. It may work in the NA LCS, but against the best of the best, they need someone to alleviate the pressure from his lane. Additionally, Impact’s residency may be changing from Korean to American, as he has spent the necessary years in the region. This would allow TL to pick up another import without having to drop one of their current imports in the top and support positions.
Of course, another path that the Team Liquid coaching staff could take is an overhaul of their training and strategies moving forward. Hiring a sports psychologist, like Weldon Green, could be very beneficial to the team’s success. Jumping to conclusions probably isn’t the best choice, and sticking with what works, for now, might be the better path to walk on.
All in all, this was the first time that Team Liquid truly felt the heaviness of disappointment as a team. Yes, Doublelift has been here before, but now he has almost nothing to lose. I am sure that he will come back with a greater fire and hunger than we’ve ever seen. Whether or not the roster changes, this team was the best in the region, and I am sure we will see them again at the Worlds stage very soon.
What do you think of Team Liquid’s performance at Worlds, and what do you think they should do to improve for 2019? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! If you want more Worlds coverage, check us out here!
Born and raised in Toronto. Sometimes a writer. Sometimes a creative director. Sometimes bored. Catch me with hundreds of unplayed games in my Steam library.