The rise and fall of Team Liquid at MSI 2019
North America had quite possibly the most impressive run at an international tournament so far. Comparable to their 2018 success with Cloud 9 making a run at the semi-finals of Worlds, Team Liquid did what many thought they would never be able to do: Have a good international performance.
But, all of their efforts would become undone after they played what would later be known as the fastest international Best of Five set in League of Legends competitive history. Disgraced and absolutely demolished, Team Liquid were the point of jokes and laughter, whereas 24 hours prior, they were touted as the LCS’s carrier of dreams.
So, who is right? Is Team Liquid truly a failure? Or should we still consider their performance a win? Honestly, it’s a little of each, and that isn’t a bad thing.
No one believed in them
North America has been the absolute bottom of the jokes throughout the years of a competitive league of legends. Seen as a wild card region after previous years of play and disappointing international performances, no one held hopes for Team Liquid at the Mid-Season Invitational. Many believed they would fall to Phong Vu Buffalo in the play-in knockout stage.
And yet, they managed to make it out. After a 3-0 to Phong Vu Buffalo, they went on to play one of the more dirty group stage matches over the course of 5 days. Not only were they almost slated to lose in the group stage, with a possible 3 way tie for 4th place, they only ended up winning their key matches against 2 opponents: Flash Wolves and G2. After tehy beat Phong Vu Buffalo 2-0 and got a game off of G2 and Flash wolves each, they were able to barely secure 4th place.
And from here, a miracle happened. Invictus Gaming chose Team Liquid as their opponents for the semi-final match. Everyone expected an easy win for IG, but TL showed up. They went and played out of their minds, draining IG of their vitality by constantly putting up a fight at inhibitors and towers, skirmishing throughout the entirety of the series. This resulted in Team Liquid beating the 2018 Worlds champions, and stunning the entire world to go on to the finals of the Mid-Season Invitational.
But then, disaster struck.
After TL beat IG in a 3-1 fashion, they watched as G2 fought a close battle with SKT, with G2 barely winning in a 3-2 series. Whether through complacency, or good old fashioned underestimation, TL went into the finals overconfident, and ended up getting absolutely slaughtered.
In just over 71 minutes of competitive play, Team Liquid was dismantled. This would then be known as the quickest international Best of Five series played on the competitive stage. It was completely heartbreaking, and it was made worse than the team that destroyed TL were G2, the European representatives.
What went wrong?
If you watched Team Liquid play in the finals in a secluded bubble, you would be wondering how in the world this group of ameteur players were able to even make it to the finals in the first place. They played sloppy, made unforced errors, and appeared to not make any corrections throughout all 3 games.
Not only that, CoreJJ didn’t have his usual luster that we were able to see during the IG series. He was constantly out of position, lost his summoners through unforced errors such as a botlane level 1 mini-skirmish, and pushing with next to no vision.
Along with that was the fact that Team Liquid didn’t even attempt to stem the flow of constant pressure from Jankos throughout the early game. In all three games, Jankos made constant level 2 and 3 ganks throughout the map. Game 1 saw Doublelift and CoreJJ being punished and camped, while games 2 and 3 saw Jensen and Impact pressured exceedingly. Through all this, it seemed Team Liquid were complacent, as we saw next to no corrections in attempting to curb the aggression out of G2.
Although G2 played exceedingly well, it was minor and major mistakes from Team Liquid that handed the series over to G2 in a little less than 2 hours of aired gameplay. Team Liquid were constantly on damage control, which then saw Xmithie attempt to help losing laners, resulting in his deaths throughout the game as well. All in all, they looked nothing like the dark horses stomping over IG in the semi-finals.
A Glimmer of Hope for North America
Although Team Liquid had possibly the most embarrassing moment of their career handed to them by the European squad, that does not mean that they should be chastised and punished. Yes, it was the finals of the Mid-Season Invitational, but that should not discredit their advancements and climb throughout. They went from being a play-in stage team to being the second best team in the world. They pushed past the analysts and naysayers, and proved the world wrong by almost winning the tournament.
Whether or not you are a fan of Team Liquid, the respect that they have brought to North America is undeniable. They beat the odds, and proved many wrong. If any team of North America wishes to take away any points from Team Liquid, the resilience and power to overcome mountains can be easily seen. The strengths of Team Liquid signal a possible revival of North America in professional play, at least as long as they don’t underestimate their opponents.