The reigning four-time League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) champions Team Liquid got denied entry into the LCS Spring Split playoffs after losing to Cloud9 in a do-or-die match in the final fixture of the split this Sunday.
Team Liquid have had a tough start of their journey into the 2020 League of Legends season, beginning with visa issues, which prevented Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen from entering the United States, effectively meaning Team Liquid entered the split without a complete squad. Instead of Broxah, Team Liquid fielded their substitute academy jungler Shern "Shernfire" Cherng Tai, but even he did not have much time to scrim and practise with the team, which translated to problems on the main stage.
Broxah' visa issues were not solved until Week 4 of the split, at which point Team Liquid held onto a poor 3-5 record, which sat them at the seventh place in the league. Although Broxah's arrival gave the team a morale boost, the internal struggles and poor performances did not go away. Midway through the season, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng benched himself as he failed to play at the level that was expected of him and decided he needs some time off to set his mind straight and help his team secure a playoffs berth, which at that point was slowly slipping through TL's fingers.
Replacing Doublelift for Week 6 was Edward "Tactical" Ra, who did well in helping Team Liquid secure a perfect 2-0 week, however, the team's enthusiasm did not last long, as the return of Doublelift in Week 7 saw Liquid return to producing underwhelming results. A 0-2 Week 7, followed by a 1-1 Week 8 put Team Liquid in an unenviable position ahead of the final week, where they were slated to play against FlyQuest and Cloud9, where they were chasing a perfect 2-0 record. That, however, never came, as Team Liquid lost both of their matches and effectively their chance of securing a ticket for the playoffs.
Liquid's most important game of the week was one against Cloud9 and while Doublelift and co. failed to deliver the goods, the match was one for the books.
Cloud9 started the game strong thanks to Robert “Blaber” Huang who managed to out-jungle Broxah in the early game and put immense pressure on Liquid's squad, however, Team Liquid were not ready to give in just yet. With a few strong teamfights, Liquid bounced back caught up to Cloud9, who were pushed on the backfoot as they watched their adversaries pushing into their base.
Teams went back and forth and it seemed like Liquid would come out ahead and secure a shock win, up until Phillippe “Vulcan” Laflamme's Tahm Kench ult, which allowed Cloud9 to backdoor Liquid and take down their Nexus to seal the regular season with an impressive 17-1 record.
Although the match ended the way many had expected, Team Liquid showed up, put up solid resistance and gave the LCS frontrunners a run for their money. Despite that, however, Liquid now have to make peace with the fact that they lost out on securing a playoffs berth for the first time since 2017.
Written by KrajnikT
Tit Krajnik (KrajnikT) is an esports writer for onlineesports.com, where he reports news, features and writes other content related to the players, teams, industry and the esports scene as a whole.
He has previously worked as a news and betting-related articles writer in the "traditional" sports scene but later opted to turn his attention to esports, where he managed to combine his love for video games and the growing esports industry with his work.
Krajnik has started his journey as an esports writer by covering Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, which he also played since its launch, but later broaden his skill-set to include other major esports titles including Dota 2, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege and Call of Duty.