Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng was one of the few remaining veterans of the North America Championship Series, yet for the first split since the conception of the NA LCS, the 2017 Spring Split will air without the Team SoloMid’s AD Carry taking to the stage.
The 2016 League of Legends World Championship raised a number of questions on Doublelift’s professional career. Following a series of pivotally poor performances from TSM’s AD Carry, the North American favourites were dumped out of the tournament prematurely, failing to qualify from Group D.
With their competitive season over, Doublelift took some time away from the other members of the roster to evaluate his options ahead of the 2017 season. Today, Peng announced that he has decided to take a ‘competitive hiatus’ ahead of the Spring Split.
The veteran AD Carry will remain with the squad, continuing to live and work alongside his teammates. After six years of strenuous competition, endless hours of practice and considerable mental strain, Doublelift intends to sample the life of a full-time streamer for the first few months of Season 7, with the intention of returning to the starting line-up as Team SoloMid ramp up their intensity ahead of the 2017 World Championship.
— Yiliang Peng (@TSMDoublelift) 1 November 2016
“I am not so talented as many believe – the quality that has kept me domestically dominant for five straight seasons isn’t nature, it’s determination.
“When I do something, I put my heart and soul into it, striving to achieve greatness.
“That’s why it’s time for a small break. After our convincing performance in Summer, NA LCS Spring is considerably less appetising.
“Streaming and creating content is something I’ve always wanted to focus on, and it’s the perfect time to do it. I’ll come back if the team needs me – better than before, and better than ever.”
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
Time will not stand still to allow Doublelift to recuperate however – the hunt for Team SoloMid’s replacement is already well underway, leaving Peng’s future with the North American champions in the balance. As one of the most prestigious organisations in the eSports industry, TSM will not be satisfied to coast through Spring 2017 with an average AD Carry – team owner, Andy “Reginald” Dinh will be looking for a replacement of the highest caliber possible to fill the position.
As outlined by Team SoloMid’s official statement, if Doublelift chooses to return in the summer, he will be required to compete once more for the starting position. Speaking on stream, Doublelift claimed that he was “100% confident” his spot is guaranteed for the Summer, unless his replacement is a player of Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu caliber, a recent free agent after leaving Edward Gaming.
Doublelift went on to suggest that there is no other ADC available in North America who can rival his skill and in-game leadership.
Doublelift’s decision is entirely understandable – competing at the highest level for 10-14 hours every day for 6 years – a break is entirely warranted. In an ideal scenario, a break will allow Peng to return to the LCS stage refreshed and more focused… but he’d by the anomaly to the rule if he did so.
Turning a blind eye to the genuine threat the hiatus poses to his professional career is perhaps naive, but it’s so typically Doublelift. Despite his claims that his skills won’t deteriorate because he’ll be playing full-time, or that he won’t be detached from the development of team strategies because he will watch scrims from time to time – the reality is that once you stop playing competitively, the decline is steep.
Doublelift has always placed emphasis on his competitive drive, and indeed anyone with a competitive drive would not be content to simply stream when they know they could work hard to be the best again. It will be a testament to Doublelift’s legacy if he can return to the top after time away from the scene, it would underline his status as a cut above the rest.