After defying the odds to beat Team SoloMid, the only opponent blocking the path of Team Liquid’s great escape was FlyQuest eSports. As the series went to a decisive third and final game, the game that would seal Team Liquid’s fate, fans were exposed to painful dose of deja vu. As it had done almost a year to the day, a potent combination of Ryze and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin in the mid lane proceeded to throw any TL hopes into a smouldering fire.
After spending more than any other organisation over the course of the Spring Split, Team Liquid will join Team EnVyUs in the relegation tournament of the NA LCS. After Saturday’s performance against Team SoloMid, it was originally Echo Fox mentally preparing for the prospect of facing eUnited. With Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng firing on all cylinders and the squad finally harmonising, Team Liquid looked at long last like the top tier NA team everyone (including team owner Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet) had predicted them to be at the beginning of the year.
My End of First Split Predictions #LeagueOfLegends
— Steve Arhancet (@LiQuiD112) 14 January 2017
Whilst Piglet’s Mid lane performances weren’t particularly memorable vs Team SoloMid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, it could be certainly be argued that he held his own against last season’s MVP. Liquid looked co-ordinated against the league leaders, rotating smoothly around the map as Doublelift put on a show playing Ezreal in each game of the series.
The omens were good that Team Liquid would achieve their ambition and avoid the stress of the relegation tournament. Their final opponent of the Spring Split, FlyQuest had been chronically underperforming for a number of weeks, sliding down the table and at one point, at risk of missing out on playoffs altogether.
Initially, TL appeared to have picked up where they left off against TSM. Piglet, opting to play Taliyah once more, was instrumental in the team’s opening game win. But as FlyQuest rallied behind Hai “Hai” Du Lam’s Orianna in the second game of the series, Team Liquid were left with everything to play for in the final game.
Having established a comfortable gold lead,- up in kills and objectives – Team Liquid held all the cards to play their way to victory and salvation. But rather than playing in a calm, strategic manner to call FlyQuest’s bluff, Piglet took matters into his own hands, deciding he would throw his team into chaos by playing 52 card pick up.
With Samson “Lourlo” Jackson caught out of position, Team Liquid risked losing their Top laner. Whilst Lourlo’s death would be detrimental to the team’s progress, it certainly would not have been a game-ending mistake. A clean ace on the other hand…
Disastrously, Piglet realm warped the entire squad straight into the front line of FlyQuest’s engage using his Ryze ultimate:
The catastrophic misplay completely swung the tide of the decisive series. Able to completely negate TL’s advantage, FlyQuest secured multiple objectives from Piglet’s error, eventually clinching the series to condemn Team Liquid to a 9th place finish.
As Team Liquid’s life in the LCS flashed before fans eyes, the deja vu of Team Liquid’s 2016 Spring Split playoff semi-final vs Counter Logic Gaming came rushing back once more. Infamously, Piglet was caught out in the decisive game of the series to a double-teleport play featuring none other than Ryze himself – former TL coach Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub certainly wasn’t impressed.
Team Liquid now face a nail-biting series against eUnited to maintain their NA LCS status. After looking like a stroke of roster shuffling magic, Piglet’s move to the mid lane may end up costing the TL organisation dearly.