Team Liquid’s League of Legends Relegation Survival Is A Victory For All eSports

Team Liquid scored a massive victory for eSports when they successfully avoided relegation in the NA LCS Promotion Tournament. Defeating both of the Challenger Series’ top two teams, Gold Coin United and Team eUnited, Liquid was able to secure their place in the NA LCS for the summer split. On the heels of large investment in the off-season, Team Liquid failing to qualify would have been a significant deterrent to future investment and may have limited future sponsorship opportunities for eSports teams worldwide. 

When Steve “LiQuiD112” Arhancet assembled the roster for the 2017 Spring Split, he never would have imagined things would play out the way they did. Riding a wave of investment from large NBA and entrepreneurial names such as Ted Leonsis and Peter Guber, Team Liquid may have had the deepest pockets of any LCS team when they set out to sign their new roster. They immediately made a splash by signing former NA MVP and arguably the best jungler in NA at the time Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, a testament to the strength of their financial backing.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Yet Team Liquid’s roster failed to meet expectations, and as they continue to see their record slip panic began to set in. They moved AD Carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin to the mid lane to replace the struggling Greyson “GoldenGlue” Gilmer. When these changes failed to create a significant impact, the potential for the team to be relegated from the NA LCS became very real. Desperate, Team Liquid flexed their financial muscle once more by trading for former Team SoloMid ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng as a temporary remedy for the team.

A super team that now included three former All-Stars in Piglet, Doublelift, and Reignover, was still not enough to uproot Team Liquid from the bottom two spots in the standings, and they were forced to play in the Promotion Tournament to earn their place in the NA LCS. An organization and owner who had been at the forefront of the NA League of Legends scene from the very beginning, were now in danger of falling from the spotlight of its top league.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

With their backs against the wall, Team Liquid’s stars stepped up and delivered them back to the NA LCS. Reignover was a dominant force throughout the entire tournament, going as far as ‘flame horizoning’ Gold Coin United’s Lucas “Santorin” Larsen. Piglet held his own in both series against two of the Challenger scenes best mid laners, including former teammate Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun. Doublelift was a strong and steady force, proving he still is one of NA’s best ADCs and his shot-calling presence provides enormous value to any team he is on. Although their series against GCU came down to the very last game, Team Liquid finished the tournament 2-0 and once again will play in the NA LCS next split.

Team Liquid’s victory in the tournament was a victory for eSports, as an NA LCS without Team Liquid would be a huge loss for the scene. One of the largest eSports organizations, Team Liquid has a high caliber team or player in every major eSports title and has found great success as a whole, boasting a deep history and expansive fanbase in the eSports scene, especially in League of Legends. Just as the region would suffer without Team SoloMid or Counter Logic Gaming, the LCS without Team Liquid would not be the same.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

As important as Team Liquid is in the history of eSports, they are more important to its future. With a massive investment of capital placed into Team Liquid, dropping out of the eSports title with the largest player base and viewership would be a disastrous step back for future eSports investment. With the failure of NRG already making investors nervous about League of Legends, the loss of Team Liquid would have been an even larger red flag considering the amount of investment funneled into the organization.

Team Liquid’s influence extends beyond their investors to the partnerships and sponsorships they have in place. One of the best organizations at connecting with other businesses, Team Liquid has been able to secure deals with major companies such as HTC, Razer, and Nissan in the past. The loss of visibility for these sponsors from the eSports team could hurt future sponsorship opportunities for Team Liquid and cause sponsors as a whole to hesitate when looking at connecting with League of Legends organizations.

Source: HTC

Team Liquid’s fall towards the bottom of the NA LCS has once again ignited the question of whether the NA LCS should move towards a franchise model. While there is value in having to earn your place in the NA LCS every split and preserving the competitive integrity of the LCS, a franchise model could provide stability and help encourage investment and sponsorship by limiting risk. Team Liquid came very close to being another cautionary tale of how deep investment is not a guarantee of performance and position in the NA LCS.

The NA LCS Owes A Debt Of Gratitude To The Birthing Grounds Of Team Liquid:


Start the discussion

to comment