Adrian “Adrian” Ma has announced his departure from Team Liquid just a few weeks after joining the team in the middle of the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split. After leaving his third team in a little over half a year, the issues inherent with Adrian may cost him another chance to play in the LCS. A culmination of a predictable playstyle, limited champion pool, issues with teammates, and dedication to improvement have all factored into his recent issues. Now a free agent, Adrian may experience great difficulty finding his way back to the LCS.
The warning signs were there. In a leaked conversation between Adrian’s former teammate and current Immortals mid laner, Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Echo Fox AD Carry, Yuri “Keith” Jew, Pobelter provided insight into many of the issues with Adrian:
In the current meta, the support role is dominated by aggressive mage picks, none of which were included in Adrian’s prior top picks. Malzahar, Zyra and Lulu have all risen to the top of the tier list, while Adrian’s traditional comfort picks of Soraka, Janna, and Nami have all fallen off. Despite the dominance of these mage picks, Adrian only played one of the three in less than a quarter of the matches (21%) he has played in the LCS split, playing Nami more than Zyra, Malzahar, and Lulu combined.
For comparison, Team Liquid’s current support Matt “Matt” Elento has played those three champions almost twice as often as Adrian (40%). Moving forward, Adrian will need either the meta or his champion pool to change to reassert himself as a top tier support. If he is unwilling or unable to do so, LCS teams may look at other support options based on Adrian’s play alone.
Pobelter also highlighted Adrian’s poor work ethic and his use of marijuana as detrimental to their performance and team atmosphere. Pobelter alleged Adrian had used marijuana before a playoff match between Immortals and CLG and talked about how Adrian’s work ethic would make him a poor example and leader on any future team. Since then Adrian has become the cautionary tale for drug use within the LCS, something no organization wants attached to their brand.
Before his departure from Phoenix1, Adrian showed once again that he can be a catalyst for issues within a team. During an interview, Adrian talked about how playing with substitute jungler William “Meteos” Hartman was refreshing because he was finally playing with a jungler who “used his brain”, a clear shot at the then-starting jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh. Any questions as to who the organization felt was a bigger issue for their team environment were quickly answered when Adrian was shipped off to Team Liquid and rookie support William “Stunt” Chen was brought in to replace him.
For Adrian looking to join any future team, his reputation as a poor teammate and as someone who creates problems will likely be the biggest obstacle for him. Adrian is simply not talented enough for teams to risk destroying their internal environment in signing the LCS journeyman – the fact that three different organizations in the past year have signed him, then released or traded him, is a red flag to any potential future suitors.
The value that Team Liquid sees in Adrian could not have been made much clearer when they choose Matt (one of the poorest performing supports in the LCS) over him as the starter for the Promotion Tournament and heading into next split.
With the decline in Adrian’s value, the drug use, the poor work ethic and the disruptive force he presents to a team environment, do not expect to see the now free-agent signed as a starter for any LCS organization soon. While there may be teams willing to give him a chance as a substitute, the demand for Adrian has dropped significantly and should continue to do so: once considered to be a top-tier NA LCS support, his professional eSports career may be on the descent from its peak.
The NA LCS Owes A Debt Of Gratitude To The Birthing Grounds Of Team Liquid
Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham
Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham played Jungle on the Team Liquid Academy roster between February and April of 2016, until the beginning of May where he was replaced by Galen "Moon" Holgate. He is now doing very well on the Echo Fox roster and was classed as one of the best rookie Junglers in the Spring Split.
Benjamin “LOD” deMunck
Benjamin "LOD" deMunck is the current AD Carry for Team Dignitas and played with Team EnVy throughout last year. This has been LOD's breakout to his professional career, but it hasn't been his first attempt. First playing for Team LoLPro he was picked up by newly branded Team Curse as their substitute AD Carry. He stayed with the team throughout the entire of season 4 before eventually leaving for greener pastures.
Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black
Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black may just try and forget his stint with Team Curse as he left Counter Logic Gaming in late Season 3 to join the team for less then a month before returning home where he has remained to this day. Aphromoo has constantly been called the best Support in North America and a contender for best Support in the west.
Johnny “Altec” Ru
Johnny "Altec" Ru was the AD Carry for Curse Academy from January until July in Season 3 when he was picked up to be a substitute for Team Solo Mid. He has been on many other teams such as Cloud 9 Tempest, Evil Geniuses and Gravity.
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
After one of the most public departures from a team, Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett left Team Liquid last year and traded places with Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin to join the Immortals squad. Dardoch is one of the best examples of Team Liquid birthing a strong national talent and letting them go.
Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell
Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell may now be classed as one of the best Top laners in North America. However before he was known as Team SoloMid's backbone he played top lane for Team LoLPro and stuck with the team when they branded as Curse Gaming, eventually leaving for Team Gravity.
Galen “Moon” Holgate
Galen "Moon" Holgate has somewhat of a similar story to Keith. Originally playing for the Liquid Challenger roster, he was bumped up to the main roster when Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett was suspended for poor attitude. However the team seemed to fall apart without Dardoch and he was taken off suspension and Moon was retired back to the Challenger roster.
Eugene “Pobelter” Park
Eugene "Pobelter" Park has had multiple stints with Curse rosters, originally playing for their main roster he left to join Meat Playground, however he rejoined shortly afterwards and joined the Curse challenger line-up. He bounced around other teams for quite a while before landing back on Curse for less than a month in October at the end of Season 3.
Andy “Smoothie” Ta
After a disappointing start to Andy "Smoothie" Ta's collaboration with Team Liquid, he jumped between the main roster and the challenger roster. Team Liquid wanted to utilize both rosters, but Smoothie ended up playing on the challenger roster almost non-stop. He left the team in April 2016 and shortly after was picked up by Cloud9 who he has stayed with ever since.
Alex “Xpecial” Chu
Rewind time to season 4, Alex "Xpecial" Chu is a superstar support. Playing with Team SoloMid for 3 years will give you that reputation. After being released from Team SoloMid shortly after Season 4, he joined Curse Gaming and stayed with them for four splits and two seasons through their rebrand to Team Liquid. After some drama between Xpecial and AD Carry Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin he left the roster to join Apex Gaming.
Derek “Zig” Shao
Derek "Zig" Shao has been with the Team Liquid organization the longest of any player on the list, staying with the organization almost two years, playing on both the challenger and main roster of both Team Curse and Team Liquid. He left team Liquid in Season 6 to join Phoenix 1.
He currently still plays Top lane for Phoenix 1 and they are tied third in the North American LCS
Yuri “Keith” Jew
Yuri "Keith" Jew has somewhat of a sad story to begin his league career. Used by both Team Liquid and Team SoloMid when their previous AD Carries weren't performing up to scratch, Keith would come in, perform really well and then his competition would begin playing well again. He helped Liquid overcome a rough 1-3 start in the spring split of season 6.
Apollo “Apollo” Price
Apollo "Apollo" Price is now a well known name in the North American LCS, however this wasn't always the case. His time with Team LoLPro was so unknown there isn't even a certainty on the time he spent with them. He left the team to join Team Impulse in December of 2014 and he now plays for Team NV in the North American LCS.
Lae-Young “Keane” Jang
Originally playing for the Oceanic version of Team Curse Lae-Young "Keane" Jang wanted bigger things and eventually moved on to the Curse Academy roster. He stayed with the team until the end of Season 5, when he left to join Team Gravity and has stayed with the team through all its rebrands ever since.
David “Cop” Roberson
David "Cop" Roberson is one of the veterans on this list, not only has been been playing on professional teams since at least season 1, his skill also transcends the rift. Playing with Team Curse and moving to Curse Academy from December 2011 all the way through until January 2015, his most recent team has been Team Dignitas where he has returned to coach the team during their 2017 Spring Split.
William "Stunt" Chen is the youngest player of the bunch, now representing Immortals. He was one game away from qualifying for the LCS with Team Liquid Academy last year in the summer split promotion. Going to a full 5 games, Stunt and the rest of TLA failed to qualify for the 2017 Spring Split.