The Team Liquid roster announcement came as a surprise to many, especially the return of previously benched mid laner Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer. After a disappointing split in which he was replaced by Team Liquid starting ADC Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin, TL expressed their faith in GoldenGlue, faith that appears to have evaporated once again as the mid laner was replaced after just one series.
Team Liquid returned to their original 2017 roster with great confidence, citing a change in coaching staff and an evolving meta as significant factors that would help them find the success they were originally anticipating with their lineup.
Yet the 2017 Summer Split could not have started much worse for Team Liquid. Thoroughly dominated in their first series against Counter Logic Gaming, TL seemed lost in their macro decisions and failed to capitalize on significant early leads. CLG showed superior composure and a better understanding of how to transition their leads into further advantages, something Team Liquid was unable to accomplish.
After the first series defeat of what is likely to be many to come in the NA LCS Summer Split, Team Liquid announced that Goldenglue would be replaced ahead of the team’s second series of the opening weekend against Echo Fox.
Substitute mid laner Andrew “Slooshi” Pham was promoted the starting position, a move that undermined the expressed confidence Team Liquid had displayed towards GoldenGlue as their starting mid laner just two weeks earlier. Both on and off the air, analysts and coaches were active in questioning Team Liquid’s decision to bench GoldenGlue so quickly.
I really want to watch the TL games from yesterday to see what warrants the instant removal of GG.
Fundamentally the move failed to make any sense, as the struggles of Team Liquid in their series against CLG were more of a team issue than that of any individual. While Goldenglue did not have a great series and was outperformed by CLG mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun, it would be incorrect and unfair to place the blame for their struggles on the play of GoldenGlue.
Outside of Piglet, no other Team Liquid member had a noteworthy performance over the weekend. Even Reignover, a former MVP and supposed star for Team Liquid, finished the weekend with a scoreline of 4/14/6 over four games.
GoldenGlue has had a well-known history of struggling on-stage, and a lack of confidence had already pushed him to fly to South Korea to practice and regroup after being benched previously towards the end of the Spring Split.
Whilst it was a bold decision, to their credit Team Liquid had stood firmly behind Goldenglue as their starter, a stance now shattered with his substitution after just one series. For GoldenGlue, the recent benching can only hamper any progress he may have made in Korea. The mid laner took to social media to express his dismay as the decision:
For Team Liquid, the continued roster swaps at the first sign of struggle is a worrying trend for the organization and their future success. With Slooshi’s start against Echo Fox, Team Liquid have now started three different mid laners, three different ADCs, and two different supports in just barely over one split. The lack of roster stability can only stunt the growth of both the players and an organization who aspires to be one of North America’s elite.
While this may be a brand new split, Team Liquid continues to make the same old mistakes. A constant shuffling of your roster is a poor way to establish team synergy and develop players individually, leaving many questions for both Team Liquid’s players and their large fan base. For those of their fans hoping for a fresh start with the 2017 Summer Split, it took less than a weekend to crush any Summer Split aspirations.
The NA LCS Birthing Grounds Of Team Liquid
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.
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.
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.
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.