Team Liquid announced the signing of former ROX Tigers mid laner Son “Mickey” Young-min, adding another piece to a roster puzzle where Team Liquid has yet to find the right combination. Although he may not play in a match for Team Liquid this split, Mickey’s addition provides an additional mid lane option for a team already plagued with roster questions.
The timing of the announcement may seem poor considering Team Liquid is coming off of their best weekend in over a year, but negotiations with Mickey likely began shortly after he became a free agent. The signing of Mickey was also likely known by the members of the team prior to the official announcement, which could have led to a more relaxed and loose game style that contributed to their 2-0 weekend.
While Mickey’s talent is undeniable, his inconsistency and poor English skills could delay his move to the starting lineup much longer than fans anticipate. Mickey had been regarded as the next great Korean talent, with incredible mechanics and fearless laning against the best of Korea. A solo queue star, Mickey had failed to develop on ROX and could just as easily cost his team the game as win it for them.
Mickey’s inconsistency is a dangerous proposition for a Team Liquid organization that has failed to deliver upon their high expectations. The inability to communicate well in English can be a huge detractor from team performance, an issue that caused many players on teams such as EnVyUs and Team Dignitas to have sluggish debuts in the NA LCS.
More importantly, Mickey gives Team Liquid three import players in their organization. With AD Carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin and jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin already filling the two maximum import slots in the starting roster, one of the two would have to be replaced for Mickey to be brought into the starting lineup.
Reignover may be that player, as he has the most feasible replacement in Rami “Inori” Charagh. A former NA LCS MVP, Reignover has been a shell of himself since his arrival on Team Liquid. Slow to master new champions, Reignover has been hindered by a limited champion pool that has forced him onto uncomfortable champions or prevented Team Liquid from utilizing power meta picks.
Mickey’s arrival also clouds the future of current starting mid-laner Greyson “GoldenGlue” Gilmer with Team Liquid. After swapping with Andrew “Slooshi” Pham for most of this split, GoldenGlue had appeared to have solidified his place as the starter. In their recent series, GoldenGlue gave Team Liquid fans a glimpse of what could be, outperforming his lane opponent in both series while exuding an air of confidence fans had never seen from the mid laner.
Instead of providing answers, the signing of Mickey only brings more questions to the Team Liquid organization. With three high-profile imports signed and only two allowed to start, Team Liquid will have to make difficult decisions regarding the best combination for their future success. As the season is essentially over for Team Liquid already, their eyes are already on next split, and signing Mickey may only be a sign of things to come.