Team Liquid provided the upset of the split with a 2-1 victory over the first placed Team SoloMid. In a series that was notably personal for former (and potentially future) TSM star and current Liquid AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, Doublelift delivered Team Liquid to a crucial victory as they fought to avoid relegation. Doublelift carried Team Liquid with a dominant series that quelled any fears that he may have lost a step, eviscerating TSM’s bot lane as they were consistently outclassed by Team Liquid.
With first place Team SoloMid facing off against the ninth place Team Liquid, another victory for TSM seemed inevitable. While Riot tried to hype up the match-up with a cinematic teaser featuring the tension between Doublelift and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, many fans brushed it aside as a dominant TSM victory seemed a foregone conclusion.
“I have an inner drive to play better than Doublelift.
“I don’t think I’m holding this spot for Doublelift – to all the people that don’t think I should be here… I want to prove them wrong.”
Jason “WildTurtle” Tran
Of course, things would not turn out that way. In what could be considered the biggest upset of the season, Team Liquid would claim a 2-1 series victory over TSM. In a mini-crisis for NA’s top team, fans were left questioning the strength of TSM once again.
Team Liquid outperformed TSM in multiple lanes, yet the dominance of Liquid’s bot lane when matched against Team SoloMid was far and beyond what many could have expected. Doublelift and Team Liquid Support Matt “Matt” Elento earned multiple 2v2 kills over TSM’s WildTurtle and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, earning significant CS advantages in the process.
For Doublelift, this was more than a series victory – it was an audition and a statement of intent. While TSM hold firm on their stance towards a fair tryout between the two ADCs at the end of the season, Doublelift’s head to head performance in this series has left the trial as nothing more than a formality. His pre-game trash talk of Biofrost came to life on the rift as TSM looked powerless to stop Doublelift from imposing his will on the series:
“The biggest impact I can have is just smashing lane and trying to take over the game – so that’s what I’m gonna try and do.”
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
While many plays impressed in the series, the assassination of former teammate Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg in game one set a tone for the series and announced to TSM no mercy would be shown for Doublelift’s former allies. Doublelift’s Ezreal surprised Bjergsen’s Ahri from a bush in the top lane, killing the Dane before he had time to properly react. Team Liquid would press their advantage off of the kill, heading straight to Baron and forcing TSM to engage them. They would win the ensuing team fight and would eventually be crowned victorious in the first game of the series.
Team SoloMid were once again quick to silence any sceptics with a swift 2-0 series victory in the week’s marquee match-up against Phoenix1. Although Phoenix1 was playing without their starting support William “Stunt” Chen and used Jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh, TSM’s bot lane was able to bounce back against potential MVP candidate No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon.
Although it may have only been for one series, Doublelift was once again king in a match-up with TSM. With the playoffs looming, TSM can not afford another performance like that against Doublelift, though of course they may not ever have to face him again if he rejoins his former roster at the split’s end. Doublelift and Team Liquid will have to fight their way out of the Relegation/Promotion Tournament, while Bjergsen and co. await the winner of Counter Logic Gaming and FlyQuest.