Playing For The Future: Long-Term Growth Becomes Team Liquid’s Summer Objective

By all accounts, Team Liquid’s 2017 season has been disastrous. After arguably NA’s biggest off-season signing in jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, Team Liquid has failed to deliver on their high expectations and has fallen to the bottom of the North American League Championship Series. 

As Team Liquid struggled to gain their footing, calls for the replacement of underperforming members on the starting roster slowly gained momentum. Eventually, Team Liquid would cave and make their first roster swap, replacing mid laner Greyson “GoldenGlue” Gilmer with AD carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

As the season progressed, Team Liquid’s roster additions became a move for survival, bringing in ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng in a move to avoid relegation.

The moves would pay off, as Team Liquid would maintain their NA LCS position, but the results so far this split have yet to signal and sign of improvement.

The only position for Team Liquid yet to experience multiple starters is the top lane. Just a few weeks into the Summer Split, Team Liquid has fielded two junglers, three mid laners, three ADCs, and three supports.

With twelve different starters over thirteen weeks, Team Liquid has easily had the most roster movement in the NA LCS.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

While many shake their head at the continued roster movement, for Team Liquid, it may be their best way to determine a roster for the future.

The chances of Team Liquid securing a place as one of the three NA representatives to the World Championships is now all but impossible, and with the threat of relegation diluted after the announcement of franchising next season, Team Liquid has little to lose by continuing to perform poorly this split.

In many ways, this follows the precedent set by Team SoloMid’s ‘lose now to win later’ approach. Being willing to accept poor or underwhelming results in the present, to give your team the best chance of future success arguably presents the best option for Team Liquid, trying different combinations of players on stage to find what works best for the team.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

The experimentation with different roster combinations on Team Liquid may pay off earlier than expected. This past weekend, they secured their second series victory over an improving Phoenix1, using two players who were not on their original starting roster.

Team Liquid’s newest addition,  jungler Rami “Inori” Charagh, hinted at growth within the team in a recent interview with Slingshot eSports:

“Obviously, losing sucks and it doesn’t feel good to lose, but I’m actually pretty happy because I’ve already seen a lot of progression and improvement from the team since I got here.

“I have high hopes that the team will improve a lot over the split.”

Rami “Inori” Charagh

As Inori states, losing can be a hard pill to swallow for players and fans alike. But just as many traditional sports franchises are forced to enter a “rebuilding” mode, Team Liquid must use this time to develop their current talent and find synergy within their existing members.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

While a few of Team Liquid’s current players may not be on their roster next season, many will likely stay on the main roster or on their future Academy team. With the chances of a seed to Worlds or even a deep playoff run quickly slipping away, Team Liquid must make the best use of the limited time they have and prepare for the future.