Lower-seeded Team Envy “upset” Team Liquid three games to none on day one of North America’s Regional Finals Saturday. With this loss Team Liquid is eliminated from Worlds Qualification, while Envy advances to the next round of the Gauntlet against Cloud9 Sunday.
Liquid held sizable early advantages in each of the first two games, especially the first game (>8k gold lead), but a makeshift roster was unable to capitalize on those leads and turn them into wins. In the third game, Envy took an early lead and never looked back, closing out the game in relatively simple fashion.
This loss brings an end to a rather tumultuous summer split for Liquid. In the weeks before the season, the team announced that they would be benching their starting jungler – and rookie of the Spring Split – Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett for “insubordination.” After losses in their first two games, Liquid re-added Dardoch to the roster.
After restoring Dardoch to their starting lineup, Team Liquid found mild success, ending the regular season in fifth place and being knocked out of the playoffs by Counter Logic Gaming in the Quarterfinals. Following playoffs however, it became clear that Team Liquid’s issues with Dardoch had not been solved over the course of the split, as they parted ways with the jungler just days before the series against Envy.
Liquid replaced him with third-string mid laner Lyonel "Arcsecond" Pfaender in the series, who played admirably, picking up two First Bloods, but was unable to have the consistent impact on the game Dardoch had.
Team Liquid’s roster issues didn’t end there, however. The team also replaced its starting AD carry Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin in the third week of the regular season with long-time sub player Jovani “Fabbbyyy” Guillen. While Fabbbyyy successfully filled the roster’s need of a consistent player in the role, he often fell behind in CS against his lane opponent and was rarely able to carry his team’s damage. Ultimately, these issues lead to him being replaced in game 3 of Team Liquid’s series against CLG in the Quarterfinals. His replacement – Phil “Jynthe” Vu – helped Liquid secure their only win of the series and through that performance landed himself a starting roster spot heading into the World Qualifiers, making him Liquid’s third starting AD Carry over the last three months.
This constant roster shifting by Team Liquid has shown through in their play and made them a highly inconsistent team that often suffers from coordination issues among players. Since they won’t be attending the World Championships, it is likely that Liquid will spend the off-season reworking their roster with an emphasis on consistency and team work.
For Team Envy, this win represents an impressive feat. With a roster built from the bones of an almost relegated Renegades, Envy started the split strong before slowing down considerably in the second half. With this win, they move into the second round of the North American World Qualification Tournament, in which they will face off against Cloud9. This match will be held on Sunday at 3 p.m. EST.