Team Liquid will start the 2017 Summer Split with the exact same starting roster that opened the Spring Split. Normally, this is the kind of move you see from a team like Cloud9, whose roster stayed consistent and successful throughout the Spring Split and managed to come within one game of first place.
But that’s exactly the opposite of the results this roster had the first time Team Liquid tried it earlier this year. Over the course of the five weeks they stuck with it, this roster managed to go 2-8.
So, why would Team Liquid choose to bring back a roster that has already failed once in the LCS? The answer is best found in the team’s history.
Throughout his time with Curse Gaming back in 2011, Steve “Liquid112” Arhancet has always been one of the LCS’s biggest advocates of talent development. At that time, he would oversee several Challenger Series teams that would serve as an incubator for the team’s future talent. When Curse merged with Team Liquid in 2014 ,things didn’t change much, as Arhancet helped start Team Liquid Academy: a Challenger side that helped move up LCS players like Counter Logic Gaming’s Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, and current TL starters Matt and Lourlo.
With a nearly six-year history of prioritizing player development, it shouldn’t be surprising that Liquid decided to move forward with a team that doesn’t look much different from last split’s.
But that raises a lot of questions about how this roster is different from those we traditionally see, given this kind of time to work together and gel. Namely: it’s full of veterans. Matt and Lourlo are the players with the least experience, and even they have been playing on stage for about a year and a half. Everyone else on the roster started their professional League of Legends careers in 2013. That’s a massive amount of experience for any roster.
So, how much better can this roster get with time? This is likely to be the central question that surrounds Team Liquid for the majority of the split. Along with overall improvements, there is another hope for the team.
Last split’s meta pulled away from damage AD Carries, Piglet’s specialty, while many of the farm junglers that Reignover prefers were out of style. With the changes brought about in the Mid-Season Update, the meta has shifted into the favor of both of them, something that should help TL get off to a better than 2-8 start in the Summer Split.
While there may not be a lot of history to support the idea that this roster will improve significantly over the place they were in last split, it should also be mentioned that after surviving a bout in the relegation tournament, Team Liquid is unlikely to want to go through it again, so they must have some confidence in this 2017 roster they have put together. However, it does beg the question, if this roster struggles, will the players have to worry about their jobs being on the chopping block again?