Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has been the star mid laner for Team Liquid for over two years now. After leaving Cloud9, Jensen won two straight LCS titles before his team faltered in 2020. Now, with an upgraded and redesigned roster, Team Liquid is once again looking like the top team in North America. Jensen sat down with Stropse to discuss the new Team Liquid, his teammates both old and new, as well as his top opponents in 2021.
Jensen was a rock for Team Liquid throughout its rollercoaster ride of 2020. From Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen’s visa issues to Peter “Doublelift” Peng’s drama and even Jeong “Impact” Eon-young’s struggles in the top lane, there were times when everything seemed to be imploding around him. Yet, Jensen remained resilient, and Team Liquid ended the season strong. Now with the changes made over the offseason, the team has surrounded its franchise star with fresh talent but also kept the pieces integral to keeping the machine running smoothly.
An Upgraded TL
With the hire of longtime LCS caster Joshua “Jatt” Leesman and promotion of youngster Edward “Tactical” Ra, Team Liquid began enhancing its infrastructure last year. The team continued its upgrades in 2021, bringing in star top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris and former FlyQuest jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer. However, It’s not just the new top laner and jungler setting TL apart from its previous version.
“A lot of our playstyle from 2020 was focused on outscaling, playing safe, and not looking for too much stuff in the early game,” Jensen told Stropse. “But with this roster, I think we’re trying to have a much more aggressive approach to the game and just have a more snowbally playstyle.”
A lot of the success Team Liquid found in the summer of 2020 came from capitalizing on the mistakes of its opponents. However, in 2021 with its upgraded roster, Team Liquid is hoping to return to its dominant form, but this time with a rejuvenated, aggressive style.
Surrounded by Talent
Jatt is entering his second full split as the head coach of Team Liquid. When he initially came to the team, it was a near dumpster fire with players making mistakes left and right. However, the head coach instilled a new regime for TL. He slowed down the tempo and taught players to capitalize off the mistakes of their opponents. Now in 2021, Jatt is the one leading the conversation when it comes to being more aggressive.
“Jatt has focused a lot on structure,” Jensen explained. “He wants us to have a more aggressive approach to the game, focus on having us all be in sync, and just make sure that we are using opportunities more so than last year.”
Jatt has undoubtedly been a great hire for Team Liquid, and the organization is hoping the head coach can continue pushing boundaries.
Speaking of reigning MVP Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, who has now been the Team Liquid support for over two years, Jensen explained how easy he makes the game for his teammates. “It’s really easy to play with Core, because he always knows what he wants,” Jensen said of his teammate. “I mean, he’s been playing this game for a long time, and he’s always been at the very top of his role, so he’s really smart about the game.”
Jensen also spoke of the leadership CoreJJ brings, saying “It’s really easy for us to follow whatever he wants to do, and make sure that we are all just kind of playing around with him, in a sense.” If Jensen is the center of TL, the rock that’s always solid or the heart that never stops beating, then CoreJJ is the brain.
Discussing his new teammates, Alphari and Santorin, Jensen hasn’t been too surprised by them, as he already knew of their capacity to play at a high level. “I already had an idea that he was going to be really good in lane and mechanically, but he also has a really good understanding of how to play the macro game,” Jensen said of Alphari.
Speaking of Santorin, who Jensen competed against for years in the LCS before teaming up, Jensen said, “He’s really smart about the game, and he’s all he’s always been the jungler that’s more creative than other junglers.”
Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves are the Teams to Beat
Although many fans and analysts have Team Liquid and Cloud9 as the top two teams in the LCS, Jensen has a different idea on who they actually are.
“I think it’s hard to say which team is going to be the team to beat. Right now 100 Thieves and EG (Evil Geniuses) actually look better than C9. But, you know, perhaps in a couple of weeks, maybe a month or so, C9 might look stronger in my eyes. But right now, I think EG and 100 Thieves look a bit better than C9.”
Even with the addition of Luka “Perkz” Perković, Jensen isn’t concerned about playing against his old team. In fact, Jensen’s not really concerned about anyone, adding, “I’m not really afraid of any team. I think I think we’re better than all of them.”
Team Liquid will be facing off in the LCS Lock In Semifinals against Evil Geniuses on Saturday for a chance to move on to the Finals and compete for the $150,000 prize.