It seems like every year, North American teams outside of Cloud9 seem so close to glory yet get eliminated in a tiebreaker scenario or a situation outside of their control. This year, the phenomenon has happened yet again in the form of Team Liquid, as the North American powerhouse was just eliminated by a tie-breaker scenario.
What Happened Today?
TL had a difficult task in front of them. In order to qualify, they either had to win all games or win enough to force a tiebreaker. While they lost to G2 early in the morning, they pulled an impressive win against Suning Gaming and an even more dominant victory against Machi Esports afterwards. If G2 took even one win against Suning, they would’ve forced the tiebreaker and potentially rode off the momentum from their wins earlier. Unfortunately, as will be shown in our Marquis Matchup of the Day, G2 took a rather stomped loss to Suning and knocked TL out of potential Worlds tiebreakers.
This Isn’t The First Time This Happened
Where have we seen this scenario before? C9 in 2015, TSM in 2017 and TL in 2019. And now Team Liquid in 2020 suffers another defeat with G2 Esports’ loss. As we all have seen in the past, Groups is wildly unpredictable and nearly anything can happen. And with the World’s best teams duking it out in a month-long tournament, the unpredictability is high. C9 needed one win to complete a Cinderella Story and both TSM and TL needed to break the tie. This iteration of Team Liquid gave many a spark of 2018 Cloud9. Even I admit that I had TL second in my own pick’ems because I saw the same aspirations of hope from Play-Ins to Groups.
But what separates this TL from the others? Is it the loss of superstar Yilliang “Doublelift” Peng? Is it the VISA plague early last season? How about the coaching problems illicit in the spring to acquiring one of the LCS’s most calculated minds in Joshua “Jatt” Leesman? No. It’s something else.
The answer: cohesion
Jay, you may be thinking, what does that mean in League of Legends? Well let’s look at the base definition of cohesion. The dictionary defines it as “the act or state of sticking together tightly.” This team had so much cohesion on stage and in practice. You heard in interviews that Edward “Tactical” Ra and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in were practicing daily before the summer began and even in the Spring Split. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong had existing synergy from their days together on Cloud9 and into 2019 and Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen just shows existing talent from his EU days.
Take a look at the game between TL and Suning. A Level One gank as memed about in NA could never be pulled off without this level of execution from TL.
Cohesion in a game such as League of Legends is key in Best-of-Ones. Anything can happen on a given day but teams can actively make ideas with good strategy and level heads. With active leaders such as CoreJJ who coach rookies like Tactical to make important decisions like when to engage, it impacts the rest of the map and the mentalities thereof.
Even as we mentioned in our Marquis Matchup two weeks ago where NA bested EU in the play-ins, watching players like Tactical on the Twitch vs the MAD Lions shows the utter strength and dominance of a rookie who only played four games on stage last year.
Ultimately, the point of this story is this: teamwork is extremely important in this World Championship. If you want to be the best, work with a team. Cohesion is especially important in a tournament as diverse as this one. Hopefully we see TSM and FlyQuest pull off similar feats this weekend, but only time will tell.
Until then, we thank Team Liquid for their hard fought games and representation of NA to the best of their ability.