Team Liquid 2016
2016 began as a year of hope, not only for Team Liquid, but also for League of Legends as a whole. The acquisition of Samson “Lourlo” Jackson, Matt “Matt” Elenton and Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, and the subsequent insertion into each of them into the starting roster breathed excitement into the pool of aspiring domestic talent. Unlike other teams that had consistently drawn from anywhere but North America, Liquid had opted for homegrown players that were performing at the top of solo queue. Albeit unproven, each of these players had already been touted as the potential budding stars.
Their season started out fairly slow, dropping every single game through the first two weeks, before gaining some traction. The team managed to climb to a 4th place finish, both in the regular season and playoffs. Perhaps the highlight of these proceedings was Dardoch’s awarding of the”Outstanding Rookie” of the split. The influx of young talent was already proving to be more than competitive.
The Dardoch dilemma
The start of summer began with a surprising announcement regarding the jungle position: Dardoch was suspended. Filling into his position was Galen “Moon” Holgate, who previously played for NRG and had showed promise of his own.
Team Liquid could not have looked weaker with Holgate.
They were consistently bullied around the early game, lacking both the mechanical efficacy and dynamism of Dardoch, whose absence truly indicated his role as TL’s true carry.
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But this internal suspension of talent was a familiar face for Liquid fans. Previously, the top lane enigma Diego “Quas” Ruiz was removed prior to the start of 2016. It seems that in their hopes of converting potential into results, Liquid consistently created toxic environments.
The Dardoch project was no exception to this, perhaps even epitomizing Liquid’s struggles. After a mediocre split, Liquid exercised an even more disturbing action in the playoffs. Midway through their set against Counter Logic Gaming, Jovani “Fabbbyyy” Guillen was replaced in favor of Phil “Jynthe” Vu. While the trump card swap garnered a game for Liquid, in the end it was ultimately worthless as they fell 3-1; worse it had reaffirmed suspicions about TL’s dysfunctional environment and management.
Who’s at fault?
Dardoch’s been transferred off to Echo Fox (presumably) and Piglet seems to have removed himself from this picture. Even Guillen has left the team after finally being moved into the starting roster; there’s no better time to address any possible issues with management.
Liquid’s politics truly looks like a “Blame Game”, even analyst Markz chiming in on Dardoch’s lack of cooperation. This drama-filled soap opera is worse than the early episodes of TSM: LEGENDS (I don’t think another show has been more Thesaurus driven ever). Ironically, that’s exactly where we should look. As they say, “if everywhere you go it smells like shit, maybe it’s time to check your own shoes.” So who’s wearing the kicks?
A lot of indicators point towards coach Locodoco. He’s never been the paragon of leadership, and his social media tends to indicate immaturity. A coach fundamentally needs to be able to corral his/her troops and lead by both example and instruction.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to blame him; he didn’t exactly sign up for this as his exact job (rather, as a content creator/analyst). Either way, Liquid needs new leadership and fast. Organizations should be able to control and cultivate talent, which Liquid never has any shortage of.