Team Liquid is the only team in North America actively experimenting with their starting roster. The team announced they would utilize a 10 man roster before the season started, essentially merging with their B-team, Team Liquid Academy.
It didn’t take long for Team Liquid to start tinkering. After losing their first game of the season against Renegades changes were made. Longtime Liquid jungler Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera was replaced by Josh “Dardoch” Hartnett, and support Andy “Smoothie” Ta was swapped out for Matt ‘Matt’ Elento.
Since the roster changes were made the team has had mixed results. Losing their following two games against CLG and TSM, Liquid would go on to beat rookie teams Echo Fox and NRG eSports with their substitutions playing an instrumental role in both games. It Liquid’s most recent game against NRG that really showcased the potential this revamped roster has.
Dardoch played the game on Rek’Sai, but chose a more traditional cinderhulk build path instead of his damage focused build put on display in previous games. It was NRG’s top laner Impact who suffered most. Dardoch would pull off a handful of successful ganks for his own top laner Samson “Lourlo” Jackson. The pair successfully killed Impact twice in lane, but more importantly made him effectively useless for the rest of the game.
Looking in from the outside, it doesn’t appear that Team Liquid players will have to make much of an adjustment to become comfortable with Dardoch after playing with IWillDominate. Dardoch comes from the same mold; a high energy, intense player, looking to make plays. During a recent Mic Check segment you can hear Dardoch getting amped up as his team looks to clean up their enemies.
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And then there is Matt. According to Team Liquid coaching staff, Matt being subbed at the same time as Dardoch was no accident. Matt’s demeanor is much more Dyrus than it is Dominate. His cool and collected personality counter balances Dardoch’s intensity well. Thanks to the Mic Check segments we can hear Matt telling his team at times to “calm down, slow down” in an effort to keep their supercharged emotions from making bad decisions.
Here’s Matt making accidental Bard plays while duoing with TSM ADC Doublelift.
Matt looks like a great fit for the team off the rift. In-game he’s no slouch either. Having played a couple games on Allistar and Bard, Matt has shown he has the mechanical ability to create perfect engagements at times. His game on Bard against NRG involved a couple whiffed Tempered Fate ultimates, but also a couple clutch ones that ensured Team Liquid would win the fight. Not bad for his fourth LCS game ever.
After a tumultuous off-season that had former Liquid top laner Quas leaving the team after an unannounced incident, and former support Xpecial admitting that Piglet did not like him, infusing fresh talent like Dardoch and Matt allow Team Liquid a chance to start over. The team has a chance to create a healthier team atmosphere among their 10 player roster. Dardoch and Matt are proof that there is LCS ready talent in North America ripe for the picking. Team Liquid fans should be optimistic with the direction the team is taking this season.