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Photos of Team Liquid's League of Legends team playing in the LCS (League Championship Series) Spring Split finals. They won the series 3-2 over TSM after being down 0-2 and completing the reverse sweep.
NEWS

Team Liquid Spring Split Champions

Apr 182019

Whether it’s 15 rounds or 5 games, true champions can go the distance. In St. Louis, every member of Team Liquid proved that they had the unique ire that belongs only to the very best. Everyone in Team Liquid stared down the long climb back from a 2-0 deficit and none of them blinked, beating TSM in a thrilling reverse sweep in the Finals. This is Team Liquid’s third championship, Xmithie’s 5th, and Doublelift’s 6th but it might be the whole team’s biggest win yet. That’s because this series proved something for every single player.

Let’s start from the top. Long before the split began, fans and analysts alike talked about Impact like he’d peaked. The word on the street was that he couldn’t play carries, couldn’t hold his own against up and coming top laners, and wasn’t worth his contract. In this series, Impact did what he always did and turned on playoff mode. He opted into tough matchups, absorbed heavy pressure, turned around ganks and dives, survived rough laning phases, and outfought a top tier opponent when it truly mattered. This time, he did it all on carries. 

 

Of course, Impact isn’t Team Liquid’s only world champion player. Unlike Impact, CoreJJ might’ve been one of the most hyped players in Finals. CoreJJ came into the game already the MVP of the split. His play throughout the regular season made it obvious to everyone that he was the best support in the LCS and everyone was looking to see if he’d live up to the hype. CoreJJ surpassed it. His split-second Braum ults made Ezreal look like he didn’t belong in the meta and his Tahm Kench made Doublelift look invincible. He played some of the best support games NA has ever seen and he did it with a smile.

 

 

 

 

For CoreJJ, fun doesn’t come easily. “I don’t like games,” CoreJJ said in a TL interview, “I just like winning.” It isn’t enough just to play, CoreJJ needs to be competitive to enjoy the game, yet he took the post-game interview to talk about how fun the series was (but only after starting the series 0-2) and later tweeted, “This is so fun maybe i am playing for this feeling.” In the same interview, he made the importance of fun even clearer, “This is a long marathon, a long journey, so we need fun!” After the hard fought finals against TSM, you only had to look at CoreJJ and you could see the euphoria on his face. Not only did he enjoy the series, but you could tell he was incredibly pleased with his own performance. Clearly he had enjoyed the competition, and winning with Team Liquid.

 

Someone who enables CoreJJ to have fun by thoroughly smashing his opponents is TL’s jungler, Xmithie. Both are just as important to the team, both show up just as much in any given game or series, but many have gotten so used to Xmithie’s sublime jungling that they forget he’s NA’s winningest jungler both internationally and regionally. He has 5 LCS trophies on his shelf however despite his array of accolades, each year there’s a new discussion about who the best jungler in North America is. If there was any debate, it’s over after this series. Xmithie outplayed his opponent in smites fights, ganks, and teamfights. If Meteos and Svenskeren, 100 Thieves and Cloud 9, weren’t challenging enough, Xmithie proved himself against Akaadian and TSM as NA’s clear number 1 jungler.

The only player more decorated than Xmithie is Doublelift. Team Liquid’s star ADC would find himself facing off against his ex-teammate, Bjergesen of TSM, competing not only for the Spring Split championship, but also for the honor of being the only player in NA with 6 LCS trophies. Their duel wasn’t as much about trophies as it was the legacy behind them. While NA has its fair share of great players, few compare to Bjergsen and Doublelift — players who consistently lead teams to the finals and win against the strongest in their region.

 

The 2019 Spring Finals would let us know, if only for a moment, who the GOAT in North America was. When the dust settled, Doublelift had one more trophy than Bjergsen and a Finals MVP award to boot. In the battle of NA’s two greatest players, Doublelift clearly came out ahead and carried his team over Bjergsen’s. The three-peat LCS victory demonstrated Doublelift’s consistency, the strong in-game performances demonstrated his skill, and his triumphing over the team that kicked him showed no one wins in the LCS like him. It’s also demonstrated his growth as a competitor, as highlighted in the post-game interview he did with Travis Gafford, saying that he was almost “bored” and wanted to go home. This is not to say that he wasn’t mentally engaged in the competition, but instead that he’s reached a point in his career where nothing distracts him and nothing breaks him — something exhibited in his ability to recover from match point three times in a row, especially during game 5’s nail biting comeback.

Then there’s Jensen. If Bjergsen and Doublelift are NA’s best performers in-region then Jensen might be NA’s best out-of-region. Despite his international success, however, Jensen’s trophy case was empty before this series. He’d come close to winning it all more than once but fell short each time. More than anybody on the team, he had something to prove: when all the chips are down, when the biggest reward in the region is up for grabs, when it’s game 5 and one play could make the difference, that he could win.

 

He didn’t just prove that he could win, he proved that he was the difference between winning and losing. In a tense game 5 where the whole team was behind, Jensen was the only laner staying ahead in the early game. When it mattered most, he picked off Smoothie, shut down Broken Blade, and went toe-to-toe with Bjergsen — arguably his nemesis in LCS Finals matches. Most of all, Jensen never got rattled by Zven taunting him for his height and his heartbreaking game 5 loss on Ekko in 2017 Spring Finals. Instead, it seemed Zven only rattled himself as he overextended into Team Liquid’s waiting arms in game 5 and cost TSM the lead and arguably the series. When it mattered most, Jensen shut out the noise and won, putting the first of (hopefully) many trophies with Team Liquid on its shelves.

 

 This series was defining for Team Liquid as an organization as well. Unlike previous Finals, this wasn’t the story of dominance and quick 3-0’s. This wasn’t the story of Team Liquid sweeping a region that simply couldn’t stand up to their roster. Instead, Team Liquid came into playoffs off a shaky end of the season and words of terrible scrims heard through the grapevine. They came up against a TSM that was being hyped as being in top form.

 

It was only fitting that Team Liquid went down two games, that the series went to five, and that almost every game was close. At the start of the split, the new and improved TSM and Team Liquid was supposed to be the match to watch. By the end of the split, it was. At the start of the split, Team Liquid was supposed to be the team to beat in NA and by the end of the split, they still were — though nobody could manage it.

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