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.