Team Liquid, an organization that has established itself as a staple in the NA LCS, might have been down on their luck for the past few months, but they're certainly not out.
For the first time this season, TL looked like a professional team that was worthy of carrying on their legacy as a consistently high ranking team after an unexpectedly brilliant set of performances this week against Team EnVy and Phoenix1.
Goldenglue has been a wildcard who has been described by TL founder Steve Arhancet as a player who had tremendous potential but never was able to translate the success found in scrims onto the LCS stage. After spending time sitting on the bench this season after having Slooshi step into the mid lane, Team Liquid decided to give the starting roster from Week 1 another chance to reverse this squad's misfortunes.
As the NA LCS regular season begins to wind down and Riot reviewing applications for franchising spots, it was clear that failure would not be an option this time. If Phoenix1 can be described as a team hungry for success, then Team Liquid would be an organization on the brink of starvation as they've yet to taste sweet victory all season aside from the brief period when Doublelift was still on the roster. Now sitting at 4-10, Team Liquid remains a long shot to make the playoffs but their chances of avoiding the promotion tournament have drastically improved.
The magical week started with this incredible play from jungler Yeu-jin "Reignover" Kim from Game 1 against Team EnVy which reminded fans why he is considered to be one of the best junglers in the region.
Against all odds, Reignover managed to steal the Baron away from Envy's Tae-yoo "LirA" Nam and Apollo Price. Despite Envy's team composition with two champions who excel at taking objectives, Cho'Gath and Kalista, Reignover's Smite would not be denied. It was the gut-punch that ended up flipping the momentum of this match over to Team Liquid and ultimately helped them to secure a much-needed victory.
Envy would battle back to tie the second match of the series, but Team Liquid didn't fold from the pressure as they were inspired by the memory of their Game 1 win which was still fresh in their minds. Even after LirA gave Team Liquid a taste of their own medicine by stealing away a Baron, Liquid's resolve was not shaken.
As the items builds on both teams neared completion, Liquid's star player Gwang-jin "Piglet" Chae reminded fans why he's properly recognized as an A-tier AD carry. In the match-winning teamfight, Piglet with his meticulous positioning and decision making on Tristana, Rocket Jumped his way to a triple kill and allowed Team Liquid to close out the game.
With the wind back in their sails Team Liquid was able to find even greater success later on this week.
It's an understatement to say that Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer has received his fair share of criticism this year. He hasn't lit the world on fire with his rumored spectacular scrim performances, yet he is captivating in the sense that he is the embodiment of a scrappy underdog with a burning desire to prove himself that you can't help but cheer on, even against the toughest of odds. His work ethic and commitment to self-improvement has only been reinforced with his personal boot camp in Korea with Ever8 Winners from which he returned poised as the one who had the potential to help Liquid regain their former glory.
Even though his appearances on the NA LCS stage have produced mixed results, his overall performance this week is a positive sign moving forward into the final week sof the split. On paper, his numbers on Taliyah and Orianna in the match against Phoenix1 - 11 kills, 1 death, and 17 assists for a 28 KDA - are some of the best he has ever posted.
Goldenglue will have a tougher time replicating this success against Immortals' Eugene "Pobelter" Park and Cloud9's Nicolaj Jensen, but he has at least delivered on his promise to win against new Phoenix1 mid laner Jun-sik "Pirean" Choi and instilled hope once again into weary Team Liquid fans.
For most of the year, I've felt that watching Liquid's games have been depressing. This is an organization that has been beaten down and gut-punched in their prime too many times like the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. Just like the Browns, the first glimmer of hope burns the brightest for Liquid's fans. But this week, Liquid was absolutely fun to watch. This starting roster finally looked decisive and motivated to win, something that was clearly missing from this squad at the start of summer. The 2-0 week was the shot in the arm this squad needed to wake up. Now, they're in position to make a last-minute rally for a playoff spot.
If FlyQuest loses to Team Envy and Echo Fox loses to Team Solo Mid, Team Liquid will suddenly find themselves in a three-way tie for 7th. Liquid's currently living in the best-case scenario for their week. They've kept their dwindling playoff hopes alive while gaining much-needed security to avoid the threat of relegation. Their backs will be against the wall next week facing two playoff-bound teams in Immortals and Cloud9. But like FlyQuest, Liquid's quickly becoming an underdog favorite to root for. If they turn in more gutsy performances like this next week, it may not be time to send this squad to the glue factory.
By the way: I'll be checking my bank account, Steve.
Image credit: Riot Games