After failing to reclaim the North American throne throughout all of 2020, Team Liquid has come out of the gate strong in 2021. TL triumphed over Cloud9 3-2 in the finals of the inaugural League of Legends Championship Series Lock In, and in doing so, has established itself as the team to beat heading into the 2021 LCS Spring Split.
Team Liquid AD Carry Edward "Tactical" Ra spoke to Inven Global after winning the 2021 LCS Lock In to discuss the finals match against Cloud9, playing against C9 AD Carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen, and his growth as a player since his LCS debut last spring.
Congratulations on winning the LCS Lock In. How did Team Liquid adjust for game 5 of the series to prevent the Cloud9 reverse sweep?
I didn't expect the first two games to be as one-sided as they ended up. I was just telling myself that C9 must be having a bad day after we won the first two games and that we would just take the third win. However, the next two games were pretty hard.
I definitely think we let C9 get picks to suit its strengths, and their players beat us with them, so we adapted throughout the series. For example, in games 4 and 5, we banned Senna because we know it's a really good fit for Zven. We recognized what else we had to change after game 4 and adapted for game 5.
Throughout the LCS Lock In, you and Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-In proved yourself as a top 2 bot lane alongside Zven and Cloud9 support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme. What was it like facing them today, especially when focused shifted away from the bot lane more than ever in the final game of the series?
We were playing against a more skilled bot lane compared to other opponents. Both sides made fewer mistakes so there wasn't a lot of opportunity to fight. In addition, the bot lane picks that we drafted were not spicy. They were mostly focused on farming unless one player makes a big mistake, and Zven and Vulcan don't, really. This series seemed like more of a top-side focused battle and we came out on top in terms of that.
Playing against Zven is pretty fun, though. He doesn't mess up as often as other AD Carries so I'm not just getting random advantages. In this matchup, it feels like CoreJJ and I have to focus more on the "team game" and use our movements around the map more efficiently instead of just trying to kill the enemy bot lane duo.
"I didn't expect the first two games to be as one-sided as they ended up."
Team Liquid and Cloud9 both came into this tournament retaining 3/5 of its established roster from the 2020 season. What was the difference maker between these two teams today?
I definitely think our changes improved our team, but also, everyone works well together. You can't always have five individually skilled players work well as a team. For example, sometimes someone might not have a good attitude, but that's not present on this team. All of our players work together really well and we have a pretty good environment in addition to everyone being good players individually.
Obviously, it feels good to win this tournament, but do you think it gives you any competitive edge heading into the 2021 LCS Spring Split?
Not every team is good right from the start. Some teams need time to become really good, and some can. This tournament really benefitted us because we are five individually skilled players who have a lot of different ideas, so it was helpful in terms of trying to sync on ideas and setups.
I don't know, maybe other teams will be scared of us and have a mental block when facing us. Usually, when facing a strong team, things can be scary [laughs], so I guess that'd be cool if it happens with us. I would never have imagined being on that kind of a team.
"I no longer feel like Doublelift's successor."
It's early in the 2021 season, but how would you say the current level of play in the LCS compares to 2020?
I think the level of play is pretty high considering it is only the start of the year, but also, it was a given we, alongside Cloud9, would retain some of our synergy since both teams only swapped out two starters in the off-season. That's why we were the two teams to qualify for the Lock In finals. Overall, I'd say the average level of the LCS is higher than last year.
This season has been pretty fun so far, it would be boring if it was easy. Since it took effort and teamwork to win, it was a lot of fun for me.
When you made your LCS debut last spring, it seemed impossible for Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng not to be brought up in the context of your very young career. Would you say you have anything more to prove in this regard?
I no longer feel like Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng's successor. People think CoreJJ is very good, and he is. He does a lot of the heavy lifting, but I also want to show my value and show that we are equal. I really want to do well and have people recognize my ability even more than they do now.
Thanks so much for the interview, Tactical. Is there anything you'd like to say after winning the LCS Lock In?
I just want to say thank you to all of the fans. There were some intense moments throughout the series, and it was really fun for me, so I hope it was everyone who was watching enjoyed it, too.
Images by: David Lee for Riot Games
Find full schedules, brackets, and more for your favorite esports on Juked.gg!
For more LoL Esports news and content, head over to our dedicated League of Legends section!