After winning the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Lock In, Team Liquid has made a misstep or two throughout the LCS Spring Split. At 9-6, TL is currently in a tie with 100 Thieves for 4th place with three games left to play. While TL is currently sitting in a position to potentially qualify for the LCS Mid-Season Showdown, 4th place falls a bit short of the star-studded roster’s expectations.
Fortunately for Team Liquid, its new top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris has done anything but disappoint. Of all LCS top laners, Alphari has the highest cs per minute, damage per minute, damage share. His cs differential at 10 minutes and his gold differential at 10 minutes are also the best in the league by a whopping amount in each category — 301 dpm and 8 cs higher than 100 Thieves’ Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, who is 2nd in both categories.
Alphari is one kill behind Evil Geniuses’ Jeong “Impact” Eon-young for most kills of any LCS top laner, and his least deaths of any top laner in the league also give him the best KDA amongst his laning peers. Alphari isn’t just putting on a show individually, either — he has the third highest kill participation and his 25% kill share is the highest of any top laner in the league.
After having a chance to play against the best LCS top laners a few weeks into the Spring Split, Alphari sat down with Inven Global and discusses some of the standouts and their performances relative to himself: “There are some decent NA tops — Impact is actually surprisingly better than I thought he would be, and Ssumday can be good sometimes.
Alphari also gave credit to Cloud9 top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami, whose combination of bold trash talk and slow start to his rookie season have made him a prominent target for community criticism.
“I think Fudge is good too. He gets a lot of flack, and obviously he has a pretty strong mid/jungle duo, but he’s not as bad as everyone says he is, right? I think Fudge is much better than the other rookies in NA so far," Alphari explained.
Despite having positive first impressions of his competition, Alphari cited the reason for his dominance as simply not being challenged individually the same way he was when competing in Europe against the likes of Fnatic or G2 Esports.
“I don’t think there’s any top laner in NA who is an X factor,” said Alphari. “In Europe there are Martin “Wunder” Hansen and Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau, who have caught me off guard and outplayed me so many times in my career. They’ve pushed me to look at myself and question whether I’m actually good enough or not at times. I haven’t experienced this yet in NA. I haven’t felt challenged in the particular way I was sometimes in EU.”
If Alphari had been less dominant throughout the Spring Split, his words would have come off as hubris to say the least, but Team Liquid’s top laner has continued to play at an unparalleled level in the LCS, and teams are taking notice.
In an interview with Inven Global, Cloud9 jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang praised Alphari’s ability when asked which new LCS players outside of C9 mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perkovic impressed him the most. “I think Alphari has been pretty good on Team Liquid. I think he's been playing very well and has been helping his team a lot,” Blaber explained. “Alphari has been the most noteworthy player that's come to the LCS this year.”
Team Liquid’s roster outside of its remarkably consistent top laner is stacked with talent, but with the closeness of the standings in the breakneck pace of the 2021 LCS Spring Split, there is a very real possibility that TL would be dangerously close to missing the post-season if not for Alphari’s all-pro level of play. Team Liquid has more than a few issues to shore up in its last week before the 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown, but one thing is for certain: top lane is not one of them.