Interview by: Lawrence Scotti
Many would consider Barney "Alphari" Morrison's first split in North America as a success. A Lock-In championship, followed by a narrow five-game loss to Cloud9 in the Spring Finals earned the top lane more clout than all his years in the LEC.
But the Brit is not happy still and knows things have to change coming into Summer and on the path to Worlds. Inven Global spoke with Team Liquid's top laner shortly after the Spring Split Finals to discuss how he felt after the 2-3 loss to Cloud9, his individual goals, and why jungle is "more OP than it's ever been."
Just to start, any overall feelings on how the season played out? Maybe even just focusing on the playoffs a little bit. I know that the playoffs were a little tumultuous.
It's hard to judge a season overall after the fact, the fact is that all that really matters is the results. So while we had a good Lock-In tournament, Finals, regular split, etc., it doesn't mean anything really in hindsight. All that really matters is that we came second. It's kind of just like looking at playoffs and how we wanted to come first. And in that aspect, the split was not great. Obviously, it could have been a much bigger failure. But it's a failure regardless, coming second.
Getting used to the team, moving to America for the first time, and dealing with Covid and all the weird office regulations, quarantine, etc., getting used to a new country and the weather — all this was very difficult for me. So I got that out of the way in the first split. But I imagine it will get easier and better, and more enjoyable to play over here. But yeah, second place was not what I wanted. Not what anyone wanted, obviously, but there were still some positives and the next split will be better.
I feel like even though you were so unbelievably dominant in the regular season, if you guys don't win at all, it'll just be another disappointment. Because it feels like for you, everything is about winning, right? So regardless of how dominant you've been, it'll just be all about winning that championship and making it to Worlds.
Yeah. It's like my fifth year in a major league. I've been playing for a long time and haven't won a major split yet. I've been to Worlds and I want to go again. That's like a really big thing as well. So I would really, really, really like to win a split. Playing internationally is very important to me. But you know: regular season, getting All-Pro, random other achievements... The Lock-In wasn't like a real tournament. Well, it was, but there was no crowd, there was no stage. It didn't feel like I won anything when we won that. I want to come first at something. But it is very important to go back to Worlds. That's what I want.
"Jungle is so f*****g OP. Most OP it's ever been, I think. And when you have fed Hecarims and Udyrs everywhere, it limits the champion pool for top lane a bit."
I'm kind of curious how you feel about top lane right now because when the split started, you were still playing stuff like Kennen and Quinn. I know those champions have kind of gone out of the meta a little bit, but how do you feel about the meta as it stands right now in top lane?
Honestly, I'm not sure what the top lane meta is going to be like for MSI [the interview was conducted before MSI, shortly after Spring Split finals — Ed.]. Going into summer as well, there will still be some changes. So I don't really have an opinion right now, I also haven't played much League in the last couple of weeks.
Do you hope that those champs like the Kennen come back into play?
I do, but I don't think it's likely with the champions right now. If you are a squishy top lane champion and if there's an Udyr or a Hecarim that can't get one shot by champs like Kennen or Quinn... They can one-shot you, and they have enough move speed. You have to be more like a bruiser or tank.
That's how I feel like — recently at least — because jungle is so f*****g OP. Most OP it's ever been, I think. And when you have fed Hecarims and Udyrs everywhere, it limits the champion pool for top lane a bit. So you'll want to play more self-sufficient champs that don't get dove 24/7, or can deal damage back to these champions. There are champions I could play, but the jungle meta is really dictating this split. I feel like top lane has huge diversity. It feels like you could play a lot of different things. And Riot did a good job with how they reworked items. It felt pretty fresh, pretty interesting.
To wrap it around back to the LCS finals against Cloud9: You've had a little bit more time to process the series. What happened in it? Are there any new thoughts about how it played out?
I don't think any of my thoughts have changed since after we lost. I have ideas of what went wrong, both for myself, for top side, and for the team overall. Yeah, I mean, nothing's changed.
I know you have probably thought about this: So, you gave first blood, maybe not in all of the games, but certainly in a handful of them. But going back and watching those games, I don't necessarily think that first blood ever dictated the rest of the flow of the game. Do you have any thoughts about that?
I think it didn't change the game much. It didn't make Blaber have a huge impact, but it did limit my ability to have as much of an impact as I would've liked. So it mostly stabilized their top side a lot of the time.
"You could blame it on me if you wanted to, but it would be pretty short-sighted to blame it solely on one person, as some people do when somebody dies early in games."
I was still winning side most games and I still built gold leads despite what happened in a lot of the games too. Obviously, it's not great, and it's not ideal. And that's different from the games and going into the series. They were a better early-game team than us. We had very little practice [with Armao]. They also had a good read on how to play the early game. And they maybe had a slightly better meta read, I'm not sure.
But yeah, we were pretty bad early. And you could blame it on me if you wanted to, but it would be pretty short-sighted to blame it solely on one person, as some people do when somebody dies early in games. I guess it's true, it didn't really impact what happened. But of course, it feels bad regardless because if I could change small percentages of my gameplay, when it's a close best-of-5 series, I could have been a difference-maker in the series.
So game five comes around and they do the lane swap with the Sion. And I remember the Cloud9 bot lane, creeping through the brush, coming to top and you're playing Cho'Gath and you're in the middle of the wave, pushing it, and then all of a sudden they pop up. What are you thinking in that moment?
Probably just like "Oh shit."
Having just talked to Jatt, he said that there wasn't that much of a feeling that they were going to be doing that in such a high-stakes game. And obviously, I don't think there was vision to know. So there was no way of knowing before. Do you have any thoughts about that, looking back on it?
Not really. I mean, in hindsight, If anyone thought about it at all, it was really obvious they might go for it with their champions. That makes a lot of sense. It's even an idea we had, pushing in practice, a couple of times, like a month prior to the actual game, but we never followed through enough in the scrims. So, it just wasn't on my mind, or anyone's mind, that they could do it. We just thought it would be a normal game, and that we were all good. Like just doing my normal stuff rather than lane swapping.