After losing its first match of the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split, Team Liquid is making a roster change. Star top laner Barney "Alphari" Morris has been benched in favor of Team Liquid Academy top laner Thomas "Jenkins" Tran, who will be making his LCS debut as TL's starting top laner for at least the remainder of week 1.
The roster swap comes after TL's opening day loss to TSM, a team it beat 3-1 in the semifinals of the 2021 LCS Mid-Season Showdown. Late in the evening of Friday, June 4, Team Liquid's League of Legends Twitter account tweeted a video of head coach Joshua "Jatt" Leesman announcing the roster swap.
Jatt prefaces the announcement by calling it 'surprising news' given the dominant performance from Alphari as TL's primary carry throughout the Spring Split, which earned him All-Pro honors in his first LCS split.
Very little context was given by Jatt regarding the specific reason for the roster swap aside from the following: "As for the details that I think a bunch of people are looking for, unfortunately there's just a lot of context that is really hard to understand from the outside, and I think is, unfortunately, unfair to share publicly. So, what I will say is this is not a decision that is made flippantly or lightly, and it is a decision that we think is in the best interest of the team."
Jenkins was originally signed to Team Liquid Academy before the start of the 2019 season, and has spent the past five splits being developed by the organization for an LCS debut, but it's hard to imagine that these were the circumstances in which he expected to make it. Nonetheless, Jenkins will come into the LCS roster in place of Alphari after TL's loss to TSM, and will face off against Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud9 in the first two LCS matches of his career.