After the first round-robin of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship group stage, #2 League Championship Series representative Team Liquid holds possession of 3rd place in Group D with a record of 1-2. TL got off to a strong start by defeating MAD Lions in its first match of Worlds 2021, but dropped back-to-back games against Gen.G and LNG Esports.
Following the conclusion of Team Liquid's first round-robin at Worlds 2021, jungler Lucas "Santorin" Larsen joined Inven Global to break down TL's first three matches, share his thoughts on the Group D competition, and provide an update on his current health.
Obviously, this game against Gen.G didn't end up the way you wanted, but can you tell me a bit about the gameplan heading into this match?
Honestly, it's very disappointing that we lost this game because I feel that this is one of the compositions that we did well with domestically. I feel like we made a lot of crucial mistakes that we usually don't make that just kind of blew the game open — not respecting the opposing jungler's gank timings; making bad trades in lane; not covering the right timings as a team — it just kind of felt like we weren't on the same page and we were just playing sloppy.
Because of this, this game became very quickly one-sided, which really sucked because I feel like our comfort on this composition in terms of the way you want to beat a team — this is one of the compositions we beat teams within the LCS.
Were there certain things about how Gen.G was able to respond to this signature TL comp compared to the LCS teams you were able to triumph over with these champions?
You can always argue that the other team is playing well if they punish your mistakes, so I think Gen.G did a really good job. I wouldn't say that what they did was unusual — if you looked through the game, it was very clear that there were many was we threw the game, which was not great. We died to a level 3 gank, we took some bad trades, and in our timings, we should have been stronger.
We either failed to execute or we got our Teleport interrupted or whatever thing like that may have happened. I feel like Gen.G played well, but I feel like we made it a lot easier for them than it should have been. That's why I'm pretty disappointed — we should have done better than this.
I was a bit surprised to see Gen.G start Noh "Burdol" Tae-yoon in place of starting top laner Kim "Rascal" Kwang-hee in this match. What are your thoughts on this swap? Did it change how TL approached the match?
Yeah, that was a bit interesting. We did not expect that. Burdol is a very carry-oriented player, kind of like Alphari. You can argue whether that was better or worse for us as a team. Honestly, I felt having Burdol in made us more comfortable. I have faith in Alphari winning almost any carry matchup against almost any player in the world. [laughs]
Having a carry matchup always makes me happy. That's why when we came into this game with this draft, I felt like we had what we wanted against a team like Gen.G. However, we just failed to execute. On another day, we would have hopefully ran over them. You never know, because it wasn't like their draft was bad or anything like that. It was definitely playable on both sides, but it was very comfortable for us.
What did you guys do right in the MAD Lions game in comparison to your last two games? Was it simply a matter of stylistic advantage against MAD, or was your execution superior in that first game when compared to these last two matches?
In game 1 against MAD Lions, it felt like our execution in the early game was really clean. We dove top at level 3, we punished MAD Lions when they were rotating towards top side by killing Twisted Fate on the rotation. At that point, the game was already pretty one-sided because we also had better scaling champions than MAD Lions, so that game felt pretty clean from us.
Of course, you can also say that MAD Lions didn't play well, but that's kind of the same dynamic as the game today. I feel like Gen.G did the right things, but I also feel like we messed up a lot of our timings. Then, against LNG, I felt that our draft wasn't great, but even though we had a draft that was hard to play out, we should have been more aggressive and just looked for more flip-y fights.
In that game, we wanted to come in with no regrets. We had the mentality that they were not better than us and that we were going to fight whenever we could. On the day, they were just the better team.
Looking at the group, I think LNG is probably the best team. I'm not entirely sure, but I do feel like MAD Lions, from what I've seen — and honestly, from what people have seen from us — it probably feels like NA and EU are the two worst teams in the group. However, I feel like we can step up on another day.
What were your thoughts on facing the three junglers in this group?
I would definitely say the best jungler in my group is Tarzan. There's no question about it; he is for sure the best. I feel like in playing that game against him, there was not too much I could take away from it because it just felt like we kind of got ran over. I don't feel like it was one specific player underperforming, it just seemed like LNG Esports was playing better and had a better draft. It was hard to do much.
Regarding Elyoya, it just seems like he's not really comfortable. He looked very dominant in how he played in Europe and looked like one of the region's best junglers if not the best. However, when playing against him in the first match, I didn't get the feeling like I was playing against a really, really good jungler. That could be nerves, that could be a bad day — I don't want to take too much out of it because I know Elyoya's a good player.
Regarding Clid, Trundle is a counterpick to Sejuani, but I do think that Sejuiani plus melee champions can win the 2v2 skirmishes. The game just snowballed so quickly and Clid got really fed kind out of nowhere. He did what he had to do and he executed well, so props to him. However, as I said, I felt like we really failed to execute on how we should be playing the game.
What do you think Team Liquid has to shore up to play better in the second round-robin of Group D?
Honestly, even though we lost two games in the first week, I still feel really confident. My issue is that I feel like we just didn't play well, especially today. We didn't play to our standards and we flopped a lot of things.
I know we can be really, really strong and dominant as a team, but we have those days where we just don't show up at all — [laughs] kind of like yesterday against LNG. We didn't show up in draft or in the game, but I also know that when we do show up, we are really f*****g good. If we show up next week and have a good day, I'm sure we can take them all out.
Thoughout Team Liquid's success in the post-season, the team shied away from the AP junglers that were meta at the time, which led people to believe you couldn't play these picks.
Yeah, I mean, I saw that quote, and I think it's kind of ridiuclous. I pretty much can play any champion in the meta. There are so many different champions in every single meta and it's not like any jungler can play only AD or only AP champions. Obviously, there are comfort picks, but I just think that you should always draft to win. Whatever you felt most comfortable with in scrims is probably the way you're going to go in a match.
We obviously have very, very good laners, which is why I tend to pick champions that can help my team. I know they will carry the game. That being said, that doesn't mean we can't play another style. If a draft looks really good, I will play the other champions as well. We play to win, and I just think that quote was really overexaggerated.
The reason why we banned Diana in all of the games against 100 Thieves is because Closer is a really good Diana and they're a really good team with Diana. It's kind of how they're also a good team with Viego — they're just really good at setting up their jungle for success, plus, their jungler is really good at these champions. That was the main reason we banned it.
We felt like we had more confidence in playing the other style against 100 Thieves, but it has nothing to do with me not being able to play AP champions or us as a team being able to play AP champions. I'm just picking whatever is best for the game.
You expressed disappointment in the press conference after losing the finals of the 2021 LCS Championsip to 100 Thieves. Have there been any specific takeaway sfrom that series that have helped Team Liquid at Worlds 2021?
[laughs] I felt like after we beat C9 and TSM that we were actually getting worse as at team in both of those respective weeks. When we beat 100 Thieves 3-2, it already felt like we were kind of on the decline. By the time we got to the finals, it just felt like we were not a good team.
I can't really pinpoint why exactly we just started playing bad, but it kinda felt like we just needed a mental reset and a couple of days off. So, we took a week off, came back with fresh mindsets, and pretended we didn't get **** on in the finals. [laughs]
I think the break helped a lot as well as focusing on what we needed to improve. I feel like we've come a long way, which is why I'm really bummed about this game. I do feel like we didn't look like a good team today. We looked very uncoordinated and we didn't play the way we should have played our composition.
That's what really sucks to me. Yesterday, I feel like our draft was not great and we didn't have that many ways of winning the game. However, we could have taken more risks, and that feels bad, but having a composition that's really, really great, and then mis-executing? That's why this one just sucks.
How is your health doing now? Has it been less stressful to be able to start an event with proper preparation?
First of all, I'm doing better health-wise. I still have issues, but we've kind of found solutions for most of my problems, which means I have been able to play as much solo queue as I want. Sure, sometimes I'm a little exhausted, but I feel a lot better in general, whcih means I can be with the team all of the time. I don't have to skip scrims or anything like that, so it's been really, really nice to just be with the guys full-time. It actually feels like there is no weight on my shoulders.
I've been really happy about that and also being with the team again. There was a time during summer where I was afraid I was not going to be able to continue to compete just because I was feeling so bad. It's been so much motivating for me to get back and feeling ready to go. I really want to make sure we do well next week because it would really suck to go out like this when we have been through so many ups and downs.
It feels like we are finally on the right track, then it just feels like we kind of fall off a cliff. I think we are almost there, so I want to make sure that doesn't happen.
All images by: Lance Skudrich/Riot Games
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