Team Liquid reverse swept TSM last weekend to become the 2019 LCS Spring Split World Championship. The victory marked TL's third consecutive North American League of Legends title, as well as a second consecutive qualification to the Mid-Season Invitational.
Following what was perhaps the most exciting LCS Final in history, Team Liquid held a champions press conference to discuss the series against TSM, Jensen's first title, and look ahead towards 2019 Mid-Season Invitational. The five players on Team Liquid were joined by Head Coach Jang "Cain" Nu-ri, Owner Steve "LiQuiD112" Arhancet, and Assistant Coach Kang "Dodo" Jun-hyeok, the latter of whom provided translation when necessary.
My name is Travis Gafford from Travis Gafford Industries. My first question is for Jensen. In the first game, people were pretty interested in the Heimerdinger pick. Can you please talk to me about what went into that, what scrims were like for the pick, etc.?
Jensen: *laughs* Okay so, the truth is I played it two games in scrims and zero games in solo queue the entire year. I played it one time against Team Liquid Academy, and it looked really insane. I decided I was going to play Heimerdinger if TSM picked Zoe, because we needed an answer for Zoe.
My coaches didn't trust in my Zed, so I had to find a new pick. After the Cloud9/TSM Semifinals, they thought Zed was too risky and not as good as it looked in scrims, so I thought Heimerdinger looked pretty good. My academy mid laner David "Insanity" Challe said Heimerdinger is a hard counter to Zoe, so I tried it one time and was like 'whoa, this is amazing!' So after that, I decided I was just going to try it.
Hi guys, Jared Warnke from Daily Esports. My question is for Xmithie. Throughout a hard fought series, how does your mentality stay level in the jungle in such a back and forth series?
Xmithie: I think my mentality just stays the same. Whether we're winning a lot or losing a lot, this is the best mentality for me, because I want to stay as neutral as possible so I can always make the best decisions. I've been training myself for the past three years or so to stay as neutral as possible.
Chris Bilski; GINX Esports TV; my question is for Jensen. Heading into MSI, you are a player who has experienced some international success, especially last year at the 2018 World Championship. What makes this team different than previous North American representatives at the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational?
Jensen: I think it's that we have a lineup full of super experienced veterans who know what to do at all points of the game. At all points in the game, we have a solution.
The biggest factor internationally is that everyone is actually super good mechanically. If you play internationally and your players aren't mechanically strong, that is when you can run into trouble. In the past few years, the team that has won worlds has been the most mechanically skilled of all teams. I think this team has five super good mechanical players, and we are also super smart about the game.
Followup question for Jensen: Where does your 1st LCS title rank on your list of accomplishments?
Jensen: Right now, I kind of feel the same way as when I went to Worlds Semifinals with Cloud9 last year. It's an amazing feeling. It's obviously a little bit different, but international play has never been super hard for me. Obviously, it's tough, but I've never been able to win an LCS Final. For some reason, Finals has always seemed harder to me than international play, so I would put it up there.
Nick Geracie; Inven Global. Doublelift, before you locked in Kai'Sa in the last game you were hovering Vayne. Was that a style hover, or were you considering playing Vayne?
Doublelift: I was considering Vayne, but she sucks against Zoe and Ezreal because you can't get in against those types of compositions. It was more to flex on them a little bit and make them sweat.
I'm Kien from LoL Esports; this question is for Jensen. Going into the locker room after game 2 down 0-2, was there anything your teammates or coaches said that stuck with you and helped you focus going into game 3?
Jensen: My motivation to win was Doublelift telling me about his date with Faker. That was the biggest factor for me.
Chris Bilski; GINX Esports TV. My question is for Doublelift. This was your sixth LCS title, where does St. Louis and the Chaifetz Arena rank as far as the different venues that you've played at?
Doublelift: Well, the last two venues we played was the Fillmore Miami and Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. I think the biggest difference is in Miami, we were playing 100 Thieves and the crowd was a bit smaller. It was kind of hard to feel the energy. In Oakland, we were playing against C9, who was a very heavy crowd favorite in NorCal.
This venue was different because I cold actually hear some Team Liquid chants, which was crazy because I feel that TSM has a way bigger fanbase than us. It was really nice to have that feeling of the crowd backing you.
This is Travis Gafford from Travis Gafford Esports again. Steve, on a very popular show, you made a bet with TSM Owner Andy "Reginald" Dinh for $100,000. Have there been any developments on that bet or how you are planning to execute it?
Steve: Yeah, I haven't run into Andy yet, but he better bring it in cash. I'd prefer it that way. *laughs* I tweeted out +100k just as a fun bet to add some additional hype to the already awesome narrative for the match. It was pretty exciting and a lot of fun. I was sweating a little bit after the 0-2; I won't lie, but I didn't show it.
Jared Warnke for Daily Esports, my question is for CoreJJ. You came into North America with a very strong team who had won 2 LCS splits. Have you met or exceeded your expectations this spring?
CoreJJ: Up to this point, I think we have met the expectations. Going forward, I definitely want to perform well at international tournaments, so I look forward to that.
Nick Geracie here again with Inven Global. This question is for Impact. All split long, Team Liquid's play around carry Top Laners has been subject to criticism. Do you feel like you silenced your doubters with your performance today?
Impact: I was used to playing tanks because tanks are easiest to make plays. It wasn't that I wasn't able to play carry champions. This year, I focused really hard on practicing carry champions, which is why I was really comfortable on stage today. I think there's still room for improvement, though.
Chris Bilski; GINX Esports TV. Steve, over the past few years TL has had some pretty high highs and pretty low lows. Has the cultural mentality of the organization changed over the past year or so?
Steve: I think our organization has developed some experience points when it comes to getting through some tough times. That goes not just for our League of Legends team, but some of our other teams. We just rebound really well. I think we stay focused and it's been a lot of fun.
When I put the roster together, I knew this was a team capable of a World Championship. The first step towards that was to win the Finals, and we proved that today. As we prepare for MSI, I think we're going to go into it ready with some experience from the last MSI. I think we'll have a pretty good showing, so we'll see. I think we've done a good job of rebounding from some of the tough times we've had in our past, especially with League of Legends, so it feels pretty good.
Travis Gafford here. Impact, it felt like so much of this game at times was about what was going on in the Top Lane. What was it like for you in the series facing Broken Blade?
Impact: I think he's a really good player that knows how to play bruisers like Irelia and Akali. I tried to prepare a lot against him, but I didn't show my full strength in my champion pool. I think he played really well, but I think in games 3 and 4, I played better.
I think Broken Blade is a really good player, and he played well, but today I just played a little bit better.
Jacob Wolf from ESPN for Doublelift. You guys went 0-2 and there was a lot of momentum on the side of TSM. As someone who played on that team, what did you have to do to break that momentum to come back in the series?
Doublelift: I was unnaturally calm the whole time, actually. I'm not really sure why. When we lost, they didn't feel like real losses. It wasn't like TSM had been out playing us super hard.
In the first game, I think we were playing pretty well and we had control for most of the game. Then we overextended once and lost a fight and the Baron, and then Vladimir got to late game for TSM. In the second game, I shook off that loss like, 'Oh, we couldn't win against Sona/Taric. That sucks.' When Game 3 started I remember saying, 'Okay, now the series starts. Let's go 3-0.'
Our team is pretty calm under pressure overall. We were still joking around and smiling so I don't think the pressure of being down 0-2 got to us at all.
Robert Hanes from The GameHaus; this one is for Jensen. Given your international success last year, is there anything you think you can bring to the team as you prepare for MSI?
Jensen: I'm not really sure, because I don't know what things were like in Team Liquid in the past. I know from my own experience that the biggest thing we struggled with on Cloud9 was playing too scared. We had too much respect for our opponents, so we told ourselves to not be scared and then we played a lot better and had much better results. As long as we play our own game, I think this team is looking really good.
Jared Warnke from Daily Esports. Jensen, given that you played a unique champion each game, were there any picks that you wanted to bring out in Finals that you did not get to?
Jensen: I really wanted to play Zed, but my coaching staff was a bit against it. [Dodo nods in agreement] I ended up not playing Zed, so it was kind of sad, but it's okay because we won.
Chris Bilski; GINX Esports TV. My question is for Doublelift. Outside of T1 and your date with Faker, are there any teams you're looking forward to playing against MSI?
Doublelift: I just do not want to play against Uzi ever again. I'm pretty confident to play against anybody...including Uzi, but less. I look forward to playing with CoreJJ against T1's Teddy and Mata and all of the teams that go to MSI.
I'm really confident in my own skill and our team's skill, but I've had a lot of problems in the past playing against international Bot Lanes. I think before I wasn't playing like I normally do, but last year starting at MSI I feel like I did pretty well, so I'm just trying to keep a clear head.
Jared Warnke for Daily Esports. Doublelift, if you think Perkz will go to MSI with G2, is there anything unique he brings to the Bot Lane being a Mid Laner originally?
Doublelift: I'm very interested in playing against Perkz. I cannot believe he's part of the best Bot Lane in Europe. I can't tell if all the LEC Bot Lanes are really good, including him, or if all of the bot lanes suck.
I think Perkz is a really good player; he got top 4 at Worlds last year and has tons of accomplishments, but I'm still surprised he's doing so well as an AD Carry so quickly. There's some things about playing AD Carry that you have to learn from experience. It doesn't matter how good you are, you just have to know from messing up what to do and what not to do. I don't think Perkz has that yet because he's new to the role and this is only his first split since swapping. It'd be fun.
Chris Bilski; GINX Esports TV. My question is for Doublelift. A lot of this Final was made about 'Doublelift vs. Bjergsen' and 'NA GOAT'. Did you buy into that narrative?
Doublelift: No, I don't feel that. Honestly, I don't even really want to be the guy with the most accomplishments, because then it feels like I've been in the scene for too long and kind of washed up. I'd much rather be somebody who has never won a title [Jensen laughs]...grass is always greener on the other side, I guess. I'd just rather be super hungry for my first title than chasing title number seven.
I get really embarrassed when people call me the GOAT or whatever. When I said 'I'm the greatest, everyone else is trash' that was ironic. That was a joke! I think I can be proud of myself if we make it out of groups at MSI and place well internationally. I think then I can say I'm a solid player.