In theory, the League of Legends World Championship tries to find the best team in the world. But as is usually the case in esports, it's not just the pride of teams that's on the line. Entire continents chant 'their' team's name in the quest for the Summoner's Cup. And for North America, Team Liquid is the favorite to take it home.
After the team fell short at Worlds 2018, the team brought in some raw force. Jensen came over from Cloud9 to improve the midlane, while Gen.G's CoreJJ formed a duo with DoubleLift in the botlane. The changes paid dividends. In 2019 Team Liquid secured both the Spring Split and the Summer Split title. At the Mid-Season Invitational the roster came out swinging, upsetting reigning world champion IG in the semi finals.
With Worlds 2019 around the corner, the team decided to bootcamp in The Netherlands. We went for a visit and talked to the five Liquid players. While enjoying a Dutch treat, 'pepernoten', they discussed their thoughts on other teams, and what the team itself still could improve on. They also played two games to reveal more about themselves individually, and about each other as teammates. It became an interview filled with banter and trolling, though through the cracks of it all honesty and passion showed.
º First of all: welcome to The Netherlands! How has staying here been?
DoubleLift: It's alright, we don't really go outside.
Jensen: Zero days! The only time we went out was when went to get snacks.
CoreJJ: Yeah we don't go outside so much.
º Have you visited Amsterdam?
DoubleLift: Yeah we were here last year.
Jensen: I've been, I actually went there without you guys. On my day off.
Impact: Did you enjoy it there? With who?....
Jensen: Nooo, no, no! You need to stop that sh*t! There was no girl! [Laughs]
Jensen: I actually went with a guy I know.
º Was it fun?
Jensen: The weather was really shitty, it was raining so much.
º Yup, that's The Netherlands for you. You guys have played on the European solo queue now, what's that like?
Xmithie: Nice ping!
Impact: Yes, I like it. Some people are just afk but...
Jensen: The people here are a bit more crazy.
Impact: But you're from EU?
Impact: So that means you're crazy?
Jensen: A little bit.
º In what way are they crazy?
Jensen: I think they have some mental issues.
[All others laugh]
DoubleLift: Hoooly sh*t!
º Is that a strength of EU maybe?
Jensen: I think that's the weakness and the strength at the same time.
º Have you guys followed day 1 of the Play-Ins? What did you think of them?
Impact: I didn't focus too much on them. We were just scrimming.
Jensen: NA is f***ed.
Impact: What do you mean? One win, one loss.
Jensen: True, true.
DoubleLift: We can only pray for a win rate like that.
Jensen: [Laughs] This is the ideal win rate. 50/50.
º Are you supporting Clutch Gaming, given that they are also from NA?
Jensen: Of course, cheering for my 'fellow Americans'.
DoubleLift: Yeah, the team with one American and..... Well actually Jake [Xmithie] is an American now, right? Are you a citizen?
Xmithie: I've been a citizen for, like, years...
DoubleLift: Ah, I didn't know because you had these visa problems on CLG or something. 2 Americans! We have so much pride here.
º Compared to last years, do you think has improved in overall quality?
CoreJJ: Yeah. This time last year, the practicing was so bad. That's why we lost. I think every other year, 2016, 2017, NA teams were really strong.
Jensen: Too cocky.
º Wait, CoreJJ? He was too cocky?
º [To the others] Has he changed? Is he less cocky now?
Jensen: Core is super cocky.
Impact: Core is still cocky.
DoubleLift: I've never met a player this cocky.
Jensen: Now everyone thinks we're serious. Core is actually the most humble guy.
º Let's go back to the LCS quality topic, and talk about Cloud9, who actually stood up to you in the Summer Split finals. What do you think about them?
[All keep quiet for a while]
Jensen: Why does no one wanna talk, guys?
DoubleLift: I don't know. They've always played well at Worlds, historically. I think they'll do fine, but I think we're much better in pretty much every position.
º Do you think they have a chance to make it out of Groups?
DoubleLift: Yeah, they always seem to do fine in Groups and get out. Unlike me.
DoubleLift: [Laughs] Shaaame.
CoreJJ: Jake, have you ever been?
DoubleLift: Yeah why does no one talk about that one?
º Go ahead!
DoubleLift: Nah, I'm good. Jake has been unlucky every year, just like me.
Jensen: They all were carried by Koreans. Now EU is better.
DoubleLift: Jensen just got carried by Sneaky.
Jensen: Too much lane pushing.
º Do you guys actually think EU is better than Korea now?
CoreJJ: I don't think so.
Jensen: Probably not. I mean, maybe G2 can surprise, but I don't think it will happen again.
CoreJJ: I really enjoy watching LCK, I've watched many matches. I think the players have better basic skills, but maybe in a Best of 1, with a pocket pick, G2 can upset. But overall Korea is stronger, I feel like.
º Let's talk a bit about your group at Worlds now. DoubleLift, after the groups had been drawn, you tweeted "Finally made it out of Groups"...
DoubleLift: I got baited by Jensen!
DoubleLift: I didn't even want to Tweet that. But Jensen called me a little b*tch. So I had to do it, he was really taunting me!
º But do you guys feel confident about your group?
Jensen: It depends on DAMWON Gaming. [All others laugh] If DAMWON gets in our group, I don't know if we're as confident. [Laughs] We should feel confident regardless, because we feel we have a good chance against IG. We're expected to beat ahq. If we get DAMWON it's safe to assume they'll make it out of the group, and then it's just between us and IG. We could beat them, I think.
º You guys beat IG in the Playoffs at MSI, but in the group stage they beat you 2-0. Overall in games you're tied.
Impact: IG had some strong players, but—
Xmithie: Yeah they don't have the same roster anymore...
Impact: They changed some. They don't look great. Some players are pretty good, it looks like, but their jungle looks not good. I think we have a better jungler.
Xmithie: Wait, who is their jungler?
CoreJJ: You don't even know?!
Xmithie: It's not Ning anymore right? What's his name?
DoubleLift: I don't know.
CoreJJ: It's L something...
º But at least you're sure Xmithie is better.
Impact: Of course.
DoubleLift: If we lose it's Jake's fault.
º Alright let's get some predictions going. Against IG, what do you think you're going to do?
DoubleLift: 3-0. We're gonna 2-0 them and then in tiebreakers we'll beat them again.
Impact: 2-1, then, because you need to have tiebreakers.
Jensen: Guys if we all say 2-0 and we lose, we'll all be memed so hard. I'm going to say 0-2 so I don't look like an idiot then.
CoreJJ: If we lose, it's over. It's time to retire.
Jensen: It's hard to say how strong they're going to be. If they play like they did in the Gauntlet, I think we'll 2-0 them.
º Earlier you said you expect to win against ahq e-Sports Club as well. Is that the consensus?
DoubleLift: I don't even know who's on ahq to be fair.
Xmithie: I only Ziv.
Jensen: Is Mountain still there?
CoreJJ: I don't know.
º Let's assume you make it out of the Group Stage then. Who would you love to face off against in the quarter finals?
DoubleLift: Cloud9. Straight to semis baby! [Laughs]
º You think you're easily going to beat them?
DoubleLift: I don't think I've lost a Best of 5 against them...
Jensen: Yeah those bastards, they suck!
DoubleLift: It was actually so much easier last year, when their midlane was so much weaker!
º You're in the semi finals now, who are you facing?
[All others laugh]
Xmithie: Save that for finals man!
Jensen: We play G2 in the semis to get our revenge and then it's CG versus TL in the Grand Finals.
DoubleLift: Holy sh*t, that doesn't sound really realistic. But really, it's too theoretical to think about this. So far ahead.
º That's fair. But in terms of it being a victory that would feel most satisfying to you, who would you want to beat in the grand finals?
Jensen: We can't pick SKT, G2 and Cloud9 right? Hm, I was going to pick SKT, but...
DoubleLift: Nah those guys are washed. Eh, who's good? Actually, DAMWON's good.
CoreJJ: Griffin! They can never win. They made the finals [of Split Playoffs] three times in a row and three times in a row they lost.
DoubleLift: Alright, Griffin in the finals.
º During the bootcamp you obviously tried to iron out the creases in the team's performance. Can you share something you guys focused on?
Xmithie: Impact has a good one for this. I think we're thinking the same thing.
Impact: What? I wanted to say "no comment" but...
Xmithie: No comment? Why?
DoubleLift: Dude come on say something spicy for the fans.
Impact: Jensen, you go.
Jensen: My biggest worry going into the tournament is that we're going to win the games too easily. We need to take it a bit slow.
Xmithie: Our Baron power plays haven't been looking too sharp lately.
DoubleLift: Wow, look at the specifics!
Xmithie: Yeah, they know now.
DoubleLift: I just feel like, whenever I play internationally, mechanically the players are a lot better. I just wanted to play solo queue and play against really good mechanical players so I won't make as many mistakes on stage. We've been scrimming against the European teams.
Jensen: Yeah they've given us a lot of confidence. [Laughs]
DoubleLift: Yeah what was the last time we lost?
Jensen: I don't know, it must have been back in NA!
Jensen: But I don't know, I can't really think of anything we need to improve on.
Xmithie: Our botside play probably.
DoubleLift: Wow wow wow!
CoreJJ: No we need to fix topside.
DoubleLift: Oh man...
º Alright, for the next segment we have a few statements written on folded notes. You each can grab one. Then one by one you can open them, read them aloud and answer. CoreJJ, you can start.
CoreJJ: "Which game outside of League of Legends is your favorite to play?" Eh, I don't have any.
CoreJJ: I don't have any. I just prefer watching anime or movies, rather than playing a game. I don't like games.
Jensen: Netflix, that's your favorite game.
º Xmithie's turn.
Xmithie: "If you could bring only one item to a deserted island, what would you bring and why?" Probably a desktop.
Impact: Ok you don't have internet.
Xmithie: As long as it has games on it I'll be fine. If it has a rechargeable battery or something I'll be good.
º Impact, you're next.
Impact: "What is your rank in Teamfight Tactics? And what champions/compositions do you like to play in it?" Ehm Jake?
Xmithie: He's Bronze!
Impact: No I'm Platinum I!
Xmithie: Good lie.
Impact: Oh? I was Platinum, but I got demoted. I liked playing Lucian, but he got nerfed too much. I like Garen, he is strong.
º Alright DoubleLift, go ahead.
DoubleLift: "Place your teammates in League roles that they would be the worst at." Oh I've got a great answer to this. Me on support, Core on AD Carry, Jensen top, Impact mid and then Jake jungle.
Impact: My midlane is fine! Remember when I played mid Pyke and—
DoubleLift: ANSWER'S OVER! Next question!
Xmithie: [Laughs] Impact just wants to argue about everything.
Impact: You should put Jake mid and me on jungle.
º Ok Jensen, you're up.
Jensen: "What champion, that doesn't see play now, would you love to play at Worlds?" Oof, ehm.... I don't know. I'd say my favorite champion is Lulu.
DoubleLift: Ah yes thank you, good doggie.
Jensen: Bring out the Lulu!
º For the next part I'm going to read out a question. I then count down from three, and at 'go!' you all have to point at the player who fits the statement best. Remember: you can point at yourself. Alright, first question: Who on the team do you trust the most?
Xmithie: Trust the most? These are all snakes man!
3, 2, 1... point!
*2-2 tie between CoreJJ and Xmithie*
Impact: Actually, I'm changing to Core.
Xmithie: You see, what a snake.
º Why did you point at CoreJJ, DoubleLift?
DoubleLift: I don't even know. He has brainwashed us.
Jensen: I feel that Core is too nice, so you feel like you can trust him.
DoubleLift: Yeah, he is fake nice.
Impact: Yes he is still cocky, you know?
DoubleLift: And toxic.
CoreJJ: Yes you don't speak Korean, so...
Jensen: Oh so that's why Impact didn't pick you! Because he knows Korean.
CoreJJ: I love sh*t talking.
º Next question: Who will int at Worlds?
º Ok 3, 2, 1... go!
*Winner: DoubleLift. Xmithie points to nobody*
Xmithie: Nobody is going to int!
Jensen: Why is Peter [DoubleLift] choosing me??
Impact: Oh, int?
*Impact changes his vote to DoubleLift*
DoubleLift: Jensen why did you point at yourself?
Jensen: No I don't think I'm going to int, but I don't want to blame you guys.
DoubleLift: I'm being called out by the Koreans man.
CoreJJ: If Peter doesn't int, it's not Peter. You need to be yourself.
DoubleLift: I actually do, yeah.
º Alright a more wholesome question: During the two Splits, which player has improved the most? 3, 2, 1... go!
Jensen: I'll choose myself.
CoreJJ: You're so cocky.
º Why did you choose Jensen, CoreJJ?
CoreJJ: He never won, now he wins.
Jensen: Yeah I never won anything before and now I've won something so I've improved
Xmithie: Same as Core, he never won an NA title!
CoreJJ: Have you won a World Championship?
DoubleLift: Hooooly sh****t!
Xmithie: So toxic! We gave you your first NA title, why are you talking like that??
CoreJJ: Thank you, thank you.
º Ok you guys call each other toxic all the time, but who is the most toxic on the team?
Impact: I'm ready!
º 3, 2, 1... point!
Jensen: Wait so basically Jake and I are not toxic, or what?
Impact: I wanted to pick Jensen too, but I think Jensen is toxic outside of the game. Peter's nice then.
Jensen: Peter's nice?!
DoubleLift: I just want help on bot. After playing G2 I realized bot is a tri-lane.
Impact: But Core why did you choose me?
CoreJJ: Because Peter is nice to me!
º Next question: Which player is, or would be, the best wingman?
Impact: The best what?
Xmithie: If you were single, who would be the best one at getting you a girlfriend.
º Alright let's vote: 3, 2, 1... go!
Xmithie: I'm not a good wingman guys.
CoreJJ: Wait I'm changing. I think, this year it's Jensen more.
Xmithie: What?! That doesn't make sense! I'm so confused.
º The next question is: Who on the team brings the most peace, and knows how to calm everyone down? 3, 2, 1... vote!
*Winner: CoreJJ. CoreJJ votes for Jensen*
Jensen: Wait, why me?
CoreJJ: When Jensen gives up, it's like *deep sigh*
Jensen: I'm so calm!
Xmithie: Jensen takes a deep breath and then he runs it down. [Laughs]
º But CoreJJ is the winner. Why?
Xmithie: Because you know that if he's calm, he's angry. He's always angry. He doesn't say anything, he's just silent. We're afraid to get scolded after the game.
*CoreJJ slams the table*
Xmithie: [Laughs] Exactly!
º Wait CoreJJ scolds you?
Xmithie: No comment!
CoreJJ: I'm very sorry.
Xmithie: You know what scolding means?
*CoreJJ acts as if he's hitting someone*
º Alright final question: If anyone is going to carry you to the World Championship title, who will it be? 3, 2, 1... go!
DoubleLift: Holy sh*t guys, I'm going to int, but I'm also going to carry? That's actually genius!
Jensen: I really trust his Sona.
Jensen: He'll bring glory back to NA!
DoubleLift: I actually will.
º CoreJJ you also point towards DoubleLift, why?
CoreJJ: If he only ints, he will have to retire.
CoreJJ: He will have to carry.
DoubleLift: It's a coinflip, you know? We don't know who will shop up. Only God knows.
º Thank you guys so much for your time, and good luck at the World Championship!
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.