After Team Liquid's CEO, Steve, announced the unfortunate news about delays in Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen's visa application, the NA superstars handled the situation as best they can - by finding a replacement and memeing non-stop. They've dropped countless clips and jokes on their Twitter feed, in a sort of G2 style, where it's never quite clear if they're serious or just trying to twist their fans' legs.
After numerous Ashkan "TF Blade" Homayouni tweets, TL then remixed their own video announcing Eugene "Pobelter" Park as strategic coach to instead announce him as their substitute jungler. Inven Global spoke with Team Liquid, and they confirmed Pobelter has been practicing jungle in preparation to fill for Broxah in case he has not arrived by the first weekend of games this January.
Additionally, Shern "Shernfire" Cherng and Jang "Cain" Nu-ri have also been experiencing visa delays, so Liquid brought in Mike "Mike Yeung" Yeung on a short contract to take Shernfire's place for the beginning of Academy if he is needed there. While it's always a scramble and a gamble with visas and imports, Team Liquid has had all the bad luck this go around.
Amidst all the craziness, we talked with Broxah and Pobelter about their thoughts and expectations for the first weeks of the season.
How much have you been able to practice with the team?
So far all my team-related practice in Team Liquid has been a big portion of duo queue games with Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen throughout December, where we worked on our mid/jungle synergy. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to participate in scrims and meet my other teammates in person yet, since I am still waiting for my visa to be approved.
For that exact reason, I am currently doing my utmost at home to prepare and practice for the split individually. While I can’t start working with the rest of my new team yet, I can at the very least ensure that my daily routines are on point and that I can perform on an individual level when I arrive.
Are you worried about not being here early and losing time to develop synergy? Will it impact you and the team?
The situation definitely isn’t ideal, and there is no doubt that I will need some time to adjust to the new team and environment after arriving. I hoped that there would be a few weeks to practice and develop synergy before the spring split starts, but I have accepted the current situation and will make the most of it regardless.
Do you think the meta might be different in NA than EU where you're practicing the new patch?
I think it is rare that different regions have the exact same read on a meta, and that definitely also goes for NA and EU. It is hard to say, however, if I am actually going to have a much different grasp than the rest of my team. If that does end up being the case though, it will simply just facilitate strategy discussions, which should be a positive thing if anything.
While the situation is never optimal, Broxah seems to be making the most out of it and remains optimistic about how the team will come together in the long run. His potential EU-based perspective on the meta may also broaden the scope of Liquids strengths this Spring as well. Pobelter is similarly reserved, but also markedly excited for his potential to play on stage in a new role.
You've practiced a lot of jungle recently, presumably at first to help you coach, but how up-to-speed do you think you are as a jungler?
It’s difficult so far, because playing jungle is really different than playing any other lane. Thankfully, everyone on the team has been really helpful and patient to help me learn the role as best as I can. I think for the most part I can carry my weight, but I make a lot of weird mistakes because of my inexperience. Hopefully I can smoothen out most of the rough edges before game day, if I need to play.
If you start, this would be the first time you play outside of mid professionally. Are you more excited or nervous?
I’m really excited! It’s a lot of fun to learn a new role. I especially feel great when I feel like I outperformed the enemy jungler, as someone who’s pretty much autofilled and been practicing the role for about 1 month.
You'd be against Blaber and Dardoch, anything fun you want to say to your potential opponents?
Better jungle always wins.
The LCS season starts in just a couple of weeks where Team Liquid will face off two rivals in Cloud9 and TSM. There's no telling who will represent TL in those opening games, but whoever it may be, they're doing what they can to be ready. Follow Inven Global on Twitter for more updates on the Liquid visa situation and other LCS and esports news.