After throwing away a win against TSM to start week 4 of the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split, Team Liquid bounced back and took a pair of wins off of FlyQuest and Immortals. The early game of the victory against FLY was particularly clean from TL — when FlyQuest finally secured first blood at 17:46, the latest of the season thus far, Team Liquid had already amassed a 4,500 gold advantage off of macro play without shedding a drop of blood.
It didn't take long for Team Liquid to finish off FlyQuest, and after the win, TL jungler Lucas "Santorin" Larsen spoke to Inven Global about how things played out against his former team, his thought's on Team Liquid's current form relative to its record, and how the changes to the LCS format for the 2021 season affects the competition.
How did this game go against FlyQuest when compared to your previous face-offs this season?
I'm not going to lie, I kind of expected more out of FlyQuest in terms of the Spring Split so far. I wasn't super hyped about the lineup, but I was hyped for when Josedeodo came into the team. I think he's a good jungler, and even though he didn't get much time to play in the LCS Lock In, FLY showed a lot of good stuff so I was excited to see what they would do in the Spring Split.
It's just not felt like FlyQuest has found out how they want to play the game. I'm not sure what the reason is, or if that's even the reason, but it feels like they haven't clicked. For example, in our game today, I feel like they didn't do anything. There were 0 kills at 18 minutes because we were taking every single objective and they never tried to fight, trade, or do much on the map at all. I was kind of disappointed because I see FlyQuest as a team that can play a lot better than that.
Did you feel the lack of kills and cleanliness of your early game had more to do with you guys playing well or was it simply due to FlyQuest's inaction?
I think the early game went horrible for FLY. I got both Rift Scuttlers and got the enemy Krugs in addition to my full clear, so I was level 6 when the first dragon spawned. Because of that, the first dragon was immediately ours.
After that, it felt like we were winning every lane and they weren't trying to force any plays, which I think was wrong. From their perspective, you have to go for something. If your enemy is continuing to stack objectives, the only reason you wouldn't do anything is if you had a clear way to come back in the game later. It didn't feel like FlyQuest's composition would be able to win if they fell really far behind.
I was kind of bored in this game. I might as well have played World of Warcraft against the computer. I was literally JUST killing camps, and I was surprised that I even did 5,000 damage to champions by the end of the game. I thought I'd have like 1,000 or 2,000 because I didn't do anything in fights. I was just farming camps, getting dragons, and doing the jungler's duty.
It was kind of a weird game, but on the other hand, it feels good because we did what we had to do and the enemy just didn't really show up.
It did look a bit like a PVE run, but there was an opponent and you beat them, which is reassuring to fans of TL after a few up and down weeks lately. Usually, when teams return to form after underperforming, they win the game in a brutal, aggressive fashion, but this was anything but that. What were the key factors of your bloodless and flawless early game?
*Laughs* We felt that if we secured early dragons with our composition we would be able to continue to stack them. If you're able to start stacking dragon at five minutes in some games, you're going to have such an early Dragon Soul point that you kind of force the enemy to play on a timer. If you feel like you can naturally keep stacking drakes while securing the Rift Herald to further break open the game, I think that's the best way to play the type of composition we had.
We were playing Olaf, Azir, Aphelios, and Thresh, so if we got to an objective first, it would be really difficult for FlyQuest to contest it. In that situation, the enemy has to pressure us by trading objectives or fighting us, and FlyQuest did neither.
Usually, when you play against a team, they'll do something in return, and that's when the game gets more bloody. I feel like we played the game we should have. One could maybe argue we should have tried to invade their jungle more for buff timers; I haven't watched the replay yet. In general, it felt really smooth on our end.
In your post-game broadcast interview you mentioned that you think Team Liquid has one of the strongest early games in the LCS. Who are the other teams in the league with strong early games, and how do their approaches to the early game differ from your own?
That's a good question. Right now, I think Cloud9 is the obvious one as the other really strong early game team. You could maybe argue 100 Thieves as well. I think their playstyle is super aggressive and they always try to draft for early leads with their mid laner Tanner "Damonte "Damonte playing roaming champions and Teleporting to side lanes etc. I'd say we are playing the strongest early games right now along with 100 and C9.
Honestly, I feel like our record is completely false. After this win, we are 6-5, but I'm pretty certain that 4 out of the 5 losses were just games we had the lead in and just made really silly mistakes. They're mistakes that you can't really account for because some of them are not consistent, but I feel like if we clean up that part of the game, we'd have a way better record that would match the level we have shown.
Our loss against TSM yesterday was a big eye-opener for how many mistakes we make. *Laughs* There was no way TSM should have won that game when we came out ahead in the early game, but we just haven't been playing as a team enough. That's why I'm really happy about the game today — we finally showed that we can straight up out-macro the other teams. I hope we continue to do that.
Despite feeling like you are playing better than your record indicates, is your team of veterans able to not let the numbers loom over your head?
Personally, I couldn't care less about my regular season stats. The only reason it's hanging over our heads at all is that these stats actually matter towards the summer now. This format is a completely different format from any other year, so for that reason, I am kind of upset about our record. In any other year, I wouldn't care as long as we qualified for the post-season, because I do see us growing as a team.
We've been making these mistakes because we have five really smart players that all see different possibilities and we just kind of have to get on the same page a bit more than we are now. We just see too many different plays in the game right now, and that's why it becomes messy. We're slowly getting better at seeing the same possibilities and we're starting to play cleaner as a team, and that's a huge improvement for us because as I said, we already have a really dominant early game.
Any new format takes some getting used to, but do you think the new format is objectively better than previous seasons?
I honestly need to experience it a bit more because right now it feels weird, but at the same time, nice to have three games per week. I really enjoyed the LCS Lock In, that was great, and then we've had to kind of speedrun the Spring Split with three games per week.
The only thing that's weird about that is not feeling like you have enough scrim time. Also, if you have a bad week, not only might you lose three games instead of two, but you also don't have as much time to mentally reset and improve for the next week. There's a lot more pressure on the players and coaching staff to fix things quickly and come into each week with a fresh mindset.
I haven't seen or experienced this format enough yet to know if it's better or worse than other formats. I would prefer us still having the best-of-three format because I feel like you get more experience in that format and it feels more natural to me.
I feel like we've lot of best-of-one matches we shouldn't be losing to these teams, and I'd prefer having two best-of-three matches than one game each day for all three days. One each game day can be a little weird because of the time crunch, but in general, I think this format is a lot better than the 2020 LCS format.
Thanks for the interview, Santorin. Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Yeah, first of all, thank you to you, always a pleasure. To the fans, I'm happy that we finally had a clean win. I'm so sorry that we are throwing so many games, I know it has to be frustrating from a viewer's perspective.
But hey, this is how we win! It's going to be a snoozefest, so you can kind of sit back and hate the game, or we can have a really enjoyable game where we throw like crazy. *Laughs* I guess it all depends on how you look at it, but regardless, I'm happy that we are improving and I'm happy to put some more wins on the board. Hopefully, the rest of our regular season is good.