In the chaotic NA LCS, defending champion Team Liquid is tied at first with a 6-4 record. But as the record explains itself, they aren’t that dominating as defending champions should be.
Jang “Cain” Nu-ri spoke frankly of some of the problems the team has; from communication issues to top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-young’s slump. However, he wasn’t too worried. He was confident because the team’s performance has been rising as it’s getting close to the playoffs. He also said that the upcoming patch is smiling at Team Liquid. According to Cain, even the amount of practice wasn’t lacking compared to any other team.
Actually, Team Liquid wasn’t that dominating in the last split either with a 12-8 record. Will their potential powers again appear in Bo3/Bo5s?
Team Liquid’s performance is quite unstable. Why do you think that is?
There are some players that are going through a slump. Impact isn’t doing well lately. Since the ganking route has changed a lot, and many teams put a lot of pressure on the top, I think Impact’s having trouble adjusting. From time to time, he gets frustrated during the game. However, he’s a player that works hard; I think he’ll be back to his top form soon.
As for the team, although we lost a game this week, I was satisfied because the communication within the team was good. Also, they played well in an unfavorable situation, looking for the late game taking step by step. I think letting go of what isn’t necessary and taking what we can is an important aspect for a strong team.
Playoffs is getting closer and closer, and it feels like our team is getting better as much as we get closer to the playoffs. Even the last split, the road was rough in the regular season. (Laughs)
Doublelift and Olleh seem to have trouble making calls.
There was a game in week 4 where our bot lane was smashed. The calls between Doublelift and Olleh kept conflicting. I emphasized the fact that the bottom duo is one; that they need to make the same calls. I’m always giving feedback on that; this week, their communication was alright.
The players on our team have rather strong characteristics. They’re all tough guys. (Laughs) Among them, Doublelift has strong opinions. Compared to the other players, Olleh doesn’t raise his voice much. He usually goes with what Doublelift says, but when their opinions conflict, it sometimes completely goes wrong. There are times when Doublelift says “Let’s do this.” and Olleh says “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”. At those times, the play gets really weird.
It seemed like the bottom duo had issues in the match where Doublelift played Vladimir in week 4.
As soon as the draft was over, I told them clearly, “Don’t try to do something before Lv.6. Go for after Lv.6.” While the game was loading, the players said the same thing. They even talked about the opponent not having Stopwatch so there will be a kill chance at Lv.6.
But as the game went on, their call went other ways. Doublelift wanted Olleh to go in, and Olleh thought that he would die if he did. Olleh went in after all, and bot lane was smashed. After that, the bot duo was shaken up so much that they continued to die.
In that match, our comp had strong champions in the upper lanes. The game was going alright, but they died after going into the counter jungle, so the game became helpless.
The next patch is good news for us. ADCs have been buffed, so I think the patch is smiling towards us. Doublelift is clearly better on ADC champions than AP mages.
Do you think AP mages will lose strength because of the Teleport nerf? AP mages used Teleport to make up for their weak early game laning phase.
Yes. As a matter of fact, even in other regions, ADC champions have appeared more frequently than before. As the ADC players got used to playing against AP mages, and since the AP mages are weak in the early game laning phase, the ADC players found a way to play the macro game. Now with the Teleport nerf, it’ll be worse to play AP mages. I think it’s a good sign for us.
You’ll never know how the patches will change at Worlds. Aren’t you worried?
I don’t think the patches will make ADC champions disappear completely. The ADC champions were struggling, and didn’t appear; now Riot is buffing ADCs again. I don’t think having ADC champions disappear was what Riot intended. Well, if it becomes hard to use ADCs again, we’ll have to prepare for that as well. (Laughs)
As a matter of fact, we practiced Vladimir a lot. Doublelift was really good in scrims, so we played him trusting the data we got from scrims. Oddly enough, it didn’t go well in competitions.
Don’t you think Swain is easier to utilize than Vladimir?
Doublelift had trouble playing Swain compared to Vladimir. He can play Swain, but he prefers Vladimir.
In Korea, the teams that have a 10-man roster make full use of their roster by playing internal scrims. How are the scrims against academy teams?
They’re good enough to scrim against. We often play scrims; we also practice with them shortly before we play in the competitions.
The leaderboard is so close together. Within all the chaos, do you think there’s a team that’s strong?
Honestly, I really don’t know. There hasn’t been a single season that the regular season was so close. Even this week, many teams that are considered as ‘strong’ teams lost. The prowess of several teams like FlyQuest has become a lot better. Still, I think the teams that did well during the Spring Split will eventually make their way up. As for us, we’re really confident in Bo3/Bo5s.
How much does Team Liquid practice?
We’re one of the teams that practice more than most teams. As a matter of fact, the NA teams started to practice a lot more recently. Only last season, I don’t remember many teams playing three blocks (8-9 games), but there are many teams that do this season. We play three blocks two or three times a week. The players get tired, but they try to play more voluntarily.
The teams that play three blocks are mostly the originally strong teams. We usually play three blocks with TSM or C9. I think it’s because these teams aren’t getting results as good as they expected.
So do the players play three blocks and solo queue after that?
That’s up to the players since they get really tired afterward. On the days we play two blocks, they play a lot of solo queues.
Do you have any last comments?
I want to thank the fans that always cheer for us. We’re going the long way around again after the last split, but we’ll do our best to deliver our best performance. I know that Impact is popular in Korea, and Doublelift is also popular; I’d like to thank the Korean fans as well.