After their last game of the LCS Spring Split regular season, Dexerto sat down with Team Liquid’s CoreJJ to ask some difficult questions about what went wrong with the team. Not only was he honest and forthcoming about communication issues within the team, he had tangible hope for their ability to perform in Summer.
Jo ‘CoreJJ’ Yong-in has long held a reputation as one of if not the best support players in North America. He’s been on Team Liquid for four years, sticking with the team through some of their biggest accomplishments and greatest failures.
During that time, he’s been put on a roster alongside some of the best players in the world. But stacking a team like that brings along with it an incredibly high set of expectations. 2022’s roster failed to meet those expectations, and, unfortunately for TL, 2023 has only been worse.
Team Liquid finished their Season with an 8-10 record, tying them for 8th place and leaving them just outside of qualifying for Playoffs. Their unsteady showing with such high-tier talent has left people with a lot of questions, and CoreJJ was willing to answer some of the most difficult ones.
In Dexerto’s interview with Core, he didn’t shy away from admitting where a lot of the problems were with the team and revealed why he’s confident they can compete for a top spot in Summer.
Despite their best efforts, something on TL got lost in translation
Team Liquid was marketed as and built from the ground up to be a Korean-speaking roster. Summit and Pyosik were meant to be a strong topside for the team, while Haeri and Yeon made up some of the best Academy talent we’ve ever seen, players that dominated just below the LCS level that could also speak Korean without requiring more import slots.
However, even with the language barrier being overcome by the way Team Liquid structured their roster, communication was still a problem with this team. Pyosik admitted that it took much longer than he anticipated for Team Liquid to mesh as a team in his interview with Dexerto, and that’s a sentiment CoreJJ mirrored.
“What we need to improve is like, for example, we lost a lot of games with Lucian/Nami. We need to figure out why we lost, we need to figure out how we can win with this comp, what is the really important thing this champion needs to succeed? While the season is going on, everything is data, right? You’re going to have a lot of data, and that’s where you need communication. You talk to your teammates and think about the game, talk about what you need, what you can do better.”
At the beginning of the split, Team Liquid was held up as one of the hardest working teams that was putting the most hours into solo queue and scrims. However, that practice is only worth as much as their results give them. After trying so hard in practice ahead of the season only to lose at the start of the split, morale wasn’t exactly high.
“Our early losses made us play worse and worse. Since we lost a lot of games with what we practiced a lot, we lost our way. We had to find a new win condition, and it took some time.”
When asked about whether he thought there was a big gap between TL’s performance on stage and in scrims, CoreJJ wasn’t eager to make excuses. In fact, he took the opportunity to detail just how hard a team can nosedive as a result of having a complete lack of momentum.
“At first, I was thinking that there was a big gap. But, in the end, we were just not consistent in scrims and in stage games. When you’re not consistent on stage, enemy teams try to play more safe and try to play more focused, so you make even more mistakes. We are not playing clean, but at least we can make really good plays even though we make mistakes. That’s what I could see in our last game.”
In their last game of the Spring split, Team Liquid showed the best and worst their team has to offer all at once.
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After getting picked and losing a teamfight on Drake, Summit and Haeri managed to trade back an inhibitor off the back of pure mechanical skill. There’s clear talent here with these individual players, they’re just struggling when it comes to playing like a team. Funny enough, this is exactly what FlyQuest’s Impact thought was the issue with TL when we asked him about why he thought Team Liquid was losing.
CoreJJ went on to say that, while it may look like TL is noticeably behind the top teams in the LCS, they don’t have to cover much ground to put themselves at the top of the table.
“I think it’s very tiny things that we’re missing. Our players individually can play well against the top teams in the league, so I think, once we improve as a team and find our win condition, we’ll be a really good team.”
CoreJJ isn’t discouraged despite Team Liquid missing Playoffs
Despite the circumstances, CoreJJ was in good spirits when we talked to him. He was elated that they had won against EG (even if it wasn’t the cleanest game), and still seemed very optimistic about his team’s chances in Summer.
Yeon in particular was a hot topic coming into the split. He’d been the Academy system’s worst kept secret for a while, and was clearly a standout within the system before coming up to TL’s LCS roster. And, while he still has a lot to learn according to Core, this player is one to watch out for.
“I think he has a lot of good ideas, and he has a really high ceiling. But… He also makes a lot of mistakes. He’s figuring out what is the optimal way to play the game. He doesn’t want to be a standard AD carry, he wants to be the best player. Once he figures himself out, he will dominate.”
Yeon’s pursuit to become an ADC that can surpass the likes Prince or Berserker has resulted in him making some big mistakes. The ambition that comes with wanting to be the best player paired with a lack of experience can lead to disaster, which could be part of why Yeon has been inconsistent thus far.
Those inconsistencies were ironed out a bit in the second half of the split, but these changes came too late for Team Liquid to make playoffs. CoreJJ said this was his biggest regret of the split.
“I think, in all of our losses on stage, we learned a lot. I wish we could have learned everything a lot earlier in our season.”
He left us with a vow that next split will be different.
“EG was 5th place, 9-9 last Spring Split and then won the entire tournament. That’s League of Legends. Sometimes you need time. Some teams learn faster. Some teams become a team faster. As everyone can see, the LCS standings are really tight, and every single win and loss can change the standings. It sucks that we got 8th place, but I’m going to make sure it’s not gonna happen again.“