Team Liquid support Jo ‘CoreJJ’ Yong-in spoke to Dexerto about their loss to 100 Thieves and the expectations for the LCS Finals weekend in Houston.
After securing first place in the regular season and taking down Evil Geniuses in their opening playoff series, Team Liquid fell to the defending champions, 100 Thieves, on April 16 in a crushing reverse sweep.
With the loss, they are off to Houston to play in the losers’ final, a rematch against EG. The winner advances to the grand final against 100 Thieves, with a trophy and a ticket to the Mid-Season Invitational in Korea next month on the line.
The Team Liquid post-season has been a bit rough compared to their regular season prowess, as the two ‘silver scrapes’ series attest. Their previous victory over Evil Geniuses was incredibly tumultuous, with quite a few one-sided games, and that was repeated against 100 Thieves.
The good news for Team Liquid is they obliterated their opponents when they were playing at their best. The bad news is they looked completely lost and unfocused in some of their losses. But there may be a few different reasons for that, which TL will hope to fix heading into this Finals weekend.
After a close five-game series against them, Inspired told Dexerto that Team Liquid’s playstyle wasn’t well suited for the playoffs, claiming they were better in the regular season format. That thought resonated with CoreJJ.
“I kind of agree,” he said, referencing Inspired’s declaration. “We think about what we are going to lose more than what we are going to get… We need to find more balance right now.”
Liquid often plays the game in a more controlled way, trying to stifle any aggression from their opposition and make more coordinated macro plays, especially with their jungle and support roams.
A stylistic mismatch
That style helped them claim sole possession of first place in the regular season, but it’s more easily exploited and countered in a longer series, where draft and patterns become increasingly important. It also requires a lot of patience and control, which they’ve struggled with a bit in the post-season.
“We get really excited, so we’re less calm once we feel like we are [in a better spot] than the opposing team,” CoreJJ said, referencing some of their mistakes in playoffs. “In most situations, I feel like we are better than the opposing team, so we need to find a way to have peace of mind.”
Some of those issues may stem a bit from the change in environment from scrims to stage, especially once the audience is added in the mix.
“I feel like overall, we are in a really good situation most of our games,” the Korean support explained, “but today, maybe it was a stage difference. We couldn’t finish out our games cleanly, so it didn’t go well.”
Players and casters have recently spoken about how the recent return of the crowd has affected their performance. Though most talk about how it’s exciting and invigorating, it can also be a bit distracting and lead to more errors since it’s so different than the quiet studio that they’re used to.
TL just feel like they're overcomplicating things for no reason.
They're incredible team fighters, but are drafting themselves almost no way to win 5v5, no engage for pick & forcing themselves to smash early or auto lose.
100T are way too strong to just roll over early!#LCS
— Isaac CB (@AzaelOfficial) April 17, 2022
With Team Liquid’s playstyle and the exhaustion of a full five-game series, they fell apart at the very last minute against 100 Thieves, succumbing to a backdoor in the final game.
“I think we were in a really favored situation because we can win a teamfight,” CoreJJ said. “We can defend their backdoor with Shen ulti and Corki TP, but maybe it was just Game 5 – brains stopped.”
Eyes on Houston
Despite the loss, CoreJJ thinks his team is still the best in North America and that they will secure the trip to his home country for MSI. “After playing against most teams in playoffs, I feel like we’re going to win,” he said.
He is proud of the work they have already done and is confident in their preparation this week to win the two rematches that stand in their way of the title.
“When there is a loser’s bracket, I think the most important thing is who is actually the better team,” he concluded. “We still have one week left. I think now is the time to develop our gameplay. We need to prove that we are actually a better team than them.”
CoreJJ knows that at their best, this roster is capable of securing Liquid’s first trophy since their fourpeat ended in 2019. But all three teams are expecting to win it all this weekend, and two of them will go home empty-handed. The odds are stacked against them, and the stage environment will be more different than ever.
If there’s any time for this veteran lineup to prove why they’ve had such long, successful careers, it’s now.