Team Liquid’s Yilliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng has revealed that he’d rather face tournament favorites Invictus Gaming at the 2019 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational than Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok’s SK Telecom T1.
In a recent interview with Travis Gafford, the Team Liquid star gave a surprising assessment of which team he’d prefer to face in the MSI semi-finals.
Invictus Gaming have dominated the competition so far at MSI. The reigning World Champions entered as the favorites and demonstrated exactly why in the group stage, winning nine of their 10 games to finish with the best record of any team at an MSI ever.
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SK Telecom T1, meanwhile, came in with a point to prove following both their own poor season and the shortcomings of South Korea internationally in 2018. Their own route through the group stage was marked by some notable defeats, losing to G2 Esports twice and being beaten by IG in an international-record time of 16:01.
SK Telecom did get some measure of revenge against IG by handing them their first defeat in the very last match of the group stage, but more significantly from Doublelift’s perspective, they were dominant in their matches against Team Liquid.
Against Invictus, meanwhile, Doublelift felt TL put up a better fight.
“I think SKT’s a way harder match-up for us. When we played against IG both games were really close, people are gonna remember that we lost them but how we lost to them was a very close game, we lost off of one team fight, that’s it.”
Doublelift thinks that his team being able to play Invictus closer than SK Telecom T1 is due to Invictus not being well-practiced against the style that Liquid play.
“Against IG, I think a lot of the plays that we were going for they actually have no experience against. In China they’re more used to being challenged on some of the stuff that they go for, where we are willing to just trade, and also the stuff that we go for they just aren’t ready, they’re just not thinking about it.
"I like our match-up against IG a lot, and I hope they choose us.”
[discussion of TL vs IG begins at 3:30 for mobile viewers]
The interview took place before the matchups for the MSI semi-finals had been decided, but Doublelift’s wish has since come true, as Invictus Gaming did in fact select Team Liquid for their semi-final match. SK Telecom will instead play G2 Esports.
Breaking the group stage curse
This Mid-Season Invitational is particularly notable for Doublelift as he’s finally broken a long-standing personal barrier. Despite being hailed for most of his career as one of North America’s best players, internationally he’s never made it out of the group stages of a big event.
With Team Liquid’s victory over G2 Esports on the final day of the group stage, Doublelift has at last broken that streak of disappointments. Earlier in the interview, however, Doublelift revealed that he gets little satisfaction from the result so far, as “it’s not enough”.
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This isn’t the first time Doublelift has broken such a streak. For the first half of his career he was unable to secure domestic wins, with “Doublelift’s trophy case” becoming a meme for its emptiness. After first winning the NA LCS in Summer 2015, however, Doublelift is now the most successful player in North America, surpassing Soren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg for the title with Team Liquid’s win this Spring.
Doublelift has a long way to go if he’s to achieve a similar turn-around internationally, but taking the first step of finally reaching the playoffs could prove to be another landmark moment in his career.