Yiliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng returned for Team Liquid in Week 7 after being benched. However, things didn’t return back to ‘normal’, with a “completely different” team dynamic now motivating the four-time LCS champions.
Team Liquid’s mental reset with academy AD carry Edward ‘Tactical’ Ra looked to be doing wonders for the reigning LCS champions — until it wasn’t. After having a successful Week 6, the team crumbled against cellar-dwellers CLG in Week 7.
Enter Doublelift. The seven-time LCS champion re-entered the arena after a week and a half on the bench, looking to restart his Sprint Split anew.
While he didn’t get the comeback game he was hoping for against Immortals, those ten days off the main team changed the team dynamic of the four-time LCS champion forever. It gave Doublelift the time to reflect and understand how he got into this position.
“I think [my critics] were 100% right [about me not being motivated],” the Liquid AD carry admitted in an interview with Travis Gafford. “No one should ever go out and say the things that I did about Spring Split not mattering.
It also gave him the opportunity to work on proving the critics wrong. He didn’t need to prove them wrong with his in-game skill — everyone knows his raw talent — he needed to show them that he was determined to put the effort in, not just at Worlds, but at every step along the way.
“I think we should be realistic in a way that Spring Split doesn’t matter as much, but competition still matters, and I didn’t realise how important that was to me. I’m completely different now and I’ve been super in the zone for the last few weeks.
“[Being benched] reignited my passion for competing and made me want to be a bigger person on the team, and made me want to step up and be a leader. It made me never want to ever get benched again. It’s all been a huge wakeup call for me.”
The reasons behind his benching have been pretty public. From earlier comments about a lack of motivation heading into a seemingly-worthless Spring Split, to poor on-stage performances, Doublelift hasn’t been performing up to his moniker.
While there are times he sets the cruise control on and lets his team do the heavy lifting, as Liquid floundered, he found himself in hot water. His lack of motivation was on show for all to see, and it affected how the team was preparing.
“On every team I’ve been on, there’s been times during the regular season where I’m not trying my absolute best. I’m not putting in the same number of hours I do during playoffs or Worlds,” he said.
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“At those times, it’s not a problem because the team’s fine, but because everything was so under the microscope because the team was performing so badly, everyone started losing trust in each other.
“I realize now, with hindsight, that was not the time to play less solo queue than everyone else, that was the time to really double down and show everyone that I’m dedicated, and I failed to do that.”
However, he’s not going to dwell on the past too much. Instead, he’s going to take the same grit and determination he shows come Worlds, and put the same, extraordinary amount of effort into every game like it was his last.
“My teammates know that I’m giving it my 110% now and it really just comes down to my performance. I understand if I don’t perform I might not get my spot back, but I’m confident I will be able to, and I’ve shown many times in the past I can.”
“All those things everyone said [are] totally fair, and now it’s time to make it up to my teammates and carry the team in playoffs,” he added.
Liquid’s road to playoffs isn’t easy. The team currently sits in tied-7th with a 6-8 record, one game off of fringe playoffs teams Evil Geniuses and Immortals.
Liquid’s fate is still in their own hands, but with games against EG, FlyQuest, Cloud9, and Golden Guardians to close out their Spring campaign, their work is cut out for them. One loss could end of their season, and Doublelift is painfully aware of that.