After Team Liquid’s 3-2 reverse sweep win over CLG, we sat down with TL Santorin. As it would turn out, he pointed out issues with Team Liquid that would end up being their downfall against Evil Geniuses.
Team Liquid has been a very on-and-off team since their Spring Split loss in Houston at the hand of Evil Geniuses. Some weeks, they were losing to mid/bottom tier LCS teams. Others, they were dominating the very best.
They nearly reverse-swept 100 Thieves in a very close best-of-five and were ultimately forced into another reverse sweep against CLG. Fortunately for Team Liquid, they were able to find 3 consecutive wins and turn the set around.
However, this wasn’t enough to get them through Playoffs, and Team Liquid ended their season in fourth after a loss to Evil Geniuses. This would be nothing to scoff at for most teams.
But for Team Liquid, this is a disappointment.
We sat down with veteran TL jungler Lucas ‘Santorin’ Larsen to ask about the pressure that comes with being on a so-called “super team” and the ways in which that can affect you as a player.
TL Santorin navigates an ever-changing meta
Santorin was very self-critical through our time together, and despite this interview being conducted before Team Liquid’s loss to EG, many of the problems with TL that he pointed out to us wound up being their downfall.
While Team Liquid’s core roster is filled with veteran players that have a great deal of experience and accolades, they weren’t able to make it across the finish line.
Now that Jo ‘CoreJJ’ Yong-in has to pick Enchanters more often than not, the responsibility for starting fights often lies on Santorin. He’s the one creating opportunities for the team. But this hasn’t been an easy transition.
One of the biggest reasons for their relative weakness this Playoffs could have been the massive shift in the support meta, and we asked Santorin directly about how CoreJJ having to play more Enchanters and ranged supports has affected Team Liquid.
“I played on a team with Core last year as well, and usually I’ve felt the most comfortable when Core was on engage because he’s really, really good at finding angles and understanding when to go in. I think he’s a better player than me in this aspect. But, at the same time, I feel like— I’m not terrible at it, you know?” We shared a chuckle at his last comment here.
Clearly, he’s doing just fine at initiating considering he got player of the series against CLG and stuck to a similar style against EG to take them to 2-3.
“I can still pull my weight. It’s just, I think Core is just so exceptional at it. I don’t think almost anyone can compete with him. That’s why for me, you know, seeing him on Yuumi doesn’t really get me excited. That being said, he’s actually really good at ranged supports, so…”
“You know, it’s kind of a weird thing for me, because, on one hand, I really want him to be the engager. But, on the other hand, I also know he can do really well on ranged supports. It’s just, we really need to adjust as a team to how we play with him not being the main engager. I think we’re slowly finding our footing.”
Santorin likes to play Junglers that gank a lot, and this meta is perfect for this play style. He explained that, “more people have realized that bot lane is really, really strong, and that you should just do everything you can to set bot lane up for success.”
This means he’s in the perfect spot to take advantage of the meta with his tendency toward tanky, gank-heavy junglers. But, being the main man to lead the charge is clearly a big shift for Santorin.
That’s the unfortunate reality of a game like League of Legends that changes so often: When the meta changes, you have to change with it. And the pressure that these changes put on pros can make cracks show.
What’s it like being on a so-called super team like Team Liquid?
Team Liquid is a stacked roster filled with LCS and LEC veterans. This gained them the seemingly cursed label of a “super team”, being a roster with so many decorated players on it.
When we talked to Bwipo, he was fairly confident in his team and in himself going into Playoffs. However, that doesn’t mean that TL’s players aren’t feeling the pressure.
Even other LCS players poked fun at Team Liquid when they were down 0-2 in the series. The pressure that comes with such a decorated and expensive roster can be a lot, and Santorin elaborated on how that stress can affect players.
“You can definitely feel the pressure. You are expected to win the whole thing, and you’re expected to be this super team that kind of stomps everyone. And I think those expectations are sort of putting the team in a place where you either meet expectations, or you fail.”
Santorin didn’t think that Team Liquid’s issues stemmed from individual play. Rather, it’s an issue with how they come together and play as a team.
Unfortunately, Team Liquid weren’t able to come together and bring their teamplay up to championship-level in time for their clash with EG.
“Honestly, it’s really humbling playing on a team like this. All these individuals are so freaking good at the game, and the only issue I have is that we’re not playing well enough as a team, and we’re making mistakes that just shouldn’t happen. That’s kind of where I get a little sad at times, because I feel like this is the opportunity for me to do well and hopefully lift up the trophy again.”
While Santorin felt like Team Liquid was “handling it well” regarding how much pressure is put on them when we interviewed him, he still thought they have a lot to improve on going into their fight with EG.
“In the end, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is saying and what everyone else is feeling outside of your team. The only thing that matters to us is that we’re improving and we’re getting better, and… I still think we have a lot of work to do. I don’t feel like we’re playing the way we should, and I feel like we could play a lot better.”
Unfortunately, Team Liquid’s loss to Evil Geniuses meant the end of their chances at a Worlds run as well. Team Liquid’s 2022 season has officially ended, and we won’t see them again until 2023.