History has been made, stereotypes have been crushed, and haters have been silenced. May 17 will go down in history as the day a North American League of Legends team defeated Chinese powerhouse Invictus Gaming and became the first-ever North American squad that got into the finals of MSI.
Team Liquid Was Made For It
Team Liquid team was built for this tournament. Boasting with some of the best players out of NA, in addition to two highly experienced players (CoreJJ and Impact), Team Liquid has the “craziest” roster ever put on stage by an NA Team. The expectations were there, so was the confidence, but deep down, there were still some doubts for the North American team. At the end of the day, “NA teams always choke.”
Not this time. Team Liquid proved the naysayers wrong when they advanced into the semifinals. There they were paired with world champions and LPL champions Invictus Gaming, who were understandably considered heavy favorites to win it all. Going into the match, even the most die-hard fans did not believe Team Liquid had a chance to win against IG.
However, we saw Doublelift, Jensen, Impact, CoreJJ, and Xmithie prove the doubters and the world wrong once more. They did not only put up a good fight, nor did they win only one game. Team Liquid completely crushed IG 3-1 in a Bo5 match. That made them the first-ever NA team to advance into the finals of MSI.
Fighting Fire With Fire
We’ve heard the phrase “fight fire with fire” countless times before. While it’s a real strategy for firefighters to fight forest fires, Team Liquid used it to stop the “unstoppable” IG. And no, they did not use real fire, but rather a strategy which matched IG’s aggression with their own.
Team Liquid, who were very reactive through the group stage, turned proactive and well … the results are on the table. Invictus Gaming is known to push their opponents into uncomfortable positions with their aggressive playstyle. That more times than not gets them a small lead which starts the “snowball effect.”
This time out, TL rose to the pace of IG’s game and beat IG at their own game. Winning the first game of the series proved to be enough for Team Liquid to gain the confidence to lead them through the games that followed. The mistakes we saw from Team Liquid in the group stage were cleaned up. They approached the game against IG without any fear and full of confidence. In the end, it turned out to be one of, if not the best, performances from a North American team.
CoreJJ Plays a Supportive Role
First things first. All of the Team Liquid players played extremely well. Jensen put up a superb performance in the midlane, where he was put against Rookie, who is widely considered to be the best midlaner in the world. Xmithie, who was seemingly all over the map all the time. Impact, the solo laner who stood firm against TheShy. And of course, the bottom lane duo of Doublelift and CoreJJ, who were put against the best bottom lane in the world and delivered.
While they all played admirably well, I must give CoreJJ the most credit for his team’s win. The former Samsung Galaxy and Gen.G. player was a true MVP of Team Liquid. He not only impressed with some flashy plays. He was also the main man behind some of the key moments that turned the match to Team Liquid’s favor. While it’s true, supports usually don’t get any credit for their work, he was obviously the key man for TL and the biggest thorn in IG’s side.
The “Chokers” Did Not Choke
Hardly any moment can compare to what we saw on May 17, when Team Liquid won against the world champions. A team from a region that is known to “choke” on the international stage defeated the strongest team in the world.
While some could say it was an upset, it’s not really an upset when the score is 3-1. Team Liquid came into the semifinals firing on all cylinders and wrote history. Will they go all the way? To answer that we need to wait until May 19, when they will face off against the winner of the second semifinal. That will be played between G2 and SKT T1 on May 18.