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Liquid's MSI suddenly looks a lot better

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Expert
6 days ago
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I hate Team Liquid. Not because they beat the best team in my native region, but because, in doing so, they ruined 850 words I had written.

My original column and Liquid’s MSI showing started so well. Two wins on the opening day, even if they were wins against the weakest teams in the tournament, were a nice way of easing into a difficult tournament.

Then came the difficulties.

Nobody expected Liquid to beat the likes of SKT and IG, but a loss in the second game against Flash Wolves was worrying.

See, Flash Wolves are a bit of a litmus test for international competition. Beat them, and you’re probably doing alright; lose to them and you might have some issues. Defeating Flash Wolves is basically the bare minimum entry requirement for being a true challenger on the world stage.

The manner of Liquid’s defeats was particularly damning. They looked dreadful much of the time. Even the game against world champions Invictus Gaming, which looked quite hopeful for a time, turned 180 degrees in a heartbeat. The speed and decisiveness of IG’s turnaround was, in a weird way, even more convincing than the hammering we all expected.

I then wrote a whole spiel about how Xmithie had looked embarrassing on anything but tanks, and how he had applied zero pressure in the lost games. There was a bit in there about Doublelift and CoreJJ struggling to carry a team that was constantly behind, noting the fact that they had also been outclassed in lane far too often, with or without jungle assistance.

There were a couple of paragraphs about Impact performing above expectation, but having difficulty turning his leads into a game-changing performance. Then I mentioned Jensen’s disappointing showing: his excellent stats in victories boosted his poor ones in losses.

I caped it all off with a conclusion and was ready to submit. But one of the weird things about being a Brit working for an Australian site means timezone issues around a tournament in Asia can get complicated.

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By the time I’d finished that draft it was time for the Liquid-G2 game to start, so I thought I might as well hang fire and see what happened.

It probably wouldn’t change the content or tone of the piece, I told myself, but maybe there’ll be some even better examples of Liquid misfiring.

Yeah, so here I am, slightly less than 25 minutes later, re-writing the whole goddamned thing.

Sure, one result, however impressively one-sided it might be, doesn’t change everything, but it sure would look silly to release an article decrying Liquid’s disappointing performances right after their most impressive of the tournament.

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Impressive is the right word here. Yes, G2 looked dire, with Caps feeding badly, but Liquid was ready to take full advantage. In fact, phrasing it that way makes it seem like G2 handed this win to TL. It wasn’t G2’s finest hour, true, but Liquid earned this win.

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Xmithie had his best performance of the tournament by a country mile, for starters. His Jarvan was integral to the team’s success, even if he didn’t have numbers as flashy as Doublelift’s 8/0 Kaisa.

Jensen’s struggles? What struggles? Caps handed mid lane to the Dane on a silver platter, but Jensen used his lead to snowball the map with a confidence and freedom that had been lacking in SKT and IG games.

Impact’s Vladimir was strong after some early setbacks in lane but he wasn’t the focus of this game at all and that’s a good thing. Liquid played better than G2 all over the map.

Liquid might have looked unconvincing at MSI and they may be picked for immediate elimination in the knockout stage thanks to IG getting to choose their first opponent, but this was still a performance to fill American fans with hope for the future.

As for G2, they ended the group stage with two surprising losses. This one to Team Liquid is probably less shocking than the PVB defeat earlier in the day, but both are worrying going into the business end of the tournament.

Like Liquid, G2 started this tournament on a high, but ending on the lowest of lows is a bad sign. It’s imperative that the European team get their mental game in check after such a one-sided hammering at the hands of a team who looked so weak in their previous encounter.

Caps, in particular, almost seemed to be trying too hard to force desperate plays at times. One dreads to think how much worse the game might have looked if Jankos hadn’t been around to turn his mid-laner’s poorly-executed dive into a one-for-one trade early in the game.

Still, I expect G2 to be able to shrug this off. If they do end up playing SKT in the playoffs I am genuinely confident that they can complete a sweep that would have looked impossible in previous years.

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Liquid will cop a pasting from either IG or SKT in playoffs, but at least they have taken another important step towards international success with today’s win.