Breaking The Curse

I never expected my teammates to let me lift the Spring Split trophy by myself. It was a huge honor and it’s a memory I will always keep with me.

It was still a bit weird, though. I wanted everyone to share the same moment, but I understand why they did it.

Knowing that they were all fighting to get the championship for me is an indescribable feeling.

Helping someone achieve something that they haven’t been able to do for so long is a really good feeling. I imagine they felt the same way I did when I followed through on my promise to get Doublelift out of the group stage at MSI.

We both broke each other’s curse.

My teammates here on Team Liquid are special. They’re the best at their roles and I’ve never seen other players be as good as they are. I’ve been able to watch them do things that I didn’t think possible. Watching them impact a game more than I thought one individual ever could.

We’ve always been one step ahead of the competition here in NA. Whether it’s just in our raw skill or our ability to control the macro game. We never let go of the control once we acquire it. We’re always looking for creative ways to push our advantages against the competition.

From the start, I knew Team Liquid had the potential to be the best team North America has ever produced.

There were still a few moments during spring where I was nervous about how things would turn out. We had that slump toward the end of the split when we were scrimming against TSM and Cloud9 and we had nothing but horrid results.

In the back of my mind, I was thinking “fuck“, I left C9 and now they’re smashing us. What if I left C9 for Team Liquid and then they win the split?

That’s going to be so embarrassing and maybe the worst career move of my life. Maybe just the worst career move in history. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

We just had some stupid losses, especially in the finals against TSM. Even then I wasn’t really concerned about being down 0-2. We’re a team that always excels more on stage than we do in practice.

I always said that as long as we played a static game, we were the better team and could win.

Turns out, I was right.

But that all pales in comparison to international competition.

The thing about NA is… the competition isn’t very hard to deal with.

We aren’t punished for the things that we should be punished for and it puts us behind the other regions.

Whenever I’ve gone to an international tournament, whether it was with Cloud9 or with Team Liquid, I feel like I’m always playing catchup to the other regions.

I have to learn the styles of the other mids and the champions that they play because of how we play in North America.

For Spring Split, NA didn’t really play Sylas. He was permabanned here and Akali was a top lane only champion. We didn’t think she could be played in mid.

Fast forward to MSI, and Sylas is being picked every game and Akali is in mid being super OP and destroying people.

Too often you’re playing catchup when you head to international stages just because of the overall level of play in NA.

I started off slow at MSI because of this.

I know I could have played a lot better, but as I got more comfortable my play improved dramatically. Overall, I was happy with my performance… at least until we got 3-0’d in the finals against G2 Esports.

That was an extremely sad moment for me, losing 3-0. It reminded me a lot of my semifinal match the year before against Fnatic where Cloud9 lost 3-0.

We were simply outclassed that entire series. It seemed as if we could never do anything proactive because of the difference between us and how we got exposed in the early game.

MSI showed us what we really need to work on.

Yes, we can beat the world champions, Invictus Gaming, but it doesn’t matter if we can’t beat the rest of the teams that are at the top of their respective regions.

I need to learn how to play every champion, even if they aren’t in the NA meta because they will be needed when we head to Worlds.

At the same time, we need to improve at being more stable in the early game. That’s been one of our weaknesses all along, but it’s never been exposed in NA.

The biggest thing we took away from our match against G2 was how strong they are when they play together and when it was their turn in the macro phase.

They were all on the same page no matter what was going on, something that we can do here in North America, but we definitely didn’t do internationally.

I want Team Liquid to be just as good as G2 Esports when it comes controlling every aspect of the game. It’s something I know we can accomplish between now and Worlds. It’s a lot of work, but we have the whole split to eliminate our weaknesses.

Then, when we get to Worlds, we can put on the same performance we did at MSI, with one crucial difference.

We’ll bring home the trophy.

Jeff Yabumoto assisted with the creation of this article.

Images: Riot Games

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