In a recent talk show, LCS caster Isaac “Azael” Bentley landed his own take about the significance of the new Spring Split and how the pro players view it in return.
In 2020, the Spring Split carries no weight towards Worlds. Teams can only qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational, but the real race for the World Championship starts in Summer. As a result, a common opinion among pros and fans alike is that the Spring Split doesn’t matter as much (or at all). Going to MSI (and potentially winning it) is great, but the tournament itself is significantly less esteemed than Worlds.
In the first half of the Spring Split, this attitude was also displayed by the greatest LCS player of all time — Liquid’s Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. A seven-time LCS champion and MSI finalist, Doublelift has been a staple in the region and for the past two years, his Team Liquid has been crushing everyone. But in 2020 Spring, the combination of jungler Mads “Broxah” Pedersen’s visa issues, Doublelift’s declining health, and the format of the Spring Split had stripped a lot of Team Liquid’s strength — and Doublelift’s motivation.
Often the best carry on the LCS Rift, Doublelift now held the lowest KDA of all bot laners and was dealing significantly less damage. After the first half of the split ended, Doublelift admitted in an official interview that he “pretty much just didn’t care”.
“Let’s be honest, he wasn’t trying,” said LCS shoutcaster Mark “TheeMarkZ” Zimmerman on the same show, referring to Doublelift’s low amount of practice games between stage matches. “You can blame the format changes or whatever, but he wasn’t trying. I think there was already fire lit under him after the Golden Guardians game and I think he’s going to get better, he’s going to improve.”
The Golden Guardians match in question was a particularly brutal one, an LCS upset nobody expected, even counting the poor form Liquid were at the time. The match happened at the end of week 3, with Golden Guardians standing as the second worst team in the league at 1-4. Team Liquid, on the other hand, hadn’t had the opening weeks they might’ve expected, but a neutral 2-2 score kept them in the middle of the table in the first two weeks.
The match against the Guardians was a one-sided affair almost from minute 5. Doublelift gave up first blood early on in minute 3 and finished the game with 2/3/4 KDA, 3K gold behind the opposing AD carry.
The topic eventually shifted away from Doublelift and Team Liquid and into a more general direction, which is when Azael dropped his take, further elaborating on Reddit that he was addressing a wide-spread sentiment among the community.
“I think that Spring Split does matter, the fact that it doesn’t matter is absolute garbage take. If you as a pro think that it doesn’t matter and then you don’t have to try hard, you’ll never be really successful, a world champion, or reach the actual top.
If succeeding in the LCS doesn’t matter, if making playoffs, winning a fucking championship, making a fucking million dollars a year, going to fucking MSI and winning that don’t matter to you, guess what — you don’t have it. People who have that attitude will never be the best and will not succeed at the highest level. And that is not contingent on Spring Split having Worlds implications.”
“I truly believe that if you want to be the best in the world at something, it is so egotistical to think that you can not work hard and not try, and not be grinding at it,” Azael concluded.
The LCS Spring Split continues this Saturday with several high profile matches. Cloud9, currently on a perfect 12-0 score, will aim to keep their lossless record against TSM and Golden Guardians. Doublelift, however, will watch from the bench, as Team Liquid will start Edward “Tactical” Ra in the bot lane against CLG and Immortals.
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