TSM Doublelift Is Finally Official
The biggest trade of the off-season (at least so far) is finally official: TSM Doublelift! It was a badly kept secret, so it’s not like anyone’s surprised. North America’s most successful AD carry first donned the legendary black and white jersey back in late 2015, and some feel that his return has been long overdue.
His TSM stint wasn’t perfect, but even at its lowest point it never lacked in spectacle and entertainment. Hopefully, that’ll continue to be the case going forward.
Doublelift’s stock took quite a hit this year after the whole motivation-related debacle, but it’s still impossible not to consider him as the best and most capable native marksman NA ever fostered. Even after many years of playing professionally, he’s still at the top of his game and can compete at the highest levels. Motivation wanes with time, that’s just a natural thing and it’s true for all facets of life. No one can blame Doublelift for a dip in performance after winning the LCS title a record number of times with multiple different rosters — he’s a proven quantity and a legend of competitive League, so what’s left to compete for?
Despite the logical explanation behind it all, his actions and the way he handled burnout were unacceptable, especially for a veteran of his stature and experience. Then again, as with most things NA, his decline was blown way out of proportion. It wasn’t a good split (by Doublelift standards), but the rest of the team needs to shoulder the blame as well, considering how no one played particularly well this split.
Doublelift will now rejoin his old teammates (and fellow LCS champions) Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang in an attempt to help TSM reclaim their long-lost LCS throne. On paper, there’s a lot to like with this TSM lineup, especially if they shore up their biggest weaknesses from Spring. Throughout the entire split, the only team Cloud9 thought had the potential to grow into a bona fide challenger was TSM and there’s a good reason why that was the case. Not only were they the only team that managed to take Cloud9 down (once), but they’ve shown incredible potential on more than just a couple of occasions. Their inherent inconsistency and baffling drafting tendencies left a lot to be desired, however.
In a meta that favors playing through the mid/jungle duo, Team SoloMid invested more than they should’ve on the top side of the map and didn’t get enough in exchange. Hopefully, they’ll rectify this issue in the upcoming Summer Split as it would be a shame not to see this line-up realize its full potential.
Bringing their old alumni to the bottom lane should, in theory, jumpstart a lot of growth. At least one can hope.
There’s always a lot that we don’t know whenever these big roster moves happen. This, as is natural, leads to a ton of speculation from everyone and rarely ends up on a positive note. Fortunately, Doublelift released a sixteen-minute vlog that goes over most of the questions people had and gives his take on what led to Liquid’s immense fall from grace.
Here are the most important highlights:
- After Worlds last year, Doublelift was the only player on the team who wanted to keep Jake “Xmithie” Putchero. He feels that the team functioned a lot better, their decisions were clearer and they found a lot more success in all stages of the game. He also won the LCS every time he had Xmithie by his side (five splits in total).
- After TL decided to kick Xmithie and bring in Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen, the motivational issues started mounting. After the whole visa debacle began, Doublelift started questioning everything as he felt that they regressed because of a decision they didn’t need to make. They were experimenting with multiple different junglers and were unable to find any semblance of success.
- Someone from the team complained to the coaches about Doublelift’s lack of motivation. The staff then didn’t notify Doublelift at all up until they decided to bench him in favor of TL’s Academy marksman. This means there was no discussion whatsoever — he was just removed from the starting line-up without any warning beforehand. This, naturally, affected his trust in the team.
- Steve Arhancet (Team Liquid CEO and co-owner) and Broxah were the only two people who were supportive and friendly during this whole debacle.
- After TL lost to Counter Logic Gaming, the coaching staff decided to sub Doublelift back in, but it was too late by that point — nothing felt the same. There was no trust to speak of as things had already spiraled out of control.
The fact that he’s in a relationship with TSM President Leena Xu in no way affected his decision to return to TSM. There weren’t any other top-tier teams that he wanted to sign for and with many years of experience in playing for the organization, there was no reason for him to go elsewhere.
If we take this at face value, it’s hard not to feel bad for Doublelift. His work ethic and dedication are immense and a single bad split (“worst split ever” by his admission) doesn’t mean he should be benched or ostracized from the team in any way whatsoever. Every player has ups and down — huddling up and persevering amidst the chaos is what matters the most. It’s obvious that the environment present in TL was no longer a good fit for the storied marksman, so it’s good that both parties found an amicable way to move on.
Team Liquid will now shift their focus and attempt to mount a comeback. Team SoloMid, on the other hand, will look to clinch a spot for the World Championship now that they have Doublelift back on board.
At the same time — as if their recent struggle wasn’t enough evidence — Liquid’s coaching staff might be due for a shake-up. Not communicating such a basic thing to one of their key players is not only their responsibility but also the only logical option. They simply had to set up a safe, neutral place for a discussion, rather than just allow things to snowball out of control.
The Kobbe Conundrum
If you’re a TSM fan, you’re probably celebrating. But as with any mid-split roster change, someone’s bound to get the short end of the stick, and this time it’s Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup (of LEC Splyce fame). There’s still no word on where he’ll go next, but if he isn’t traded to a team over the next couple of weeks (regardless if it’s in the LCS or LEC), he’s going to be teamless for the remainder of 2020.
Frankly speaking, even though his play didn’t exactly impress over the last three months, he didn’t do anything wrong. With the COVID-19 pandemic making transatlantic crossing complicated (if not flat-out prohibited in some cases), there’s a good chance that Kobbe won’t be able to travel to Berlin and compete in the LEC Summer Split, seeing how it’s twenty or so days away from starting.
The only two North American teams that could use an improvement in the bottom lane (and might be looking to upgrade) are the Golden Guardians and Counter Logic Gaming. Whether or not they end up signing Kobbe is anyone’s guess at this point. There’s a chance of him being slotted into TSM Academy, but it’s hard to imagine Kobbe taking up such an offer.
As always, we’ll keep you updated as the situation develops.