Team Liquid is building a full Korean-speaking roster for the 2023 Season.
Despite winning the Spring Lock-In Tournament and making playoffs in both splits, 2022 was nothing but disappointing for Team Liquid compared to the expectations. Building the most expensive roster in the LCS history with the anticipation of a North American Worlds, TL came into last year with the aim of domination. Unfortunately, the team and players struggled to find their form throughout the year, and when they couldn't qualify for Worlds 2022, the roster disbanded immediately.
During the offseason, TL co-owner and co-CEO Steve Arhancet came out with a statement and said they would go with a lower-budget team, and focus more on young native talent. Many expected TL to promote most of their Academy team, who were at that point back-to-back Proving Grounds champions. But Liquid subverted fans’ expectations with an unexpected roster construction.
- Top laner: Park “Summit” Woo-tae
- Jungler: Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon
- Mid laner: Harry “Haeri” Kang
- Bot laner: Sean “Yeon” Sung
- Support: Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in
Team Liquid promoted a couple of players from the TL Academy for sure, but not many expected them to do that and also import more players. And probably not many were expecting them to end up with a full Korean-speaking roster either, which ended up with them being called TLCK by the fans online.
The new top/jungle import duo of TL are players well-known to the North American audience. We watched Pyosik lift the Worlds 2022 trophy in San Fransisco just a couple of months ago. Unfortunately for DRX, the team couldn’t hold on to their players. After nearly all of his teammates left the organization, Pyosik also decided to take on another challenge and ended up in the LCS. It is hard to know what to expect from Pyosik. He hit some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows a player can hit on the Rift in the last couple of years. He showed that he could be a significant part of a winning team, but we’ve also seen him make some big mistakes when his teams started to struggle a little bit.
Another player that showed us both sides of the coin is Summit. There isn’t much talk needed about how dominant he can be in the top lane. We saw him drag his team to victory after victory during the 2022 Spring Split, winning himself the MVP award in the meantime. But he also faltered at times, especially when teams threw draft resources at him and he didn’t manage to adapt his playstyle accordingly. There were also a lot of rumors about Summit having problems with his head coach, Nick “LS” De Cesare at the time. Thankfully, TL also imported a Korean coach, so maybe that might be helpful. It also helps the new coach is a former top laner and a World champion at that. This will be the first coaching job for former SKT T1 player, Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-hwan, but it seems like TL has a lot of trust in him.
Now, of course, fully Korean speaking doesn’t mean fully Korean. Both Haeri and Yeon are resident players, who were born into Korean-speaking families. While their language abilities were definitely a factor, their promotions from the Academy team did not surprise many. As mentioned above, these players dominated the 2022 Proving Grounds in both splits. Especially Yeon was seen as one of the best bot laners in the circuit, and it will be exciting to see him start his LCS career in a lane with the legendary CoreJJ.
Despite 2022 being a down year for Core, it never feels right to bet against him. Even during a bad year, CoreJJ was one of the better support in the lane. His troubles were more during mid-games when he had to play around his team. A new team and an environment might be really beneficial for him as well.
Last but not least, a little bit about Haeri. While he is a good prospect, he wasn’t as hyped as Yeon. Still, he had a lot of good performances. It’s more realistic to expect a more slow start for him to the LCS, especially with a new jungler beside him, but he is talented enough not to get beaten down by more experienced players. Although some fans aren’t happy with another import-heavy roster, this Team Liquid squad both is good enough to compete for playoffs right now and has some developmental pieces for the future.
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