Lost in some of the Worlds hype, Team Liquid announced last week that they are making a change at head coach.
Team Liquid, for a long time, has been noted for their fourth-place curse. After a series of fourth-place finishes, Liquid moved Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub from the business side of the organization to coach. After more inconsistency in the 2016 Summer Split, they are now replacing Locodoco in favor of Team Liquid Academy coach David Lim.
Personality and lineup changes led to an inconsistent team that eventually lost in the NA LCS quarterfinals. Can this change be what Liquid need to finally move into the top three or even win the NA LCS?
Change is frequent in the eSports industry
Given the emerging nature of LoL eSports, change happens often. Even teams consistently at the top, like SK Telecom T1 and Team SoloMid, are required to change parts and evolve. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to see Liquid part ways with mercurial jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett.
Dardoch was one of the most polarizing figures on his team. His strong personality clashed with those of his teammates, coaches and others in the organization. Letting him go was a no-brainer.
Liquid apparently thought more change was required, however. It isn’t immediately apparent who’s decision this was, but given Locodoco’s history of teaching and coaching at a high level, it would be surprising if stepping down was his call.
Introducing David Lim
Liquid’s new coach will be a familiar face to many of the team’s fans. New coach David Lim has coached Team Liquid Academy, Liquid’s Challenger squad.
TLA was one playoff series win away from a promotion into the LCS, and their success came via strong macro play. Unlike Cloud9 Challenger, which relied on a bunch of ex-LCS pros, TLA featured true up-and-coming players learning to play as a team.
Due to the success of TLA, Lim should succeed in shaping Team Liquid to his vision. His focus seems to be to first improve Liquid’s internal culture: “I want to focus on building a thriving environment. Having a place where our players are freely able to accept, give out, and really think about criticism constructively is important.”
One big question remains, however: Liquid’s failings in the Summer Split went beyond coaching, preparation and strategy. Can the team find the rights players to help Lim succeed? How about ironing out the personality issues and communicating thoroughly? And can they replace Dardoch and stabilize key positions of weakness — especially top lane and ADC — through internal improvement or adding new players?
Lim has acknowledged that it will take some time to form the team, saying, “2017 will be all about finding that identity and team dynamic.” There are already rumors of new players Liquid seek to be adding. Expect more movement on that front soon as Liquid try to build an identity.
These questions and more face Lim, Liquid and their new owners. It’s an exciting time for the franchise, especially with the new money coming in. But the changes could be trying in the short term.