TSM: Top 5 Interesting Things We Learned about the Doublelift Trade

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /
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Doublelift, Team Liquid, LCS, League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

3. Communication Breakdown

This is where things start to get really spicy. And where we have to acknowledge that we are right now only hearing Doublelift’s perspective of events, while what his teammates, coaches, and owner perceived to be happening could be vastly different, with the truth somewhere between.

From Doublelift’s perspective, after his poor start teammates began voicing concerns to the Team Liquid coaching staff. However, these concerns about his motivation were not passed on to Doublelift until he was eventually benched for Edward “Tactical” Ra. And, even then, the comments were only passed on by owner Steve Arhancet, not the team’s coaching staff.

To me, this is a red flag in bad coaching and communication (if true). There should have been no issue with coaching staff or someone in management pulling Doublelift aside to voice the concerns that teammates had anonymously been voicing, especially when he and the team were performing so poorly.

Even if the coaches thought that Doublelift would work himself out of the slump himself, or that telling him this could hamper his play even more, telling him as he was getting benched is definitively the worst time to do it. Any motivation for redemption that Double could have gleaned from the benching would have been lost to distrust. Even worse, they were giving this feedback to Doublelift when he had no opportunity to work on it other than waiting for Tactical to fail (which he did against CLG) and get back into the line-up.

Once again, we have to acknowledge that this is one side of the story and his teammates and coaches will likely have a very different perspective. However, if these initial concerns were indeed not communicated to Doublelift much earlier, that is poor player management.

4. A Poor Team Environment

After coming back into the line-up, Doublelift paints the situation on Team Liquid as one where he felt he could never earn his teammates or coaches’ trust again. He says that coaches and teammates told him to not make calls as they were “confusing” and to only feed information to the team’s shotcaller. He also recounts getting switched out of scrims after getting into arguments with his teammates.

Doublelift says these arguments were typical for teammates who disagree about strategy and what his teammates say might be very different. Regardless, this atmosphere made Doublelift withhold information he otherwise might have freely given because he was afraid he might lose his starting spot again. This made him, in turn, play more passive than normal and likely shook his confidence greatly.

Again, this is another huge red flag.

Not only is the idea of benching a player from scrims after he just got benched on stage a terrible idea unless you want to alienate him, the fact that Doublelift felt that he could never redeem himself for his initial mistakes is a terrible strategy. Team Liquid should have either welcomed him back with open arms and helped him work through the issues that led to his benching, or simply benched him for the year and worked on building the team with Tactical.

Recall as well that management sided with the other three players remaining from Team Liquid in 2019 on replacing Xmithie, and it’s easy for Doublelift to feel like he was the outsider on the team. In short, TL’s players, coaches, and management all seemed to drive a wedge between the player and the rest of the team.

5. The Poaching Issue

Finally, Doublelift addressed the elephant in the room: the conflict of interest in him rejoining TSM due to his relationship with TSM’s President Leena Xu. We’ll also preface this by saying that LCS commissioner Chris Greeley confirmed that the league had reviewed the trade and determined there was no conflict of interest.

For his part, Doublelift said that the decision to rejoin TSM was largely based on the good relationships he has with mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and support Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. When Steve came to him with the idea that he might be traded, Doublelift did indeed give a list of teams that he would prefer to be traded to, with TSM being on that short list.

However, in talking about that decision, he talks far more about how much he respects Bjergsen and missed playing with Biofrost than about his relationship. He also appears incredibly motivated not only to redeem himself and TSM, but also at the fact that this team has enough talent to potentially challenge Cloud9 atop the LCS standings. If he is dedicated to putting in more hours of work towards that goal, his relationship would inevitably suffer.

Next. Three Reasons TSM is a Contender Again With Doublelift. dark

From his own mouth, Double confirmed that he would have joined TSM regardless if Leena was the President or not, and that there are certain teams he would not join even if Leena worked with them. Whether that is 100% true is likely debatable, but Doublelift did lay out a convincing case as to why returning to TSM was his preferred destination all along.

For their part, TSM fans appear to have welcomed their prodigal son back with open arms. Despite some commentators feeling that this trade sets a bad precedent, the fact that it was thoroughly vetted by the LCS gives the trade legitimacy.