Following the difficult 2016 League of Legends competitive season, Team Liquid made some changes to their roster by releasing their best prospect Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and upgrading their strength in the role with Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin, while also bringing up Grayson “Goldenglue” Gilmer up from their Liquid Academy Challenger team to replace Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun. With Goldenglue taking FeniX’s spot on the main roster, it didn’t make much sense to keep a player of his caliber as a substitute, so the Korean Mid Laner was let go from the team.
Looking at the team histories of both players, it becomes clear that while both players started their competitive careers in 2013, Goldenglue changed teams like socks, while FeniX spent long stretches of his own career on three teams overall. This could point at Goldenglue being a decent enough player to be a sub or or band aid solution to a roster in desperate need of a Mid Laner, but not really good enough to stay on the main roster, becoming a true member of an org. Over his career, Goldengue has been a member of Skyline, compLexity.Red, Team Dignitas, Team Coast, compLexity.White, Team 8, Immortals, Ember, Team Liquid Academy, and now Team Liquid. FeniX, on the other hand, only played for Eat Sleep Game for a month, Jin Air Green Wings Falcons for a year, for Team Dragon Knights for three months, and Team Liquid for two years.
The fact that Team Liquid are keeping Goldenglue on as their starting Mid Laner is a sign that the player might finally be good enough to play for an org for an extensive amount of time. Or they just desperately need an NA Mid Laner and couldn’t find anyone better. This is actually a very likely scenario, because so far, Team Liquid has two Koreans who don’t meet the residency requirements to not be counted as imports, Reignover and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. While FeniX HAS been playing in NA for two years, so he shouldn’t be counted as an import, the player has been struggling in 2016, making the org to look for a better replacement. It’s hard to say whether Goldenglue is it, however.
All in all, the roster of Samson “Lourlo” Jackson, Reignover, Goldenglue, Piglet, and Matt “Matt” Elento has potential to make the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split Playoffs once again. How deep can they go once there? It’s very hard to tell, however, Liquid should be able to at least get their usual 4th place. Going any higher could be hard, especially if Cloud9’s new Jungler, Dardoch on Immortals, and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, and the new Phoenix1 roster work out. We will just have to wait and see. Despite never being quite good enough to fight for a title, Liquid has… something appealing that makes us root for the team whenever it plays. Hopefully, we can avoid disappointment this year.