After an unsuccessful debut in the 2016 North American League Championship Series (LCS), Team Liquid will use two of their substitutes as starters in today’s match.
Substitute jungler Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett and support Matthew "Matt" Elento will play instead of starters Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera and Andy “Smoothie” Ta in their game versus Team SoloMid.
The move was announced last night by manager Steve “jokasteve” Perino and head coach Choi "Locodoco" Yoon-sub in a video on the team’s Facebook page.
Both Rivera and Ta performed poorly in yesterday’s game versus Renegades, which Liquid lost after 61 minutes of competition. As a result, it seems Liquid is trying something new for one of their most important matches this split, as they need to prove themselves after looking weak yesterday.
Team Liquid first adopted a 10-man roster on Jan. 4 by adding its Challenger squad Team Liquid Academy—which both Hartnett and Elento are a part of—to its main LCS lineup. The team’s head analyst Mark “MarkZ” Zimmerman told the Daily Dot that his organization believes its Challenger players are capable of competing at the LCS level, a statement that will be proved either true or false today.
Trouble in paradise for Liquid began after they abruptly suspended their former top laner Diego “Quas” Ruis during the offseason for unknown reasons. Losing arguably their best overall player—in both skill and consistency—they had to dig deep into the Challenger scene to find a replacement. They eventually picked up former Counter Logic Gaming Black top laner Samson "Lourlo" Jackson as his replacement.
Jackson’s debut today featured some impressive Gnar play. But despite his efforts the team still lost, unable to come back after several scrambled teamfights against Renegades’ strong team composition.
Hartnett and Elento will get their LCS debut tomorrow. And given how impressive both players have been in the Challenger Series Qualifier, they may put up good results. But will it be enough to take down Team SoloMid, who look to be one of the best rosters in North America? We will find out today at 5PM ET on the Riot Games Twitch channel.