Imagine our surprise when the biggest news of the League of Legends mid-season break would come before the playoffs of the Spring Split had even concluded. Franchise player and North America’s most popular star, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, is now up for grabs by any team willing to help offload his likely hefty contract from Team Liquid.
The controversial changes to Spring’s format – and the fact that it would give essentially no bearing towards World Championship representative – left North America’s longest-established professional demotivated. Combine this with visa issues for TL’s newest acquisition (jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen), and playing out Spring became more of a chore than usual for the veteran marksman.
At some point during the regular season, Doublelift found his individual play slipping for the first time in what felt like forever – TL have laid claim to every North American trophy for the past two years with Doublelift at the helm – and his outwardly spoken personality meant that his disdain for Spring was especially loud. For the first time in his career, Doublelift found himself benched – this time for rookie Edward “Tactical” Ra, whose shoes TL didn’t even have Doublelift fill in Academy as they added Samuel “Rikara” Oh to that line-up.
It seems pretty evident that a player of Doublelift’s caliber – and ego – will only deem a championship contender worth playing for, but there are only so many organizations in the LCS that can even think about butting heads with Cloud9 or a presumably rejuvenated TL come Summer.
Wherever he ends up, it will certainly be the talk of the town. Doublelift alone can elevate a team to superteam status – see CLG between seasons 2 and 5 – but his attitude can also make a team environment difficult to navigate. Compare him to the recently… retired? Exiled? Whatever the hell Konstantinos-Napoleon “Forg1ven” Tzortziou is — and we may see NA’s finest go a split without a team and a year without a Worlds appearance.
What’s more important to North America?
Star power versus a diva-esque attitude is a fine line to tread, and this holds especially true for Doublelift now that he has effectively been ousted from a team for it – the second instance of this happening in his career, after Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black offered an “it’s him or me,” ultimatum in pre-season 6.
At some point, you have to question – is it worth having a teammate, let alone one you build your entire roster and gameplan around, that has been proven to lose motivation on a whim? Even Doublelift’s last flirtation with TSM – in Seasons 6 through 7 – saw him take the Spring of 2017 off because it was seen as irrelevant to him even then.
The Forg1ven comparison seems especially apt when you consider that these are the two greatest Western marksmen League of Legends has ever produced, and yet both of them were immediately removed from their respective teams after a World Championship appearance.
Another, less attitude more gameplay-specific comparison that we can draw is between Doublelift and RNG marksman Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao. The superstar botlaner demands his team – and the enemy’s, for that matter – play around him just by being in a game, whether that’s his own decision or otherwise. Infamous for lulling RNG into defaulting toward a “protect the puppy” style of gameplay, the other players on this team step up without the superstar in the line-up to elevate them – something that we may see from Team Liquid, or the opposite from wherever Doublelift ends up (now heavily indicated to be TSM).
- Yes, he is a well known player with a lot of talent 50%, 5 votes5 votes 50%5 votes - 50% of all votes
- No, he really failed them in the Spring Split 50%, 5 votes5 votes 50%5 votes - 50% of all votes
This is a question on all LCS fans’ minds. Doublelift isn’t actually a bad player. He is still one of the best in North America. But it wasn’t just his terrible performance and KDA in the Spring Split that have Team Liquid looking to drop the powerhouse. Doublelift not only said the Spring Split was pointless, but acted like it was. He admitted to not being into practices and stated he was unprepared for competition this season.
But even worse, Doublelift couldn’t stop bashing his team. Journalist Travis Gafford had Doublelift on one of his talk shows and his long-time friend basically just called out the coaches for benching him and then called out his team for doing “nothing.” He eventually asked Gafford for a redo, but the fact that he even did it to begin with seems like this wasn’t the first time Doublelift had a major attitude with his team and coaching staff.
Yes, Doublelift has a lot of fans. Yes, Doublelift is an incredible player. But is it worth it when he is bringing the team down?
We’ll be discussing this topic further in our podcast, so please feel free to let us know any thoughts you might have below.