Analyzing the Team Liquid Superteam
With the 2022 Team Liquid superteam recently being announced, I thought it would be a good idea to give a rundown of the roster and the storylines converging on them. This team is arguably one of, if not, the most powerful North American League of Legends teams ever assembled – and as with all North American superteams, they bear the burden of avenging the failed rosters of years gone by and establishing themselves as a serious contender in a Worlds setting.
A Year to be Forgotten
2021 Team Liquid was riddled with controversy for most of it. Addled with jungler Santorin being forced to miss the Spring Finals due to physical ailments and the benching of superstar top laner Alphari by then-coach Jatt, the team did not have the best of fortunes throughout the year. Despite their misfortunes, they made the LCS Finals for both splits, carried by World Champion support and captain CoreJJ, but were unable to take the trophy home both times. As the North American 2nd seed going into Worlds, many people did not have them getting out of Group D, despite it being the only group where all teams were relatively matched in skill. Team Liquid somewhat overperformed expectations, dragging future semifinalists GenG to a tiebreaker before eventually being knocked out of the tournament. Overall, it was an overperformance of a year for Team Liquid, given how much they struggled with internal drama and not being able to have a substantial amount of games on their intended starting five. One could hope that if this roster stuck together for another year, things would have turned out differently.
However, the 2021 offseason had many moving parts within it, with very high profile players in negotiations and rumors of potential superteams springing up in Europe, as well as many European players moving to North America. With the departure of Alphari back to Europe, Team Liquid were forced to reassess their outlook coming into Season 12. At the end of the crazy offseason, Team Liquid managed to snag Bwipo and Hans Sama off of their Worlds campaign as well as acquiring the greatest North American player of all time in Bjergsen, who is coming off a coaching stint in TSM. With a new and interesting mix of personalities, as well as outrageous talent, we will take a look at this brand new iteration of Team Liquid and their scope for the upcoming competitive year.
Santorin – The Gentle Viking
Making his way first on our list is Team Liquid’s returning jungler in Santorin. The Danish jungler is coming off a fairly lackluster split, especially given how his severe migraines made him unable to play the LCS Spring Finals of 2021. Known for his signature Trundle pick, Santorin can be easily characterized as a supportive jungler who sacrifices his own carry potency in order to help his teammates secure an advantage. This is a massive strength given the ludicrous starpower of this roster, where Bjergsen or Hans Sama can easily take over and win a game single-handedly if they are given an advantage. While a strong jungler domestically, Santorin is often marginally outmatched against his international opposition, with him being unable to replicate the same successful games he occasionally has back in North America. However, he is a perfect jungler for this team for reasons we have previously discussed, and will be the most important support piece in order to help accelerate the rest of his star players.
Santorin is quite a soft-spoken and gentle soul outside of the game, which clashes with his handsome, viking-like exterior. Compared to some of his jungle counterparts who have a unassuming appearance but a selfish, aggressive approach, Santorin is very much the opposite – finding creating level two ganks with junglers such as Trundle and Jaravn IV to supercharge his carries. This roster also marks the reunion between Santorin and Bjergsen from their old Season 5 TSM days, where Santorin helped Bjergsen single-handedly dominate the entire league for a year and even win a championship in the Spring of 2015. This mid/jungle duo is something I have my eye on moving into 2022, a veteran support piece in Santorin combined with the devastating carry potency of Bjergsen further combined with the fact that these two veterans have won a championship before, can spell a reliable engine that can secure early advantages for Team Liquid.
Hans Sama – The Silent Storm
Second on our list is a man whose 2021 Worlds performance turned heads all over the world, as he cemented himself as one of the best bot laners at the tournament and quite possibly the entire world. Hans Sama’s stocks are currently higher than they have ever been before after his Worlds run; despite his exit in the Group Stages, Hans Sama was not shy of praise and acclaim from every corner of the globe. As the sole win condition of a failing and underperforming Rogue lineup, Hans Sama single-handedly carried in Rogue’s wins, proving himself to be a reliable superstar that can perform under the biggest limelight. Most notable of his Worlds games is his narrow loss against the finalists in Damwon, where his impeccable Lucian game nearly handed the then-reigning World Champions their first loss in an otherwise pristine group stage.
Known for his signature Draven pick, Hans Sama is a lane-dominant bot laner. He has talked about how he values getting advantages within the 2v2 lane and setting himself up to carry, while also giving the team a win condition to play around. This playstyle makes Hans synergize perfectly with every other member of this superteam: Bwipo who is known to sacrifice his lane in order to teleport bot lane from his Fnatic days: Santorin who is known to sacrifice his jungle in order to find creative gank pathing: Bjergsen who is exceedingly proficient at supportive champions like Zilean and Twisted Fate and one of the best supports in the world in CoreJJ. He is the lightning rod of this new TL roster as they seem to naturally incline toward a bot-centric playstyle. A quiet and soft-spoken Frenchmen outside the game, his demeanor greatly contrasts with his aggressive and vicious playstyle on the Rift. The world awaits at what new heights Hans Sama will achieve on a team that benefits from and amplifies his brutish talent to unprecedented levels.
Bwipo – The Eccentric Gentleman
Following his drama-riddled exit from his debut org in Fnatic, coming in third is a well-known and charismatic top laner in Bwipo. In a strange split where he roleswapped to jungle and still massively overperformed expectations, Bwipo returns to his original role in top lane after expressing his interest in playing for another organization following his scandal with Fnatic upper management. A hardened veteran who made Worlds Finals in his rookie split, Bwipo has the most deviant playstyle of all of his teammates – while his teammates are easily categorized into neat little boxes, Bwipo is a wild wrecking ball, capable of finding success with unique, non-meta champions. His unabashedly aggressive playstyle is his most defining feature as a player, as he is perpetually looking for any advantages that can be squeezed out and is willing to do anything, no matter how outrageously aggressive, in order to secure it for his team.
Bwipo, quite like his new teammate in Hans Sama, is drastically different from his in-game persona. He is quite the eloquent man, frequently invited to post-game interviews, talk shows, and analyst desks; consistently impressing the audience with his charming ability to succinctly explain his thought processes, no matter how utterly eccentric they might seem on the surface. His murderous playstyle hides his deep understanding and general intelligence about the game, shown by his ability to roleswap to a cerebral role like jungle and still find stupendous success very quickly. His live streams are the most obvious tell of his intelligence, as he is able to calmly explain the intricacies of a game state while mercilessly brutalizing his opposition within the game. I think Bwipo is an excellent addition to this team; one of the things that could be a drawback of this particular roster in the lack of strong, dissenting voices within the team. If no one were to challenge each other in team discussions, it can result in a team atmosphere where bad habits are repeated month after month and can lead to losses in big games. Bwipo’s unique approach to the game, as well as his charismatic delivery, can lead a team of otherwise more passive, calculated players, to adopt a more aggressive, high-octane playstyle.
CoreJJ – The Godfather
The captain of the team and the beloved talisman of the Team Liquid lineup for the past three years, it’s the World Champion himself. Winning Worlds in Season 7 has done wonders for CoreJJ’s reputation within the league scene and the 27 year old shows no signs of stopping, despite being one of the oldest players in a very young man’s sport. Legendary for the Rakan that he has a commemorative Worlds Championship skin designed after, CoreJJ is the primary engine behind all the iterations of Team Liquid rosters that he’s been on. An engage support player who specializes on playing for roam timings, CoreJJ has single-handedly revolutionized the support meta in North America and strengthened the entire region’s understanding of the role with his devastating roams, sometimes leaving then-bot laner Tactical by himself for minutes on end while securing game-winning advantages for the topside of the map.
Married at the end of last year, CoreJJ often seems to be one of the few mature heads within the League pro player space and given his age, he is looked up to by many in the scene. A soft-spoken Korean native, CoreJJ often blends in with the rest of the team, his domineering presence only to be felt within the game. There was a rumor that Bjergsen specifically wanted to play with CoreJJ when he decided to join the Team Liquid roster and it should come as no surprise to anyone. Equipped with the most powerful lineup he’s ever had in his career, including his world championship roster, CoreJJ is finally set up to repeat the same successes he had back in Season 7.
Bjergsen – The Greatest of all Time
Back when Bjergsen announced his retirement at the end of Season 10, it came as a sobering shock to the rest of the world. Off of a career-defining split where he rolled back the years and carried his team to another LCS title, to a historic disappointment going winless in groups, to an unsatisfying coaching stint, Bjergsen’s return to professional play is single-handedly the most hype storyline going into the spring of 2022. This will be the first time North America’s greatest player will be playing out of TeamSoloMid, after being the namesake icon of the organization for so long. This will be his first time playing under new management in the form of Steve, Guilhoto and Kold as owner and coaches respectively. This will be the first time in a very long time that we will get to see a new side to the legend as he tries to accomplish his eternal goal of finally winning Worlds and consummating his fabled career.
Nicknamed the NA Faker for a reason, Bjergsen’s versatility knows very little bounds. Skilled in every archetype of champion and every team playstyle, it is a mammoth task for any mid laner to play against him and see any form of success. Compared to his younger years where he was able to drop audiences’ jaws with dazzling assassin outplays and solokills, Bjergsen is more of a controlled and calculated player these days, choking out his opposition with lane leads and using his advantages to snowball the game in his favor. Armed with his signature Syndra pick, the greatest North American player of all time will look to write a brand new chapter in his coveted book – and it just might be the most illustrious chapter of them all.
As discussed previously, this team seems naturally good at snowballing bot lane. Hans Sama is traditionally a resource-heavy player who can completely annihilate entire teams if he is played around; he is only strengthened by having one of the best supports in the world and a gank-heavy jungler. With Bwipo’s famous tendency to teleport bot lane to make plays and Bjergsen’s competency in roaming picks like Galio/Twisted Fate, this superstar team seems tailor-made for Hans Sama to make a run for the title of best bot laner in the world – a title that he made a convincing bid for at his last Worlds appearance.
However, this team can operate in many different gears, owing to their superstar players’ flexibility. Outside of Santorin, every other player on the team is capable of hard-carrying games and can all be played around in response to any given opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Bwipo’s crazy Riven/Rengar counterpicks come to mind, CoreJJ’s omnipresent threat of roaming on Thresh and obviously Bjergsen does not need an introduction when it comes to carrying a team. I suspect they will start off as a botside focused team and will open up a more versatile playbook towards the latter end of the season depending on the meta.
A Year to Remember
This roster is arguably the strongest NA superteam assembled thus far and has a lot of players’ legacies riding on its success. I would expect them to easily challenge the domestic title in both splits and should be required to make it out of groups at Worlds. The solo laners of this team have a lot to prove for themselves after Bwipo’s drama at this year’s Worlds and the fact that Bjergsen has only made it out of Worlds groups once over his legendary career. Every player in this roster is getting a “free reset” to play with other good players and prove to the world how good they are – any underperformance can seriously damage the fans’ perception of them and the legacy they leave behind when they inevitably retire. As for now, I am simply excited for the prospect of this superteam; it has players who have all come from very different career paths – between the five of them, they have encountered basically every problem possible within League of Legends esports and no doubt have learned from and gotten smarter as a result.
While superteams usually succumb to a clash of egos from superstar players, I think this particular team is filled with players desperate to prove something within the passage of their careers and see this roster as a most golden opportunity to remind the world just what they are capable of. And League of Legends fans, North Americans in particular, eagerly await to see just what they are capable of. Will this roster crash and burn like all of its predecessors? Or will it rewrite the history of a much-ridiculed region, and prove to the world that North America is a genuine contender on the Worlds stage? Only time will tell, and I, along with the rest of the League of Legends esports fans, await excitedly for the verdict.
Mathushanth Ravichandren is a video game and Esport article writer specializing in League of Legends. When he is not lamenting the fact that he is hardstuck Platinum, he is trying to figure out new and unique ways to inspire discussion around the game we all love to hate.
- Another year of jungle diff.
- We call him Captain CoreJJ.
- All eyes on top for Bwipo.
- After his exceptional performance at Worlds this year, we’re excited to welcome Hanssama to Team Liquid.
- A new chapter. The legacy continued.
- Scout, the Forgotten
What is the new Team Liquid League of Legends lineup for 2022?
Top – Bwipo
Jungle – Santorin
Mid – Bjergsen
Bot – Hans Sama
Support – CoreJJ
Coaches – Guilhoto and Kold
Will the new Team Liquid roster make it out of groups at Worlds?
While this roster is perfectly capable of making it out of any group at Worlds, new rumors of Korean superteams combined with the omnipresent depth of talent in China can make this harder than people might give credit for. However, if any team from NA has a chance of making quarterfinals, its definitely this one.