Three different teams with Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on them have now won major North American League of Legends titles. The third, Team Liquid, instantly became the most memorable last night with a 3-0 sweep over 100 Thieves. Just a week after his brother was arrested and charged with murdering their mother, Doublelift opted to travel to Miami and compete in the North American Spring Split.
2017 was not a good year for Team Liquid, with two consecutive ninth-place finishes in North American splits, and the team massively rebuilt at the end of the year. Their opponents in the final, 100 Thieves, were looking to cap what has been a breakout first season in the league under owner Nadeshot and coach Neil “pr0lly” Hammad, both longtime esports fixtures.
The first game between these two teams was close, and while 100 Thieves gained a slight lead, Liquid never fell far behind. When the Thieves went to take Baron after a quick pick, Liquid’s remaining members set up and Jake “Xmithie” Puchero executed a beautiful steal, taking away the buff and equalizing the playing field.
In the second match, mid lane player Eugene “Pobelter” Park shone. His Azir is always solid, but one particular “shuffle” in the Baron pit resulted in catastrophe for 100 Thieves.
By the time Liquid was knocking down the door of 100 Thieves’ base in game 3, the result seemed clear. If it wasn’t Park popping off, it was Peng, or Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong, or Puchero, or even Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung on support.
100 Thieves didn’t make it easy, but the entire finals felt very tempo-heavy, and once it shifted in Liquid’s favor, it was a slow snowball to victory.
It was a great team win, but the story was Doublelift, who managed to do his job well just a week after an unfathomable family tragedy. After the win, Doublelift told ESPN that “I felt kinda numb that we won—I was really excited that we won—but then I looked over at Olleh, and he was getting emotional, like he was tearing up a little bit because he was so happy he had won, and I feel like those moments for me are what I’m going to remember. I’m not going to remember how much adrenaline I had or how fast my heart was racing, I’m going to remember the feeling of how loud the crowd was and that they were chanting my name and that Olleh was tearing up because he was so happy that he had won. And those things to me, I think I’m going to remember that for the rest of my life.”
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