Team Liquid considers dropping Challenger team

In an AMA on the app Discord on Thursday evening, Team Liquid owner Steve Arhancet apparently mentioned the possibility of getting rid of Liquid’s League of Legends Challenger team, Team Liquid Academy.

“It may change based on if there are changes to the system, but right now we’ll just likely field the LCS team and have a handful of live-in subs,” Arhancet said in the AMA.

When reached via email Friday afternoon, Arhancet directed questions to TLA coach David Lim.

“As of right now we are considering all options of whether we want to run an academy team or not,” Lim said. “The major factor that we have to consider is what goal does our organization want to focus on and how we allocate resources to best support that.

“Next year we are focusing on building an (League Championship Series) championship caliber roster and culture and hope to build results through that. We are factoring in whether it makes sense to have an additional team while having such focus on LCS results. Whether that be spacing in our offices, staff allocation, or even maintaining a competitive environment between the teams.”

Team Liquid Academy made the League Championship Series promotion tournament but fell short of qualifying for next spring’s LCS split. Had it qualified, Liquid would have been forced to sell the spot. In the past year, TLA has been used for Liquid to develop its young talent. Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and Matt “Matt Elento” came to the LCS team from TLA in the spring split, though Dardoch, the spring’s Rookie of the Split, has since been sent to Echo Fox.

How to best use the Challenger Series — the rung below the LCS — has become a sometimes contentious topic during the summer. Cloud9 won the promotional tournament, relegating NRG Esports (and its high-profile owners and investors) in the process while also ensuring it will have to sell the spot.

Lim hinted at possible changes coming to the Challenger Series but reinforced that Liquid is weighing all its options.

“The fact that a good percentage of these roster spots are held by former LCS playoff players makes it hard to foster new talent and have them shine,” Lim said. “This does have benefits in helping to accelerate growth in some of the involved participants by training versus them, however there are issues on knowing what (Riot Games)’ actual goal is for the Challenger Series. I believe they are actively looking to work on disallowing ‘the farming’ of LCS spots, and that will be a major step in the right direction.”

TLA feature Galen “Moon” Holgate, Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer, Colin “Solo” Earnst, WIlliam “Stunt” Chen and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-Jin, who originally started the summer with the LCS team. Goldenglue told Slingshot he’s still under contract with Team Liquid but is allowed to look for other offers.

Goldenglue, a mid laner, has bounced around the North American Challenger Series for the last few years, with stints as a member of Team 8 (which became Immortals), Ember and now TLA in the last year.

“I’m openly allowed to talk to teams but am still under contract,” he said late Thursday night.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.

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