TL Santorin on regular season learnings: “I’d way prefer going 9-9 then 18-0 because there’s so many losses that I could learn a lot of things from.”

Devin Younge

Devin Younge

Team Liquid currently sits alone tied for third place in the LCS summer split regular season.

Team Liquid is steadily progressing along in the summer split regular season. The four-time champions currently sit tied for third along with FlyQuest at the time of writing this article. Following their day one victory over Immortals,'s Piratechnics spoke to TL's Santorin for an exclusive interview.

Pira: Congratulations on the win! Immortals had a pretty solid early game, and even though the pace of the game was slow, the ending was explosive, how are you feeling in the aftermath of that game?

Santorin: I think I feel good because, in the game, it felt as long as nothing happens early, we'll just win because we outscale their composition really hard. So I felt in this game no matter what's going to happen, I'm going to fall really far behind because I just want to make sure my laners are happy. As long as my laners don't die, we will win the game.

And it's also when you play Jungle matchups, like Poppy versus Viego, it's like, I don't care if the Poppy is 40cs or 50cs up that will not change the game. So I think we played well, everything considered you know, there are timings we do more and there are some things we misplayed slightly, this kind of stuff. But overall, the game flow felt really good because I feel like they should have had a bit bigger lead with what they drafted.

Pira: Absolutely. And it sounds like the slow game for you guys was pretty much by design. It was kind of a weird moment where it started slow. There were a lot of pauses and then all of a sudden, it just completely blew up. What were the comms like after the pause? It kind of felt like everyone just decided to like almost ARAM?

TL Santorin: Yeah, for us, it's like, we're just looking at item spikes. So like, right after the mouse issues, we got all our power spikes. It's kind of like, okay, any fight we're gonna win, it's like, yeah, they just outscale, there's nothing they can do that kind of feeling. That's how we felt in the game. Because I'll be honest, I think we even draft too much scaling. That's kind of how I fell so far behind [laughs]. Because I really got to, you know, I got to play defence for my entire team.

I even consider Alistar to be somewhat of a scaling champion because he is not that strong early. So I felt you know, we had a lot of scaling. And I'm happy that we didn't make any big mistakes because it's one of those drafts where if you make one really bad mistake, they can blow up the entire game.

Like if they got to like a good bot dive or something like that, suddenly, they just start snowballing the game. So I think that's why it was really slow because it looks like they're that proactive and for us, we're just happy if nothing is going on, you know, so it's kind of on them to force plays and I think we did a good job of just covering those timings.

<em>TL Santorin and Bjergsen ahead of LCS spring finals weekend</em>
TL Santorin and Bjergsen ahead of LCS spring finals weekend

Pira: You mentioned the Poppy as well, I know when you last faced off against Kenvi in his opener in the LCS, you said you didn't really get to see him as a player because he played Taliyah into not a great comp for it. Do you think you got to see the real Kenvi today on this Poppy?

TL Santorin: No. And I'm kind of sad about it. Because you know, he's in a position where it makes sense to play champs like Poppy for his team. But when I see him as a player, I think of him as a carry jungler playing all these as you know, Kindred, Graves, these kinds of champions. That's what I assumed Kenvi was going to play but also meta matters a lot.

And sadly, there are a lot of tank junglers that are really strong right now. So I don't feel like I'm actually getting to see, you know, what Kenvi is all about. Because when I think of him, it's Graves, Lee Sin, these kinds of champions, cause when I see Kenvi that is what I think of. But, you know, in the meta, you have to be able to adapt to the meta and he's adapting. So that's why he's playing the same champions.

Pira: Speaking of jungle meta and preference, it feels like for your jungle pool, and maybe things are, I don't wanna say concerning because you were just fine on the Viego. But Riot nerfed your Volibear man! Did you take that personally?

TL Santorin: I did a little bit, you know, I, I'll be honest, I think that champ was really, really broken. [laughs] I think it was too broken. So it makes sense that they nerfed it because even if you look at statistics and stuff, it was way higher than all the other junglers – there's a reason I put so much priority on it. And even you know, Armao is also playing it a bunch on TL Academy so for us, like we just know, it's like a really strong pick. And it kind of felt like it's going to be a good game no matter what. And because the champ is so broken, I'm really sad that we lost two games on Volibear, like pretty much embarrassed about it! I feel like with the nature of that champion, like in that state, you know, it's hard to lose per se, even like, I just think I think he’s too broken.

Pira: At least getting to see the Viego game was nice! I know there was a little bit of a meme tweet asking some questions about what do I pick guys? But you know, I want to ask a little bit about some of these other junglers because Poppy has been rising in priority. Is this something that you think we'll see a bit more of? Will we get to see Bel'Veth in the LCS? it's been played over in Korea and China but not so much here.

TL Santorin: So Poppy I think is a really really strong champ, I think it's very, very strong and I think it was LCK with Peanut when everyone started playing it. I think that was when he started playing a lot of Poppy and he's looking really good on it. And that's kind of when everyone caught on to like, woah, Poppy is actually really good. Because in the meta there are so many dashing champs and so many bruisers that want to jump and do all these kinds of things and Poppy facilitates that really well. On top of that, Poppy's biggest strength in the early game is [she’s] very flexible –  you can do a lot of different paths and then she's really good at diving sides. 

So that's why I was kind of sweating this game because they have Nautilus, Kalista and Poppy so I thought “I hope you guys are okay in the bot lane  because they're coming.” So you know, I think it's a very strong champion. It's annoying to play as a jungler because in the matchups where you win against Poppy she'll just do her one combo and run away with Phase Rush and then in the matchups you lose she'll do her one combo to keep running at you with Phase Rush. So is it just like an annoying champion? And then in team fights, she's like blocking people – Ulting people away, it's just like one of those champs like just the nature of how the champ works in this specific meta, you can kind of play her any style and that's why she's powerful, right?

I feel like Bel'Veth is one of those champions that I almost put in the same category as Master Yi or something like that. Either you're 1v9 or you're completely useless.

TL Santorin on Bel'Veth

Pira: But I do want to touch upon the Bel'Veth – because it's gone. It hasn't been played here. They had a little nerf on patch 12.13.  But I was kind of expecting everyone was going to try it. It feels like no one wants to take the risk.

TL Santorin: Yeah, so I feel like Bel'Veth is one of those champions that I almost put in the same category as Master Yi or something like that. Either you're 1v9 or you're completely useless. That's how it feels. And I'll give Bel'Veth some credit, she has really good clear, she does have decent ganks as you know, she can dash and CC you that kind of stuff.

So, I don't think she's completely useless. I just think there's a lot of cases where, you know, I don't think jungle is in the state where jungle is just going to straight up 1v9 game If you're just farming a lot, whereas laners, if they get ahead, they will take over the game because there's, you know when certain champions hit two or three items, they're just so strong in the game, whereas I think Bel'Veth is one of the champs that, first of all, needs a lot of farm, you need to keep farming and then, by nature, the champion is so volatile, because you're really squishy. So if you make one small mistake, you're just gonna die.

Pira: Let's go back to Team Liquid as an org too, because, you know, you were coming off the back of several weeks of just 1-1 scores, many of them against some really strong teams. Of course, you had a pretty solid win today; how are you feeling about the team's form?

TL Santorin: I think there's still a lot of room for improvement. I don't think we're near our peak. Funnily enough, I think like when we just played the first week of LCS Summer, I felt like we were in really good form. But coming back to NA and scrimming and playing NA soloq – you know that the practice is different. But secondly, it's hard to keep a really good form throughout the entire season. And sometimes meta will shift in a certain place where you need to pick up new champions that you're not as comfortable with.

All these things matter in the bigger picture. But I feel like we've been too inconsistent. And I think that also shows on stage and we've got games where I feel like we've lost [to] opponents we shouldn't have and, but I do feel like we're starting to tackle those issues. So you know, I'm one of those people, I don't really care about the regular season, as long as I make playoffs because any loss can give me more for playoffs.

I'd way prefer going 9-9 than 18-0 because there's so many losses that I could learn a lot of things from, whereas, if you're winning, it's harder to be very critical of yourself. Sure, you'll still see the mistakes, but it's not costing your game. So yeah, well, I'm still winning, you know, I should improve. But we're still winning. If you're actually losing games, and you're like, Oh, we really got to change things, we really got to like, tackle down these issues and make sure we're strong when it matters.

And the regular season, you can also be more flexible, in the sense [that] you don't have to win every single game. So you can take risks in draft. Like if people are not as comfortable with certain champions, still pick them, like let them practice it on stage because that's where it matters. And I think you know, anything you can do to make sure you're ready for playoffs. That's what really matters to me.

Pira: That makes a lot of sense. And I think sometimes teams will let a single game loss get to their heads. It sounds like Team Liquid – You guys aren't worried as long as you can do it in the playoffs. Well, my last question for you is what is the single biggest thing that you think needs to improve for the team heading into the postseason?

TL Santorin: I think consistency to some degree, I think there are times where we play a lot better in scrims than on stage and I think that's something I don't even know if I could call that stage nerves or whatever it might be. I don't even know why it's happening because we are all veterans, we're all used to playing on that big stage before like, it's not like I'm scared to go on stage and play a match against Immortals or whoever it might be, but I feel like you know I can kind of see like some of the games we just play like a lot worse than we would scrims and that's something that you know, I'm not gonna use as an excuse or anything like that. Like I'm not saying we're so fucking good in scrims I feel that I'm just saying like I can tell a difference and that's something like we're you know, we're trying to learn and learn a little bit more about ourselves and how we can like make sure that doesn't happen.

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