How Santorin’s reinvention made him a difference-maker on Team Liquid

With this 12 months’s League of Legends World Championship, Staff Liquid’s jungler Lucas “Santorin” Larsen can have represented North America on the worldwide event thrice with three completely different groups. Santorin and Liquid are on the group stage of Worlds this 12 months—they usually’re aiming for the crown.

As part of Liquid, Santorin and the remainder of his workforce garnered fairly the accolades this 12 months. The workforce secured first place within the first LCS Lock In event and two second-place finishes within the following LCS finals. 

Previous to Santorin’s becoming a member of, Liquid have been already one of many higher groups within the league with their dynasty-setting 4 LCS championships in a row and MSI finals look in 2019. Aside from his first huge shot in professional League when he signed with TSM in season 5, this was maybe Santorin’s largest break but. Not solely did he get to be a part of a corporation that had constructed a dynasty for itself, however he additionally joined a prime roster that might solely be in comparison with their now-rivals, Cloud9. 

Previous to becoming a member of Liquid, nevertheless, Santorin needed to first undergo a discovery and a reinvention. 

Santorin’s discovery 

Santorin began out his profession with a plethora of lower-level groups. His performances caught the eyes of the North American scene, which led to him touchdown on NACS’ Staff Coast. 

At Staff Coast, he continued to realize consideration till he lastly joined one of many home LCS powerhouses, TSM. Though TSM confirmed a powerful efficiency earlier than even starting the LCS season, profitable IEM Katowice 2015, Santorin obtained criticism for a playstyle the group deemed too passive. Nonetheless, TSM continued profitable, beginning with the 2015 LCS Spring Cut up and ending second in the summertime, which certified them for Worlds.

On the 2015 World Championship, TSM have been drawn into what was famously touted because the “Group of Demise” with China’s LGD Gaming, Korea’s KT Rolster, and Europe’s Origen in addition. After a poor exhibiting from TSM, they completed with a 1-5 document, failing to make it previous the group stage.

Following Worlds, Santorin left TSM. On the time, the 18-year-old was seemingly completed with skilled play.

Santorin’s reinvention

Though Santorin appeared to have moved on from professional play, he returned to competitors, stating in an interview with TheScore that he nonetheless had a “aggressive drive” and it was “only a dangerous cut up.” He went again to his roots and joined European Challenger workforce, Huma.

After qualifying for the EUCS, Huma ceased operations following allegations of mismanagement and an eventual ban from Riot-sanctioned events. The instability at Huma prompted Santorin to bounce round from workforce to workforce over the subsequent couple of years, becoming a member of the likes of the NACS’ Ember, the LCS’ NRG Esports, Gold Coin United, and the EU LCS’ H2k-Gaming. The jungler would later discuss with his time on H2k as a “actually dangerous expertise” in a submit with Liquid due to the European workforce’s quite a few losses. 

It was a relentless upward battle for Santorin after his TSM woes. However that battle lastly started to bear fruit, ending with Santorin becoming a member of FlyQuest. His profession might’ve faltered, however he by no means gave up. And on FlyQuest, he had yet one more breakout second.

Picture by Tina Jo through Riot Video games

In the course of the 2019 Spring Cut up, expectations about FlyQuest weren’t significantly excessive, however Santorin started to indicate himself to be a real difference-maker. Aggressive play-making, sensible pathing, and a role-leading 4.6 KDA helped elevate a workforce that lacked expectations. This cut up additionally marked his first LCS playoff look in over two years—one which overcame the jungler with tears of pleasure throughout a post-match interview. However FlyQuest’s run was lower quick within the semifinals with an 0-3 loss to TSM. And within the following summer time, they fell 3-1 to Clutch Gaming within the regional finals.

His journey again to the highest of the LCS started to succeed in its apex with the 2020 season. FlyQuest solely made adjustments to their prime lane, placing Santorin again in two LCS finals appearances in a row. This play, in flip, allowed him to take part within the World Championship as soon as once more, after 5 years. However like the remainder of their NA brethren, FlyQuest didn’t make it previous the group stage.

As soon as Worlds ended and the offseason began, the Danish jungler discovered himself on some of the esteemed groups within the area, Team Liquid, due to his performances on FlyQuest.

Santorin on Staff Liquid

Up thus far, Santorin had struggled all through his profession. As soon as he had climbed his technique to the highest, nevertheless, Santorin couldn’t cease there. First was the LCS Lock In, during which he helped Liquid earn the primary Lock In event trophy. He did so whereas not having the ability to take part in workforce scrims or the primary week of the event resulting from visa points. 

Within the spring, Santorin sat among the many prime of the tables in most stats, based on Oracle’s Elixir. Of all NA junglers, he had the very best KDA at 5.5, the very best gold distinction at 10 minutes at 257, and the very best expertise distinction at 10 minutes at 213. Santorin was additionally nearly on the prime for first-blood share at 56 % and CS distinction at 10 minutes at 1.8, overshadowed solely by that cut up’s MVP, Robert “Blaber” Huang. This efficiency helped a workforce that turned inconsistent within the common season following their Lock In success end in third place. 

Liquid’s inconsistencies rapidly turned a factor of the previous within the Mid-Season Showdown. They fully dismantled TSM in spherical one, reminding the group of how good Liquid may be. It was put to a halt, although, as soon as that they had their first rematch in opposition to Cloud9. No aggression across the map, a scarcity of goal management, and total poor laning section play plagued Liquid. They rapidly rectified that efficiency of their spherical three match in opposition to TSM, qualifying for the finals during which they fell 3-2 to C9 within the rematch. Though Liquid gave themselves an opportunity to win the MSS once they confronted off in opposition to each TSM and Cloud9, Santorin wasn’t there. 

Santorin needed to step down resulting from what can be the beginnings of waves of migraines that have been impeding him from training and taking part in. As soon as once more in his profession to this point, Santorin needed to persevere. This time, although, he needed to battle in opposition to one thing out of his management. 

About three weeks into the Summer season Cut up, Santorin as soon as once more needed to take a break from competing resulting from well being points. This break was additionally made public on the identical time Liquid introduced the resignation of head coach Joshua “Jatt” Leesman from the team. Parallel to this determination, the workforce additionally battled attitude issues with starting top laner, Barney “Alphari” Morris, which led to his benching. Liquid was experiencing interior turmoil simply after having completed second on the MSS.

Santorin wouldn’t return to the beginning roster till week 9 and instantly made an affect on the workforce once more. He helped Liquid win two of their final three video games of the 2021 LCS Summer season Cut up common season off of the again of his 7.3 KDA, based on Games of Legends—the very best for any beginning jungler that week—whereas offering constant imaginative and prescient management that led to goal takes and map strain.

And as soon as within the LCS Championship, all bets have been off because the Liquid of Lock In, the roster that had the potential to dominate, was again. Liquid and Santorin demolished their method by means of to the finals—and earned themselves a spot at Worlds. 

Picture by Tina Jo through ESPAT/Riot Video games

As soon as within the finals, issues crumbled in an uncharacteristic however acquainted method. Just like the MSS’ spherical two, Liquid failed to indicate up, and in a good worse vogue. Though 100 Thieves have been fully dominant, Liquid confirmed no indicators of coordination, have been outclassed within the laning section, and demonstrated poor play total. After nearly being swept in document time within the finals, Liquid and Santorin have had a month to reset their mindset between the Summer season Finals and Worlds.

Liquid with out Santorin aren’t at their full energy, and this was showcased of their MSS finals efficiency. Though substitute jungler Jonathan “Armao” Armao held his personal, they nonetheless have been lacking one piece to recover from the hump.

Santorin and Liquid at Worlds

Worlds 2021 is Santorin’s third look on the worldwide event along with his third workforce. Neither he or his teammates made it previous the group stage in his first two appearances. This 12 months is his likelihood to proceed the persevering story he’s made for himself. 

Going into this 12 months’s Worlds, Liquid have the potential to get previous the group stage. The workforce was positioned in Group D with the LEC’s MAD Lions, the LCK’s Gen.G, and the LPL’s LNG Esports and may actually stack up in opposition to them. The identical may be mentioned for Santorin.

Though he’s in a gaggle that has two of the higher junglers of the event in MAD’s Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla and LNG’s Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yong—in addition to GEN’s Kim “Clid” Tae-min, who’s actually no slouch—Santorin has what he must compete in opposition to them. The expertise and caliber of play he’s portrayed in North America shall be greater than sufficient to assist him sustain. 

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