Liquid 2017 Update: Return of the Pig
December 13 2016
Anticipation, disarray, heartfelt goodbyes, and hopeful welcomes—the League of Legends off-season is well underway as the future of the competitive space is beginning to take form. The NA LCS is already set to see some new faces in the coming 2017 season, as well as many familiar ones under new banners. At Team Liquid, 2017 is a year to look forward to.
We are proud to announce that two year Liquid Veteran Gwang-jin “Piglet” Chae will be reprising his role as starting AD Carry for Team Liquid’s 2017 NA LCS roster. Piglet has been a key part of the Liquid organization since his arrival in late 2014 and has exhibited his skillful play across multiple rosters in both the LCS and Challenger Series. For Piglet, competing is a way of life. His path leading to this point has been defined not only by greatness and victory, but by defeat, challenge, and tribulation.
"I'm excited to say that I'll be back as Team Liquid's ADC. I feel like after TLA didn't make LCS, I really wanted another chance to prove that I have what it takes to win. I'm really happy and excited to play with Reignover and also play with Lourlo, Matt, and GoldenGlue again. I am working extra hard to make all of you guys proud to be a TL fan for season 7. Thank you to Steve, David, Nick and all TL fans for always believing in me. I'm ready to win."
Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin
Heart of a Champion
By Logan Leavitt, @Loganrleavitt
Piglet’s competitive career began in his home country of South Korea. A Solo Queue star, he was chosen to be a key piece in the mastermind roster SK Telecom T1 2 which would be built around star mid laner Sang-hyeok “Faker” Lee.
Not even the the organization themselves could have predicted the breakout performance of what was then their secondary roster. In his first year on SKT T1 2, Piglet and his teammates finished OGN’s Olympus Champions Spring 2013 in third place (two places above their older sister team), took home an astonishing first place in OGN’s HOT6iX Champions Summer 2013, went on to qualify for Season 3 Worlds with a first place finish in Riot’s Season 3 Korea Regional Finals, and went on to take the Summoner’s Cup in the Season 3 World Championships.
While all eyes were on Faker, Piglet’s performance at Season 3 Worlds shines beyond even the shadow of god himself. Piglet led not only SKT, but the entire tournament in nearly every metric including total kills—with a resounding 115—and KDA at 9.27, making an easy argument for himself as the best performing player of the entire tournament.
SKT continued their dominance into 2014 and finished OGN’s Pandora.Tv Champions Winter in first place without losing a single game. The team would then have one last victory together at Riot’s 2014 All-Star event. As the year continued, Piglet and his teammates fell into a slump that was entirely foreign to them. After failing to qualify for Worlds, the roster and Piglet’s future became unknown.
In September of 2014, Piglet was released from SK Telecom. Just a month later, he received an offer from Team Curse, later Team Liquid. Piglet moved to NA and immediately got to practicing as well as growing an audience on Twitch.
While the world champion continued to show both his skill and incredible work ethic, it became clear that Piglet’s transition from his life in Korea to living with his new team in North America was weighing on him. Piglet spoke to his stream of being homesick, and missing his friends and family.
Once the season began, Piglet was plagued with the infamous LCS Visa issues and was unable to compete with his new team for the first week of the 2015 Spring Split. TL brought Yuri “Keith” Jew in to play in Piglet’s stead.
With Keith, the team went 2-0 in their first week. Piglet debuted with the team the following week but was unfortunately unable to hit a strong stride. By week five, Team Liquid had a record of 4-4 and decided to move Piglet to sub, and Keith to the starting lineup. After a couple weeks of back and forth, Piglet was returned to the starting lineup, but the fans questioned his ability to perform with the team. Liquid ended the round robin with a 9-9 record, and managed to break the curse with a third place victory in playoffs.
In the Summer, Piglet started to find his footing in the NA LCS, and after starting for every game of the split, he topped the league with a 9.9KDA. TL ended the round robin in first place, but their playoff run was ended quickly and tragically by a revitalized Team Solomid in the first round. Liquid’s last chance at Worlds lied within the qualifying gauntlet, but their string of unfortunate defeats would continue with an unexpected loss to Cloud 9.
After a rocky year both in and out of the game for Piglet, many questioned his fate going into 2016. Not only was it unclear as to whether Piglet would stay with Team Liquid, it was unclear as to whether he would remain in North America rather than returning home.
Team Liquid’s 2016 roster was a breath of fresh air for the organization. Both Piglet and fellow Korean mid laner Jae-hun “Fenix” Kim remained with the roster, while the top, jungle, and support roles were filled by three Team Liquid Academy rookies.
Half way through the split the fresh roster began to warm up and the rookies, along with a revamped support staff and Yoon-sup “Locodoco” Choi at head coach, rounded out a team that showed great promise. Even after a fourth place regular season finish, the team had clawed their way to the semi-finals of playoffs in one of the tightest series in LCS history against Counter Logic Gaming. The series would end in a gut wrenching fifth game after an infamous double teleport caught Piglet off guard as he defended his base. CLG would become the champions of Spring. Once again, Piglet had been found wanting.
In the mid-season break, Team Liquid like many of their competitors, traveled to Korea in search of a jump start for the upcoming Summer Split. Unfortunately, the trip backfired. After a rough end to a long and arduous season, conflict within the team rose to a boiling point.
By the end of the trip, the roster’s dysfunction came to a head and rookie jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett was placed under suspension. Piglet's and Dardoch’s equal passions and competitive drives drove a rift through the team while coach Locodoco’s attempts at mediation could not bridge the divide.
Hardship translated into poor performances as Team Liquid was unable to regain footing during the Summer Split. Piglet was growing tired and burnout began to set in. He needed a change of pace, and so requested to be moved down to the Challenger Series where Team Liquid Academy was vying for promotion to the LCS.
Piglet discovered a new sense of purpose on TLA. He was a leader, and the rest of the team looked up to him as a role model. This camaraderie, along with the new environment, helped Piglet find his bearings. He committed to the Challenger squad and made it his goal to help his team qualify for the LCS.
TLA placed second in the NACS Summer round robin, and found themselves in the finals of the playoffs. After a grueling five game series, the team was defeated by the star-studded Cloud 9 Challenger.
Piglet had several highlight performances throughout the series, but in the final game made a tragic error by locking in Rammus during the pick phase. The team was not offered a remake as the accidental pick was made automatically at the end of the allotted pick time rather than by virtue of a misclick.
TLA was down but not out and still had a shot at qualifying for the LCS. Just a few weeks after their series with C9C, the team was once again faced with a five game slugfest. Their opponent, Echo Fox, was fighting to hold their spot in the LCS. Piglet confronted a familiar face in the botlane, Keith, and was determined not only to prove himself individually but win for and with his team.
TLA fell once again, and their season was over, and Piglet found himself in a familiar place. After two rollercoaster years in NA, he had many things to consider, and returned home to Korea unsure of what the future would hold.
In his third act, Piglet will return to North America as the starting ADC for Team Liquid’s 2017 roster. The world champion completes a squad of faces old and new with fellow TLA member Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer in the midlane, former Immortals star Yeu-jin “Reignover” Kim in the jungle, and returning members Sam “Lourlo” Jackson at top and Matthew “Matt” Elento on support.
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