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Opinion: TSM shouldn’t have signed Doublelift

I don’t think TSM should’ve signed Peter “Doublelift” Peng. 

It gave critics more ground to poke into the organization’s actions. The team is now in the spotlight, with each decision made becoming more and more highlighted. And now, people on the internet are even whining about a conflict of interest even despite Riot’s internal investigation prior to approving the trade (so I’m not even going to touch that one.)

But to me, one thing is very clear: many, if not all of these issues, would have been avoided if TSM did not sign Doublelift.

Taking a look at the team towards the end of the 2020 LCS Spring Split, things looked pretty decent. TSM had brought back Vincent “Biofrost” Wang onto the team, signed star import ADC Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup, and was looking to take a chance on the infamous Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett in the jungle.

TSM finished the regular split with a 9-9 record— a more-than-decent ratio for a rebuilding team— and even forced two game-5 series in the postseason before ultimately finishing in 4th place. There were things to work on, sure, but there was promise.

Looking back, the offseason wasn’t supposed to be too eventful for TSM. But on April 16th, League of Legends journalist Travis Gafford introduced one of the spiciest meatballs of the year:

As we all know, the rest is history— TSM signed Doublelift, Kobbe lost his 2-year contract with TSM and returned to Europe, and Dardoch’s future is now in jeopardy. However, is this all really “the right step forward to solidifying a team identity”?

While yes, TSM signed the best player in North American history, they also signed a player that is likely to cause some problems for the team. Just look at the way that he parted with his former teams (one being TSM in 2017).

Upon leaving Team Liquid to join his new team, Doublelift was reported to have been unmotivated and uncooperative. It explains how Team Liquid, the dominant NA powerhouse and ideal Worlds contender, came in 9th place in Spring.

“Everyone stopped playing their best, and then for me personally, I feel like I should’ve put myself at a higher standard or something,” Doublelift says in an official LCS interview. “But I pretty much didn’t care. And then now that we’re behind, I think that I care a lot more.”

Between illness and playing poorly, the coaching staff from Team Liquid opted to bench Doublelift during week 6 of the 2020 LCS Spring Split. Academy ADC Edward “Tactical” Ra took the starting spot, winning both matches that week. But aside from an additional loss, that’s all we ever saw from the promising young ADC player. Liquid coach Jun “Dodo” Kang shed some light on the situation prior to Doublelift’s departure.

“We definitely wanted to see more of the team with Tactical, and suggested to Peter that we want him and Tactical to share scrim time and we would choose who would go on stage,” Dodo wrote in a Twitlonger response in regards to Doublelift’s departure. “Peter declined on that, and wanted us to either choose one or the other going into practice and we chose to see more of Tactical with the team. We still had Peter come to practice and participate in meetings and reviews (even though he did not want to), since we still had intentions of using Peter in our future games and didn’t want to give up on him.”

I guess it doesn’t even matter anymore, because even though Dodo didn’t want to give up on him, Doublelift gave up on Team Liquid. I suppose the caveat of this fiasco is that Tactical is the likely starter for the team come summer, which will be exciting to see.

But the logical decision for TSM to re-sign a player that failed to perform for his previous team and publicly admitted to losing motivation is stupid. The team even lost money from trading Kobbe away, stating that they “completely disregarded any financial considerations or conventional transfer buyouts that may have been better for the organization”.

And this is also on top of the fact that the president of TSM is also this player’s girlfriend, which opens up the organization to even more criticism and speculations about a ‘conflict of interest’. But again, I’m not even going to go near that.

It’s strange that Doublelift is the one walking away with all of the victor’s spoils. Given his current performance, as well as his questionable actions during his departure from Team Liquid, I can’t help but think that he’s certainly received the better end of the stick. It’s rumored that he’s a part of a multi-million dollar contract deal, and he’ll be reunited with some of his former teammates as well.

The bottom line is that it’s just a sub-optimal move, both in terms of public image and general infrastructure. TSM was objectively fine without Doublelift, but by choosing to acquire him, they’ve taken on many more problems than originally expected. Hopefully, the current headaches will be worth it for them later this year.

Stephen No

Stephen "Steph" No is a communications major and esports journalist. Currently covering the LCS and the OWL, Steph is aiming to become a prominent Asian-American voice in Western esports media. You can follow his twitter @kdpanthera for more LCS and Overwatch League related content.

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