First Zven for Cloud9, now Alphari for Team Liquid. It seems no ace import is safe from being a bench warmer this split.
In a statement made earlier today on Twitter, Team Liquid has announced that Alphari will be benched for the rest of the weekend’s LCS games. Academy top laner Thomas “Jenkins” Tran is being promoted to the starting roster to take his place.
Weekend Roster Update: pic.twitter.com/X1S5KEiBRt— Team Liquid LoL (@TeamLiquidLoL) June 5, 2021
In the video Team Liquid’s Head Coach, Joshua “Jatt” Leesman, offered little in the way of explanation for the move, saying that “unfortunately there's just a lot of context that is really hard to understand from the outside, and I think is, unfortunately, unfair to share publicly.” He did assert, however, that this was not a decision made “flippantly or lightly.”
Unconfirmed rumours had been swirling behind the scenes that Team Liquid had been struggling in the off-season, and after their first game loss to TSM, the team has clearly decided changes need to be made.
1st team All Pro top laner ✅— Isaac CB (@AzaelOfficial) June 5, 2021
2nd in MVP voting✅
Alphari benched before week 1 even finishes in Summer?!? ✅#LCS IS OFF TO A WILD START! NO STARTER IS SAFE!
Must be some serious internal issues to demand such swift action, looking forward to seeing how TL does w/ Jenkins! https://t.co/qB2GrFbgNt
Whether that has to do with performance, attitude, or even personal issues for Alphari is purely speculation at this point. Regardless, benching your star top laner who was voted as the first team All-pro top laner, was second place in the MVP voting for Spring 2021, and who helped carry Team Liquid to a second place finish in Spring 2021 is a bold move.
When you consider Alphari’s impressive salary (US$3.4 million for a 3-year contract) on top of that, it puts Team Liquid’s decision into starker relief. This is not a decision made on a whim and has to raise eyebrows about what has happened behind the scenes to lead to Alphari being benched before Week 1 has even finished.