The reason the Doublelift to Team Liquid loan is shady is not because of Doublelift himself (good luck back in the LCS, seriously!), but rather the nature of the loan itself.
For those unaware, Yiliang "Doublelift" Pang was announced to have been traded just before the League of Legends LCS trade deadline from Team SoloMid to Team Liquid for the remainder of the split. In the TSM press release, it was confirmed that he would be returning after the split to attempt to try out for the TSM roster again moving forward.
It's this last part that is particularly unsettling.
Liquid is currently in last place in the NA LCS, and needs to dramatically change something up in order to avoid the relegation series if not outright relegation altogether.
In a vacuum, this trade is not an issue.
Had Doublelift not been affiliated with TSM, or at least not been promised to return to TSM to try out for the team next split, things would have felt a lot better. Of course Liquid needed to make a dramatic improvement to be competitive, and of course Doublelift was the best player not actively playing in the LCS right now.
The thought of a team owner basically looking at a friend and loaning them a top tier player to save them from relegation while that player gets warm up practice for the other team doesn't sit too well. It's not disallowed per se, but it does awfully feel like something that sniffs of collusion.
Did Liquid or TSM do something explicitly wrong? No. But this is something that cheapens the level of competition in a league. When this happens it looks very much like the old boys club of LoL is getting together to keep out the upstart teams that don't belong or subscribe to their way of doing business.
MonteCristo, who of course has his own past fun dealings with Riot, tweeted this last night:
Good guy Regi helping his buddy Steve dig himself out of relegations. All those years of friendship paying off.— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) March 8, 2017
Others have echoed that, basically saying that Reginald, the owner of TSM, is just helping a friend avoid relegation.
Is that explicitly disallowed? No.
Is it right? Also no.
Hopefully this gets the pushback it deserves. This is certainly not Doublelift's fault and none of this is directed at him. This is the owners just pulling more old-boys'-club shadiness.
Oh, and if you want a good perspective on the game analysis side of this trade, check out James Bates' article here.
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