Despite loss, Santorin remains at a high point in his roller coaster career
Santorin playing for Team Liquid during the 2021 League of Legends World Championship

Despite loss, Santorin remains at a high point in his roller coaster career

On a team of superstars, Santorin is the glue that holds everything together

During the pre-game show for Saturday’s 2022 League of Legends Championship Series spring playoff loser’s bracket final, the live crowd exploded in cheers at the mention of any Team Liquid superstar. Whether the desk discussed Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg’s return to pro play, Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in’s veteran presence as support or the team’s new European additions making their first appearances on a stage in North America, the crowd shared their love for some of the biggest players in the LCS.

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But Team Liquid’s biggest names aren’t the only reason they reached Houston. After all, the superteam wouldn’t be complete without spring MVP finalist and jungler, Lucas “Santorin” Larsen. He deserved the cheers are much as any of his teammates — even if his team fell short of taking revenge on 100 Thieves by winning the grand final. While he suffered some heartbreaking moments as Evil Geniuses swept Team Liquid 3-0, Santorin’s play also highlighted how he can keep his team in the fight even when the odds are against them.

Despite EG throwing up a roadblock in front of Team Liquid’s season, Santorin said the year is far from over. If anything, he has every intention to come back stronger in the summer.

“This may have been a step back,” Santorin said. “But for me personally, when things get harder, I get the most motivated.”

A wild ride for Santorin

In many ways, Santorin has already proved his ability to pick himself right back up when he stumbles. Despite being unable to find a new home after winning his first LCS title in 2015 with TSM, he fought his way into the conversation for the best jungler in North America with years of hard work.

Part of that involved returning to Europe and struggling to join a solid team. Santorin played on five different teams in a two year period before FlyQuest finally welcomed him back to North America in 2018.

Santorin made the most of that new opportunity, earning All-LCS third-team honors in the jungle during his first split back. Two years later, he led FlyQuest to back-to-back domestic finals appearances and a trip to the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, stepping into the upper echelons of NA junglers in the process.

Having a solid team around him earned Santorin the opportunity to upgrade further by joining Team Liquid in 2021. That year, he made it onto the All-LCS second-team for the second straight split. Unfortunately, health problems plagued the middle of the year and hindered his continued ascent.

TL lost in the finals of the 2021 LCS spring playoffs and then again in the summer. Santorin suffered four straight finals losses coming into the 2022 season, but Team Liquid surrounded him with even more talented players in one of the best off-seasons of all time.

Team Liquid acquired Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau from Fnatic and Steven “Hans sama” Liv from Rogue. Just those two moves alone would have been an incredible haul for any team, but TL went the extra mile by making the most shocking pick-up in LCS history by bringing the greatest mid laner that has ever played in NA out of retirement: Bjergsen.

Considering Santorin was previously competing alongside teammates who no longer play professional League of Legends, playing alongside some of the best NA players in every single role has unlocked his potential.

“Thing I love most about this team is that we are all capable of changing to adapt. We are all very experienced players who have done these things in the past,” Santorin said. “[On] past teams, maybe a specific player or team issue was holding us back, but now I feel like I’m on a team where everyone can step up and do whatever is needed.”

Despite being surrounded by powerhouses in every lane, it wasn’t Bjergsen, Bwipo or CoreJJ who put up the best numbers on Team Liquid. It was Santorin, who led all players on Team Liquid in player of the game honors. Despite only capturing the All-LCS second-team jungle position, Santorin was TL’s MVP finalist even though three players on his team were first-team selections. According to Santorin, that’s thanks to his ability to facilitate for the rest of his teammates.

“At times you need to show up and carry, but you can take a back seat and let other people carry,” Santorin said of his approach in the jungle.

During the 2022 LCS spring split, Santorin had an absurd 83.6% kill participation, leading all junglers in the league. While he stood in the middle of the pack when it came to damage per minute, Santorin could still take over games when needed.

Remember — Santorin picked up series MVP in Team Liquid’s first 2022 spring playoff series against Evil Geniuses. In the close five-game series, his Viego play in Games 1 and 5 proved to be the difference-maker. So even though Santorin may not have the spotlight on him, he can still shine the brightest when called upon. And that potential is scary for a team as good as TL.

Although Team Liquid came up short in the losers finals, Santorin’s contributions to one of the best Team Liquid rosters of all time can’t be understated. Even if he fell short this split, Santorin is looking to prove TL are indeed to big to fail during the 2022 summer split.

“Third place now I hope leads to first place in summer. It’s looking up,” Santorin said. “For everyone here in this org, all that matters is improving. When I wake up every day, it’s to wake up every day and improve.”

Corbin Hosler contributed reporting to this story.

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Warren Younger
ASU alum with a B.A in Sports Journalism, Warren is one of the premier TFT Journalists in the scene and is a decent TFT player as well who has peaked Challenger and has had multiple accounts in Master+ over all sets. Warren also specializes in other esports content including League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Bros, and more.