Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng will be taking a competitive hiatus from Team SoloMid during the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, TSM announced Tuesday. As a result, TSM will not be competing at IEM Oakland in mid-November.
“There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not I’m gonna retire, whether my plans are to retire or continue playing,” Doublelift said in a video released by TSM. “And especially, most notably in Worlds I said I didn’t have much left in the tank, sort of alluding to retirement. And yeah, so, I’m here today to announce I will be taking a break, but it won’t be a retirement.”
“I will be taking a break for the Spring Split, but I do plan to come back for Summer. And, y’know, whether it has to be that I fight for my spot or we have a sub system or whatever, I will do my best to come back for Summer.”
The 23-year-old AD carry goes on to say in the team's statement that he wants to focus on streaming and content creation during his break and that “I'll come back if the team needs me - better than before, and better than ever.”
Doublelift has been part of TSM since November 2015, after he was released by Counter Logic Gaming following the 2015 League of Legends World Championship. Since joining TSM, the team has been a powerhouse in the NA scene, coming in 3-4th in IEM Season X, second in the 2016 NA LCS Spring Playoffs, and winning the Summer Playoffs after dominating the Summer Split with an impressive 17-1 record.
“In this last year, I’ve really gotten to know Peter. He has been a great player, a great employee, and a great friend,” Team SoloMid owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh said in a statement. “When TSM was struggling and at our lowest, he pushed himself to step up and together with Soren, they lead the team and brought us from a 6th place team in spring to the finals. He’s an extremely diligent person and I’m sure he’ll find success in whatever he chooses to do.”
However, despite their success in NA, Doublelift had a difficult time at the 2016 LoL World Championships, where Team SoloMid were eliminated from the group stage after a tiebreaker match against Royal Never Give Up. Following the loss to RNG, he posted an emotional Twitlonger apologizing for letting down his fans and teammates.
“I've never been a weak link of any roster I've been on until this moment,” he wrote. “Everyone has felt embarrassment and shame, but have you felt it in this magnitude? I let down my teammates, friends, and millions of fans. It's a crippling feeling of unworthiness that has kept me off social media.”
TSM will be holding open tryouts later this month to find his replacement. However, should Doublelift return for the Summer Split, Reginald says he will have to compete with the new player for the starting position.
“In the event that he decides to come back, we would require him to compete for his old position,” Reginald said. “At the end of the day, we don’t recruit based on popularity, what’s important to TSM is for us to take the best person for the position and win."
However, until the Spring Split ends, Doublelift says he wants to enjoy the sort of normal life he hasn’t had a chance to experience in the six straight years he has dedicated to professional League of Legends.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ve never had a real life, I’ve never had, like, real relationships, real quality time with my friends and stuff like that,” Doublelift said in TSM's video. “Like, I’ve hardly been able to take a break, y’know? We average like one day off a month. So, my perspective has been really unclear all this time. What is it like to have a real life? What is it like to be a streamer over a pro player? Like, is this really what I want to do?”
Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.