Team Liquid are nearing a multi-year deal with former Origen top laner Barney "Alphari" Morris that will entitle him to more than $1 million per year in total compensation, sources familiar with the team's free agency negotiations told ESPN on Sunday.
No deal can be signed until Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. ET, the global opening of the 2020-21 League of Legends free agency window. That said, he and the other players from the 2020 Origen lineup were given permission by the Astralis Group to begin discussions with other teams early, and over the process of the past two weeks, Alphari has negotiated with a number of League of Legends Championship Series and League European Championship franchises.
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Among Alphari's most serious suitors were Liquid, Rogue and Fnatic, sources said. In the end, Liquid and Rogue became the final two as he neared a decision. Team Liquid declined to comment on the deal.
Alphari will replace Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong, the highest-paid player in the League of Legends Championship Series in 2020. Impact's contract with Liquid will expire on Nov. 16. In late 2017, Impact signed a three-year deal with Liquid that saw him entitled to $3.4 million over the deal's lifespan, as reported by ESPN at the time.
Team Liquid will now look to make changes to their jungle position and negotiate a contract extension with mid laner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, who is set to become a free agent this offseason. Jensen's voice has been integral to Liquid's free agent desires, as he wanted Alphari to join the team and is pushing for a strong jungler who he can trust.
Liquid has interest in FlyQuest jungler Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larssen, sources said. Santorin will become a free agent on Nov. 16, but as of Sunday, he has not been given permission by FlyQuest to speak to other teams prior to that date. He and Team Liquid management have not spoken as of Sunday.
The rest of the Liquid roster is expected, for now, to remain the same. AD carry Edward "Tactical" Ra and support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in remain under contract through the end of the 2021 and 2022 seasons, respectively. In addition to Impact, jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen will become a free agent this offseason.
Liquid's top-side overhaul comes after they failed to qualify for the quarterfinals at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship. In a group with G2 Esports, Suning and Machi Esports, Liquid finished 3-3, but due to Suning defeating G2 to set up a first-place tiebreaker, Liquid found themselves eliminated from the event during the group stage for the third year in a row.
In 2019 and 2020, Alphari competed with Origen, who returned to the League European Championship after Astralis purchased majority stake in the team and were granted a franchise slot in the restructured league in late 2018. On Origen, Alphari continued to grow and become one of the best top laners in all of Europe. Origen, however, failed to qualify for the world championship in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons.