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Team Liquid: The Americas Team
Majors only come twice a year, and London will be the site of the season’s biggest Counter-Strike tournament. The two 16-team swiss rounds will determine the 8 teams that will earn a place in the final bracket, starting from the New Challenger Stage. The top 8 teams from the first round will then advance to take on the Current Legends of the tournament. Team Liquid will be one of those teams in the first swiss pool, which will take place from September 5th to the 9th.
Fans of Team Liquid should be excited for the Major. The last time we saw the squad, they finished in 2nd place and earned a $200,000 payout at the ELEAGUE Premier. Liquid has much in their favor for their follow-up: Tournament momentum, the thirst for a championship title, a roster full of talent, and most importantly… Revenge. Though the desire for vengeance can be poison for the weak, the North Americans harness it. A 0-2 finals loss against a team like Astralis doesn’t come easy after all — it haunts you forever. The underdog mentality has carried sports teams to victory countless times through history, drawing fans from across the globe to root for the little guy. We’re watching the little guy grow up into a force of his own, and the team with the combined power of the Americas can clearly contend against any team across the globe.
Team Liquids Core Players
We’ve seen countless renditions of Team Liquid, yet two core parts of the squad have remained: EliGE and nitr0. Known early on as one of the best power-fragging entries in North America, the dynamic duo has stuck with the team since their earliest iterations. For NA fans, and more importantly, Liquid fans, the sight of EliGE and nitr0 savaging opponents — with different teammates, on different positions, but always on the same team — is a familiar sight.
As the remaining original member of the team, nitr0 has experienced one of the most interesting transitions in Counter-Strike. Once the first man into the site, nitr0 now spends most rounds with his eyes down the scope. Even though the team currently does not have a dedicated AWPer, the sniper rifle is most commonly in nitr0’s hands, and he’s shown us flicks that have required more than a few replays. The heavier burden, however, is the mantle of in-game leader, a role that is notorious for affecting players’ individual play. Despite a period of uncertainty early on, it’s clear that nitr0 has grown into his role and continues to develop his ability to lead. At times, he’s even led from the front, taking bomb sites by himself just like he used to.
EliGE on the other hand has become the consummate professional — at demolishing opposing teams. The 21-year-old is already considered a veteran on the team, and he provides a stable foundation for his teammates to express themselves. With rarely a bad game, EliGE is the team’s metronome that determines how fast or how slow the team can play. Rightfully considered one of the most talented players in North America, EliGE has only had one sub-1.0 event since October 2016 — and that was still a 0.95. As the team continues to add more firepower, the reliance on heroics from EliGE has decreased, but he continues to perform.
While the spotlight may shine bright on TL's long-time stars, their continued rise in fortunes coincides with the addition of three individuals from across the Americas: Twistzz, NAF, and TACO. While each player has their roles to fill in the roster, Team Liquid continues to be one of the most flexible teams in Counter-Strike, deploying their troops based on matchups, planned strategy, and even spawns. The team’s chemistry is a work-in-progress, and each LAN has offered its fair share of growing pains and triumphs. Overall, however, it’s clear that the lineup is just one series short of a title.
That last title came after the reintroduction of NAF. cs_summit2 offered a preview of the shifting balance of power in the Americas, as Team Liquid defeated both Cloud 9 and SK Gaming to win the tournament. Although small compared to IEMs and Majors, the Summit is an important stop on the Counter-Strike circuit, and NAF has since become one of the team’s strongest fraggers. The slippery sweeper has a knack for finding opponent’s out of position, and it has added an unpredictable element to the team’s formula.
In contrast, the newest member of the team, TACO, adds a measure of stability and structure to Team Liquid. It shouldn't be understated how important the last few months have been to successfully and efficiently introduce TACO into the Liquid lineup as they went from tournament to tournament. However, TACO has fit in seamlessly through a combination of his wealth of experience and his knowledge as a former world champion. He packs a heavy punch and brings a swiss army knife of talents that will most definitely be of use during any mid-game crisis. His dynamic play-style certainly bonds well with the strategic philosophy that TL is built on, and he has acted as the well-rounded finishing touch that TL needed to complete the roster.
All of this is before even mentioning Twistzz, who on any other lineup could be a standout player capable of single-handedly carrying anyone to the finals. Twistzz has been on average TL’s most consistent fragger, always able to either find an opening frag, or hold a site long enough for rotations to come in and win a round. Twistzz first bullet accuracy is heralded as one of the scene’s best, and that threat allows EliGE and Nitr0 to play without fear. The team can take those aggressive peaks around corners, knowing he’ll be there to either get the trade or defend the oncoming assault. The Magnificent Van Dulken has even carved out a special place on Inferno, where is now known as the most feared Pit player in the world.
As Liquid look ahead to the FaceIt Major, they will go up against the Danish squad from OpTic Gaming for their first match. While the likes of K0nfig and cajunb should never be underestimated, this is a match that Team Liquid is favored to win based on recent results. The earlier Liquid finds success, the more likely it will be that they end up facing Astralis during the New Challenger stage. Yes, Astralis may have gotten the better of Team Liquid prior to this event, but now that team coach and tactical mastermind, zews, has had ample time to work on the team’s strategy, we’re sure to see a refreshed and well prepared roster.
This is the first time Team Liquid has had an extended break to scrim and practice, as the monumental amount of traveling has taken precedence over training and strategy. As we’ve seen, the team has performed well through on-the-fly adjustments, so teams should be worried about a Team Liquid that has actually had time to flesh out their map pool and playbook. Certainly, they’ve also corrected some of the errors that have plagued their earlier tournament exits.
As a squad that relies heavily on momentum, it will be extremely useful for Team Liquid to come out strong during the group stage. The swiss format is infamous for surprising good teams with difficult draws, and the odds of facing a brick wall increase with each missed opportunity. The sooner they make it to the playoffs, the more likely we’ll see them go far in the tournament.
With one of the finest squads in the world, Liquid remain a true top contender among the London Championship's roster of teams. EliGE, Twistzz, and Nitr0's raw power, the mastermind tactics of zews, and the supporting foundation of TACO and NAF has and will continue to allow Liquid to grow as they spend more time playing together. Playing for a $1,000,000 prize pool and the right to regain their titles as Legends at following tournaments, the FaceIt Major Championship in London will pave the way for an exciting future for Team Liquid.