One of the most exciting teams to watch this weekend are North American natives, Team Liquid. Liquid, one the oldest, most decorated organisations in esports, fell on hard times towards the end of 2016, but have been rebuilding over the past month to regain their form as North America’s best team. Led by former Luminosity/SK coach Wilton “zews” Prado, Liquid have built a new team primed to take on the competition. Prado maintained the core trio of Jonathan “ELIGE” Jablonowski, Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella, and Joshua “jdm” Marzano, who represent some of NA’s best position players. Longtime anchor lurker Hiko departed, with former OpTic IGL Peter “Stanislaw” Jarguz.
Stanislaw is renowned for his leadership abilities, having led OpTic to the gold at ELEAGUE Season 2, taking down the then #1 team in the world Astralis. The Canadian rifler brings a unique, loose perspective to captaining. His teams have often run with general gameplans, favoring situational reads over strict dedication to a predetermined course of action. This constantly adapting style often puts opponents on the back foot, allowing Jarguz to poke and prod, finding holes in their strategies. Once he finds his opponent’s weaknesses, stanislaw will often shift the focus of each round to directly striking his opponents in their Achilles Heel.
Aiding in this dynamic playstyle is Liquid’s brand new rifler Russel “Twistzz” van Dulken. Acquired just last week from Misfits, Twistzz is from the newest generation of NA players, from the same crop that gave the world Stewie2k, jdm, Relyks, and autimatic. His faster style of lurking is a fresh take in CS and is quickly earning him many accolades from other top talents in North America. With his youth setting him apart from the rest of the roster, Twistzz represents the future of North American CS. Liquid is an environment where we will see a new legend evolving with each passing week. Expect big things from Liquid this weekend and beyond!
On the other side of the bracket is another famed team with a new, young talent. Team EnVyUs are continuing on their climb back to the top of European CS. The French all-stars, with a fresh new roster, have regained their footing among Europe’s elite and are continuing to take names online with each passing day. This weekend will be one of the first big tests for the new roster on LAN. Led by Vincent “Happy” Cervoni, EnVyUs is a team packed with some of the best talents in France. Riflers Cédric “RpK” Guipouy and Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom round out the veteran portion of the roster, with a combined almost two decades of play at the highest level under their belts. ScreaM’s unparalleled aim, paired with RpK’s intimate knowledge of every team’s playbook make the two on of the most fearsome pairs in CS.
After dismantling his old roster, Happy elected to rebuild his team not just with veterans, but with new talent, and it’s paying dividends. AWPer Christopher “SIXER” Xia and rifler Alexandre “xms” Forté are two of the most promising prospects in the French scene. SIXER has seen a rapid increase in performance since joining nV, and his ability to transition from safe play to fast, aggressive AWPing style has earned him a blessing from former teammate KennyS. xms, with only two years of competitive play under his belt, is a perfect pickup for Happy. Under his tutelage, the young rifler has slowly become a tactical machine, executing slow, constricting approaches with ease.
This anaconda like style has been a staple of Happy’s playbook and is continuing to show success. Since their rebuild, nV have racked up multiple wins over every team in Europe in online competition. With the recent addition of Inferno to the map pool, nV have utilized revised strategies that have established their spot as one of the prime teams to be feared. Look for a strong performance right out of the gate from the former Major champions, as they square off against longtime rivals SK Gaming!