This weekend, eight of the world’s best Counterstrike teams will square off in Austin for their share of $100,000. Four teams from the Americas and four teams from Europe will represent their region to try to work their way through a grueling group stage and a harrowing single elimination bracket. In Group B, Monster Family members and North American favorites Team Liquid are facing a slew of rivals.
Liquid are in a good position to take on their longtime foes. After picking up Peter “Stanislaw” Jarguz as their new in-game leader, Liquid have looked better than ever. Stanislaw brings a fresh style of shot calling to the team, focusing on dynamic plays, rather than a strict playbook. Other top teams like Fnatic, Virtus Pro, and Faze have tested this fast and loose style of leadership to great success. With a team of veterans, the combined experience tends to yield a more varied set of plays, forcing the opposing team to play more cautiously and attempt to try to defend against multiple strategies for every play that they try.
Stanislaw’s dynamic shot calling is enabled by the high individual skill of his players. Longtime AWPer Josh “jdm” Marzano represents a vital link in the team. One of NA’s best AWPers, jdm utilizes an odd style that puts opponents onto the back foot almost immediately. Marzano pushes up aggressively at first, only to fall back after an initial pick and transition to a zone defense style of play. He chooses small, high traffic sections of the map and locks them down, preventing any movement from his opponents. Despite his proficiency with flick shots, jdm also utilizes the power of tossing out calculated blind shots to punish risky movement.
The core of Liquid’s squad is the pair of riflers Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski. The two American vets have become some of the most dangerous riflers in the region. Their ability to calmly and seamlessly switch entry and anchor fragging duties gives them an unpredictability that gives Liquid an edge in late-game situations. Perhaps the greatest strength of the rifling core is EliGE’s incredible performance on SMGs. Jablonowski consistently puts up top fragging rounds with SMGs, giving Liquid’s ecos far more power than their peers’.
The newest member of Team Liquid, Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, is a largely unknown quantity. The young Canadian has only been playing Counterstrike professionally for a little over a year, rapidly working his way through the North American scene. While his game sense needs work, he makes up for it with his incredible aim and clean mechanics. Twistzz put up strong numbers and highlight worthy frags at cs_summit, leading many to proclaim his as the next great North American player.
Liquid will have to first fight through Brazilian upstarts Immortals, the French favorites G2, and longtime NA rivals Cloud 9 in group stages. Each team relies on rigid playbooks, with lightning fast executes and aggressive AWPing. To take the W, Liquid will have to play a reactive game, focusing on map oriented play and allowing Twistzz to find his fragging rhythm.