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.