In an era of Astralis, Team Liquid lived in their shadow for more than a year. Their second-place finishes were subject to countless jokes. Now, six months later, Team Liquid is the number one team in the world and IGS Season 2 champions. In this article, we are going to break down Liquid’s path from chokers to champions.
A Year of Continuous Choking
If there was no Astralis in 2018, Team Liquid would have won five big titles and at least participated in the FACEIT Major Grand Final. They would have been the best team in the world and 2018 would be the year of Team Liquid. However, nitr0 and co. failed to make the last step to the title six times in total. In addition to that, they were part of big events Semi-finals four times.
Therefore, it wasn’t a bad year for Team Liquid at all. Although constantly being the 2nd or 3rd team can be disappointing, it’s still a big success in the world of esports. We could say that Liquid was the most consistent team alongside Astralis last year. Regardless, they lacked titles, and it had to have affected them mentally. After the BLAST Pro Miami this year, even EliGE made the joke of themselves saying they won second place again.
Congrats @FaZeClan, 2nd place AGAIN 🤠
— Jonathan Jablonowski (@EliGE) April 14, 2019
The only two events that Liquid managed to win last year were cs_summit 2 and SuperNova Malta 2018. Both of these events were relatively small tournaments that didn’t feature the best teams in the world. If we count the beginning of 2019 as part of the Astralis era, then we can say that Liquid actually managed to defeat Astralis once in final of iBUYPOWER Master IV. However, it was only the preparation tournament for the first Major. Therefore, no one really took it seriously in a historical context. But, suddenly, the narrative changed after two lost BLAST Pro Grand Finals.
At the end of the last year, Team Liquid made some changes in their roster, which turned out to be beneficial later on. They swapped TACO with Stewie2k from MiBR, and they parted ways with their coach, zews. The former player of Team Liquid and Mythic, adreN replaced zews in coach position. Although Team Liquid blundered in the Quarter-final of the Katowice Major against ENCE, and despite their two losses in the Grand Finals of BLAST Pro events, the results of these two changes have been historical.
The fastest IGS title ever
The first big event where Liquid finally broke their curse was IEM Sydney. Even though it lacked some of the best teams in the world (Astralis, NaVi), IEM Sydney was quite a strong event. Team Liquid managed to defeat Fnatic in the electric atmosphere in the Grand Final. It was the first big trophy in the history of Team Liquid. Afterward, they lost in the final of cs_summit 4 against Vitality, but quickly bounced back in the following Tier 1 event, DreamHack Masters Dallas.
- Here Is Where It All Started: IEM Sydney Champions: Team Liquid Beat Fnatic In The Final
Team Liquid clinched the second big title in a row, taking a lead in Intel Grand Slam Season 2 race on the home soil. However, Natus Vincere and Astralis didn’t attend this event either, so people were still questioning Liquid’s success.
These talks saw an end at EPL Season 9 where Liquid finally met Astralis. Unlike all previous times when these two teams met in big events, this time, Liquid came out as winners after the great 3 map series. Later on, they defeated the domestic team, G2 in the Grand Final to win the third big event in a row. This way, they became the first NA team that won the tournament in Europe and they got just one title away from the Intel Grand Slam Season 2.
The next big event, the biggest one in 2019 after the Majors was ESL One Cologne and Liquid took part in it. The most anticipated matchup was Astralis vs Liquid in the Grand Final, but Astralis fell short against Vitality in the Semis. Hence, Team Liquid had to overcome the Frenchmen, which they did. Nitr0 and his friends won the fourth big title in a row to clinch Intel Grand Slam Season 2. They achieved it in a span of two months, which makes this accomplishment historic. It’s very likely that this will remain the fastest IGS title ever.
- Read About ESL One Cologne 2019: Team Liquid Wins ESL One Cologne 2019 And Intel Grand Slam
In addition to everything mentioned, the North Americans finally secured the BLAST Pro Series title in Los Angeles just a few days ago. Indeed, the path from chokers to champions was very long for Team Liquid.
How did Liquid go from chokers to champions?
Liquid’s path from chokers to champions was long and painful. But, they reached the final destination and that’s only what matters in the end. In the rest of the article, we will try to explain how Liquid went from zero to hero, even though it didn’t look likely at the end of the last year.
The Perfect roster change
One of the reasons behind Liquid’s success must be the roster change they made at the end of the last year. If Magisk was the final element that Astralis missed to become the best, then we can say that Stewie2k was what Liquid missed last year to challenge Astralis. If we compare Stewie2k to TACO, we will see that TACO was underperforming to some degree last year. Whereas Stewie2k finished the most of events with a positive rating, TACO ended the majority of them with a rating below 1.
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In addition to that, Stewie2k and TACO have two completely different playstyles. While TACO is more kind of Support player who helps his teammates from back lines, Stewie2k is an extremely aggressive player. Apparently, he didn’t earn his nickname “smoke criminal” for nothing. For example, on the last map of one of the most important matches for Liquid this year, against Astralis in Quarter-final of EPL Season 9, Stewie2k took 11 opening kills. His aggression helped Liquid so much in that game.
Moreover, Stewie’s entry fragging skills could be beneficial for any team. According to words of his former teammate, autimatic, Stewie2k has much more chances to win opening duels than any other entry fragger. That’s something that makes him stand out of the competition.
Also, there is another very important thing about Stewie2k. He won the Major with Cloud9 in 2018. Therefore, he has the mentality of a real champion. That’s something that Liquid desperately needed to go from the bottom to the top. Furthermore, unlike TACO, Stewie2k is a native English speaker. Although this tiny thing seems to be irrelevant, it definitely affects teamwork to some degree.
Even though it seems like coaches cannot have a big impact on the game, it’s actually not true at all. AdreN is a perfect example of that. According to words of his former teammates and other players who used to play with him, adreN has always been sort of player who struggles to make good calls and perform at a high level at the same time.
When he played well, his calls weren’t that good. On the other hand, when he was making good calls, his game was suffering. Therefore, a coaching position just came naturally to adreN who didn’t have any coaching experience before he started coaching Team Liquid. Nevertheless, his strats have been working perfectly since he rejoined the North American team.
Self-confidence and astonishing individual performance
One thing that we just have to point out is a significant improvement in terms of self-confidence and individual performance of Liquid’s players. Out of all guys on the team, the IGL of NA squad, nitr0 has improved his game the most. Whereas his rating last year was negative most of the time, this year, he has been playing very solidly. He managed to balance good calling and good game very well. It’s commonly known that teams whose IGLs are performing at a high level have a big advantage over other teams.
As nitr0 stepped up in 2019, Liquid started playing better as well. On top of that, other players are playing well like always. There is no tournament without highlight from Liquid’s games. We often see some crazy displays, nasty shots, and beautiful frags. Moreover, it’s not only one player who is carrying his team, but all Liquid’s players are capable of performing at a high level.
Of course, a good game must be followed by huge self-confidence. We can say that self-confidence is something that Liquid really missed last year. But, it drastically changed in 2019. Now, they feel confident to go for some crazy plays and don’t hesitate to engage in fights.
Clutching is another trademark of Team Liquid this year. We saw their players winning the number of rounds they were not supposed to win. When it comes to clutching, Twistzz and EliGE are the most successful, but NAF and nitr0 also won many 1vX duels. One of the most rememberable clutches in recent time was Twistzz’s 1v3 clutch against G2 Esports in the last round of regular time on Inferno when he remained the last man standing with only one HP. He took the game to Overtime where Liquid outlasted G2.
Comparison to Astralis
If we compare Team Liquid’s path from chokers to champions to Astralis’ path, we will see they were almost identical. Prior to their era, Astralis also was struggling to win titles. They ended the most of their runs in Semi-finals. So, both teams had to go through the path from chokers to champions. However, the big difference between Liquid and Astralis is that Danes won the Major and Liquid haven’t yet.
- Also Check Out: Astralis Dominance Explained [CS:GO]
Just like Astralis, Liquid made the roster change that brought so much to them. For Astralis it was Magisk, and for Liquid it was Stewie2k. Both players brought something new and very valuable to their teams.
Additionally, both teams have been strong tactically and both teams have a broad map pool. They can play the majority of maps and they don’t hesitate to challenge other teams on their best maps.
Does Liquid have an era?
To make a long story short, the answer is – not yet. Truly, Liquid was so dominant in the last two and a half months as they crushed the field. They did the same thing as Astralis last year (Intel Grand Slam) but in a more dominant and quicker way. However, apart from IGS titles, Astralis won another three big titles and clinched one Major. Also, they were dominant throughout the whole year. Hence, if Liquid wants to have an era, they are supposed to either win a Major or to keep having good showings and winning titles till the end of the season.
Therefore, the Major in Berlin might be the place where Liquid is going to establish its own era. It would be the first era of the North American team in CS:GO.