The Liquid Review: September 2022

September 29 2022




The Liquid Review









Happy Thursday folks,




There’s a lot to cover in Team Liquid this month, and not in the ways you might think. Take Liquid’s WoW guild for starters. Even though the Blizzard circuit has ended, and the next Race to World First is months away, Liquid still sweat it out in September against Echo in the Xy’mox’s Charity Cache. During the event, Liquid was able to raise $40,000 for ablegamers!





Liquid has also tweeted this cryptic announcement featuring Eiya and robinsongz playing chess, which seems to tease a new 64-square signing on the horizon. Although we don’t know who it is yet, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Levi “GothamChess” Rozman, one of the most popular chess streamers on Twitch and YouTube. In fact, “keeping my fingers crossed” is putting it about as mildly as I can. I have personally been a staunch advocate for Liquid`Gotham for almost three years now.



In sadder news, Team Liquid said goodbye to Mitr0, and has been allowing the Apex team to field offers from other organizations. It’s not exactly clear at this point whether Liquid intends to leave the Apex space altogether, but it’s hard to imagine Liquid`Apex without Nocturnal and Hodsic.



Liquid also unveiled the beginning of a new YouTube series, Liquid Legends, profiling Captain America himself: Nick “nitr0” Canella. The video follows nitr0’s career from Counter-Strike to VALORANT and back to Counter-Strike again. And the Liquid+ Spotlight for September shone on Midbeast, everyone’s favorite Australian League streamer and #1 Dopa Fan. Midbeast’s Spotlight features a 1v1 tournament that’s coming up tomorrow at 6:00 EDT. And how can we forget the amazingly well-crafted Rube Goldberg Machine used to celebrate the re-opening of the Alienware Training Facility.




Last but not least, Team Liquid launched a giant marketing campaign through September called A Wave of One. The event includes a huge Liquid+ quest-line, half-a-dozen fanpacks stuffed with photo-shoots from five of Liquid’s major rosters across the world, and an incredibly well-put-together video.





I’ll be perfectly honest, I still kind of don’t get what the point of the initiative is. But any excuse for cool content is good enough for me



[Editor’s note: The meaning is right there, in front of you. It’s the same goal that you had when you started making these posts, Tortoise! It’s about unifying the fanbase and getting fans of singular teams interested in TL across the board - AKA getting Liquid fans to follow things that aren’t League of Legends!]




As always, you can check out video versions of Team Liquid news with Joey and the rest of TL;DW:




LEAGUE OF LEGENDS







We made each other worse.



Before 2018, Team Liquid had never qualified for Worlds. In 2012 and 2014, Liquid’s predecessor in League, Team Curse, finished one series short of the last world championship berth. In 2015, the newly-christened Team Liquid won third place in playoffs, but lost the gauntlet finals and the last spot to Worlds.



This isn’t the first time Team Liquid has finished the season on the outside looking in.



But four back-to-back championships, and four straight berths to Worlds makes this year’s failure the most shocking. North America hosting Worlds for the first time since 2016 makes it the most disastrous. Fielding what should have been the most stacked roster in the history of the league makes it the most embarrassing. I mean, Liquid Academy won more prize money in summer than the LCS team did. 2022 was a failure of colossal proportions.




It sucks. It really hurts to lose like that; to miss an opportunity to play on the international stage on home turf for the first time in six years. All that pain is even worse for the players and staff–the people who have lived and breathed this game for the last nine months; who weathered the pressure, the expectations, the abuse all season long, all to come one game short of qualifying in two different series. Steve put it best, though.





“In life, you run into a lot of situations … that you try something really, really hard. You set yourself up with all of these expectations to move your life forward and achieve something that’s important to you. And sometimes that doesn’t work out. That should never, ever impact your will. You fight. You maintain your mindset. You feel the emotion of what happened, but you get back up and you try again. And that journey is what life’s all about.”



I don’t have a whole lot of interest in reliving the games. Liquid reverse-swept CLG, and pushed EG all the way to the edge, but fell short at the finish line, losing the series 2-3. As a result, Team Liquid finished fourth in the LCS, and failed to earn a spot at the World Championship.



Since then, Hans sama departed Team Liquid, as has Guilhoto–the first of an indeterminate number of roster moves going into the 2023 season. Although an interview with Steve provided a couple morsels of information going forward, we ultimately don’t know how much of the team will remain next year. But we’ll be back with a chip on our shoulder, the lessons this year has taught us, and all the fury of a tidal Wave unleashed.




Rise and fall; win and loss. We did it together.



VALORANT







Meanwhile, at the big international event for the other Riot game, Liquid recovered marvelously from its initial loss to Leviatán. Against Chinese squad EDG, Liquid sweated out a tight 14-12 overtime win on Breeze after dominating them on Bind. With elimination on the line, Liquid stepped up against the silver medal team from Copenhagen, Paper Rex. Game one on Haven went the distance, with both teams trading blows the whole way. Liquid eked out a 15-13 win in overtime, but then got completely ruined on Pearl. Since Liquid played the Last Chance Qualifier with Split still in the map pool, the Cavalry didn’t have much practice on the new map, and it showed. With everything on the line in map three, the Belgian Brothers ScreaM and Nivera, along with Finnish phenom Jamppi popped off on Ascent, winning the map and the series, and pulling Liquid through to the playoffs.





The two teams are destined to meet again next year, as well.





WE’RE FRANCHISED! Liquid’s 70+ page application began the process for partnership that resulted in Team Liquid joining the EMEA VCT for the 2023 season. This means that Liquid has a guaranteed spot in Europe’s professional scene for at least a few years. The first RIOT-official won’t take place until next February, however, but Liquid may be back on the server before then for the Red Bull Home Ground tournament in December.



[Editor’s note: For a little behind-the-scenes on franchising for the Deep Lore TL fans that read this, the process was basically an extended interview. The first phase was in written form, with Riot providing questions for us to answer. These questions were primarily about our broad approach to esports, player development/health, and fandom as an org. The next phase was a short written interview and then direct interviews between Riot and org leadership. There was a particularly fun section where our graphics department got to shine - but I can’t say much more than that! In the end, a ton of hands in TL went on this project. Nearly every department added something and I was far from the only person putting in extra hours for it.]



Meanwhile, Liquid`Brazil continued their dominance in the Game Changers Circuit, winning their seventh consecutive game changer tournament, and maintaining their 100% series win rate in gamechanger events. They’ll go for their eighth tournament win in a row this weekend at the last qualifier for the Series 2 event. Then later in October is the Series 2 event itself, where Liquid will attempt to secure their spot at the Game Changers Championship in Berlin this November..




DotA 2







Hope is alive. Liquid’s DotA squad has been on the back foot this season. We’ve been able to make it to major events, but always peter out almost as soon as we get there. With poor finishes at the Arlington Major and ESL One Malaysia, Liquid had a lot to prove going into the Western EU Qualifier for one of the last spots at The International, the biggest tournament in all of esports.



But the tournament started very well, with Liquid handedly beating out DGG Esports and goonsquad in convincing games, securing us a top three finish and a spot in upper bracket final against Entity. Liquid was able to start both games with commanding early leads, but mid-game teamfights fell apart for us, and Entity beat us out and sent Liquid to the lower bracket. Liquid won a 69 minute barn burner in game one against Secret, but couldn’t keep up the momentum, dropping the next two games, and finishing the tournament third.



Liquid needed to win the EU International Qualifier to get a spot into The International directly. But our third place finish was good enough to keep our season alive. Now we’ll have to finish in the top 2 of the twelve teams headed to Singapore for the Last Chance Qualifier. Our six-team group includes Virtus.pro and T1, both tough teams. We’ll need to place in the top 4 teams to make it to the upper bracket, as the bottom 2 in each group go to the first round of the lower bracket instead. This is, quite literally, the last chance Liquid has to qualify to the main event of The International, so everything is on the line.




CS:GO








Liquid’s stint at the ESL Pro League so far might be the most confusing tournament we’ve ever played. After three hard-fought series, Liquid sat at 2-1 in the group, and we needed to win just one more series to make it to the playoffs. Our fourth match set Liquid against Eternal Fire, a struggling Turkish team that sat at the bottom of the table at 0-3. But on the server, Liquid looked completely lost against Eternal Fire. woxic completely owned us from start to finish, and Liquid got smacked down 0-2 against one of the worst teams in the group.



This left Liquid with just one match left against Cloud9, the strongest team in the group, who were undefeated going into the last match. Despite the Cavalry’s stalwart Inferno defense, C9 was able to keep the first half close. Liquid pulled away in the second half, however, and displayed a dominating attack to win out the first map. Overpass couldn’t have been closer. Both teams slugged it out, trading rounds all 30 rounds back and forth eventually bringing an overtime. So how did Liquid pull it out?



Simply put, YEKINDAR refused to lose. Liquid’s still-somehow-not-signed-yet stand-in dropped a 40-bomb on Overpass, posterizing one of the best teams in the world over and over again with clutch after clutch after clutch. It’s hard to say with any sense of fairness that one person can carry an entire team in a game like CS:GO where everyone has a role to play. But my God, YEKI was on another level. He had almost twice as many kills as the next highest player on the server, and the highest rating by a country mile. He averaged 125 damage per round, more than 45 more damage than the next highest player.





One of these players is not like the others.



No, you know what? One graphic isn’t gonna do it.





YEKINDAR gets ALL the graphics.



The Squad won the first round of the single-elimination playoff bracket against Fnatic 2-1. After a close win on Inferno, Fnatic overpowered Team Liquid on Overpass. The team came roaring back on Ancient in the series-deciding game. There, Liquid was able to keep it close on our T-side before absolutely dominating Fnatic in the second half, in no small part due to oSee hitting a collection of key AWP shots and exiting his EPL slump. With our win over Fnatic, Liquid moves on to the quarter-finals against MOUZ which takes place this very morning. If we win, we’ll move on to the semifinals against the winner of Cloud9 and FaZe. The stakes are pretty high, too. Winning this tournament would allow Liquid to qualify directly into the BLAST World Final in December and IEM Katowice next January. On top of that, a first place finish would earn the Squad a $175,000 pay day. Not too shabby.




Rainbow 6 Siege







With the retirement of the legendary psk1, Liquid has taken the first few weeks of the Brasileirão to build synergy with Lagonis. Although the team was able to beat both NIP and Caos, they faltered against Black Dragons and w7m, putting Liquid squarely in the middle of the table at 5th. Liquid will need to end the group stage in the top 4 to qualify for the Copa Elite Six at the end of the month, where they’ll fight for one of four spots at the next Six Major in November.



Liquid fans should also start keeping qualification points in mind for the Six Invitational in February 2023. Right now, Liquid’s semi-final finish in the Charlotte Major has been enough to keep the team on the bubble for qualification to the tournament, but missing Berlin really hurt us, and we’re sitting at 16th place in the international standings, meaning that if the invitations were sent out today, Liquid would get the very last spot in the tournament. We’ll need to qualify to the Copa Elite Six to earn more points in order to stay in contention.




Age of Empires IV:







It’s finally here. Liquid’s inaugural AoE IV player’s biggest tournament of the year will take place this month in a literal castle in Heidelberg, Germany. The Wololo tournament has a long history of producing amazing Age of Empires II events, but this is the first time it has expanded to include Microsoft’s fourth installment of the series.



Along with the fifteen best players in the world, DeMusliM fights for his share of a $300,000 prize pool. The tournament splits the players into four groups, where they’ll play a GSL-style mini-tournament to narrow down to the top 8 players. Those players then face off in a single-elimination playoff bracket. The groups haven’t been drawn yet, but the action kicks off on the 26th.




StarCraft II







After a break from major tournaments, StarCraft is back this October as the World Team League and DreamHack Masters starts up again this weekend. The World Team League features an eleven week round-robin regular season with 12 teams each facing off against one another. In each match, three players from each team will play two games against their opponent. If the series is tied after the six games, each team will send out one ace to play the deciding match. Liquid will earn points each match for winning, or fewer points for making it to an ace match. At the end of the regular season, the top seven teams make it to a gauntlet-style playoff, where the seventh seed plays the sixth seed, the winner plays the fifth seed, and so on until the grand final against the first seed. Last season, Liquid wasn’t able to secure playoffs, but with the addition of Elazer to the squad, the Cavalry's sights are set higher.



At the same time the team comes together for the first couple weeks of the World Team League, they’ll also be fighting for spots at the next DreamHack Masters tournament in Atlanta. The $100,000 main event doesn’t start until November, but qualifications begin this weekend. Clem, Elazer, and MaNa have all slotted into different groups for the European qualifier, which means no team-kills until playoffs! That said, the competition is still stiff with 32 of the best players in Europe competing for just four spots in Atlanta. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Kelazhur will work in a much more intimate setting at the LATAM qualifiers, with 8 players competing for just one spot at Masters. Kelazur finishes up his group-stage today, and playoffs will go through this weekend.



Smash







Hungrybox is so gosh-darn good at Super Smash Bros. If only he could guard his stuff like he guards edges.






Stolen accessories notwithstanding, the Puff god won his third major of the year. He tore through the upper bracket to the winners’ final, including an impressive win over jmook 3-0. He lost a close 2-3 series to Plup, but after another win over jmook, got his revenge over the fastest Fox in Melee. He reset the bracket with another five game series, then closed out the tournament 3-1.



Not for nothing, but Juan also managed to nab a top-32 finish in the Ultimate bracket of the tournament, and he and Plup demolished the 2v2 bracket without dropping a single game. Overall, Hbox had a great weekend, although his pop-off game has gone a little stale recently.





Riddles and Dabuz took their talents to Los Angeles last month for the smash Ultimate Summit 5. Dabuz had a rocky tournament winning only a single series in the lower bracket before dropping out in the top 12. In fairness, MkLeo also lost in the top 12, so really it just speaks to the caliber of the tournament. And in the group and gauntlet stage, Dabuz scored some big wins - the biggest being a 3-1 over acola - likely a top 5 player in the world. Riddles fared better in September, making the top 6 after losing only to Protobanham and acola. With acola and Protobanham out, Atelier cleaned up at Sumabato 30 (Japan’s major tournament series). Atelier placed 2nd while playing mostly Wolf, who will likely be his new main.



Coming up this month, there is a lot of Smash to be played. It begins this weekend as Hungrybox heads to San Antonio, Texas for Lost City Tech. There, once again, Juan will flex both his Melee and Ultimate muscles, searching for his fourth major win of the year against the likes of Mango, Plup, Wizzrobe, and aMSa. The next weekend, all three of Liquid’s western Smash players head to Detroit, Michigan for The Big House 10, where the competition is even stiffer. Hbox will also need to overcome the likes of Zain, iBDW, and Leffen.



Liquid’s resident Japanese Smash player, Atelier, competes in Osaka, Japan this month in the MaesumaTOP#10. At the end of the month, Dabuz will compete at Let’s Make Moves - Miami in –-you guessed it, Miami Florida.



Last but not least, YouTuber Ludwig Ahgren as well as Aiden “Calvin” McCaig are hosting a $30,000 Smash invitational this month, featuring some of the best players in the world. Liquid is sending Hbox, Dabuz, and Riddles to compete in their respective games.





Rocket League:







Rocket League returns for the new season this month, and everyone is on a level playing field once again. Liquid’s slow start and late-season surge last season meant that the Cavalry just barely missed the Rocket League World Championship. Oski, AcroniK and Atow all return for the Blue, ready to continue their trek to the summit of Mount Rocket League.



To get there, Liquid begins at the regional level with the Fall Open and the Fall Cup this month. To make it to the main event, Liquid’s first step is the Top 16 Qualifier. A top 8 finish will earn the team a spot in the Main Event. The Closed Qualifier runs the bottom 8 teams from the Top 16 Qualifier and the top 8 teams from the Open Qualifier through a five-round Swiss bracket where the top 8 finishers move on to the Main Event. There, $100,000 in prizes and the first qualification points of the RLCS season are on the line.



The process repeats all over again for the Fall Cup. The top 8 finishers at the Main Event for the Fall Open automatically qualify for the Main Event of the Fall Cup, and the other 8 spots are up for grabs in the Closed Qualifier. After one more regional in November, all this work leads to the top 5 teams making it to the Rotterdam Major to represent Europe in December. If Liquid can keep up its form from the end of last year, it’s got a great shot at making it.




Free Fire







When we left off last month, Liquid’s Free Fire Squad were consistently getting about 30 points per game. This month, we’ve been much more hit or miss, but with a net improvement overall. Strangely enough, Liquid’s inconsistency has formed a pattern. For three straight weeks, Liquid got the second most points on the server on the first day and then completely tanked on the second day. With one week left of play in the regular season, Liquid sits in 11th place. We need to finish in the top 12 to make playoffs, where we’ll be fighting for one of two spots in the Free Fire World Series, and a share of a prize pool worth about $145,000.




Teamfight Tactics





With the mid-set officially out, we enter stage three of North America’s road to qualifying for TFT Worlds. With their top 8 finishes at the Mid-Set Invitational, as well as their strong performances in the previous qualifier tournaments, both Kurumx and robinsongz qualified automatically to day 3 of the Dragon Cup. This Saturday, Liquid`Tactics will play 6 games, earning more points the higher they finish. If they manage to get top-32 in after those 6 games, they’ll move on to day 4 this Sunday. The top 32 players only go through 5 games on Sunday, and the top 8 qualify to the final lobby of the tournament.



The end goal for Kurum and robin is a spot at the NA Regional Finals, which is the only way for North American players to get to TFT Worlds. There are four paths left for Kurum and robin to qualify for this tournament:





  • Place Top 4 in the Dragon Cup;

  • Place Top 10 in qualifier points;

  • Finish Top 2 on the ladder for Set 7.5; or

  • Place Top 2 at the Last Chance Qualifier.



That means the first chance Liquid`Tactics has to make it to the Regional Finals comes this weekend. If Kurum and robin can secure a top 4 at the tournament, they’re in. If they don’t, they’ll still win more qualifier points–at least 25. Right now, robin is in 4th place of the qualifier rankings with 58 points, and Kurum is in 13th place with 46 points. However, six players who have already qualified for the Regional Finals are ahead of him, putting Kurum ostensibly in 7th place. So as long as both robin and Kurum can hold their positions by winning enough qualifier points at the Dragon Cup to secure top 10 in the standings, they’ll earn their spot at the Regional Final. If the statistically unlikely happens, and Liquid’s players finish outside the top 10, there are still a couple of ways to qualify. Consistently good ladder performances provide two more spots at the Regional Finals, and if worse comes to worst, there’s a Last Chance Qualifier tournament at the end of the month that yields the last two spots at the Worlds-qualifying tournament.



Postscript:



This month’s review is being donated to Reaching Out Romania, an organization dedicated to serving victims of slavery and human trafficking in Romania by providing them with homes, as well as psychological, medical, and legal assistance.




Writer // Tortious Tortoise
Graphics // Stacey "Shiroiusagi" Yamada






















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