The Liquid Review - November 2022

December 01 2022




The Liquid Review









Happy Thursday folks,




I acknowledge that we’re now well-past Turkey Day, and that Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday that not everyone else celebrates. Still, I feel compelled to begin our November Review of all things Team Liquid by expressing how grateful I am to be in this community, to trace its arc across the last 20 years from an old school StarCraft forum to an international conglomerate with headquarters on three different continents, and competitive rosters in about 20 different esports. I feel lucky that the forum I shitposted on grew up to be such a monumental force in the scene. And I’m thankful to see Team Liquid working hard to be a force for positive change in the industry - to strive for excellence in game, and goodness everywhere else.





This month, Liquid’s Brazilian squads both found the podium at massive international events hosted in Europe, the Rocket League team flexed their clutch muscles in the last qualification tournament before the first Major of the season, and Liquid’s Counter-Strike team snatched the last spot in the BLAST World Final. And of course, the release of the new WoW expansion can mean only one thing: the Race to World First is about to begin again.



Out of game, Liquid has had a busy month as well. Going into December, there are two player experiences over at Liquid+. Brazilian League of Legends streamer Rakin is the Liquid+ Spotlight Player for the upcoming month, and his article has already dropped! Meanwhile, Hbox is the center of another Liquid+ experience, where he’ll judge fan drawings (that you can submit!) of his infamous popoffs. Liquid`LoL also hosted a tryout for North American academy talent featuring 23 up-and-coming League players homegrown on the NA server.



In roster news, Liquid’s brand new EU VALORANT roster has been announced. Sayf, Redgar, and nAts join returning members soulcas and Jamppi on their quest for European dominance next year. You can learn more about our new players in this article. Sadly, this means the departure of Nivera and ScreaM, two incredible players who embodied everything that makes Team Liquid great. As they depart for the new French partner team, Karmine Corp, words cannot do justice to the impact they left on this organization. I can only be thankful that we had got the chance to see in a Liquid jersey, and watch them carry this roster out of its infancy and into the exciting new world of competitive VALORANT.



Surely the same goes for Santorin and Bjergsen, the two Danish dynamites who recently departed our League of Legends roster. Bjergsen’s career speaks for itself, and despite the heartbreaking end to last year’s season, his stay at Team Liquid will forever be a chapter in his historic legacy. I’ll really miss Santorin. For two years, he was an anchor in the jungle, holding Team Liquid together, and making major contributions on the rift. Through his migraine troubles in 2021, Santorin showed real grit and dedication to the team in circumstances that would have made a lot of lesser competitors quit. I hope Santorin and Bjergsen find success with their new teams.



But that leaves the matter of Liquid’s leaked LCS roster. The Cavalry has already announced that world-champion top laner Marin has joined as head coach. The rumor is that Liquid will field a Korean-speaking team including Summit, CoreJJ, and two of Liquid’s academy players last year - Haeri and Yeon. That leaves an unknown jungler. Some insiders have speculated that UmTi from LCK team Brion will fill that role, while others have been clawing for world champion Pyosik from the recently-disintegrated DRX team. We’ll know this weekend, however, as Liquid will announce its full starting LCS roster tomorrow, this Friday at 6:00 EST. Right after, the team will host an AMA on Team Liquid’s subreddit.



And with that unusually long introduction, let’s get back to the basics. You can catch-up with all things Team Liquid in video form by checking out the weekly TL;DW show on Twitter.







VALORANT:







Last month I speculated that the most interesting matches of the Game Changers World Championship would be how the three dominant teams from each of their respective regions matched up against each other: Liquid in Brazil, C9 in North America, and G2 in Europe. Although Cloud9’s early departure from the tournament prevented the Cloud9/Liquid matchup I was looking forward to, the games against Shopify Rebellion were even more exciting for SR’s underdog story, and the match with G2 delivered on all fronts.



After an opening win against FENNEL from Japan, Liquid’s first match against the North American Shopify Rebellion team balances on the edge of a knife on map two. Down one map already, and facing map and series point on Bind, Liquid enters B site with a numbers advantage, but no information on Shopify’s last player - Flowerful - hiding on B site. Flowerful manages to sneak around Container and into Elbow, allowing her to isolate the first fight and pick off daiki hiding in Hookah. Liquid still thinks Flowerful is in Elbow as nat1 plants, but Flowerful is really creeping around the other side of Container. She and bstrdd don’t see each other as they cross. nat1 finishes the plant, giving her just enough points to use her ultimate - a seeker with 150 hp that looks like a cabbage. nat1 doesn’t have enough time to pull her rifle back out after ulting before Flowerful kills her, but the seeker soaks enough damage to allow bstrdd to turn and trade nat1, winning the round.




One Cabbage to rule them all / One Cabbage to find them / One Cabbage to bring them back / And in the darkness Bind them.



The Cabbage Incident, as it’s now called, gave Liquid a massive momentum shift, and the Cavalry won the next three rounds in a row to win the map in overtime. The momentum lasted through the whole series too, as Liquid handily beat Shopify on the next map, Icebox.



Things started off well against G2 as well. Liquid put up 5 unanswered rounds attacking on Ascent, and we were poised to take a 6th with G2 relegated to buying pistols. But G2 Mary had other ideas.



Armed with Chamber’s quick-scope sniper ultimate, Mary quickly finds an opening pick onto drn, then repositions for another freebie on nat1.




Top 10 moments before disaster



Liquid manages to get the plant down, and bstrdd holds Door, waiting for Mary to peek through. bstrdd swings wide after hearing Mary running, but the G2 star still manages to decapitate Liquid’s Jett player, and follow it up with another quick shot on daiki. From there the round has completely collapsed, and G2 easily defuses before naxy can even get back to the site (though Mary does finish off the ace for good measure).




The round totally broke Liquid’s mojo, and we never truly recovered from it. The Cavalry was able to string some rounds together towards the end of the map, but G2 outmaneuvered and outshot us in the end, took the map, and grinded us down 13-10 on Breeze to close out the series 2-0. We seemed to kind of lose our luster after that, and a surging Shopify Rebellion steamrolled past Liquid in the Lower Bracket Final, beating us comfortably on both Fracture and Icebox. All told, Liquid finished the inaugural Game Changers Championship as the third best team in the world, and earned an $80,000 prize in the bargain.




Up next for Team Liquid BR are the VCT Challengers 1 open qualifiers, taking place this month. Liquid will begin the process with the second open qualifier starting tomorrow (the Squad decided to opt out of the first open tournament to get some well-earned rest). This weekend, we’ll work through the 128-team single-elimination tournament, aiming for top 8 to make it to the closed qualifier. If Liquid gets there, we’ll need to finish in the top 4 of that event to make it to Brazil Challengers 1, beginning next January.




Meanwhile, Liquid’s new European roster will take to the server for the first time as a group this month at Red Bull Home Ground 3. Liquid returns to the event as the defending champion from the second Home Ground Event last year. The tournament features a unique format, allowing each team to pick a “home ground” map. When teams face off, they’ll play a game on each home ground map. If one team wins 2-0, the series is over. But if they split the maps, the series becomes a full best of 5. Last year, the Home Ground event was one leg in Liquid’s historic winning streak lasting from Nivera joining the team through Liquid’s fall in the semi-finals of Champions. This time, Liquid will test three new members instead of one, and against a wider field. Instead of just EMEA competitors, the field will include NA favorites 100Thieves and LATAM’s KRÜ Esports. Home Ground sports a prize pool of $100,000, but perhaps more importantly, this event gives Liquid the chance to showcase what our new roster will look like before the VCT starts back up again next year.






CS:GO:








Liquid`CounterStrike’s November provided heartbreak, triumph, and other wildly inconsistent results. After securing our spot in the Legends Stage, Liquid headed to Rio with our eyes on winning our organization’s first Major. It began poorly with a crushing 2-16 defeat to MOUZ. Liquid bounced back, comfortably beating Sprout, and winning an upset victory against S1mple’s Na’Vi to go up 2-1 in the Swiss System. Liquid had two chances to win a best of three to make it to the Major playoffs, and compete for the championship.




First up, Heroic - the Danish squad led by veteran cadiaN. Liquid kept things competitive in the first half of Vertigo, but fell to pieces against Heroic’s attack. The Cavalry bounced back on Mirage, completely crushing our opponents 16-5. On the decider map, Overpass, Liquid once again started slow, unable to win rounds on our Terrorist side. But we rallied in the second half, pulling our way back from the deficit, and tying the game at 11-11. Sadly, Heroic flipped a switch from there, winning the next 5 rounds in a row to put us at 2-2. Russian squad Spirit punched the final nail in our major coffin, beating us 2-1, and sending Liquid home without a playoff appearance. And it’s a devastating disappointment.




HLTV.org on Twitter: "💔😢 When the loss is unbearable 📸 @theMAKKU | #IEM https://t.co/Na0qWPdgGR"



EliGe here reminds us that no matter how bad it hurts as a fan to watch our team lose, it hits the players so much harder.




Heroic also proved to be a thorn in our paw at the BLAST Fall Finals. Liquid cruised through the group stage of the event, comfortably beating G2, and once again upsetting Na’Vi 2-1. Liquid earned a direct seed into the semi-finals, where we once again faced off against Heroic. And Liquid was once again unable to figure out how to beat Heroic on Vertigo and Overpass, leaving Liquid with a semi-final finish.




Still, Liquid’s group-stage performance was enough to get us to fifth on the HLTV World Rankings, and secure the Cavalry a spot in the BLAST World Finals this month. Liquid will once again be North America’s sole representative in a field of 7 other European and CIS teams. Team Liquid’s journey through this million dollar tournament begins with a four-team group stage on December 14th. If Liquid wins the group, they’ll head directly to the semifinals. A second or third place finish earns the Squad a spot in the quarterfinals, and fourth place teams are eliminated. The groups have not yet been announced yet, but the action kicks off in two weeks. Then, a break until 2023.







Rainbow 6 Siege:







Liquid’s Siege team has been hunting a Major victory since the system began in 2018. We’ve won Brazilian regional finals, Copa Elite Six, and we’ve come inches away in 2021 from winning the Six Invitational - Ubisoft’s world championship for the game. The Jönköping Major this past month unfortunately ended the same way as the Six Invitational, with a silver medal, a heavy heart, and a lot to be proud of.




We entered with our heads held high, fought round by round and almost brought home the trophy.

We won difficult matches and took the fight to the very last moments of the #Major. Thanks so much for everyone's support!

See you next week at #BR6




The players on Liquid`Siege gave it their all, putting up a dominant group stage performance and finishing first in our group. In the quarterfinals, we snatched a close overtime win against FaZe on the first map, and blew them out of the server on the second. Liquid took revenge against w7m for Copa Elite Six in the semifinals, overcoming an 0x7 loss in map 2 to grind out another overtime win to make it to the finals. There, we faced French team BDS. Once again, Liquid came back from a 1x7 stomp in game one to comfortably win the next two maps of the best of 5. Kafe Dostoyevsky was as close as it gets, with the teams trading blows round by round, handing the lead back and forth until it was all tied up at 5x5. Liquid was unable to hold on, however, and dropped the next two rounds to bring the series to one final map. BDS had our number on Skyscraper, winning the first half 5x1. Though the Cavalry made an effort to come back, we were simply too far behind, and BDS took the series and the tournament.




Liquid has only one more competitive game to play this year - the grand final of Brasileirão, the Brazilian regional tournament. Liquid already prevailed over Team oNe in our semifinal match all the way back in mid-October. The tournament took a break for Copa Elite Six and the Major, but the conclusion of Liquid’s year will take place this Sunday at 11:00 EST. We’ll once again take on w7m; the winner takes the title of best team in Brazil, and an extra $22,000 in prize money to boot.




World of Warcraft:







RWF IS BACK! For the uninitiated, each time Blizzard releases a new raid in World of WarCraft, the best Guilds in the world work extremely hard to be the first guild to beat all the bosses on mythic (the most difficult level). The event can take weeks to finish, even with analysts whose literal job is to min-max every point of damage and healing the guild can squeeze out of each encounter. For example, in the last RWF, it took Liquid 4 full days and 357 pulls to kill one boss.





The newest branch of Team Liquid esports has been preparing for WoW’s new expansion for weeks now. Liquid`Guild will come together once again to fight its way through Vault of the Incarnates - the first raid of Dragonflight - this coming month. The event pits 25 players against an 8-boss dungeon, each encounter stuffed with tricks and traps to destroy the entire raid at the slightest mistake.



Liquid has already set up a website with information on the event, and the whole shebang will be hosted on Team Liquid’s Twitch channel. Along with the actual raid, Liquid has a team of eight broadcasters to entertain the audience and explain the ins-and-outs of professional raiding during the ~16 hour daily broadcasts. It’ll be long; it’ll be grueling; and you’ll love every second of it.



Hearthstone:







Surprise! Hearthstone is back for the World Championship this month, and Liquid is sending two representatives to compete. Bunnyhoppor and DeadDraw will both be competing for a share of the $500,000 prize pool attached to the event. The 16-player tournament begins with four groups of four. The competitors play out a dual-tournament format until four remain standing. From there, the final four duke it out in a single-elimination bracket until a new Hearthstone champion is crowned.



Of course, any world championship is an extremely important event, but this tournament is especially significant for Bunny. This may be Bunnyhoppor’s final competitive event under the Team Liquid banner. Bunny has represented Team Liquid for nearly three years, remaining a top-tier competitor all that time, including his recent win in the Masters Fall Championship and second place finish in the Grandmasters Last Call tournament this past fall. He’s also been an extremely entertaining streamer and content creator. As recently as last week, he put together, casted, and hosted his own three-day tournament: the Bunnyhoppor Hearthstone Open. Bunny has been an important part of Team Liquid, and if the 2022 World Championship is his swan song with the org, it just means I’ll be cheering even harder for him. The action begins Friday, December 16th, starting bright and early at 3:00 am EST.



Rocket League:







Going into the final Major qualifier, Liquid was in an extremely tight race with several other teams. Three of Europe’s five slots at the Rotterdam Major were already gone, leaving only two left for six or so teams that could qualify. With only one tournament left to earn qualification points, the heat was on for Liquid to step up during the Fall Invitational.



And boy oh boy did the Cavalry deliver. Not only did Liquid secure a spot at the Major this month, they won the whole frickin’ tournament! Liquid struggled to make it through the initial swiss system, losing their opening match to another Major hopeful - G1. The team won the next two matches, but fell in a close 2-3 against Oxygen, leaving Team Liquid with just one more chance to make the playoffs. With the pressure of elimination at our backs, Liquid delivered a 3-0 walloping of BDS, securing our spot in the playoffs, and keeping our Major hopes alive.



After the dust settled in the Swiss rounds, Liquid had only four competitors left for a major spot: Williams Resolve, G1, EG, and Vitality. As luck would have it, Liquid drew Vitality in the first round of playoffs. Their 4-1 routing of the French team narrowed their competition even further, and EG beat Williams Resolve. All this meant that a win against EG would essentially lock Liquid into the major. But Liquid didn’t stop at beating EG. Liquid went into the finals against Karmine Corp and beat the top seed at the Major 4-2, winning the tournament to boot. Liquid’s spoils guaranteed the Cavalry’s spot in the major, and included a $30,000 prize as well.



Next weekend, Liquid`CarSoccer heads to the stadium Rotterdam Ahoy to battle it out against 15 of the best teams in the world.




For the record, "Rotterdam Ahoy" is the funniest name for a stadium I've ever seen.



The Major, just like the qualifiers, begins with a Swiss round, requiring each team to win 3 series to advance to the single-elimination playoffs. Liquid’s first swiss opponent will be Team Secret from Brazil. They’ll battle it out over three days for a share of the $310,000, and a pile of the qualification points used to determine invitations to the $2 million Rocket League World Championship next August.





StarCraft II:







Although Clem was the only member of Team Liquid to qualify directly to the main event of DreamHack, the rest of Team Liquid still met up in Atlanta to test themselves against the open tournament. So for Kelazhur, MaNa, and Elazer, the road to the top of the tournament was long and brutal. Their journeys began in the first round of group stages, where each successfully finished in the the top 2 of their 4-player group to advance to the cleverly-named Group Stage # 2. Things got dicey for a moment as MaNa and Elazer were placed in the same group, but after Elazer overcome MaNa to advance in the first seed, MaNa was able to beat down Polish Terran Spirit to advance as well. Kelazhur was also able to take second place in his group behind Korean Protoss Creator, who made the finals of GSL Code S back in May.



With their successes in the two preliminary group stages, Kelazhur, MaNa, and Elazer joined Clem for the main event, starting off with… yet another group stage. Elazer and Clem managed to finish top of their group, earning a spot in the round of 16. Kelazhur and MaNa weren’t so lucky, and their third and fourth place group finishes sent them to the Knockout Bracket - a sort of play-in providing players with a second chance to run through the bracket if they didn’t do well in any of the three previous group stages. Their runs didn’t last long, however, as both were dispatched in their first rounds of the bracket. Clem and Elazer also fell in their first rounds of playoffs. Unfortunately, Clem had to play against Bunny, who finished the tournament in 2nd place. Elazer, meanwhile, had to face herO, who went on to win the tournament. Clem and Elazer both earned $2,000 for their sweet-sixteen finishes, and a bundle of points towards qualifying to the Global Finals that are helpful for Elazer, but that Clem absolutely does not need.



Over in the World Team League, Liquid has not improved its position much since last month. The loss to first place Onsyde was fairly predictable, as well as the win against last place CranKy. But Liquid’s most recent match was against KaiZi Gaming, who had an equal record with us. Our loss to KaiZi puts us right on the cusp of qualifying for playoffs, which only takes the top 7 teams. We still have room to make up our lost ground, however. This month, Liquid should have favorable matchups against both iG and SSLT, who have been struggling. Our toughest challenge will be PSISTORM Gaming, currently in 3rd place with a 6-2 record.



Coming up for our individual players, this week Clem, Kelazhur, and MaNa will finish off the Wardii 2022 tournament. Clem and Kelazhur qualified directly to the top 16. MaNa managed to join Liquid’s Terrans after an impressive reverse-sweep against fellow-Polish Protoss Krystianer. Also ahead is the 22nd HomeStory Cup, featuring Clem and Kelazhur. Liquid’s Terrans head back to Krefeld, Germany for the second HSC of the year. Clem was able to grab 2nd place at HSC 21 back in July, and he’ll be hungry for revenge against Serral, who beat him in the finals.




Smash:







Hungrybox continued his run of excellent finishes this month, taking 4th at Summit 14, and 3rd at Apex 2022. Hbox’s results this year have been truly remarkable. Over the course of 19 LANs, Juan has reached the podium 14 times, including 6 first place finishes. And the most insane thing is that the Jigglypuff GOAT has a whole new level he’s working to unlock.





Over in Ultimate, Dabuz grabbed 4th place at Apex, losing a nail biting series to Jakal 2-3 after making a heroic climb through the lower bracket after an upset loss in the upper bracket quarterfinals. Additionally, Riddles won Path to Glory, a $37,000 tournament in Regina, Saskatchewan that somehow went under the radar. His most notable win was against Ouch!? - a humorously named Wolf main who is one of Canada’s best players.





I don't get it, why didn't MKLeo want to come here?



On the horizon this month for Liquid`Smash, there are three massive tournaments coming up. Dabuz, Atelier, Riddles, and Hbox will all compete at Mainstage 2022 in Ontario, California this weekend.



The week after, Hungrybox, Riddles, and Dabuz were supposed to compete in the Smash World Tour Championship. This was supposed to be the culmination of a full year Smash. The Smash World Tour had been working with Nintendo for a full year to set up this massive event. For all of 2022, players have earned qualification points at other tournaments working towards this grand final. They worked their asses off to prove that they belonged in the biggest tournament with the highest stakes. Every elite Smash player set their sights on the biggest Smash tournament prize pool ever: $250,000.



But Nintendo reneged on its promise, and forbade the tournament organizer from going forward with the event. The day before Thanksgiving, Nintendo told SWT it would not be allowed to put on a tournament without a commercial license, and it would not be granted a license for the SWT Championship this month, costing the TO hundreds of thousands of dollars, and costing the Smash community the biggest event of the year.



It’s also important to note the role of the Panda Cup in this mess. According to multiple TOs, Panda Global (who has a competing World Final scheduled the week after Smash World Tour Championship was supposed to take place) had been pressuring smaller tournaments to join the Panda Circuit instead of SWT all year. There is rampant speculation that the CEO of Panda pressured Nintendo into banning the SWT. As a result, Dabuz has indicated that he will not participate in the Panda Cup finale, joining a host of other top-tier players who have dropped out of the tournament in solidarity with Smash World Tour. Although Hbox and Riddles are still slated to compete, it is not clear whether they will join Dabuz and DQ as well.




Apex Legends:







Last month, I cavalierly declared that Liquid`Apex is still alive and well, and I guess technically, that’s still true. But co-CEO Liquid`Steve clarified the organization’s relationship with the game:





It’s not complicated: I love Apex Legends. Team Liquid loves Apex Legends. We want to support the game’s creators and community. We want to re-enter competitive Apex, but right now, the ecosystem isn’t sustainable enough for that. When it is, we’ll be there. I want to thank our roster [hodsic] [Nocturnal] [Fun] and [sSikezz] for their effort and representation. We will continue to support and cheer for them until they find a new home. This roster is truly something special, and it's heartbreaking to have to let them move on.




Steve’s tweets come off the back of an announcement that Liquid has signed Rogue as an Apex streamer and content creator. The signing itself lends a weight of credibility to Liquid’s love for Apex that Steve’s words alone wouldn’t be able to muster.




Still, the dead team walking fights in the ALGS under the Cavalry’s banner, and their first four days of competition have yielded exceptional results. Over the first four days of competition, Liquid have won two maps, and placed second in four more. This has put us in 1st place after four of our six rounds of competition. The ALGS awards points to teams based on how well they do over the course of six maps on each day. Liquid’s consistent results on each day earned the team 18 points each on the first two days for being the third best team on the day, 13 points for their 7th place finish on their third day of competition, and 25 for their first place finish on their fourth appearance. This last day shot Liquid ahead of TSM to take 1st place in the standings so far.




Over the next month, Liquid will face off one more time against both of the other groups. If we maintain our form and finish in the top 20, we’ll play in the Regional Final match on December 18th. A top 10 finish there qualifies Liquid to the Split 1 playoff, an international tournament with a date and location to be determined.




Teamfight Tactics:





This month spelled the end to another season of TFT, and for the first time since the very first championship, Liquid wasn’t able to qualify to Worlds. During the North America regional finals, both Kurum and robin survived the first two days of competition to make it to the final lobby, but both fell short, placing fifth and seventh respectively. Kurum’s fifth place finish earned him a spot in the last chance qualifier, but six games later, he was once again on the outside looking in, finishing the event in sixth place when he needed a top two to make Worlds.




Even though the Worlds qualification process didn’t go as planned, the new season of competitive TFT will begin this month with a brand new set. Summit (the tournament organizer, not Liquid`LoL’s unconfirmed new top laner) and RIOT have teamed up to launch a pre-season TFT tournament featuring 24 professional players and streamers in North America, including both Kurum and robin. Liquid’s TFTers will battle it out for a share of a $25,000 prize pool at an actual real-live LAN event, maybe the first ever for TFT. The tournament is using what they’re calling “a unique solo-duo teams format using composite scoring.” It’s not exactly clear what this means, but we know that Liquid`TFT will enter a grudging alliance with TSM for this event. Kurumx has been paired with TSM Souless, and robinsongz will compete with TSM Kiyoon.




Much like other Summit events (read: Smash), the tournament will place a big focus on player commentary too, so be on the lookout for top-level TFT insight straight from the Horses’ mouths.






Age of Empires IV:







Although DeMusliM’s solo season did not end in a ‘Ship, Liquid’s AOE IV star has teamed up with Beastyqt, MarineLorD, and Serral on Team C H I M P S in the inaugural Winter Team Championship, a 2v2 and 3v3 tournament sporting a $40,000 prize pool. Through the first two days of competition last weekend, DeMusliM and Co. zoomed through the group stage, beating two Chinese Teams - FYF and A Fat Penguin - to earn first in their group and a semi-final berth. DeMusliM will play the semi this Sunday. If he and his team prevail, the grand final is December 11th.

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
























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