Despite their incredible runs through the last two majors, Team Liquid has been very inconsistent through 2016. They have gone through peaks and valleys, making roster and coaching changes, and never settling. It seems that whenever Liquid has a strong competitive period, they always get in their own way and make changes that hinder their progress.
The Fleeting Superstar
The addition of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev early in the year was massive for Team Liquid. It provided the team with a superstar talent the likes of which NA had never seen. At the time, s1mple was an elite talent and his play for Liquid put him in contention for top-ten player in the world.
The Liquid roster was in turmoil prior to the MLG Columbus. The team had acquired Kenneth “koosta” Suen to be their main AWPer. Unfortunately they could not use him because he played for Enemy in the Americas Minor. The team was forced to use Eric “adreN” Hoag who had just been removed. Despite all of these problems, s1mple’s incredible play carried Liquid to the semifinals.
After this top four finish at the major, Liquid announced that s1mple would be leaving the team due to his attitude and personality clashing with those of others on the team. Even with the success, the team could not find a way to deal with s1mple’s mercurial and volatile nature and was unable to find a way to keep him even though he was clearly their best player.
Ineffective AWP Additions
Before his removal, adreN was serving as the main AWPer for Liquid. koosta, his replacement, was a rising NA star and the standout player on Enemy. Once he joined Liquid, however, the promising young talent lost much of his impact. This same trend continued after Liquid traded for jdm64 who, at the time of his acquisition, was easily the best AWPer in NA. On Liquid, much like koosta, he seemed to have lost all of his carry potential.
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Coaching and IGL Turnover
Liquid began the year with James “GBJame^s” O’ Connor at the coaching helm. In April, after the first major of 2016, he stepped down from the position. During his tenure, with adreN serving as in-game leader, Liquid’s tactical side struggled. Both parties seemed subpar and ineffective at performing their roles, and were rightly removed.
Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu was named coach in May, taking over in-game leading responsibilities for Liquid. The team did seem to improve and looked like they developed a system that was able to incorporate s1mple, making their run to the finals of the second major. After s1mple’s departure and Jacob “Pimp” Winneche’s addition, Liquid even made it to the semifinal at ESL One New York where they beat elite European teams on the back of a breakout performance from Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski.
In spite of this result, peacemaker left the team in October a week before the EPL season 4 Finals. He cited a difference in “business principles” as his reason and also mentioned some differences with the players in his announcement. Liquid looked much worse at their next tournament and have since announced Wilton “zews” Prado as their coach.
Even with zews, the Team Liquid we saw at Northern Arena Montreal didn’t look dangerous. Their only dominant performance came against a tier three NA team in Complexity. Valve’s changes to coaching have certainly effected Liquid, as they have had to change in-game leaders multiple times. Most recently, Spencer “Hiko” Martin and Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella have tried their hand. Leadership is another area where Liquid struggle to find solidity.
Regardless of the reason, Liquid has failed to find consistency in many areas. Whether these constant changes are the result of the players or poor management remains to be seen. Whatever the case, Liquid must work on finding some semblance of stability if they hope to reach their peak once again.