Although Team Liquid was able to make deep runs at both majors last year, 2016 was fairly underwhelming for them. Despite some very high profile roster moves, Liquid was unable to win a single tournament throughout all of 2016. They did look dangerous at times, but have delivered lackluster performances since losing Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. Liquid have already received a direct invite to the upcoming major due to their Legend status, but a poor performance at the ELEAGUE Major should signal the end of the current Liquid core.
Terrible Run of Form
Since adding Jacob “Pimp” Winneche to the lineup, Liquid’s results have been nothing to write home about. Aside from their semifinal finish at ESL One: New York, they have failed to accomplish anything. Their first misfortune was failing to qualify for ELEAGUE Season 2, getting knocked out of the online qualifier by an Echo Fox lineup that was eventually blown up because it was so terrible. While they did make it to the semis at ESL One: New York, the Swiss format meant that they didn’t have to play a best-of-three series until the bracket stage.
After their run at ESL One: New York, Liquid actually failed to qualify for ESL Pro League Season 4. Renegades pulled out of the tournament on short notice, making space for Liquid to attend. Regardless, Liquid was unable to make it out of the group stage, and their only win came against a struggling Immortals lineup. At Northern Arena Montreal, they also made a premature exit.
At IEM Oakland they ended the group stage 2-3, again not advancing. Before the end of the year rolled around, they had also failed to qualify for the ECS Season 2 finals. They finished the ECS season in seventh place, below teams like Counter Logic Gaming and Luminosity.
Unsteady Star Players
In the early stages of this Liquid team, the hype was all around Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella because of his impressive showings against European competition. Currently, the focus is on Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, who is one of the best players in NA. Unfortunately for Liquid, their star duo does not seem to work together very well.
Both nitr0 and EliGE are entry fraggers for Liquid. One would think that as an entry duo, they would work well off of each other. Each should benefit from the entry effectiveness of the other. However, if you look at the stats, it seems that one only goes off when the other doesn’t. The games where nitr0 and EliGE both put up big numbers don’t seem to exist. Even looking at the events they have attended recently where EliGE has been at his best, nitr0 doesn’t have as much impact.
It might be time for Team Liquid to choose between their two entry fraggers. They may have to let nitr0 go in order to let EliGE reach his maximum potential more often.
Before joining Team Liquid, Josh “jdm64” Marzano was the best AWPer in NA. He was the superstar carry for CLG and Liquid shelled out a lot of money to acquire him. Since joining the team, jdm64 seems to have lost all effectiveness with the AWP.
AWPing has been a consistent problem for Liquid. Early on with Eric “adreN” Hoag on the team, it was understandable to not focus on AWPing. The AWP in adreN’s hands was not very dangerous. However, Liquid did acquire Kenneth “koosta” Suen, who was a young promising talent with the AWP and he was also unsuccessful on the team.
The only person in recent memory who has performed with the AWP for Team Liquid was s1mple, who would go out and make plays on his own. He is also arguably the most talented player in the world. Even with all that talent, even s1mple had mixed results with the AWP on Liquid.
We know that jdm64 has been a tremendous player with the AWP in the past. It is difficult to say that all of that talent simply evaporated when he joined the lineup. Liquid should look to give him more attention and space to make plays to see if he can still be effective with the weapon.
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If the Losing Continues
Since losing s1mple, Team Liquid haven’t been the same. Losing a superstar and arguably the best player in the world will do that to a team. Finding a similar replacement would be nearly impossible, but they must find ways to remain effective.
Their Legend status from their finish at ESL One Cologne ensures that they will attend the next major. Better NA teams like Cloud9 and Immortals will be noticeably absent, which can perhaps partially be attributed to the stacked qualifier for the ELEAGUE Major. With their current form, they are lucky they did not have to qualify. If Liquid’s struggles continue at the ELEAGUE Major, it will be hard to justify keeping this lineup together. Changes will have to be made.