After coming in second place 10 times since 2016, Team Liquid claimed their first big CS:GO tournament title yesterday at IEM Sydney.
The team started playing very consistent Counter-Strike after Epitácio “TACO” de Melo joined them in April 2018. But in December 2018, they lost both TACO and coach Wilton “zews” Prado to MIBR and there fans doubted Liquid’s ability to keep up the good work without them.
Liquid filled the gaps with former MIBR and Cloud9 star Jake “Stewie2K” Yip, and later added ex-professional CS:GO player Eric “adreN” Hoag to the head coach position. They had success earlier this year when they took down Astralis at the iBUYPOWER Masters grand finals in January. But Liquid didn’t get much credit from the community for that win since the event went through a series of problems reported by the players, such as matches being delayed, using headsets without noise-canceling capabilities, and even a lack of security—no one was having their bags searched at the entrance.
Liquid went to the IEM Katowice Major in February with boosted morale and won all three matches before losing to ENCE in the quarterfinals of the Legends Stage. After the Major, Liquid came in second at both Blast Pro Series events in São Paulo in March and Miami in April.
But yesterday, they won IEM Sydney in convincing fashion, despite having to go through Fnatic in an intense best-of-five series. It all came down to the fifth and final map, but Liquid calmed their nerves and secured the trophy.
Although Liquid relieved some pressure after yesterday’s win, they must keep up their good work at upcoming tournaments, such as DreamHack Masters Dallas in May and the ESL Pro League season nine finals in June. Winning one of these events would move them one step closer to the Intel Grand Slam: When a team wins four out of 10 ESL, IEM, or DreamHack tournaments, they earn $1 million.
Liquid have a fair chance to do it this year because Astralis, who won the Intel Grand Slam in 2018, have been allegedly prioritizing Blast Pro Series events so far and plan to skip DreamHack Masters Dallas in May.
Are Liquid up to the task? We’ll find out when they play next at cs_summit four, a tournament that features ENCE, Ghost, NRG, Renegades, and Vitality, on May 23.