This is the latest in a series of articles profiling the 18 teams attending The International 8, which kicks off on Aug. 15.
Kings of the scene
In the weeks leading up to The International 7, Liquid were one of the most favored to win the whole tournament. Though the start of the year was fraught with difficulty and disappointment (in spite of acquiring top-tier talents like Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi and Maroun “GH” Merhej), things seemed to click into place in the mid to late portions of the season. Their victories at StarLadder Season Two and Epicenter came in at just the right time, allowing them to practically secure a direct invite to the world championship.
They didn’t disappoint in Seattle. Despite falling to the lower bracket early after a first-round loss to Invictus Gaming, Liquid picked themselves right back up with a roaring fire blazing in their hearts. Together, they took down every single one of their rivals in the lower bracket in spectacular fashion.
They all looked like men on a mission in which failure was absolutely out of the question. Everyone on the team played out of their minds—from Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen with his undefeated records on Lycan and Necrophos to Kuro Salehi “KuroKy” Takhasomi, who led his men bravely across the battlefield.
Liquid truly deserved to be in the grand finals, and deserved to lift the Aegis of Champions when all the dust had settled. Their final opponents, Newbee, looked utterly shocked and demoralized by the end of it, having been put down by Liquid in three consecutive games. KuroKy and his teammates had finally completed their grand journey, thus forever etching their names in Dota 2 history.
Resisting the curse
Aside from the superstition regarding even and odd-numbered iterations of The International, there’s another that the community likes to discuss a lot: the TI champions’ curse. It’s said that those who win TI are doomed to never repeat the same accomplishment, or decline in skill and consistency so hard that they take themselves out of competitive relevancy. Since TI4, this has pretty much held true one way or another (barring Wings Gaming, who disbanded before being able to defend their title)—with the exception of Team Liquid.
True to his belief that Dota never stops, KuroKy immediately began to think about the next season after winning TI7. A few months after their triumph in Seattle, Liquid got back to work right away, taking first place at StarLadder Season Three last October, the AMD SAPPHIRE Dota PIT League in November, and finally the China Supermajor last June. They also notched multiple top four, top three, and second-place finishes in other Pro Circuit events, which allowed them to score 9,459 Pro Circuit points. Only Virtus Pro collected more points than they did, proving that Liquid were capable of avoiding the champions’ curse completely.
This makes them the first team since the TI3 Na’Vi roster to be close to a back-to-back championship. Never being content to rest on their laurels even after winning such a life-changing amount of money, they continued to smack teams around like nobody’s business. Anything less than a return to the grand finals this year would therefore be a complete disappointment, and we’re sure that such a result is unacceptable in KuroKy’s eyes.
Vancouver, beware the horse that rides in dark blue armor and vestments, for it rides with the utmost confidence. The champions are here to slay.
Player to watch
Honestly, it seems pretty unfair to give this title to just one player on Liquid,s lineup since every single one of them is capable of carrying the entire team on their own at any given moment. But in the spirit of this preview series, we recommend keeping your eyes peeled for Miracle-‘s frankly divine play. He’s among the best Dota 2 players of all time—and after silencing any would-be critics at TI7 last year, there should be no doubt about this any longer.
Opponents run in total fear of his Invoker, the hero with which he made a name for himself in the highest levels of public matchmaking. His control over Invoker is downright exquisite, and he’s always a threat on the field when allowed to pilot the hero.
A possible back-to-back International championship and the chance to make Dota 2 history yet again—no pressure, right?
Team Liquid get an A for staying extremely solid even after winning it all at last year’s tournament. The only reason we’re not giving them an A+ is because of Virtus Pro. We wouldn’t be surprised to see their names on yet another Aegis of Champions.