In a year when Team Liquid both surprised foes by beating Fnatic but also crashed out of international tournaments, not many were sure where exactly the team would turn to ahead of VCT 2024. Now, following a report this weekend, the European squad is retooling their roster—and farewelling a key player to start their off-season.
Star Swedish duelist Saif “Sayf” Jibraeel is leaving Team Liquid to join regional rivals Team Vitality, according to a Sept. 9 report by Blix.gg. With how strong Sayf was for Team Liquid in their high moments this year, especially after winning a regional title, this move will reinforce Vitality as they shape to improve on their fifth-placed finish last season.
Team Vitality has been a dark horse all year in their home region of EMEA but never could pull it together on the international stage. Part of the reason why they failed to translate these regional results was a roster of new players who were still slowly getting accustomed to each other’s game. The squad also took a leave of absence from active competition after duelist Karel “Twisten” Ašenbrener sadly passed away in June 2023.
The team finished inside the top eight regionally and still ranked above teams like Team Heretics and KOI, but the only time we saw the Hornets internationally was at LOCK//IN—their first tournament together.
When the season ended, the team decided moves had to be made, benching both Michał “MOLSI” Łącki and Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi, leaving two players remaining from their 2023 roster. With Sayf joining, Vitality lands someone who has a proven pedigree at the top of competitive VALORANT and was arguably one of Team Liquid’s better players this year.
Should this move stick, Sayf’s departure leaves Team Liquid in a rough spot, but given the offseason has only just begun, they’ll be more than likely able to secure a suitable replacement. Of particular importance, Team Liquid still has its import slot unused and is not restricted to signing an EMEA replacement. They can also look within, with substitute duelist Nico “Harmii” Harms undoubtedly on standby.
Liquid’s VCT Champions 2023 run was disappointing, to say the least, with the squad eliminated in the group stages with a winless record. With this move, as well as reported roster moves for Evil Geniuses and Natus Vincere, it seems the off-season shuffle dominos are beginning to fall.