The Liquid Review - May 2023

May 04 2023

The Liquid Review

Happy Thursday folks,

When you try to follow a team across a lot of different esports, you start to realize pretty quickly that their schedules don’t line up that much. Rainbow 6: Siege’s world championship takes place in February, while VALORANT’s Champions occupies August, and DotA’s TI could be anywhere from July to October. Most of the time, organizers from different games don’t line up to put events too close to each other.

Every so often, though, the esports heavens open up, and a torrential downpour of major tournaments crashes into us all in one month.

And guess what?

There’s something about May that brings out all the May-jors. This month we’re already in the middle of DotA, CS:GO, and Rainbow 6: Siege majors, with $2.5 million on the line between the three. On top of that, qualifiers for VALORANT, StarCraft 2 and Rocket League majors begin this month too.

Out in the real world, Team Liquid just opened up a massive, new, 13-story Alienware Training Facility in Sao Paulo, Brazil!

The new Sao Paulo location brings the total Team Liquid Alienware Training Facility count up to three across the world. The facility features all the perks of the AWTFs in Utrecht and Los Angeles like streaming pods, scrim rooms, workspaces, space to film and edit content, and a kitchen. But it also includes dormitories for the players to stay in, and Team Liquid’s first ever brick and mortar apparel store!

Dota 2:

We cannot beat this motherfuckin team.

Gaimin Gladiators have become our absolute kryptonite. It’s truly astounding. From the beginning of this year through DreamLeague, Liquid is 4-12 against the Gladiators. Against every other team in the world during the same period, we were 55-8. That is absolutely mind boggling. Liquid had a 25% win-rate against the Gladiators, and an 87% win-rate against literally everyone else.

And that’s the saddest part about the end of DreamLeague. Liquid put up another monstrous performance, placing first in both stages groups, and seeding directly into the upper-bracket final. And we finally beat the Gaimin Gladiators (though game two was a 76 minute barn burner). Of course, we met back up with the Gladiators in the grand finals, and we had them on the ropes. The series went the distance, but Liquid’s wins felt cleaner, and maybe, just maybe, we could finally push past them. But GG’s tri-core of Doom, Templar Assassin, and Slark proved too much for us, and the Gladiators delivered the knock-out blow in game 5.

But there’s no rest for the weary. That’s right, it’s time to talk about the first of our May-jors. Liquid hasn’t shown the same kind of dominance through the Berlin Major that it has for the rest of the year. We began the group stage with three draws in a row before finally 2-0ing TSM (only to get blown out of the server yet again by Gaimin Gladiators). Liquid finished out the group stage with a strong 5-1, and made the upper bracket quarters.

But we still look a bit shaky. In the first round of playoffs against OG, Liquid won a dominant game one, but lost composure and dropped the next two games, losing the series and falling to the lower bracket. There we faced China’s first seed Xtreme Gaming, and we fell victim in the first game to Xtreme’s off-beat Drow Ranger and Lion picks. With our tournament lives on the line, Liquid came back mad in game two, winning a 26 minute stomp. Liquid’s momentum carried us through game three (with a little help from a dubious decision from Xtreme to run a position 1 Marci), and Liquid prevailed to the second round.

Liquid’s win over Xtreme means a couple things. First, our tournament run survives — Liquid is battling for a share of a $500,000 prize pool, and only the top 8 win a portion of it. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Liquid’s win means that we get at least 200 DPC Points. These extra points all but guarantee The Cavalry a spot at The International. Like technically, it’s possible to miss the tournament, but that would take Dr. Strange levels of unlikely scenarios.

Next on our plate is another Chinese team: Team Aster. To truly guarantee a place at TI, Liquid needs to finish top 4, which means beating Aster and winning the lower semifinal. Our match against Aster begins tomorrow, while the semifinal takes place Saturday.


Well we made it to Paris, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

Liquid’s path to the second May-jor began with two clean wins on Mirage over Brazilian teams 00 Nation and Flamengo. We began our Legends-qualifying match against FURIA with a nail-biting win in overtime on Nuke, then lost a close affair on Inferno. The series-deciding map was Mirage, one of Liquid’s best maps. But we completely fell apart, only managing to get two rounds in the first half, and crumbling soon after on the CT side. And there went our Legends spot. Liquid was able to rally and win the next match against American squad Nouns, but we still randomly dropped a map in that series.

The upshot is that Team Liquid qualified for what seems to be the final Major before Counter-Strike 2. Our Major begins with the Challenger Stage–a Swiss-format system with 16 teams where 8 move on. Liquid needs three wins to make it, but three losses sends us home. Winners play winners, losers play losers, and every qualification match and elimination match is a best of three. Our first match is next Monday, May 8th at 8:30 EDT against the European team Apeks.

If we make it through the Challenger Stage, Liquid will head to the Legends Stage, another Swiss format group stage where the top 8 make it through. From there, the Champions Stage–an eight-team single-elimination playoff where the winner takes home $500,000, and directly qualifies to IEM Cologne in July and the BLAST World Final in December. This yeah, Liquid has been an inconsistent team, but then again, so has the entire era of CS. There’s really no telling how far Liquid — or any team — will go in CS:GO’s final major until we see it for ourselves.

Rainbow 6: Siege:

R6: Siege rounds out the third and final May-jor, and while the Counter-Strike squad closes one book in the final Major of CS:GO, the R6 team cracks open a new one with the first major in Ubisoft’s new system. The cavalry headed to Copenhagen for a $750,000 tournament. While other teams had to complete a play-in stage, Liquid’s regional success earned us a spot directly into the Swiss system playoff stage.

Liquid’s journey through the Swiss playoff stage was rocky. Although we blew out the British team REVEN ECLUB 7-0 in the first round, we lost our next two matches against regional rival w7m and European powerhouse G2. That set up Liquid in an elimination match against DarkZero, the American team that eliminated Liquid in the semifinals at the Charlotte Major almost a year ago to the day. But the Cavalry took revenge for the loss, beating DarkZero in a clean 2-0. This set up one more best-of-three qualification match against the French team Wolves Esports, where Team Liquid won 2-0 on two maps that both went down to the wire. Liquid’s win earned us a spot in the single-elimination finals bracket starting tomorrow at Forum Copenhagen.

In the Cavalry’s quarterfinal, we face G2 in a rematch from the Swiss stage. If we prevail, Liquid will take on the winner of FaZe and Japanese squad SCARZ. Historically, Liquid R6 has performed well in Brazil but struggled to keep the form at big international events. This final bracket represents another chance to overcome their international demons.

Rocket League:

The last regional season of the RLCS starts up this month, and Oski, AcroniK, and Atow are hungry. After finally breaking our quarterfinals curse at the last Major, Liquid fell 2-4 to the eventual winners of the tournament, Karmine Corp. That means that we have yet to lift that major trophy, and we are still fighting for a spot at the RLCS World Championship in August. Team Liquid have only these three regional tournaments, and then (fingers crossed) the Boston Major in July to qualify, so these next three tournaments are incredibly important.

Most teams in the region will need to go through qualifiers to even make it to these regional tournaments. But luckily, Liquid has already guaranteed a spot in the main event for all three due to how well we’ve done in Fall and Winter. But three top-16s won’t be good enough for us to get to Boston, let alone the World Championships. The Cavalry will need to keep the pressure up to qualify.


Liquid’s campaign through the European Champions Tour has had its ups and downs over April. One week we’re up, the next we’re down. Liquid’s first two matches should have had a lot of hype. Karmine Corp brought us face to face against former teammates ScreaM and Nivera for the first time since they left. But both maps were an absolute bloodbath. I mean, Liquid beat them so bad Nivera literally jumped out of his chair to celebrate the fact that we didn’t 13-0 them in map 2.

Then the next week, the gap between Fnatic and Liquid looked almost as big as the gap between Liquid and KC. And that’s a shame because there are so many good storylines between these two rosters. Boaster and soulcas are the only two Brits in the league, Derke and Jamppi went to school with each other, Sayf and Leo played on Guild together. And who can forget Chronicle, Reddgar, and nAts reuniting on the server after such a long time together on Gambit and then M3C. To cap it all off, there is such a storied past between the two organizations themselves, so we would have hoped for a closer affair.

Make that 5-3, 15-12, and 284-247.

But nah, we got owned. And fair enough, Fnatic look far and away like the best team in the world. Derke is fragging out of his mind, Chronicle is initiating flawlessly, and through the whole match, we got outcalled, outgunned, and annihilated.

Still, Team Liquid bounced back from the disappointing loss with back-to-back wins against Heretics and Giants. The win over Giants was especially important, as it puts Liquid in a strong position to make playoffs.

Next month, Liquid finishes up the regular season with matches against Na’Vi, BBL, and KOI. Na’Vi have put up some impressive results so far, losing only to Fnatic. But if Liquid manage to win, we’ll be in a strong position for a second place finish in the league, which would earn us a crucial bye in the first round of playoffs.

If we do make playoffs, we’ll go through a double-elimination bracket. Finishing in the top 4 earns Liquid a spot at Masters: Tokyo in June. A top 3 finish would directly qualify us to Champions in Los Angeles this August. If we fail to qualify to Champions directly, Liquid will have to play through the Last Chance Qualifier to get the last EMEA spot at the tournament.


Liquid`Riddles is your Come Up 2023 champion! Although the Toronto tournament was relatively small, Riddles still came up on top. (Get it?) In the winners semifinal, a Palutena named Gen knocked Riddles down to the lower bracket, and he took that personally. Climbing back through the ranks, Riddles got a rematch against Gen in the grand finals, reset the bracket 3-0, then beat him again 3-1 to win the tournament. In another smaller regional event, Dabuz placed 2nd, getting double-eliminated in Grands by Zomba — one of the best ROB mains in the world and a competitor for the King of New York title.

May will be a busy month for Liquid`Smash — in big part because it’s Golden Week in Japan. That’s a national holiday where many Japanese people have time off and when some of the largest FGC and Smash tournaments are held. Dabuz, Riddles, and Atelier are all slated to take a shot in a couple Japanese tournaments over the next couple weeks. The Golden Week has already begun with MaesumaTOP#12, a super sacked one-day event. Riddles once again impressed with a 4th place finish, beating out top Japanese players in Kameme, KEN, Hero, and Tea. The Tea win was even more validating for Riddles because it was a rematch and a Kazuya-ditto with the title of “best Kazuya” on the line. Hbox also did very well for expectations, outplacing his seed and upsetting Floyd — one of the best Yoshi mains in Japan, a notably tough matchup for Puff.

Atelier and Dabuz didn’t fare as well. Atelier got teamkilled by Riddles, then lost to Asimo — the world’s best Ryu. He did manage to take a nice win on Mr. R and Yn! Dabuz got upseto by a Japanese Min-Min as well as Sigma — probably the best Toon Link in the world. That’s the way it goes in Japan! Some of Ultimate’s best character specialists lurk in the bracket and routinely score upsets against top players.

Liquid`Smash will get another shot at the top at Kagaribi, taking place this weekend in Tokyo. Then Riddles is also supposed to play in Low Tide City in Round Rock Texas just a week after that. And finally, Hbox, Dabuz and Riddles will head to Vancouver for the Battle of BC 5. For everyone keeping score at home, that means Riddles will be playing in a tournament 4 weeks in a row over three different countries.


rapha continued his dominance in the QPL 2023 last month in a big way. He handed vengeurR his first loss of the season 2-1, and wiped the floor with cha1n. But most impressively, Liquid`rapha comfortably beat reigning world champion k1llsen 3-0. Although it’s just a regular season match, the win bodes well for rapha’s chances at the Quake World Championship this August in Grapevine, Texas.

This coming month, rapha will be tested by Strongsage, a new face to the QPL who’s been struggling overall, but was able to beat RAISY, last year’s silver medalist. Speaking of RAISY, the Myzstro Gaming rep from Italy is rapha’s last opponent of the month, and they’ve got unfinished business. At the Quake World Championship last year, RAISY eliminated rapha in the lower bracket semifinal in a nail-biting 3-2 series. rapha will try to settle the score and continue his dominant regular season, preferably in another 3-0.

StarCraft 2

For our individual competitors, StarCraft has mostly been the minors and online open cups. However, the new Gamers8 circuit did have its first qualifiers – and Clem and Elazer both qualified! Clem in particular earned an impressive win against Oliveira — the Chinese StarCraft player that won IEM Katowice just earlier this year. The win earns Clem a spot at Gamers 8 2023 all the way in August.

For the whole Liquid clan, The World Team League has started up once again! 12 teams with players from all over the world battle over nearly 3 months in a round-robin regular season. Each match consists of three best of 2s. After six games, the team with the most maps won takes the match. If they tie the map score, both teams send an ace to play a final best of one to decide the series.

Liquid has put up middling performances in the WTL so far, and we’re off to another inauspicious start. Our first match against Korean team Onsyde Gaming began with five straight losses before Clem took the final map off Ryung on Ancient Cistern. Still, we bounced back the next week against Platinum Heroes with an equally strong 5-1 win, and there’s a lot more StarCraft to be played.

Also this month begins the march to ESL Masters in Jönköping, Sweden this June! ESL is trying out a new formula in the qualification process to Jönköping. Instead of the traditional GSL-style four-person group format, the tournaments are using a Swiss system to determine playoff spots. The top 32 of the tournament have been broken out into two groups of 16, and the top 8 from each group (read: those who win three of their matches) advance to the single-elimination playoffs.

Liquid is sending all five of our StarCraft pros to the ESL SC2 Masters regional qualifiers. Clem, Elazer, SKillous, and MaNa will go through the European regional, where four spots to the main event are up for grabs. Meanwhile, Kelazhur will take on the Americas region to fight for one of two spots available there.

World of Warcraft

The dust has settled on the first season of the Arena World Championship in North America, and Team Liquid have taken bronze. After placing fourth overall across four cups, Liquid became the final boss of the North American gauntlet, where we beat out Shall We? in a decisive 3-0 victory, earning our spot at the North American Finals. In the double-elimination finals, Liquid fell in the first round to a very strong Luminosity. We beat the Golden Guardians in the lower bracket semifinal 3-0, and rematched against Luminosity. But they had the better of us, and beat Liquid 3-1 again, leaving the Cavalry with a 3rd place finish and $15,000 in prizes.

Next month, the most exciting event in WoW starts back up again. That’s right, the Race to World First is upon us again, and this time, we’re headed to Aberuss: The Shadowed Crucible. Liquid has announced its participation in the race, as well as the broadcast team for the event. And as we prepare for the 16+ hour streams, good vibes, and inevitably endless wipes, Liquid’s also released a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to put on a show for the Race to World First.


In the second leg of the newly formatted FNCS, both Persa and EdRoadToGlory are in a strong position to qualify for the Grand Finals for Brazil. For the first three weeks of the competition, teams play 6 games to earn qualification points, but cannot directly seed into the grand finals just by winning a game. Instead, after the three weekly tournaments, the top 40 teams with the most qualifying points earn a spot in the Grand Finals. The last 10 spots in the Grand Finals are determined by Surge Week, where the duos ranked 41-90 battle it out over five maps. The winner of each map earns a spot in the finals, and the final five spots are given to the top-five performing duos overall.

Since all three weeks have finished, there should be results somewhere that show who made it to the top 40, but I didn’t find it anywhere. That being said, surely it’s all but guaranteed that Persa qualified to the grand finals with his two silver medals and sixth place finish. And it seems hard to imagine that three top 15 finishes for EdRoadToGlory wouldn’t be enough to earn him a spot too.

Things are less clear-cut for Seeyun, however. Seeyun had a decent finish at 18th in Week 1, as well as an excellent 6th place finish in Week 3. But it’s not clear whether two good results will land him in the top 40 since he didn’t get any points in Week 2. If it’s not, he’ll likely have to go through the Surge Week to battle for one of the last 10 spots in the Grand Finals.

Once Liquid gets to the Grand Finals, each duo team is competing for a share of a $159,500 prize pool. But more importantly, the team that wins the Grand Finals earns a place at the Global Championship, a $4,000,000 LAN in Copenhagen this October.


With the departure of old man Robin, Kurum stands alone in North American competitive TFT under the Liquid banner. In April, Kurum took to the board in the Mecha Cup–one of two final qualifying tournaments to the North America Regional Finals. Only the top four finishers at the tournament earn a spot at regionals, so the stakes were incredibly high. Kurum was able to make it through to day 4 of the tournament and the top 32. Unfortunately, on day 4, he faltered, and finished 20th, four spots below the cutoff for the next day.

Without a direct spot from one of the tournaments, there are only three ways to make… wait a minute.

How could that be? Unless…?

Could it be??

Ten players make it to regionals through qualifier points, but if they already have a spot from a previous tournament, the spot goes to the next highest finisher. Since Kurumx is 11th, all he needed was one person from the top 10 to have a spot already. Turns out 4 of the top 10 already punched their ticket to the Regional Finals, so Kurum swooped in to scoop up the extra spot from the qualifiers.

The Regional Finals follow a familiar TFT tournament format–the 24 qualified players go through a 6-game match, getting reseeded into new lobbies every two games. The top 16 move on to day 2, where they all repeat the process, and the top 8 head to the final lobby on day 3. In the final lobby, the top 2 scorers qualify to TFT Worlds. But after removing those two winners, the player with the best average placement across all three days of the tournament also qualifies to worlds. Finally, the remaining top 2 players earn a spot in the Western Last Chance Qualifier, an international play-in tournament for an additional chance at worlds.

Clash Royale:

One of the many things I love about Team Liquid is that it introduces me to esport scenes I only vaguely knew existed. Thanks to a comment on Twitter for the last review, I realized that the Clash Royale League is in full swing, and Liquid has two players competing, Surgical Goblin and Egór!

One cool thing about the Clash Royale League is that the first stage is a 1000-player invitational based on ladder results. Those 1000 players compete in what has to be the biggest Swiss format in all history–up to 11 rounds! That massive Swiss system eventually whittles the competition down to just 32 players, who get separated into 8 groups of 4. Each group goes through a double round robin, and the winner of each group moves on.

Both Surgical Goblin and Egór took part in Season 2 of the Clash Royale League, and both made it to the top 32. But both also fell short of getting a spot in the Monthly Final. Egór was in a group with the eventual winner of the tournament–Mohamed Light (who also won Season 1). Meanwhile, Surgical Goblin was in a group with Pandora–who came in 2nd place overall.

Still, this May both members of Liquid`Clash will have another season to grind their way to the top, and there’s plenty more Clash Royale after that too. The CRL goes through seven seasons total this year. The winner of each season earns a spot at the Clash Royale League World Finals in November. Seven more seeds at the Finals come from circuit points that Egór and Surgical Goblin have been winning by making it to the top 32. Basically, this league is a marathon, not a sprint, so get ready for the long haul.

Writer // Tortious Tortoise
Graphics // Stacey "Shiroiusagi" Yamada