The Liquid Review - July 2023

July 06 2023

The Liquid Review

Happy Thursday folks,

June was a little bit quieter than May, but it’s still been a big month for Team Liquid. The departure of EliGe alongside the Counter-Strike team’s move from North America to Europe was pretty shocking news. On the VALORANT front, Team Liquid Brazil lost its first regional Game Changers event ever. Meanwhile, Dabuz, Riddles, and Hungrybox all shared the stage at the CEO Ultimate grand final. Add that to the emotional rollercoaster that is Liquid`LoL, and there’s plenty to talk about this month.

Outside of the server, Liquid celebrated Pride with articles on queerness in the fighting game community, as well as trans players in VALORANT’s Game Changers, a charity Mario Kart stream for Rainbow Railroad, and an upcoming Pride mural made by the Cavalry. A new episode of Origins on Soulcas was released. And to cap off the month, Liquid teased a Star Wars x Team Liquid capsule that will drop tomorrow, much to the chagrin of my wallet.


Team Liquid lost a piece of Counter-Strike history last month. It’s safe to say the org will never be the same.

Rest easy, old friend.

It was bad enough that we had to say goodbye to Nitr0 in last month’s review. In June, the other shoe dropped. After eight years, EliGe departs Team Liquid for Complexity, and Liquid has announced its intentions to officially leave NA behind and become an EU team. JokaSteve and Nazgul explained the rationale behind leaving North America, citing a lack of investment in developing the scene. Nazgul said candidly, “Not enough has been done there, but it cannot just come from Team Liquid.” As part of the move, the team welcomed Rainmaker and Patsi, solidifying the newly-EU roster for the foreseeable future.

Considering the ever-waning talent pool in North America, I find it hard to blame Team Liquid for the move, but the decision comes at a high price. For years, Team Liquid was synonymous with NA Counter-Strike. They were NA’s last and best hope in the scene, and a part of me can’t help thinking that they’re abandoning ship. Still, I’ve never rooted for Team Liquid based on my own regional pride. Liquid has always been about bringing gamers from across the world together – from its roots as a community StarCraft forum to the Alienware Training Facilities built on three different continents.

The first test for the new Squad will be the BLAST group stage on July 15th, against G2. Liquid needs to finish in the top 6 of the 12-team tournament to earn a spot at the Fall Finals in November. Later on this month, Liquid returns to the cathedral of Counter-Strike for IEM Cologne. Liquid will start the tournament in the Play-In stage, a 16-team double elimination bracket where the top 8 teams move on to the Group Stage. Winning two matches will be good enough for them to make the cut. In the Group Stage, another double elimination bracket awaits, and the top 3 teams of each group earn a spot in the LANXESS Arena for Playoffs.


It’s a little ironic that Liquid`VALORANT got bodied out of the major via back-to-back losses to North America, just three days before announcing its departure from the continent in the other preeminent tac shooter title. Some folks might say there’s a certain poetic justice to that, but for Team Liquid fans, it hurts all the same.

Liquid began Masters Tokyo with a matchup against EDG, who shocked the world by escaping the group of death with the awe-inspiring fragging power of ZmjjKK leading the way. The Cavalry conquered its first Cinderella story challenger in a nail biting 2-1 win against the Chinese squad. Liquid then moved on to the upper-bracket semi-final against EG, the ragtag band of North American misfits who’d had to overcome the odds to even make it to Tokyo, let alone win its group. Liquid couldn’t keep up with EG in the playoffs; we got outplanned and outgunned, and fell out of the upper bracket 0-2. The Cavalry looked better against NRG, losing the first map by the thinnest margins in OT and battling back to take Ascent. But then we ran out of gas and got buried on Split, spelling an end to our Tokyo run.

Liquid’s performance at Tokyo didn’t have the same fairytale ending as their VCT run, but top 6 is a respectable result, and it was good enough to earn Liquid a spot at Champions in August. Liquid will be hard at work this month practicing for the biggest VALORANT tournament of the year.

A few time zones over, Team Liquid’s Brazilian squad had a busy month, competing in the first qualifier for Game Changers Series 2 as well as a mixed tournament, the Gamers Club Elite Cup. In Gamers Club, Liquid advanced from the first Swiss stage 3-2, including a 2-1 win over Smoke Trupe, an amateur team that eventually made the playoffs. But the second Swiss stage didn’t treat us as kindly, and Liquid fell out of the tournament 1-3.

More surprisingly, however, for the first time ever, Team Liquid Brazil lost a Brazilian Game Changer event. Liquid breezed through the competition with decisive 2-0 wins until the grand finals, where we met LOUD Fem. Liquid continued its hot streak with a dominant win on Bind, but LOUD answered back with three straight wins, breaking Liquid’s unprecedented streak of thirteen straight 1st place finishes at regional Game Changers. Liquid won’t have a chance to get revenge on LOUD until August, however, when the second qualifier takes place.

League of Legends

Though they may have left the league, the spirit of Counter Logic Gaming lives on through Team Liquid. After a blazing hot 4-0 start, Liquid fell prey to a surging Dignitas, a surprisingly strong EG, and a Flyquest in complete freefall. Liquid was staring down the barrel of a four-game loss streak if we couldn’t beat the best team in the league, Cloud9.

Thankfully, we didn’t just beat them. We crushed them. After C9’s bot side mishandled the early game, Liquid secured a vice grip on the game and slowly choked the life out of Cloud9, closing out the map in a cool 28 minutes.

And then, of course, we lost our next game to the Golden Guardians.

All told, Liquid ended the first half of the season at 5-4, tied for 4th with Dignitas, and 2 games behind 1st place. Yesterday, the Squad tried out a split push comp against NRG, but came out worse in a messy game all around. Liquid will finish out the week with games against IMT and 100T.

By the end of the split, a top 2 finish will earn the Squad a bye in the playoffs, and a top 6 finish will put the team in the upper-bracket quarterfinals. If we finish either 7th or 8th, Liquid will need to battle all the way through the lower bracket to get one of NA’s three spots at Worlds.

Dota 2:

Last month, Liquid had an uncharacteristically bad showing at DreamLeague, an online tournament that is unaffiliated with Valve but still sports a hefty $1 million prize pool. Liquid finished the group stage of DreamLeague dead last, losing three matches, drawing two, and beating only TSM.

But the Cavalry pulled a complete 180 at the Bali Major, finishing the group stage at the top of the table and solidifying a spot in the upper bracket in playoffs. This past Tuesday, Liquid pulled off a 2-1 win over Chinese power-house PSG.LGD. The win guarantees the team a Top 6 finish at least, but we have no intention of stopping there. Our next match is bright and early tomorrow against BetBoom at 5:30 am. A win would most likely set up yet another series against Liquid’s arch-nemesis, Gaimin Gladiators. GG have been getting the better of us all year, and Bali could provide Liquid with another chance at sweet, sweet revenge.

StarCraft 2

Team Liquid continue to pull off impressive wins in the World Team League, edging out both PSISTORM and DKZ with ace-match victories. The latter win is especially impressive; Liquid handed DKZ its second loss of the season. With two matches left in the group stage, Liquid are in an excellent position for playoffs. We’ve already secured a postseason appearance, but in the WTL, it’s important to place as high as possible in the regular season, since the playoffs use a King of the Hill-style bracket.

1st place in the regular season goes directly to the grand final, while the 6th and 7th place teams have to go all the way through the gauntlet.

Liquid are currently 3rd place with an 8-1 record, trailing only BASILISK and Onsyde Gaming. With a match against BASILISK set for tomorrow, Liquid’s playoff placement is largely in its own hands. Once the seeds are set, the playoffs begin at the end of the month, with almost $85,000 on the line.

On the individual side of things, Liquid’s players did fairly well at ESL Masters, though none of them broke into the top 8. Elazer, MaNa, and SKillous all made their runs from the Open Stage, with Elazer and SKillous qualifying for the Knockout Bracket and climbing to the Top 16. Clem climbed one rung farther up the ladder to break the Top 12, but fell 1-3 to Byun in his playoff-qualifying series.

At the 23rd installment of the HomeStory Cup, SKillous, Clem,and Elazer all managed to make the playoffs, despite Clem and Elazer being in the same group. Unfortunately, the German Protoss ShoWTimE outmatched SKillous in his quarterfinal match, and perennial Code S Zerg Solar proved to be a Liquid-killer at this tournament, cleaning up against Clem in the quarterfinals and Elazer in the semifinals.

Rocket League:

Last month I said a 4th place finish at the final Spring regional would guarantee Liquid a spot at the Boston Major. Well, it turns out a Top 6 finish did the job just as well. We’re shipping up to Boston (woah-oh-oh). But instead of finding a wooden leg, Liquid heads to the Agganis Arena this month to fight for a share of the $310,000 prize pool and a shot at qualifying to the main event of the World Championship this August, which would allow them to avoid the Wildcard stage. Liquid’s campaign through the double elimination bracket begins today with a match against Complexity, a melting-pot North American team with players from Chile, Argentina, and Spain.


What June lacked in quantity for Liquid`Smash, it made up for in quality. Daytona Beach belonged to Team Liquid last month, as Dabuz and Riddles met in the grand finals (casted by Hbox!) for CEO 2023. Riddles made an epic run through the lower bracket to earn his place in the finals, and even reset the bracket. But after four straight wins, Dabuz turned on the gas, and won all three of the next games to claim the title. Hbox’s run through the melee bracket wasn’t too shabby either, and he secured himself a 3rd place finish. Still, Dabuz was truly the buzz at CEO. It's not just that Dabuz won, but that he's looked returned to form - and while CEO only barely does not qualify as his first major win (RIP), his win in Daytona puts him back in contention for the top 10 in 2023.

This coming month, it’s all about Hungrybox. Liquid’s Puff god will be competing in four different countries over the course of four weeks. He begins his world tour this weekend with the Ludwig Ahgren Championship Series in Los Angeles, battling 15 of the best melee players in the world for a share of the $50,001 prize pool, and hoping to improve on his Top 6 finish from last year. Next week, Juan will be across the pond for Fête in Camber, England, testing his mettle against the European Smash scene. A week after that, Hbox heads to Toronto, Ontario to defend his title at Get On My Level. And, finally, Hbox finishes his month at Smash Factor X in Mexico City.

World of Warcraft

Season 2 of the Dragonflight’s Arena World Championship is upon us, and Team Liquid has already put itself in an excellent position to qualify for the Grand Finals in August. The Cavalry reached the podium in all three of the cups that have taken place so far, including a 1st place finish in the most recent cup after a 4-2 win over the Super One Shot Frogs from the lower bracket. For Liquid Guild's PvP division, this win feels particularly nice because it breaks a draught of 4ths, 3rds, and 2nds in the recent NA Cups. Not to mention, with one cup remaining, Liquid is now in a strong position to earn a direct seed to the Grand Finals in August.

Top 3 seed directly into the Grand Finals. Top 8 go to the Gauntlet.

If my calculations are correct, for Liquid to finish below 3rd (the cutoff for the direct seed), Dukamified would need to finish top 2, Luminosity and Super One Shot Frogs would both need to be top 3, and Liquid would need to finish below top 12. But even if all that happens, and the three teams below Liquid all jump ahead, Cdew and crew have guaranteed a spot in the Gauntlet. There, Liquid would need to win only one best of 5 to grab the final NA spot in the Grand Finals.


Rapha took his second loss of the season – which was, incidentally, also his first 0-3 loss of the season – last month against maxter. He bounced back the next week against serious with a dominant 3-0 win. But with his loss, rapha has slipped to second in the standings behind vengeurR with just one match left to go before the Quake World Championship in August. A first place finish in the QPL is pretty much purely aesthetic, since the top 8 players in the league all advance directly to the QWC Playoffs, a berth that rapha has already secured. But there’s something to be said about finishing the regular season on a high note. On June 22nd, rapha will play his last match of the regular season against nosfa, a Brazilian sitting in the middle of the table. After that, rapha’s got a couple weeks off before the World Championship takes place in Grapevine, Texas.


[Editor’s Note: Tortoise is donating the payment for this month’s article to Rainbow Railroad. That’s the same charity Team Liquid raised funds for during our Mario Kart streamathon. It's a leading LGBTQ+ charity that helps queer people escape dangerous situations and find refuge and housing in Canada.]

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