Liquid Community Spotlight: Erika

Liquid Community Spotlight: Erika

One of esports’ more positive effects is its ability to bring all kinds of people together, regardless of background. It’s an industry that more or less lives on the Internet, which means that pretty much anyone can discover and subsequently become enamored with it, no matter who they are or where they’re from. All it takes is a passion for gaming and competition (and honestly, if you don’t even like games that much, that’s understandable too.)

And if it’s passion you’re looking for, you’ll easily find it in diehard Team Liquid fan Erika. As a lifelong gamer hailing from Malaysia, Erika’s love for FPSes led her to discover Team Liquid’s CS:GO team in 2017. From there, she’s also discovered a whole community of people and a sense of belonging that has helped her become more secure both in her fandom, her interests, her age, and in herself. 

The fans are what make Team Liquid’s community so special, and the unwavering support of people like Erika is a core part of that. We spoke with Erika about her esports origin story, why the 2017-2018 TL CS team was special (despite the chokes), and how she’s building the AWTF inside The Sims.

Can you give a brief introduction of yourself?

First of all, my actual name is Syaza, but among Team Liquid fans people call me Erika. So feel free to call me by my actual name or Erika. I'm fine with both. I'm thirty-four years old, I'm from Malaysia, and I've been a Team Liquid fan basically from 2017. What brought me to esports was the CS team, and I've been a fan until today. It's been quite a journey. When I mentioned 2017, I just realized that was actually quite a while ago.

Yeah, I mean, seven years ago now. Pretty crazy. Was CS your introduction to esports as a whole or did you know about it before then?

I did have the gist of it, because Malaysia has a huge Dota scene. But I was not into Dota at the time, so I wasn’t really well-informed about it until I came across CS and the CS:GO team at the time. I’m an FPS fan; I grew up playing CS when I was a kid, so that’s how I got into the esport. Eventually it brought me to Team Liquid. I think after that I came across the PUBG team in 2018, and when I realized that both teams that I liked happened to be Team Liquid, I thought, okay, maybe this is where I belong.
Erika at ESL One Malaysia. Left: With iNSaNiA.

Do you remember specifically how you discovered Team Liquid CS?

At the time we were still an up and coming team. It was quite an old roster — we still had [jdm64], we already had nitr0 — the old, classic Team Liquid CS:GO lineup. That was 2017, and then it kind of got cemented in early 2018 because we were basically the second best team in the world in the whole of 2018, except for the fact that we could not beat Astralis at the time. That 2017-2018 team has a very special place in my heart. 
The thing is, when you talk about NA CS and the NA scene, some people call it dead, but I had a feeling at the time that this team was gonna make it big. Every time I saw players like EliGE and nitr0 back then, I had a feeling that this team was going to be something in the future. That’s why from 2017 until the team won the Intel Grand Slam in 2019, I was like, okay, this is a rollercoaster, but we made it.

Actually, when you said 2017, I thought, wow, that was such a long time ago, but I just realized that's also the year I got into esports. Where does the time go?

Exactly — time flies insanely fast. When I first started watching, Twistzz was so young. He was just a kid. At the time, people were not sure of his talent, but look at him now, and how big he’s made it.

I think being able to chart certain players’ growth is something that’s really cool about watching esports, and it’s the same for any team’s growth too. So even as Team Liquid’s rosters change over the years, what keeps you coming back?

I think I generally have a sense of loyalty to begin with. I have certain attachments to my first introduction to something — my first favorite artist, my first favorite esports team — but at the time Team Liquid [CS] felt very special because it was a scene dominated by EU teams, so Team Liquid felt like the underdogs I wanted to cheer for. In 2018, we kept getting trampled, lost in the grand finals… and I just had this feeling that I wanted to keep cheering for this team, even though people were saying stuff like “Liquid choke.” I don’t really care about that.
In 2018, I was introduced to the PUBG team, and the PUBG community was very special to me. The community was very small, and everyone basically knew each other. That’s how I started getting more engaged with Team Liquid in general, because I got to know people on a more personal level. I got to know people who were related to the players. And in 2019-2020, Team Liquid came out with Liquid+, which really put me in the center among the community. Before this, I was very much focused on supporting esports in general, but by 2020 the community became a place where I felt I truly belonged. I met people who shared the same interests as me, the same team — we share the same pain, we share the same happiness.
I think meeting new people has been one of the most game-changing things in my life. It makes me a lot more free as a person. It doesn’t matter how old you are — I’m a Muslim, and being a hijabi where I come from, it’s not easy to cheer in esports. When you’re at my age, people have skepticism; they say you have to be doing this at a certain age. But meeting the people behind Team Liquid and fans of Team Liquid really changed my mindset, and makes me feel much more confident. That’s why I keep coming back to Liquid.

It’s probably hard to pick just one, but what would you say is your favorite Team Liquid-related memory?

I want to choose the Intel Grand Slam, but I think that's kind of a common thing. So I’ll say that in 2019, close to my birthday, we had the PUBG team competing in the PUBG Europe League Kick-off Cup, and we had the CS:GO team competing in IEM XIV in Sydney, Australia. My birthday was on the third of May, and they won both [on the fifth of May]. It felt very special at the time, because some of the fans were like, “Hey, Erika, it's your birthday gift!” And although I know that's not intended, it just felt like that was one of the best birthday gifts, especially for the CS team. For everything that we went through in 2018. It was very special for me.

Yeah, I bet that feels amazing. Actually, that same year, on my birthday, my favorite team got knocked out of an international competition.

Okay, that sucks. I know the feeling. It also reminds me of in 2018, at ESL One New York — that was one of the most painful memories as a Team Liquid fan. Especially if you were a CS:GO fan at the time, because we had the home crowd and everything. We were winning, and then we choked. I still remember going to work — the game was around 7 to 10 AM my time, so I was at work — I was bawling my eyes out. Everyone was like, “What happened?”

I totally get that. But the happy moments wouldn’t be so happy if your team didn’t choke sometimes.


To switch gears for a second, I saw on your Twitter that you play The Sims, and your profile picture is a screenshot of a character wearing a Liquid jacket. Have you made Liquid-themed custom content for The Sims?

Yes, I did, a few years ago. I made a team gaming house that I posted on Twitter, and the Team Liquid official account actually retweeted. I made several pieces of custom content, from the jersey to the “Let’s Go Liquid” flag that's available on the website. Right now I'm actually working on another project — I've been working on this for over a year. I'm not yet done with it. It’s basically my own depiction of the Team Liquid Alienware Facility in The Sims, but it's so massive that after a year I'm not done with it because I keep changing stuff, buying new packs, and changing stuff again.

How long have you been playing The Sims?

The first version of the Sims that I played was actually the Sims 2. I think that was the early or mid 2000s. Then I played the Sims 3 and the Sims 4. Honestly, although the graphics get so much better, the gameplay is so much worse.

It’s so true. The Sims 3 was my first game, and it’s so much better as a game.

Exactly. The first version of the Sims was very complicated in terms of relationships. That’s why basically all the older Sims players are turning into builders, because there’s not much you can do with the Sims anyway.

So, other than the Sims and CS, did you ever play any other games? Have you gotten into Dota?

Yes, I actually got into Dota. Meeting the Dota team two years ago and last year made me start playing Dota. And next thing I knew I couldn’t stop playing certain heroes and just… it’s a constant repeat. I keep playing the same hero, like I keep playing Hoodwink, Drow Ranger… I’ve really gotten into it.
Before I got into Dota I was like, no way I'm playing a MOBA. I never thought I’d get into a MOBA at my age. My friend used to play back in 2010. They used to play for me. I was like, what are you guys even playing? And who knew — two or three years ago I started to play it while already in my thirties. I did not expect that I was gonna start playing a MOBA at this age.

Is there anything else you’d like to say for this Fanhub spotlight?

I want to shout out to all the people in the Liquid Discord, especially those in beta chat. They're definitely gonna talk about this because I basically have this daily routine — every morning I will need to peek into the chat or they will ping me for not appearing every day. So shoutout to the beta people, the Liquid Plus people, you guys are the best. Thank you for being part of this community. I'm very thankful that I get to know all of you guys.

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