The Liquid Review - March 2023

March 02 2023

The Liquid Review

Happy Thursday folks,

If you asked a Team Liquid fan how the Cavalry did in February, you’d get drastically different answers depending on what games they follow. A CS:GO fan might give you a cautiously optimistic take that Liquid is a solidly top-ten team and a dark horse to win any tournament we go to. On the other hand, a League fan might be frustrated that we’ve failed to close out a lot of winnable games, and a little worried about our chances at making playoffs. Or you could ask a deliriously happy DotA fan, who would tell you with complete confidence that Team Liquid is the best team in the world, destined to win the Lima Major.

[Editor’s note: (🤞🤞)]

Every day as a Team Liquid fan is a banger.

And that’s the funny thing about trying to follow all of Team Liquid’s dozen or so rosters. Over the course of a weekend you can swing from being miserably depressed at VALORANT’s early exit at LOCK//IN to overjoyed at Rocket League’s regional win and major qualification, and still have time to spend a relaxing few hours watching Dotes stomp everybody.

Away from esports, Team Liquid brought together twenty-two creators to raise more than $35,000 for Doctors Without Borders’ earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria. The fundraiser spanned across more than a dozen different games over the course of 157 hours. And in celebration of Black History month, Team Liquid has begun the Voices podcast. Together with Aerial Powers and Glitch, Liquid began the series to amplify and uplift Black voices in the esports industry. Two episodes have been released so far, one with MsAshRocks and one with DeeJayKnight, along with an article on the Black roots of the fighting game community.

As we walk once again through all things Team Liquid for the month, you can check out Liquid’s weekly video recaps on TL;DW here:

Dota 2:

Liquid`DotA looks as good as we ever have. To really grasp how insane that sentence is, we have to go all the way back to 2016. Fresh off a decent top 8 performance at TI 2016, Liquid kept on KuroKy, MATUMBAMAN and MinD_ControL, and added two new faces in Miracle and GH. The roster kicked off in November 2016, but took about three months to learn to play together. But then, from February 2017 through the rest of the year, Team Liquid just started dominating. Beginning with the StarLadder i-League, Liquid won five tier 1 tournaments including TI. Even more impressive, Liquid’s TI win included a blazing 3-0 final, which to this day remains the fastest grand final in TI history.

Now, in 2023, Team Liquid DotA looks just as good as that team–maybe better. We didn’t just win the Western EU DPC, we crushed it. We went 14-2, finishing 3.5 games ahead of the second place Gaimin Gladiators. Now at the Lima Major group stage, we’ve repeated that feat. Once again, Liquid finished 14-2 in the group stage, 3 full games better than the next highest teams at the tournament (once again Gaimin Gladiators, but joined this time by Team Spirit and Entity).

Liquid hasn’t yet won the Lima major, but we are certainly the favorites. After our dominance over Group B, Liquid continued the campaign with a smooth 2-0 over Talon Esports. Even when the match was delayed by almost five hours, Liquid could not be deterred. We face Shopify Rebellion in a rematch today. In the group stage, Liquid bested rtz’s new team 2-0–first with a 52 minute banger, and then with an absolute execution that took 23 minutes. If we win today, we’ll face the winner of Gaimin Gladiators and Entity this saturday. Liquid has already won 2-0 over Gaimin Gladiators in the group stage, and Entity during the DPC. Regardless of who we might face, Liquid fans should be confident. Every draft seems to come easily to us, every win feels like a crushing victory, and every loss feels like a fluke.


IEM Katowice was an absolute banger.

Liquid walked into the tournament as the most confusing team. We had just ping-ponged from 2nd place at the BLAST World Final to getting completely dumpstered at the BLAST Group Stage a month later. Sloppy, undisciplined, and still hitting insane shots and making unlikely rounds work somehow.

And in the Group Stage of Katowice, you could watch in real time as Liquid improved from series to series. After an 0-2 loss to Na’Vi, we had to grind our way through the lower bracket, upsetting FaZe Clan and earning a spot in the quarterfinals against Vitality.

Map one started just about as bad as it possibly could have on Overpass. Liquid struggled to find avenues of attack, and Vitality’s defense was an absolute brick wall. They smashed us 13-2 in the first half.

I have no proof that YEKINDAR said, “Guys, if you think we are good, let’s prove it now.” But you bet your ass we proved it. We clawed our way back from a 2-13 deficit and forced overtime. Then we won. The comeback proved crucial after Vitality comfortably beat us in map 2 on Nuke, and it all came down to Mirage. Liquid took care of business, winning both halves and taking the series 2-1.

(This comeback was historic for Liquid CS. Probably the best in our history. EliGE remarked after the match that he’d never fought back from such a deficit before.)

It’d be nice to say that Liquid won out the rest of the tournament, but sadly, we faced a red-hot G2 in the semifinals. On the first half of Anubis, Liquid kept it competitive, but we completely collapsed in the second half. On inferno, G2’s attack pulled Liquid apart at the seams, and despite a valiant comeback attempt, we couldn’t get the job done, losing the series 0-2 and bowing out of the tournament with a semi-final finish.

I said Liquid was the most confusing team going into IEM Katowice, and in all honesty, we probably left the tournament the most confusing team as well. But confusing in a good way–like reconnecting with a childhood friend you haven’t seen since they moved away. You know that they’re a fundamentally different person, but you can still find familiar traces of the person you knew.

The DotA team has gotten me comparing Liquid’s rosters to their previous iterations, and if you tilt your head and squint, you can see some similarities between now and 2019. After all, Liquid didn’t finish the Grand Slam speedrun until July–we took some time to come together as a unit. In fact, Liquid only reached the quarterfinals of Katowice in 2019. Over the next three months, Liquid only earned a pair of silver medals, and we didn’t win our first S-Tier event until IEM Sydney in May.

What I’m saying here is to be patient. This roster is less than a year old, and it’s already doing remarkable things. Liquid’s semifinal finish at Katowice is the best we’ve ever done at that tournament, and we’re still catching up after taking a longer break than most other teams. ESL Pro League begins this month, and it will be a good measuring stick for this team. If we can improve on our performance at Katowice, we can be a dark horse to winning this tournament, along with its direct qualification to IEM Cologne, the BLAST World Final, and the $200,000 that goes with it.

At the end of the month lies the consequences for our poor performance at BLAST Spring Groups–the Spring Showdown. Liquid will have to beat out 7 other American teams–including a quickly-improving Complexity side–to earn a spot in the BLAST Spring Final in Washington DC this June.

Rocket League:

We’re going to LAN Diego!

Team Liquid’s Rocket League Squad is firing on all cylinders right now… no pun intended. After a false start in the Winter Open, Liquid absolutely cruised through the second regional competition–the Winter Cup–right up until the grand finals, where Karmine Corp. gave us a swift lesson in humility.

But Liquid got a chance at revenge in the final EU regional before the Winter Major in San Diego. Liquid was able to win out the group stage once again, but it was a much tougher ask this time. Against both Williams Resolve and Vitality, Liquid began the series down 0-2, and we had to claw our way back and reverse-sweep both series.

Playoffs was even more difficult. In the best of 7 format, even games that only last 5 or so minutes can get exhausting. Grinding out 7-game series wins becomes a test of stamina and focus. It’s a test Liquid passed three times. Team Liquid played 21 games of Rocket League in the playoffs–five of which went to overtime–and we won the twelve that mattered. The feat earned Liquid $30,000, and secured our spot as Europe’s second seed in the major in April.

League of Legends:

Liquid’s LCK-culture experiment has yielded some interesting, if frustrating, results. Vowing to out-work every other team, Liquid entered the season with three veterans and two fresh rookies, and over the last five weeks, the results haven’t been there. Our most impressive win has been against now-surging Golden Guardians, but we’ve also dropped games to middle-of-the-pack CLG and TSM—teams we need to beat to make playoffs.

The most frustrating part of this season has been our failure to convert winning positions. Even against top-of-the-table teams like EG and C9, Liquid has had explosive early games, leading to massive advantages in the mid-game. But then, somehow, we fumble, the lead vanishes, and we lose a game that we absolutely should have won.

All that leads to a split where Team Liquid has seven games left to make up one game behind 6th place–the cutoff for playoffs. If we can manage to improve our ability to close out the early leads we get, Liquid has an outside shot at making it to the top 4, but 5th or 6th is a much more realistic goal at this point in the split. It’s not time to panic yet, but our margin for error is getting frighteningly thin. Tomorrow, Liquid has a must-win game against TSM, and all the better if we can repeat our impressive upset against Golden Guardians today.


Liquid’s Brazilian VALORANT roster has three new faces in bizerra, Joojina, and isaa, but we are back to our winning ways. With back-to-back qualifier wins, Team Liquid has already locked in a spot at the Game Changers 2023 Brazil Series 1 event at the end of the month. The final qualifier got underway a couple of days ago, and Liquid breezed through the first round 2-0. The Brazil squad is still struggling to stick out in the tier 2 scene, but so it goes for a lot of the Game Changers teams. Succeeding in the mixed environment is this team’s ultimate goal, but it’s a goal that could take a while to fully materialize.

The inaugural tournament for Liquid’s EU VALORANT Squad did not go nearly as well as any of the Brazil squad’s ventures. Liquid looked completely lost against Team Secret, putting on abysmal attacking-side halves, and falling prey to Secret’s solid fundamentals. Liquid lost the series 0-2, and they weren’t even particularly close games. Unfortunately with the loss, the punishing single-elimination bracket reared its ugly head, and sent the Cavalry packing.

At the very least, this will give Team Liquid a month to focus on leveling up in time for the EMEA VCT beginning at the end of this coming month. Liquid’s two-month campaign will involve a round-robin against the 9 other teams in the region, culminating in a playoff to determine which three teams will earn a spot at Masters: Tokyo in June.

Rainbow 6 Siege:

From bad to worse in Brazil, Liquid`Siege’s end of the season fell completely and utterly flat. The trouble began in the group stages, where Liquid couldn’t get anything going. We began the group stage 0-4, and were only able to break it beating a winless Dire Wolves team that ended the tournament with a -27 round differential. In our final match against Wolves Esports, Liquid had a chance to earn a spot in the upper bracket, but once again we failed to deliver. Liquid was able to force the final map into overtime, but couldn’t convert the last two rounds, ending fourth in the group, and seeding into the lower bracket.

Unfortunately, Liquid’s first round in the lower bracket was against Team BDS, the French roster who beat Liquid in the finals of the Six Jonkoping Major last November. History repeated itself, as Liquid fell 1-2 to BDS, exiting the tournament shockingly early.

There’s no sugarcoating it, this tournament was an unqualified disaster. Liquid`Siege is supposed to be one of the best teams in the world, and for whatever reason, we simply didn’t show up to the most important tournament of the year. Team Liquid has had a few weeks to recover now, but the new season is coming, and we’ll need to be ready to hit the ground running when the new Brazil League Stage 1 begins at some point this month.

Ubisoft has changed up R6 Esports this year, and there are now four seeds for Brazilian teams to make the next major. Three seeds come from the familiar 10-team regular season league similar to the Brasileirão. However, a new open system will also provide a path to the major, pitting the best 12 teams from the Brazil Open against the four bottom teams in the Brazil League. Of those 16 total teams, the top four move on to face the final three teams from the Brazil League, as well as the winner of the Brazil Challenger League. Those remaining 8 teams will fight in the Last Chance Qualifier for the final spot at the major.

StarCraft II:

Liquid`StarCraft didn’t get the results we hoped for at the StarCraft World Championship at IEM Katowice this year. Elazer was able to make it through the Round of 36 and into the group stage, putting up some impressive wins against soO and Ryung to do it. But from there, he and Clem both had tough tournaments, finishing at the bottom of their respective groups, and failing to make the playoffs. Liquid exited the tournament with two top 24 finishes, and an extra $7,000 or so in prizes.

But hey, by losing to Oliveira in Groups, at least Clem contributed to what might be the biggest upset and most heroic underdog run in esports.


Riddles feasted at Frosty Faustings last month. Supplementing Kazuya with his trusty Terry, Riddles blasted through the winners bracket until he met BassMage in the semifinals. BassMage’s Puff took the first two games of the best of 5, but Riddles rallied, switched to Terry, and reverse-swept his way into the winners bracket finals, where he faced ApolloKage’s Snake. If you ignore the 3-stock in game 2, the series went very well for Riddles, and he won his spot in the grand finals 3-1. He ended up with a rematch against ApolloKage, who managed to reset the bracket after a close 3-2 win. The series went the full distance once again, but after 10 long games, Riddles emerged victorious, becoming the Smash King of Lombard, Illinois.

Hungrybox found his way to the podium as well in LVL UP EXPO. Hbox won a spot in the winners final by beating KoDoRiN 3-0. Hbox then faced down the most terrifying Yoshi in the world, his eyes on the grand finals. A 1-3 defeat sent Hbox to the losers finals, where KoDoRiN got his revenge. Hbox went down 0-2, and almost clutched out a reverse sweep, but got stuffed in the final game. All told, Juan ended with a respectable 3rd place finish at LVL UP.

Atelier has a busy March planned out, with Maesuma this coming weekend and Seibugeki two weeks after that. Meanwhile, all three NA smashers are set to collide in Collision 2023, where the final spot at Ultimate Summit 6 is on the line. Hbox already ran a successful campaign to be voted as one of the competitors at Summit, and Riddles and Dabuz will need to win Collision to join him there.

World of Warcraft:

With three direct spots available in the AWC Season 1 Grand Finals, Liquid ended as a distant 4th. The Cavalry had another tough showing in the third qualifying cup, and despite an impressive lower bracket run in Qualifier Cup 4, we were outpaced by Luminosity, Golden Guardians, and Where’s Gordy? in the end. But Liquid still has a path to the Grand Finals. Our 4th place finish qualifies Team Liquid for the NA Gauntlet, and in fact, we’re the final boss. The teams ranked 4th through 8th will compete in the AWC Gauntlet with the winner earning the last spot into the Finals. The first game of the series will be a blind composition pick on Nagrand Arena. Then, the loser picks the next map and the winner locks in a team comp first. All this means is that Liquid just needs to win one series to make it to the Grand Finals the next day.


Yeah, rapha was upset about his early exit to the QWC last year. You would be too, if you won as much as rapha does in Quake.

The greatest FPS player of all time has started the Quake Pro League by proving once again that everybody should fear him on the server. After four weeks of competition, rapha is the only person left who hasn’t lost a single map yet. He’s 4-0 in series, 12-0 in maps, and an unreal 43-15 in frags. Wait sorry, that was just for the first series. Over 12 maps, rapha is 222-65.


He is averaging (averaging!) 18.5 kills per game, with a KD of 3.4. For reference, vengeuR (the only other 4-0 player) is 74-43 (6.2 kills per game and 1.7 KD).

This month, rapha will face a 1-3 Av3k next weekend, and then test his mettle against 3-1 ZenAku. If he keeps playing the way he has been, he’s going to blow them both out of the water.

Age of Empires:

Liquid’s sole Age of Empires player put up a decent showing in the first round of the Golden League 2 this past month. He was able to cleanly win his first two rounds before falling to Wam01, who has been a thorn in DeMusliM’s side before. Unfortunately, his top 24 finish only earned DeMusliM a paltry 5 league points, compared to the 100 points LucifroN earned for winning the tournament. Still, DeMusliM has two more rounds to earn more points. If he manages to end in the top 4, he’ll make it to the Final Bracket in April.

Teamfight Tactics:

Although Kurum wasn’t able to make it to the final lobby in the Corrupted Cup, his performance was good enough to earn him a spot in the Mid-Set Finale this weekend. robin was able to qualify as well with his 3rd place finish at the Defender Cup in January, so both of Liquid’s competitive Tacticians will fight for a spot at the Regional Finals this weekend. As a reminder, the top 4 at this tournament will directly qualify for the Regional Finals in May, the last stop before the TFT World Championship. Otherwise, there are only… five other ways of getting to the Regional Finals.

Least confusing tournament system.


[Editor’s Note: Tortoise is donating the payment for this month’s article to Doctors Without Borders. That’s the same charity Team Liquid raised funds for during our earthquake relief streamathon—one of the leading disaster-response charities in the world.]

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

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