Eric 'Xenon' Yu, July 12, 2016

Liquid: Troubled Legends

The heroes of North America.

The saviors of the region.

The ones who stood their ground against the beasts that had punished them for ages.

However, despite accomplishing what others could not, they still can’t escape the instability that has plagued the team for over half a year.

Team Liquid.

It All Started with Hiko

“My heart and passion is still with the game and there’s only one thing I want moving forward: A Championship Title.”—Hiko

Prior to Hiko joining Liquid, they were a stale team. Stale as in, they weren’t terrible, but it was obvious that the team wasn’t making any progress. They decided to pull the trigger after a disappointing performance at the Cologne 2015 NA Qualifier, where they were 2-0’d by CLG to fall just shy of a qualification. Missing the Major wasn’t acceptable, and a team like Liquid demanded more from themselves.

So as a result, they brought in Hiko to replace Flowsick; and that would mark the beginning of the modern Liquid team.

Hiko is a special player — when he joins your team his presence immediately changes the entire atmosphere. He’s a one-of-kind North American player. It’s not just his insane clutch capability that makes him so wanted, but it’s also his spirit to win.

By joining Team Liquid, Hiko made it clear that he will do whatever it takes to win a championship. Even if the team has to bring in an import that doesn’t get along with anyone, he will do it without hesitation as long as it brings them closer to a trophy. Hiko decided that the team needed a squad filled with dream hunters, and the roster at the time didn’t meet that expectation. FugLy didn’t have the same drive to win as everyone else on the team, so they decided to replace him. Instead of picking up another random washed-up North American player to replace him, Hiko made sure it was someone who had fire in his eyes — someone who would kill to win. That man of course ended up being s1mple, who definitely had fire in his eyes. With the addition of s1mple, Liquid had taken a gamble, but a gamble that no one else in North America had ever done.

The gamble ended up having a two-way effect. It drastically pushed the team and improved them, but it also created concern within the team. S1mple continued to have problems with his attitude, but Hiko demanded that they continue to push forward with him, and they did just that. MLG Columbus, fluke or not, was a huge success for the team as they had made it to the semi-finals, a feat that hadn’t been seen for 2 years.

Hiko was right about the roster: they needed to sacrifice to win; they didn’t need to all be friends, and that would be shown once again at the next major, ESL Cologne 2016.

At Cologne, S1mple was still playing under Liquid, but this time as a stand-in. He had left the team after his temper got to him, and Liquid had already signed a replacement for him, Pimp. But since they needed to wait out Pimp’s contract with SK, Liquid needed to use S1mple one last time for the Major. Liquid had also brought in jdm64, a highly regarded awper. With all these pieces put together, they ended up making it to the grand finals of a Major.

The way the roster came together was definitely not part of Hiko’s plan, but the fact that they had the pieces in the first place is all thanks to Hiko and his demand to win. Hiko didn’t care about how the talent came together, as long as it would lead to wins. He was willing to make sacrifices in order to have a chance at a championship, and he came closer than ever to accomplishing the unthinkable goal he had set out to accomplish.

Hiko had proved that he was right, and if it wasn’t for him, Liquid wouldn’t be North America’s heroic team.

As a result, Liquid made it to a semi-final and grand final. The only problem is that the roster will never be seen again.

Pimp, and Problems

Liquid had just made it to the grand-final and semi-final of a Major, so why are they having problems?

Because they accomplished these tasks with a stand-in who doesn’t want to be a part of the roster any longer. S1mple’s temper is too big of a problem, and unfortunately, he will forever be a “could have been” superstar player. He won’t be coming back, no matter what anyone thinks. There’s nothing the organization can do to convince him, and some of the players would rather not play with him. Unfortunately, nothing will change just because they made it to a grand final.

So now, they move on to the Pimp era.

Pimp is another European import who has a record of being a hard teammate. He was formerly a rifler and awper on SK Gaming, which was previously Dignitas.

Pimp obviously isn’t as good as s1mple, but he isn’t a terrible player. His performance on SK was mediocre, but it was his performance on Dignitas which really stood out. When he was on Dignitas, which was nearly a year ago, Pimp was a great player. He could Awp, he could rifle, and he was effective. He was one of the most important players on Dignitas; however, the team had decided to kick him and his confidence became shattered the following months. Since then, Pimp has lost some of his moves that worked so well before.

If Liquid can somehow bring back his confidence, Pimp could very well turn into his former self from a year ago… which is just what Liquid needs.

As a rifler who can also be a secondary AWPer, he’ll be able to fill a similar role to S1mple.

A Realistic Look Into the Future

-pimp, +s1mple

That was the immediate response from the community after Liquid’s successful ride to the grand finals. It’s a plausible response, and it definitely would be great if s1mple could stay with Liquid, but that’s a perfect scenario that isn’t going to happen; however, I don’t think that adding in Pimp will result in a massive decline for Liquid.

You have to remember that there are four other players on Liquid, and those four players also made it to the grand final. With the experience of making it to a semi-final and grand final, the players on Liquid will naturally get better. They now know what it’s like to be at the top, and they know what it takes to be at the top. They also know that they have the capability to be the best, so they’ll be more motivated than ever to return to that winning position.

S1mple was great for Liquid, but he isn’t the end-all-be-all that people perceive him as. S1mple is a player that will either win you the game, or lose you the game, and bringing in Pimp will actually bring more stability to the roster.

Pimp has said before that he is approaching the move to America differently than how S1mple did, so Liquid won’t run into the same problem again. Pimp is taking this opportunity as a blessing, instead of a task; which is the complete opposite of how S1mple took it.

Championships in Counter-Strike aren’t determined by a single player. Teams that rely heavily on one player rarely ever reach the top. Liquid doesn’t need to be carried, they have more than enough talent, and with Pimp, Liquid can find consistency in something that won’t leave them. They can develop for a future that they can be sure of.

All I’m saying is, give the man a chance first.

One Final Farewell

Goodbye S1mple. We will never know what could have happened if you had stayed. History probably would have been made — more than once. You could have been the super star and savior of an entire region; however, being unable to accept your differences combined with your inability to see your own future has marked you as a legend that could have been one of the all-time greats. Instead, your story is cut short. Despite the disappointing and sad ending to a historic and memorable ride, we can’t keep on talking about the negatives without being overcome with the positives. You helped push Liquid to 2 successful Major tournaments. You helped accomplish a semi-final and grand final placement on the biggest stage Counter-Strike has to offer, and for those achievements, we send you off (to your next journey) with well-wishes and sadness.
As your story ends here, another one begins.

We are now in the Pimp era of Team Liquid. We should be excited to see what he can bring to the table, because as far as I know, moving to another country to play Counter-Strike will push you harder than ever. Instead of contemplating the past, we should discuss the future and accept it with open arms.

Liquid will be just fine everyone.

Assistance in editing: Nohte

Photos: Helena Kristiansson / ESL

Featured photo: Adela Sznajder

Eric 'Xenon' Yu

Eric ‘Xenon’ Yu is a high school student from the Bay Area. He is also an e-sports writer. In his free time, he studies foreign languages, hangs out with friends, and follows Counter Strike. You can reach out to him on twitter @xenoncs