Liquid’s experienced leadership and quiet confidence set stage for strong run in Seattle
With this year’s iteration of The International fast approaching, it seems appropriate to offer fans both new and old a breakdown of who it is they’re going to be watching in Seattle. This series of posts will each be dedicated to one of the 18 teams that will be participating in The International 2017, with the aim of giving readers a brief overview of the teams, their position coming into TI, and what their expectations might be. Please note that these posts will not contain a comprehensive history of the teams, nor will they go into minute detail for each of the players. There are more thorough breakdowns for teams and players available out there, a la SirActionSlacks’ “TI Down Low” series. These posts aim to provide something more akin to an “in a nutshell” level of information. We continue looking at the directly invited teams with our second European squad – Team Liquid.
Coming into TI7, Team Liquid have somehow managed to maintain a relatively low profile among the direct invitees. Out of all of the directly invited teams at TI7, Team Liquid is probably the one receiving the least amount of consideration with regards to its likelihood of winning the Aegis of Champions. Perhaps Team Liquid have not made the biggest splash in the eyes of the Dota 2 scene, but the squad itself is not likely to care about this opinion. The team has a wealth of talent and confidence, and benefits from having perhaps one of the greatest minds in Dota 2 history sitting in the captain’s chair. Kuroky, Liquid’s captain, is not only a veteran presence but an incredibly experienced drafter and a proven winner. Under his leadership, the Liquid roster has been consistently put into a position to succeed, and the squad has made the most of those opportunities.
Just like all of the other directly invited teams at TI7, the expectations for Team Liquid can be considered to be moderately high. The team is probably not looking at The International with a “Championship or bust” sort of mentality, but that doesn’t mean that the team is not capable of winning it all. While Liquid may run into some matchups at TI in which they will not be favored, there isn’t any team in the field that the team doesn’t have the skills and ability to bring down. Liquid has a near perfect storm of strong leadership, skilled and creative players at the core positions, stable and reliable contribution from its support players, and supreme confidence in its own abilities.
Since finalizing its current roster in January of 2017, Team Liquid has put up a series of encouraging performances. The team qualified for and won the StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3, defeating Vici Gaming.J and Wings Gaming in the group stage before taking out TNC and earning a second win against VG.J in the grand final. Unfortunately, Liquid had a rough stretch in the month of April, posting results from the Dota 2 Asia Championships and the Kiev Major that led some to fear that the team was losing its edge. The team posted a 5-5 group stage record at DAC before being knocked out of the tournament by Team Faceless in a best-of-one deciding match. Liquid looked slightly better at the Kiev Major with a 6-4 overall group stage record and a win in the first round of the playoffs against fellow direct invitee Newbee. Though the next round came with a 1-2 loss to Invictus Gaming, the European squad looked to be righting the ship, and things only got better from that point forward. Liquid has really hit its stride following Kiev, playing in top form and having the results to back it up. Liquid placed 2nd in the EU Group stage of DreamLeague Season 7, qualifying for the LAN finals and standing its ground against a field that included 3 other TI teams. Within days of this performance the team won the StarLadder i-League Invitational #2 beating Invictus Gaming and TNC Pro Team, both of which are teams that will be in attendance at TI7. Liquid’s most recent and highest profile win came at Epicenter 2017, an event that featured an incredible 7 TI7 attendees. After a 5-5 group stage record, the team one series against Virtus Pro, LGD.FY, and Evil Geniuses to claim 1st place. Overall, Team Liquid placed 6 series against other TI teams and managed to win 4 of them. If anyone had any doubts about Liquid’s ability to contend with other top level teams, these recent results should go a long way to assuage those doubts.
Team Liquid somehow comes into TI7 as a team that is potentially being overlooked by many. While it may not receive as much attention as some of the other, higher profile teams at The International, Team Liquid has the talent and leadership to make a deep run in Seattle, and the potential to win the whole thing. Liquid’s improved performances against top level competition and string of impressive victories should have the squad as a serious contender for the Aegis of Champions. Time will tell if Team Liquid comes up lame, or whether this squad manage to find success and truly play the part of a dark horse in Seattle.