Prelude for a Champion 2019: A TI9 Team Profile – Team Liquid

History Calling?: TI7 Champion Team Liquid returns to the TI stage in Shanghai with an updated roster as the team looks to become the first ever multiple TI winner in Dota 2 history

With the conclusion of the second even Dota 2 Pro Circuit campaign, the attention of the Dota 2 world now shifts to the game’s biggest and most prestigious of stages: The International. The 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season set the stage, but now the time has come for 18 of the world’s best teams to take their shot at earning immortality as they look to cement their place in Dota 2 history with a victorious run at The International 2019 in Shanghai, China. For the first time in its history, TI moves away from the western world into the waiting arms of the Chinese scene, with TI9 set to be hosted in the Mercedes-Benz Arena as the venue will transform into the crucible from which one squad will emerge with the Aegis of Champions in hand. With the even itself fast approaching, this series will serve to highlight each of the 18 participating squads that will be making their way to Shanghai in the hopes of becoming TI9 Champion. Each post will focus upon a specific team in the field for this event, with a small overview of the organization’s history, a review of its 2018-2019 season, a run down of the members of its roster, keys to success entering TI9, and expectations for the squad at the event itself. Whether one is a newcomer to the pro scene or an avid Pro Circuit spectator, these posts will hopefully serve as a useful source of information or a refresher course on the teams that will be battling it out in Shanghai in August. With that in mind, we will turn our attention to 1 of the 5 European squads in the field for this event, and 1 of 5 TI9 participants to have previously claimed the Aegis of Champions: TI7 Champion Team Liquid.

 

Team Liquid 600px-Team_liquid_logo_2017

Region: Europe

Pro Circuit Rank: 5th (5,820 Pro Circuit Points)

Qualification Method: Direct Invite (Pro Circuit Top 12)

2018-2019 Pro Circuit Event Appearances: 4 (2 Top 4 Finishes)

Previous TI Appearances: TI3 (7th-8th), TI4 (9th-10th), TI6 (7th-8th), TI7 (1st), TI8 (4th)

 

2018-2019 Season Notable Achievements:

Pro Circuit Majors:
2nd – MDL Disneyland Paris Major
2nd – EPICENTER Major
7th-8th – The Chongqing Major
13th-16th – DreamLeague Season 11 Major

Pro Circuit Qualifiers:
1st-2nd – MDL Disneyland Paris Major Europe Closed Qualifier
2nd – DreamLeague Season 10 Europe Qualifier
2nd – The Chongqing Major Europe Qualifier
2nd – EPICENTER Major 2019 Europe Closed Qualifier
3rd – DreamLeague Season 11 Europe Qualifier
5th-6th – The Kuala Lumpur Major Europe Qualifier

Non-Pro Circuit Events:
International:
1st – MegaFon Winter Clash
1st – MDL Macau 2019
7th-8th – ESL One Birmingham 2019

 

Team History

While Team Liquid stands as one of the premier teams in the European region today, the organization’s root in the Dota 2 world go back across the Atlantic Ocean to the North American region. Team Liquid fielded its first Dota 2 squad back in December of 2012, with the squad quickly working towards making a name for itself over the first half of 2013. The team’s early efforts were met with success, as Team Liquid was able to earn itself a direct invite to TI3, where it put together an impressive 7th-8th place performance at the event. In the wake of TI3, the squad underwent a couple of changes to its roster, but managed to close out the year in solid fashion with 4 Top 4 finishes in its final 7 appearances. 2014 saw the squad remain strong within its home region, though its presence on the international level dwindled a bit, forcing the team to play through the regional qualifiers to earn itself a return trip to the TI stage at TI4. After a 9th-10th place finish at the event itself though, Team Liquid’s lineup collapsed. By the end of the year, the organization had parted ways with every member of its roster, with the team announcing that it was going inactive with no clear plans for a return to the Dota 2 world.

Team Liquid would eventually make a return to Dota 2, but it did so around a year after the collapse of its previous roster while shifting from North America to the European region with the signing of 5Jungz. The organization’s new lineup was met with immediate success, as the team earned Top 4 finishes in 7 of its 9 appearances in the second half of 2015, and carried that considerable momentum over into 2016. The team earned itself back to back 2nd place finishes at The Shanghai Major 2016 and The Manila Major 2016 to go along with a slew of Top 4 finishes both within the European region and on the international level. Those impressive performance made the squad an easy choice for a direct invite to TI6, where the team put together a 7th-8th place performance in its first TI appearance as a European organization. The post-TI period did see the squad undergo some changes to its roster, but those changes did little to slow it down over the final months of 2016 as Team Liquid claimed 7 Top 4 finishes in 9 appearances including a victory in DreamLeague Season 6. The team started out 2017 with one more change to its roster, and that final shift in its lineup proved to be the catalyst for a dominant stretch for the European squad. Between January of the end of July, Team Liquid earned 7 Top 4 finishes in 9 appearances, finishing in the 5th-8th place position at The Kiev Major 2017 while winning both EPICENTER 2017 and DreamLeague Season 7. In August, the squad followed up that strong stretch with the ultimate success in the Dota 2 world, as the team claimed the Aegis of Champions in Seattle with a 3-0 victory over Newbee in the TI7 Grand Finals.

The conclusion of TI brought about the first ever Pro Circuit season, and the newly crowned TI7 Champions continued their string of dominance in the Dota 2 world. The team started off its 2017-2018 campaign with an incredible 11 straight Top 4 finishes, as Team Liquid came to epitomize consistent success on the international level. Though the squad’s run of successive Top 4 finishes was eventually broken by a 5th-6th place finish at DAC 2018, the squad had already established itself as one of the leading teams in the Dota 2 world. In the final event of the season though, the European powerhouse put together one more impressive showing to remind the world of just how much the squad was capable of, claiming the organization’s first ever Major Championship title with a victorious campaign at the China Dota2 SuperMajor. With its regular season run concluded, Team Liquid’s focus shifted towards its defense of its title of TI Champion as the squad made its way to Vancouver for TI8. While the squad put together an incredibly strong showing at the event, it fell short of the mark to repeat as TI Champions, finishing in 4th place overall.

 

Season in Review

Coming into the 2018-2019 Pro Circuit season, Team Liquid looked like a squad that had every reason to be confident, as the squad returned with the entirety of its TI7 winning roster. Unfortunately, the team’s campaign began with something of a stumble, as the squad failed to qualify for the first Major of the season. While the squad subsequently qualified for the season’s first Minor, health issues forced the squad to withdraw from the event. Just under two months later, the squad lost a vital part of its organization, as Coach Heen left the team after a period of over 2 years with the squad. The team was able to get over that slow start though, with Team Liquid qualifying for the season’s second Major while displaying its strength on the international level with a 1st place performance in the MegaFon Winter Clash. The 2019 section of the season was set to begin with the team’s appearance at The Chongqing Major, but the team was once again beset by out-of-game issues as it made said appearance without Midlaner Miracle-.

Even with a stand-in playing with the squad though, Team Liquid was able to represent itself well at The Chongqing Major, earning a 7th-8th place finish that earned the team its first Pro Circuit Points of the season. In February, the squad appeared to be finally building up some momentum for itself, with the squad qualifying for another Major while claiming its second international LAN title with a win at MDL Macau 2019. Unfortunately, that momentum disappeared once the squad reached the Major itself, with Team Liquid posting a disappointing 13th-16th place finish at the DreamLeague Season 11 Major. The rollercoaster ride that was Team Liquid’s season didn’t end there though, as the European squad bounced back 2 months later to put together an incredible 2nd place performance at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major that earned the team enough Pro Circuit Points to earn a direct invite to TI9. With the squad’s place in Shanghai now secured, it appeared that Team Liquid was ready to settle down and close out the 2018-2019 campaign without any further surprises. Things didn’t quite work out that way though, as Team Liquid made the bombshell announcement in June that it was parting ways with Carry MATUMBAMAN and bringing in former paiN Gaming Midlaner w33 to replace him. The move shook up a roster that had remained intact for over 2 years and won both a Major Championship and a TI title. However, the team’s new roster did manage to close out its season with a strong showing on the Pro Circuit stage, posting a 2nd place performance at the EPICENTER Major to conclude an absolutely wild 2018-2019 campaign.

 

Roster

Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi (Carry)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 9.34 kills, 7.27 assists, 3.46 deaths per game (100 matches)

Miracle- comes into TI9 as one of the most well known and highly regarded players in the Dota 2 world, but his path to success at the professional level certainly hasn’t been an easy one. Miracle-‘s career began in 2015 as a member of the relatively minor European squad Balkan Bears, though his time with the squad would last just over 3 months. In the months that followed, Miracle- would gain notoriety as one of Europe’s most talented pub stars, earning the highest MMR in the European leaderboards. That achievement drew some attention, and in August of 2015, Miracle- was picked up as a member of the (monkey) Business roster that would go on to create OG. As a member of OG, Miracle- would attend all 3 of the first Dota 2 Majors, winning 2 of them with the squad. After a 9th-12th place finish at TI6 though, Miracle parted ways with OG and made his way to the roster of Team Liquid, where he has remained ever since. In this 2018-2019 season, Miracle has shifted away from his Carry/Mid hybrid role, focusing much more on the Carry role, especially after the addition of w33 to the team’s lineup. That shift in focus has resulted in some impressive results for both Miracle- and Team Liquid, with the Carry excelling on high damage dealing hyper-carries along the lines of Morphling, Phantom Assassin, Terrorblade, and Anti-Mage this season. His average of 329 Last Hits per game sits at 10th among all players at TI9, but Miracle-‘s contributions to his squad are not limited to his ability to farm. He also comes into TI9 averaged an incredible 9.65 kills per game as well, a mark that is highest among all players attending the event. In fact, the next highest average (ana of OG) is nearly half a kill per game below Miracle-‘s average (9.65 compared to 9.09). In this situation, the numbers certainly don’t lie, and Miracle- enters TI9 as one of the elite talents in the Dota 2 world with a chance to lead Team Liquid to victory on the TI stage in Shanghai.

 

Aliwi “w33” Omar (Mid)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 6.76 kills, 8.43 assists, 3.24 deaths per game (21 matches)

w33 comes into TI9 as the first new player to join Team Liquid in over 2 years, and the Romanian Midlaner does so after many years of hopping across teams and even regions. His career began back in 2014 as a member of Balkan Bears, and he would spend the first year or so moving between lesser known squads in the European region. AFter stints with teams like Balkan Bears, MeePwn’d, and 4 Clover & Lepricon, w33 was picked up by Team Secret in August of 2015. With Team Secret, w33 would find his first significant success in the Dota 2 world, attending 2 Majors and winning 1 of them (The Shanghai Major 2016). In March of 2016 though, w33 was removed from the Team Secret lineup, with the Midlaner finding his way to the roster of Digital Chaos soon after. As a member of Digital Chaos, w33 was instrumental in the team’s famous TI6 run, in which the team made it all the way to the Grand Finals before losing to Wings Gaming for a 2nd place finish at the event. In 2017 though, the Digital Chaos roster underwent some organizational changes, playing by the name Thunderbirds for about a month before signing on with Planet Odd for a period of around 3 month before officially disbanding in August of 2017. w33 would spend the first half of the 2017-2018 season with a trio of squads in the European region before making the shift to South American in April of 2018 as a member of paiN Gaming. w33 began the 2018-2019 season as a member of paiN Gaming as well, but in January of 2019, the team’s roster was signed by Chaos Esports Club. However, the team’s move to the European region saw w33 part ways with the organization, eventually landing with Team Liquid in June. Though he has only been with the squad for a period of around 2 months now, w33 had already displayed his value as the team’s new Midlaner. In the matches that we’ve seen from him, w33 has continued to show a penchant for high damage heroes with heavy amounts of team fight contribution. Heroes like WindRanger and Templar Assassin have been his most played with Team Liquid, but the likes of Invoker, Outworld Devourer, and even his signature Meepo have popped up in his short time with the team. w33’s versatility and talent have been apparent throughout his career, and the hope is that those skills can get Team Liquid back to the top of the mountain in the Dota 2 world as the squad pursues its second TI title in Shanghai.

 

Ivan Borislavov “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov (Offlane)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 3.89 kills, 12.37 assists, 4.89 deaths per game (111 matches)

Like many of the other members of this Team Liquid roster, MinD_ContRoL has earned himself a reputation as one of the strongest players at his position, with the Bulgarian Offlaner standing in elite company in the Dota 2 world. Another similarity that he shares with some of his teammates is the fact that his professional career has fairly humble origins within the European region. MinD_ContRoL’s career began back in 2014 as a member of a small squad called Vast Cast. In April of 2014, the Vast Cast lineup was picked up by Aftershock Gaming, playing with the organization for around 7 months before leaving to form Basically Unknown in November. The team made a number of appearances in minor regional events, but never really found a significant level of success, and by May of 2015, MinD_ContRoL had parted ways with the squad. He would spend a period of around 3 months on the roster of hehe united, before being asked to join the 5Jungz in August of 2015. That 5Jungz lineup would go on to be signed by Team Liquid in October of 2015, and MinD_ContRoL has remained with the organization ever since. Across the 2018-2019 season, MinD_ContRoL has largely been employed by Team Liquid as a team fight controller and initiator, preferring heroes with big team fight abilities or heavy levels of lockdown. His most played heroes this season include Dark Seer, Sand King, Beastmaster, Tidehunter, and Enigma, with his play style focusing upon hitting that one big team fight winning spell. However, team fight power has not been MinD_ContRoL’s only strength this season, as he has also put in a number of appearances with more damage oriented core heroes likes Nature’s Prophet and Doom. Between those two groups of heroes, MinD_ContRoL has given Team Liquid a bevy of options in terms of its strategies, with his variable style of play allowing the team to largely control the pace of play regardless of how that desired pace has changed. So long as he continues to make consistent contributions with whatever hero he is put on, Team Liquid will find itself in a favorable position in just about every match up that it will face in Shanghai.

 

Maroun “GH” Merhej (Support)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 2.95 kills, 13.82 assists, 5.86 deaths per game (111 matches)

GH has proven himself to be one of the elite Supports within the Dota 2 world, but as one of the few Lebanese players in the game, his path to notoriety and success was certainly not guaranteed. The Middle East has been a geographical region that has not often played much of a role in the Dota 2 world, with only a handful of players emerging from the region to find success in the game. GH’s career began in 2014 as a member of the Wired Gaming lineup that would go on to be signed by E-LAB, one of the first Middle Eastern organization’s in the Dota 2 world. While E-LAB never really emerged as a major power within the European region, its efforts attracted a bit of attention from the region’s other organizations. GH himself left the team some time in 2016, but in January of 2017 he was officially introduced as a member of Team Liquid, and he has remained with the organization ever since. Over the course of this 2018-2019 season, GH has focused upon playing 2 roles for Team Liquid, employing a mix of both aggressive gank oriented heroes and team fight controllers. In the first category, GH’s most played heroes feature picks like Earth Spirit, Nyx Assassin, and Shadow Shaman with emphasis on maneuverability and lock down potential. In the second category, GH has frequently picked up the likes of Earthshaker, Keeper of the Light, and Magnus, focusing upon dominating team fights and keeping opponent constantly fearful of his ability to execute team fight winning plays. GH has found success with both play styles this season, with the Support leading the team in average assists with a mark of 13.82 per game. While that number isn’t quite as high as some of the other top Supports at TI9 (15th highest average among Supports), GH’s consistent contributions have proven to be incredibly valuable for Team Liquid over the course of his time with the team. If the European squad wants to have a strong shot at claiming its second TI title in Shanghai, then it will need to continue to rely upon GH to consistently create opportunities for success.

 

Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi (Support, Captain)

Season averages (Pro Circuit events and Closed Qualifiers only): 2.70 kills, 13.02 assists, 6.32 deaths per game (111 matches)

At this stage in his career, it feels safe to say that KuroKy stands among the most legendary figures in the history of Dota 2. The veteran Support and Captain has guided his squad to the pinnacle of success in the professional scene, and he is aiming to do so again with Team Liquid at TI9. KuroKy has had to put in quite a bit of work to reach this stage though, with his career in Dota 2 stretching back all the way to 2011. After coming over from DotA, KuroKy began his time in Dota 2 as a member of GosuGamers.net, attending the first iteration of The International with the team. In 2012, KuroKy moved into the CIS region, spending several months with Virtus.pro and Uebelst gamynG before finishing out the year on the roster of mousesports, making an unsuccessful appearance at TI2 with the European squad. In February of 2013, KuroKy parted ways with the mousesports organization, moving back to the CIS region as a member of Na’Vi. As a member of Na’Vi KuroKy would become part of the most dominant run we’ve ever seen in the Dota 2 world, as the team strung together 11 straight Top 4 finishes in top level competitions across most of 2013, including a 2nd place performance at TI3. In 2014 though, the team’s momentum began to win down, and after a 7th-8th place showing at TI4, KuroKy left the team to join the newly formed Team Secret. With KuroKy on the roster, Team Secret quickly emerged as a powerful force in the Dota 2 world, stringing together a slew of Top 4 finishes before finishing in the 7th-8th place position at TI5. In the aftermath of that event, KuroKy left the organization to found another squad in the form of 5Jungz. Just 2 months into its existence, the 5Jungz roster was picked up by Team Liquid, with KuroKy holding the position of Captain for the team ever since. Across the 2018-2019 season, KuroKy’s play style has emphasized lane support and team fight capabilities, with heroes like Chen, Oracle, Abaddon, and Crystal Maiden sitting among his most played. His style of play often ends up being sacrificial in nature, with KuroKy more often than not putting his own life in danger to facilitate success for his teammates. At 6.22 deaths per game, KuroKy does indeed end up dying frequently, with that average leading the Team Liquid roster. However, those 6.22 deaths per game also result in 13.02 assists per game for KuroKy, which the Captain likely views as a worthwhile trade so long as it helps the rest of his squad find success on the TI stage in Shanghai.

 

Roman “rmN-” Paley (Coach)

After losing its coach of over 2 years with Heen’s departure in November of 2018, it was unclear just who would attempt to fill his shoes and take over the position of coach for Team Liquid. While the task certainly appeared daunting, rmN- has stepped up for the squad as its coach over the second half of the 2018-2019 season. Under his guidance, Team Liquid earned 4 Top 4 finishes across its final 7 international appearances, including a pair of 2nd place finishes at the MDL Disneyland Paris and EPICENTER Majors. Considering the fact that rmN- had no previous formal experience as a coach prior to joining Team Liquid, his contributions to the team’s success over the second half of this Pro Circuit campaign have certainly been impressive. Of course, much of Team Liquid’s success can be attributed to the team’s extensive skill and experience, and the fact that 4 of its 5 players have been together for over 2 years now. However, the benefits of having another set of eyes watching the team’s play from an out-of-game perspective is almost always an advantage for a squad, and rmN-‘s insights cannot be overlooked as the squad prepares itself for another run on the TI stage in Shanghai.

 

Keys to Success at TI9

Coming into this event, the term “success” has a number different meanings depending on which team one is discussing. Obviously, the ultimate measure of success for any of the squads attending this event would be to walk away from Shanghai with the Aegis of Champions in hand and the title of TI9 Champion. Considering the fact that only 1 of the 18 participants at TI9 will be able to do that though, and also considering that not all of these teams are regarded as being on an equal footing in terms of skill and experience, a “TI Champions or bust” mentality won’t fit for every squad in the field. With that in mind, this section is not a “do these things and win TI” sort of list in terms of keys to success. Instead, success in this section will be marked in a team’s ability to play its best level of Dota and put itself in the best possible position to push as far up the event standings as it reasonably can.

Rely on Miracle- and w33 to carry the team

Team Liquid comes into TI9 with one of the most dynamic Carry/Mid duos in the game, as the combination of Miracle- and w33 should be a terrifying threat to just about all of the other squads in the field for this event. Both players have earned a reputation for being able to carry teams to wins on the highest level of play, and Team Liquid should not be afraid to rely upon that ability on the TI stage in Shanghai. While MinD_ContRoL is certainly a skilled player in his own right, Team Liquid very rarely calls upon him to play that sort of true third core role that shares comparable levels of farm and damage compared to the Carry/Mid duo. The team’s main focus has almost always been upon that duo, and the pair of Miracle- and w33 have excelled under that system. In fact, the two come into TI9 averaging a combined 16.41 kills per game, which sits as the second highest average among Carry/Mid duos in the field for the event. The only team whose Carry/Mid duo has averaged more kills per game this season is Infamous (16.47 kills per game), and a large part of that higher average stems from the fact that the team has played just 17 official matches with its current roster. Of course, w33 himself has only played 21 official matches as a member of Team Liquid this season, but it’s hard to believe that he and Miracle- won’t be able to continue putting up similar numbers as it heads into TI9 itself. The fact of the matter is that the duo of Miracle- and w33 have more than earned their place among the elite cores in the Dota 2 world, and their impressive production is an advantage that Team Liquid should lean on heavily as it prepares for a run at claiming its second TI title.

Don’t put MinD_ContRoL on “1 spell” heroes too often

When we spoke of MinD_ContRoL earlier in this team profile, it was mentioned that the Bulgarian Offlaner has often been employed as a team fight controller, with heavy emphasis on heroes with the ability to significantly impact the course of an engagement. While this is certainly true, it should be noted that there is a bit more nuance to the actual heroes that MinD_ContRoL has played in pursuit of that style. When MinD_ContRoL has been the most successful for Team Liquid, it has been with heroes that control fights and engagements in multiple ways, and most often with multiple contributing spells. Heroes like Dark Seer, Sand King, and Beastmaster have been his most played and most successful heroes, with a combined win rate of 73.58% in 53 matches. However, it should be noted that his win rate drops significantly when put on the more traditional “1 spell” team fight heroes. Heroes like Tidehunter and Enigma have not been nearly as effective in MinD_ContRoL’s hands, with the Offlaner holding a win rate of just 35.71% in 14 matches on those heroes. That isn’t to say that Team Liquid should avoid those kind of “1 hit wonder” heroes entirely, as MinD_ContRoL has been able to pull out some strong performances and help his team earn wins from time to time. However, those heroes need to be deployed in moderation for Team Liquid, and the squad should focus more on allowing MinD_ContRoL to play heroes with team fight power stemming from more than just a single, execution based combo. MinD_ContRoL often ends up being the most effective when he is able to get right into the middle of a fight from the very start, and pushing him into a position in which he is waiting in the wings for a single high-impact spell seems like a bit of a waste of his skill set and potential in most scenarios.

 

Expectations at TI9

Team Liquid comes into TI9 as a team that has the highest level of ambitions, as the squad is dead set on becoming the first organization in Dota 2 history to claim multiple TI titles. The squad’s season certainly had its ups and downs, with the squad dealing with issues of player health and availability as well as some stretches of inconsistent play. In the end though, the team proved itself still capable of contending with the elite teams in the Dota 2 world, and with its newly updated roster ready to take Shanghai by storm, the squad certainly enters TI9 as one of the more formidable teams in the field. With a roster of talented and experienced players, and a lineup that includes 4 of the 5 players that won TI7, Team Liquid stands poised for a run at Dota 2 history as it looks to cement its place among the most legendary teams to ever play the game.

The question for Team Liquid coming into this event is whether or not it has what it takes to claim that coveted second TI title. There was quite a bit of concern surrounding this team over much of the 2018-2019 campaign, as the squad got off to an incredibly slow start that it didn’t appear to fully recover from for quite some time. However, many of the issues around that slow start had to do with out-of-game issues, and once the team returned to more active play it was clear that it was still more than capable of contending with the elite teams in the Dota 2 world. Across the entirety of the 2018-2019 season, Team Liquid put together an impressive 70-51 record against its fellow TI9 participants. For many of the other teams in the field for this event, their record against the other TI9 teams is often inflated by stronger numbers in their home region compared to the international level. For Team Liquid though, this trend is actually reversed, as the team was stronger against TI9 participants from outside of Europe than it was against its own regional rivals. Against international opposition, Team Liquid posted a 47-24 record, while its mark against its fellow European representatives at TI9 sits at 23-27. With that ind mind, the squad is set to enter TI9 itself in a rather favorable position, as it has been able to find success against the best squads in the Dota 2 world with a relative degree of consistency this season.

So Team Liquid comes into TI9 as one of the leading squads in the field, but should the European team be considered one of the favorites to lay claim to the Aegis of Champions in Shanghai? There are still one or two lingering concerns regarding the team’s recent roster change, as w33 looked good in his few appearances with the team but has still played just 21 official matches for the team coming into this event. Is the squad potentially in danger of suffering some sort of setback or collapse on the TI stage in Shanghai. The short answer to that question is probably “no”, as the squad has proven itself to be consistent against top level competition this season, and there is little reason to believe that a player of w33’s experience and caliber would suddenly fall victim to the pressure of playing at TI. The team has a pedigree of success both within the European region and on the international level, and it comes into this event with 4 of the 5 players that won TI7 still in its lineup. Between the team’s consistent performances against its fellow TI9 participants this season, the extensive skill and experience of its roster, and the legendary leadership of its Captain, KuroKy, Team Liquid appears to have everything it needs to take a legitimate shot at becoming the first team to ever win multiple TI titles. Barring some sort of catastrophic failure on the TI stage, we can reasonable expect Team Liquid to find itself in the upper sections of the event standings in Shanghai, with the squad likely to be one of the favorites to claim the Aegis of Champions at TI9.

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