2020 has been a hard year for the North American scene of competitive Counter-Strike. Whilst neither Team Liquid nor Evil Geniuses, the two dominant forces in the region, had been in world-beating form when the online era was introduced in the wake of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the better part of a year playing in localised online regions really has started to take its toll on the NA scene.
All the top teams in the region have been forced to relocate to Europe for a time this year just to remain in the spotlight, but adapting to a whole new region and playstyle when you’re already behind the curve has been a tough ask, and no NA side has managed to win an S-Tier competition hosted from EU this year.
A Tough Year For The Team:
For Team Liquid in particular, this year marked a serious turn in fortunes. 2019 had seen Liquid dominate the scene in a way that no other NA roster had ever managed, romping to five tournament wins and winning the Intel Grand Slam in a record of just 68 days, a record for CS:GO. Their dominance had been halted on the biggest stage of all however with a loss against Astralis at the StarLadder Berlin Major.
And whilst they have never managed to return to the summit of the game’s competitive ranking, Team Liquid have frequently found themselves as favourites in the CS:GO betting markets for most of the events they’ve attended.
The downward spiral of the side since the Berlin Major had already resulted in the roster reshuffling of Nitro (a five year veteran on the team) dropping out and Grim coming in, as well as head coach AdreN being relived of his duties and long time pundit Moses taking the reins as the side’s new coach.
The team were left stranded in North America’s online era for much of 2020, dropping out of the top ten sides ranked in the world for the first time since 2017, before relocating to the official Team Liquid Alienware Training Facility in the Netherlands for the BLAST Fall Showdown, DreamHack Masters Winter and IEM Global Challenge events.
Rounding Out On A High:
Though the BLAST Showdown and DreamHack Masters events didn’t initially yield the results Liquid had been looking for when they made the decision to travel to Europe for the remainder of the year. The side finished 3rd-4th at the showdown after losing to Furia, meaning they didn’t qualify for the finals a month later, and a quick 2-0 loss to Astralis at DreamHack Masters meant they ended the event all the way down in 13-16th.
The IEM Global Challenge marked the final event of the year for the world of CS:GO and really was a last chance saloon for Liquid.
With the stakes higher than they had been throughout the year for the side, Liquid were able to overcome a group containing Furia, Natus Vincere and Heroic, (all of which were higher ranked than them in the HLTV World Rankings heading into the event) and sweep BIG 2-0 in the play offs to face off against Astralis in the grand final.
Whilst the final proved a step too far for Liquid, the event at least reminded the world of the skill the org have to boast and it was nice to see a North American side back at the top of an event’s final standings.
Another Departure And An Uncertain Future:
Mere moments after the IEM Global Challenge final, Liquid were rocked by yet another announcement that one of their core would be leaving.
Twistzz had been a part of the Liquid lineup since 2017 and has established himself as one of the finest riflers in North America, making the top 20 players in the world each year he was with the org. His announcement following the final that he had played his last game for Liquid was a shocking revelation, and leaves a big question mark over where the org is headed in 2021.
NA CS is already on shaky ground with the online era continuing on and the player base shrinking with every online event, and Twistzz marks yet another one of the region’s finest players dropping out of active duty.
It looks like Fallen, one of the game’s most legendary leaders and AWPers, is set to fill in the void left by the 21 year old Canadian, but how he will fit in alongside the likes of Stewie, NAF and Elige remains to be seen.
Who knows what 2021 holds for the world of Counter-Strike, but one can only hope the it marks a far more settled chapter for the likes of Team Liquid.