The name Team Liquid carries with it a wide range of emotions from Dota fans. From its beginning as a ragtag squad of North American stars upsetting teams at The International, Liquid has evolved into a powerhouse. The current iteration of Liquid is a combination of rising stars captained by one of the most storied Dota players in history.
Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen
Amer "Miracle" Al-Barkawi
Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Borislavov
Maroun "GH" Merhej
Kuro Salehi "Kuroky" Takhasomi
Recalling the past year
The road since The International 6 has been a rocky one for Team Liquid. A 7th-8th place finish fell below expectations for what was one of the top contenders to take first going into the competition. Adrian "Fata" Trinks and Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka left the team, and were replaced by Kanishka "BuLba" Sosale and Miracle. Although the acquisition of Miracle seemed like a good thing on paper, it took Liquid some time to adjust to the new roster. Their results with BuLba continued on a disappointing trend, and he was soon replaced by GH. This new Liquid roster ended up taking first place at the sixth season of the Dreamhack DreamLeague, so began their climb back to the top.
Their first win in 2017 was at the finals of the third season of StarLadder iLeague Star Series, where they defeated Vici.J 3-1. Middle of the pack results at the Dota 2 Asia Championships and the Kiev Major cast a shadow of doubt on Liquid's comeback, but they were quickly answered by another win at StarLadder, this time at the second invitational tournament. Liquid's Major victory of the year came in June at EPICENTER: Moscow, where they handily defeated Evil Geniuses 3-1 in the grand finals. Most recently, Liquid repeated their performance at Dreamhack DreamLeague, taking first place in the seventh season. The victory at DreamLeague should serve as great practice, as well as momentum for this Liquid roster going into The International 7. Expectations are high, but Liquid has shown they can handle the pressure so far this summer.
Strategies to watch
Team Liquid's gameplay most often revolves around Miracle's hero. The two most famous examples of this are his Invoker and Anti-Mage. Both of these heroes require a significant amount of experience and gold before directly participating in fights, which is usually where the rest of Liquid comes in. In the recent Dreamleague Season 7 finals, MATUMBAMAN played a number of different heroes to help create space for Miracle. Liquid experimented with durable cores like Venomancer and Viper, as well as letting MATUMBAMAN take control of the game aggressively with Queen of Pain in a match against Vega Squadron.
Liquid has a lot of flexibility in their other roles as well. GH and MinD_ContRoL both play a very impressive Earthshaker, which has become a very popular hero recently. Kuroky's drafting is perhaps Liquid's most deadly tool, however. With such versatile teammates, Kuroky can pick heroes such as Earthshaker or Sand King early on without his opponents knowing if it will be in the support or offlane position. Kuroky's playing and captaining experience will serve Liquid well when The International 7 begins, especially as the tournament evolves a metagame of it's own.