The Choke Factor: Why Liquid Can’t Pull Through

By: EsportsOnly.Com
Jan 30, 2017

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Being a fan of Liquid’s CS:GO team is a bit like eating 10 pounds of cotton candy at once. You know the happiness will only last a short while, and then transition into inevitable pain and suffering. But you do it anyway. When you’re engulfed in the happiness of the candy, you become delusional. You post on forums about how cotton candy is the best candy from North America by far, and how pink cotton candy could be the best candy in the world. And then, when the inevitable crash occurs, you wonder why you ever believed in cotton candy, and promise yourself, you’ll never support it again. But of course, you do. “Zews will end Liquid’s curse!” You manage to choke out behind tears, as more rounds tick by without a timeout called. And thus, the cycle of hatred, anger, and temporary fabricated happiness continues.


Once again, Liquid faltered after a strong start at the major. EliGE looked very good throughout the tournament, putting up a ridiculous 96 damage per round. Jdm also had a strong showing, getting 2nd in AWP kills per round. However, despite the star individual performances, Liquid were unable to make it to playoffs. Their games were close, with 2 of their 3 losses going to overtime. In these overtime situations, it seemed like they were just a second away from winning, only for the game to slip out of their hands. Particularly in their 19-17 loss to FaZe, Liquid were in a great position to win. They managed to win the first 8 rounds on T side, a feat unheard of on such as heavily CT-sided map as Nuke. In overtime as well, they looked poised to close out the game. Instead, they fell flat, as Liquid’s choking problem rose to the surface once more, and FaZe stole another game from the North American team.  

Liquid’s failure in these situations has become a pattern rather than an anomaly. First, let’s take a look at the most questionable round from their game on Nuke, round 2 of overtime. The round starts incredibly well for Liquid. EliGE manages to land an incredible double kill outside, giving Liquid the 2-man advantage. With a 2-man advantage, Liquid fall back, seeing no need for aggression. But here they make a massive mistake. They take Nitr0 off of ramp to watch A site with 3 other members of Team Liquid. In the meantime, Pimp, who was watching outside, retreats to a position only useful if FaZe were to wrap around heaven. FaZe take advantage of this, walking down ramp to take the B site. The rotation time of TL’s players gives FaZe a positional advantage. That, along with a foolish peak by EliGE, gives FaZe a 3v5 round out of nowhere.

This situation never should have happened. Liquid had no intel whatsosever on FaZe apart from the fact that 3 of their players went outside early on. There was nothing to suggest that Liquid should give up B entirely. Their rotations didn’t really even make much sense. Nitr0’s rotation provided another man on A, but he held almost the exact same position as jdm. Even if Nitr0 had remained on ramp, FaZe still would have had plenty of options. Pimp’s hold was so passive that FaZe could have snuck through outside into secret without using a smoke. The round was an example of a gross over-rotation from Liquid.



A lack of map control due to poor rotations seemed to be a theme with Liquid. Another example of this would be round 18 of regular time. Liquid were coming off a victory in the previous round, putting FaZe Clan on a force buy. FaZe went for an A rush. They immediately got a frag onto Pimp, who was playing at mini but were then traded. At this point, Liquid had spotted the bomb on KioshiMa, but only as he was clearly retreating from his forward position in hut. With Pimp down, Liquid had no outside control. Despite this, they once again rotated Nitr0 from ramp room to help out in heaven. Kio then dropped down to vents and planted the bomb, creating a difficult 2v3 retake situation for Liquid. Fortunately, Hiko and jdm clutched the round, but it was extremely close. 

 TeamLiquid CSGO

This is another strange unforced error from Liquid. As soon as Pimp dies, Liquid should realize the ability of FaZe to go for the vents play. No one was playing close enough to stop it, and 2 members of FaZe had pushed out onto the site to cover him in case Liquid did go for an aggressive push. In this situation, Nitr0 could have positioned himself in ramp to be able to stop the vents rotate from FaZe. Instead, he rotates to heaven in order to stop the A push from FaZe. Once again, FaZe have tons of options here. Using rain and Allu as a distraction, Kio and karrigan could have freely rushed through ramp and gotten site control. These low-intel rotations give the enemy team an opportunity to get back into the round by leaving spots open. In a normal situation, jdm and Hiko should be enough to stop an A push if they keep themselves at medium range and cover each other’s flanks. This would still free up Nitr0 to watch for a mid-round rotation. By giving these positions up, Liquid only slightly better their chances at holding one site while completely giving up control on the other. The result of this round is a bomb plant, 2 saved AKs with kevlar, and enough economic damage from FaZe to allow the terrorists to go for another force.  

Clearly, Liquid have a serious problem with overaggressive calls. Instead of holding back, and giving themselves more space to work with, they seem to prefer immediate stacks and pushes. While this can work, it can also be deadly. If you win several rounds in a row using this method, then it feels like it’s tried and true. But in reality, that could just be luck of the draw, and if the opposing team can clear their heads make some better mid-round calls, it can be very difficult to break out of the throw. It’s hard to say why Liquid struggle so much with this. Since their historic run at MLG Columbus, Liquid have gone through 3 coaches and several IGLs, but the problem has persisted. Whatever the issue may be, it’s obviously holding Liquid back.