Understanding the new Liquid, a statistical deep dive

One of the more interesting moves of the off-season, let's see how Liquid's EU expedition is shaping up.

Over the summer player break, Liquid picked up two curious additions to their squad, Robert "Patsi" Isyanov and Aleks "Rainwaker" Petrov. Before they played their first match, I took a look at these players to see how they would fit into the now European squad. I deduced that while Patsi was one of the most active players in the scene, Rainwaker was one of the most passive. With Patsi and Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis the two most aggressive and Keith "NAF" Markovic and Rainwaker the two most laid-back, it was interesting to see whether or not the perfect segmentation of roles would work out for the squad.

Following a surprisingly positive performance at BLAST Fall Groups with surprise victories over FaZe and G2, Liquid went out with a whimper at IEM Cologne, not even making it out of the play-in stage of the tournament. Following that, at Gamers8 Liquid struck out of the tournament without a single map to their name. With such a change in the team, how are they playing? What has changed in their positions and playstyles? Let's find out.


Let's take a look at where all the Liquid members play on the six maps they've played so far and see how that compares to the previous roster. Using this, we can see who Damian "daps" Steele and YEKINDAR have elected to give the star roles, and who is given the passive, anchor roles. In theory, Patsi and YEKINDAR should take the aggressive, opening duel spots near the middle of the maps with NAF and Rainwaker holding onto the extremities, supporting their aggressive players. Josh "oSee" Ohm is left out of these graphics because as an AWPer, he often floats around various parts of the map depending on YEKINDAR's call.

The first thing we can see with these graphs is that reality agrees with the theory. Patsi and YEKINDAR are in the most active positions while NAF and Rainwaker play with supreme passivity. There have been a few shuffles with EliGE exiting the fold, but nothing too surprising. YEKINDAR has changed from Catwalk to Connector on Mirage, from Middle/Donut to Cave on Ancient, and is in more of a rotative position on Vertigo. NAF switched his anchor point from A to B on Ancient, making room for Rainwaker, and is in a slightly more active position on Vertigo, but nothing fancy.

Overall, we can see that by and large, the changes make sense. It's exactly what you would expect from two hyper-aggressive and two hyper-passive players. But, just theory does not translate into results quite yet. As we know, Liquid failed to qualify for the BLAST Fall Final and barely made a squeak at Cologne before leaving Riyadh as soon as they arrived to Gamers8. So then, let's take a look at the other side of the coin, playstyle.


In the graph above, we plot the aggression of Liquid's old roster against the new one. Here are where I see the biggest stylistic issues of the team. In the previous Liquid system, each player was very clear in their roles. YEKINDAR was the first man in, without fail, and his high-impact CT-positions kept him in the top right of the graph. Meanwhile, NAF lurked, rarely taking an opening engagement, with his ultra-passive CT-roles condemning him to the bottom left of the graph. The rest of the pack followed closely behind YEKINDAR, sometimes taking opening duels but letting the Latvian do the hard entrying.

In the newest version of Liquid, I see a team still struggling to find its identity. Once the tip of Liquid's spear, YEKINDAR now barely takes an above-average amount of opening duels. Of course, part of this could be due to his move into a leadership role, but we already have plenty of IGLs at the tier-one level who entry for their team, such as Finn "karrigan" Andersen, Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer, and Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen.

Patsi has slid in well to the T-side opener role, but still takes less than average opening duels on the CT-side, despite his power positions. oSee, the man graced with the big green, is near the absolute bottom of the graph, rarely ever taking his firepower superiority into the early round. This isn't generally an issue as most teams can find success with passive T-side AWPing, but it represents a change from the previous Liquid paradigm.

Furthermore, genuinely one of the most baffling things I see in Liquid's games is the number of times Rainwaker is the one taking the first duels. Why is the player brought in for dedicated support and anchor roles ever taking opening duels when the likes of Patsi and YEKINDAR are on the team?

In a post-match interview at BLAST Fall Groups, NAF said he now has "the option to play passive or aggressive". It seems that he has elected to stay with the former as he continues to be Liquid's most passive player.


For the most part, the roles in the new Team Liquid align with the playstyles of the two new players the organization picked up. However, once we look at the specific opening engagement taken by Liquid's members, we get an inkling into potentially why the new team has failed at their most recent endeavors. Rainwaker was brought in to unlock NAF and take the burden of support roles so the Canadian superstar can finally show off his individual prowess. But, according to the statistics, Rainwaker is not playing the ultra-passive roles we assumed he would slot into. Whether this is unintentional and will be ironed out over the next few months or a deliberate part of YEKINDAR and daps' plan, we cannot say for certain.

What we can say is that while Liquid may not have succeded in their events thus far, their schedule has been brutal. Truth be told, they've only lost against a single team outside the top ten with the new roster. Asking a team to be instantly competitive after changing IGLs, players, positions, and regions is a far-fetched ask.

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