Team Liquid is a StarCraft II professional team, founded in the Netherlands in 2000. Originally a Brood War clan, the team switched to SC2 during the StarCraft II beta in 2010 and became one of the most successful foreign teams. The team roster's achievements in premier events include winning four DreamHacks, two MLGs, two Assemblies, and one NASL. Liquid is also known for its early involvement in the Korean scene, through a partnership with Old Generations which allowed its players to practice in Korea and to compete in the GSL. As such, the team has been present in Korea for a longer time than any other foreign organisation, and has also been one the most successful in GSL with its players reaching the semifinals four times. Furthermore, Liquid was one of the two foreign teams which competed in a season of the GSTL on its own as well as the first (along with Evil Geniuses via a joint roster) to attend the Proleague.
Team Liquid is also one of the best-known and most widely supported teams in the StarCraft II scene, having some of its players mentioned in mainstream media. The team's activities include the organization of several events, the most notable being the Team Liquid Starleague, an online premier tournament, the third edition of it being one of the most highlighted foreign events in 2011.
Team Liquid is also strongly associated with its website, TeamLiquid.net. Launched on May 1, 2001, it has developed through the years into a focal point for StarCraft coverage, eventually became the most-browsed StarCraft-related website in the world, gathering thousands of members (including several professional players) and centralizing news about the global SC2 scene. The website also feature a progaming database, the TLPD, as well as a wiki dedicated to Brood War, StarCraft II and Dota 2, the Liquipedia.
- 1 History Summary
- 2 Early days and beta
- 3 Partnership with oGs and success in North America
- 4 First major victories in Europe
- 5 Team Liquid StarLeague 3 is launched
- 6 HuK's double coronation in Europe
- 7 Upheaval in the team: HuK leaves Liquid, two players are recruited
- 8 Jinro's fall in GSL and MLG Orlando setback
- 9 HayprO's unexpected run in MLG Providence
- 10 Zenio joins the team
- 11 HerO's big break in DreamHack Winter
- 12 HerO, from success in North America to disappointment in Korea
- 13 2012: TLO and HayprO back in Korea
- 14 References
Brood War era
- To read about Team Liquid's Brood War history, click here
- March 29, TLO and Jinro join the team.
- July 2, HayprO is invited to Team Liquid.
- July 26, Team Liquid unveils The Little App Factory as their new sponsor to become a fully sponsored pro StarCraft II team.
- 13 August, Team Liquid announces that they are moving their European players to Korea for the GOM StarCraft II League. They will be staying in the oGs house.
- 8 September, Team Liquid brings the Dutch Zerg Ret into the squad
- 25 September, HuK joins the team.
- May 8, Team Liquid announces Razer as a new sponsor.
- July 28, Sheth joins Team Liquid.
- August 10, HerO joins Team Liquid.
- August 16, HuK joins Evil Geniuses, leaving Team Liquid.
- October 27, Team Liquid gains the user streaming service, TwitchTV, as a new sponsor.
- November 21, Zenio joins Team Liquid.
- March 29, TaeJa joins TeamLiquid.
- August 7, Jinro retires.
- September 20, HayprO retires.
- October 4, Sea joins TeamLiquid.
- December 4, Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses form EG-Liquid to participate in the upcoming Proleague.
- December 17, Sea retires.
- December 20, Barracuda Networks sponsors the team.
- January 10th, Snute joins TeamLiquid.
- March 3rd, NonY leaves.
- July 30th, NEEDforSEAT sponsors Teamliquid.
- February 22nd - Free agent MaNa (previously of mousesports) joins Team Liquid and Bunny also joins Team Liquid from Copenhagen Wolves.
Early days and beta
Team Liquid was originally a StarCraft: Brood War clan created by Victor "Nazgul" Goossens around the end of 2000. After his involvement in clan [i'm], he started Liquid with the vision to invite only the best players based on personality and talent. Its website, TeamLiquid.net, later developed into the biggest StarCraft: Brood War website in the world.
The clan returned for StarCraft II during the beta, with Nazgul and the long-time member, winner of the 2009 Pokerstrategy.com TSL, Tyler "NonY" Wasieleski, who switched his ID to Tyler. The team eventually recruited Dario "TLO" Wünsch and Jonathan "Jinro" Walsh (also known as the long time TeamLiquid.net moderator FrozenArbiter) after the TeamLiquid SC2 Invitational 1 on March 2010. One month before the official release of the game, the team was strengthened by the arrival of Hayder "HayprO" Hussein from mousesports, three-times winner of the DreamHack during the Brood War era. On July 26, the day before StarCraft II was launched on the market, Team Liquid became a fully fledged sponsored pro-team with the arrival of sponsorship from The Little App Factory, hence having its members playing under the TLAF-Liquid` tag.
Partnership with oGs and success in North America
On the 13th of August, it was announced that Team Liquid had signed a partnership agreement with the Korean team Old Generations, and that it would send three initial players, Nazgul, TLO and Jinro (joined two months later by HayprO) to Korea in preparation for the GOM StarCraft II League, hence becoming the first foreign team involved in the Korean scene on a durable basis. They would be staying in the oGs House and competing in all Korean live events, as well as online events from around the world. In September, Team Liquid recruited Joseph "Ret" de Kroon, a former member of the Korean pro-team eSTRO, and Chris "HuK" Loranger, the recent winner of the 2010 MLG Raleigh. The latter immediately brought two significant achievements to its new team, securing the third place of both the IEM Season V - American Championships and the 2010 MLG D.C. in October. This MLG featured an episode of the HuK/IdrA rivalry, when the latter defeated HuK in a dominating fashion in the finals of the winner's bracket. HuK would later be eliminated in the loser's bracket by SeleCT, after an infamous mothership-rush (which led to the "Don't worry Halo, taht's just StarCraft" meme), hence ending up at the third place. Team Liquid eventually brought home its first victory in a premier events on November 7, when Jinro overwhelmed TT1 in the grand finals of the 2010 MLG Dallas, during a series which was disrupted by a massive shutdown of Battle.net leading to a one-hour blank. The team made an overall great showings, with Tyler, TLO and Ret finishing in the top 8 (respectively fourth, fifth, and seventh). Nazgul also proved that he was more than just a regular team manager by defeating the MLG reigning champion IdrA during the early rounds of the competition, thanks to his Blink Stalker micro-management.
Ret, who already had experience in the area of the Korean scene, and HuK, crowned by his recent achievements, joined their teammates in the oGs-TL house in the following days, in order to compete in the GSL. Team Liquid's beginnings in the Korean league were not overly enthusiastic though, as TLO, Ret and HayprO were systematically eliminated in the early rounds of the competition. After being knocked-out in the first round of the two first GSL Open in August and October, the German player decided to head back to Europe a few days after the arrival of Ret and HuK. However, Jinro did more than living up to the expectations. He indeed went on an incredible run in the 2010 GSL Open Season 3. After eliminating a relatively unknown Zerg player, Drug, in his first match, he faced the Warcraft III legend Moon in the round of 16. Despite being regarded as the underdog, he convincingly knocked him off 2-0, and later defeated Polt by the same scoreline. His opponent in quarterfinals was Choya, with whom he battled in a tied series, which he eventually won 3-2. Jinro's run came to its end in semifinals, as he was crushed 4-0 by MC, but his unexpected performance earned him a lot of credit though. He was indeed the first foreigner to reach the semifinals of a GSL (IdrA was previously the most successful foreigner in the Korean league, reaching the quarterfinals in the 2010 GSL Open Season 2).
First major victories in Europe
On December 31, 2010, a countdown clock appeared below the banner of TeamLiquid.net. As midnight struck, a hype video appeared and the TeamLiquid StarLeague 3 was announced. Set to be the largest online tournament for SC2, it was scheduled to feature top players from Europe, North America and South Korea, as well as a $34,500 prize pool.
On January 8, 2011, TLO demonstrated that he had benefited from his training in the oGs-TL house by winning the PokerIdol.com European Championship, defeating the likes of SjoW and SeleCT on his way to the victory, while HayprO was ending at the fourth place. A few days later, Team Liquid was invited to the GosuCoaching Premiere League Season 1, the biggest foreign team league at the time, alongside seven other famous teams. Liquid's entry in the round robin was a success, with a 3-0 victory against Evil Geniuses. Meanwhile, in Korea, Jinro was participating in the 2011 GSL January Code S, thanks to his good performance at the previous open season. He took the first place of his group in the round of 32 (where he defeated IdrA and Ensnare), and was put in a difficult group in the second pool stage, with the defending GSL champion MC and the finalists of the first and second seasons, RainBOw and MarineKing. Despite the odds being heavily against him, Jinro still managed to qualify for the main bracket. After an initial defeat against MarineKing, he indeed used an unexpected mech play in order to beat MC twice in a row, hence proceeding to the playoffs at the expense of his oGs-TL house roommate. His opponent in the round of eight was IdrA, for a unique foreigner quarterfinal. Jinro was able to defeat the Zerg player 3-1, hence reaching the semifinals for the second time in a row. He faced MarineKing, but had to settle with the third place of the league, as he was eliminated by his Terran counterpart. Even though Jinro couldn't make it further than in the previous season, he was praised for this achievement, which is still the best performance ever for a foreigner in the GSL.
Team Liquid's good performances streak was continued in February, with Ret's victory in the SteelSeries StarCraft 2 Challenge. The Dutch player took down SaSe and NaNiwa, and ultimately defeated MorroW in finals. Nonetheless, he was unable of getting through the first round of the 2011 March GSL Code A two weeks later, and decided to move back to Europe on March 7. HayprO also failed to advance in the round of 16. Their teammates met better fates, with Jinro managing to keep his Code S spot (being defeated in round of 16 though, marking a step backward compared to his previous results), and HuK earning a spot in the Up & Down matches thanks to his victories over Curious and Revival.
Team Liquid StarLeague 3 is launched
In March, the TeamLiquid StarLeague 3 was officially launched with 64 players, mixing invites and qualified players. While the event was a success in terms of viewership and entertainment, the results were quite disappointing for the team. Indeed, five of its six committed players were defeated in the first round, Tyler being the only representative of the team in the round of 16. He was nonetheless cleanly defeated by ThorZaIN in April, hence leaving the StarLeague without any Liquid players. A week before, the team had gathered in the USA for the 2011 MLG Dallas, except for Jinro who wasn't available to defend his title because of a busy schedule. After their last encounter in Dallas in November 2010, HuK and IdrA faced each other in the group stage, and achieved another step in their rivalry. IdrA won the first game and appeared to be on the course to victory in the second, only to quit prematurely after HuK used his Sentries to hallucinate some Void Rays. During the final game of the series, the Canadian player taunted his rival in the chat and IdrA was quick to respond. HuK eventually managed to win the third game, but was nonetheless knocked-out again by his rival the next day in the championship bracket, in a 2-4 extended series. TLO eventually revenged his teammate by eliminating IdrA for the gain of the fifth place, TLO's last notable performance in the North American scene so far. At the end of the month, the team league GosuCoaching Premiere League Season 1 entered in its final stage. Team Liquid, which had earned its spot in the playoffs after reaching the first place of the group stage, made a somewhat disappointing performance, losing to Fnatic in semifinals with a score of 0-3. The team then faced Evil Geniuses for the gain of the third place of the event, but was narrowly beaten 3-2 as IdrA defeated Jinro in the final game.
Two weeks later in Korea, with two members in the 2011 May GSL Code S (HuK had previously secured his Code S spot at the expense of InCa and Choya in the Up & Down matches of the previous season), who were also the only two foreigners at this stage of the league, Team Liquid had great expectations for the developments. The turn of events was an upset for the team though, as Jinro and HuK were both eliminated in the round of 32, meaning that they would have to fight for their Code S seeds in the next Up & Down matches. If the Canadian player managed to secure his spot at the expense of MMA, his Swedish teammate was less successful and fell in Code A, after his defeats against CoCa and MMA. This bittersweet outcome occurred in a quite busy week for the team, as the TeamLiquid StarLeague 3 was concluded the next Sunday by ThorZaIN's victory against NaNiwa, while Kas overwhelmed HasuObs for the gain of the third place. On Monday, it was announced that HayprO, who had been unable of qualifying for the Code A for two of the last three GSLs, would be leaving Korea for the joint progaming house set up by TLO earlier in the month, hence leaving HuK and Jinro as the last Liquid members remaining in the oGs-TL house. May 2011 also featured an unpleasant news for Liquid fans, who were informed that the team wouldn't be a part of the upcoming Evil Geniuses Master's Cup Series V, the biggest foreign team events at the time, because of the lag issues that it would have meant for their players based in Korea. Yet, the team capitalized upon its popularity and welcomed the gaming peripherals company Razer as its new head sponsor (alongside The Little App Factory) on May 8.
After the loss of Jinro's Code S seed the previous month, Team Liquid suffered another misfortune in June, during the 2011 GSL Super Tournament. In this 64-players single-elimination bracket event, which gathered every Code A and Code S player, Jinro was knocked-out in the first round by Line. HuK managed to get rid of his first opponent, San, but was no match against the future winner of the event, Polt, in the round of 32. Meanwhile, on the other side of the earth, the other members of the team gathered in Columbus, Ohio, in order to compete in the 2011 MLG Columbus. Ret realized the best performance for the team, finishing at the seventh place (and fourth best foreigner, in the first event involved in the GSL-MLG Exchange Program), while HayprO took the tenth place. Tyler and TLO weren't as successful, taking respectively the nineteenth and twenty-eighth places. On top of that, the German player had to take a break from playing StarCraft II a few days later, due to the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome he was experiencing in both hands. He would continue to be involved in the esports scene during that time, whether it be casting or some other organizational role. Fortunately for him, this situation didn't last long, and he was able to compete again a month later.
HuK's double coronation in Europe
Ret would once again be the most successful Liquid player on the foreign scene the next week, when the group stage of the North American Star League Season 1 came to its end. With a 8-1 record, he indeed secured the first place of his group, hence earning a spot in the main bracket. He was the only player from Liquid advancing to this stage of the competition, as TLO missed the qualifying place for the playoffs by one game (qualifying for the NASL Season 2 though), and as Tyler and HayprO were eliminated right away. Ret's run in the main bracket held in July was short-lived though, as he faced the eventual winner of the event, PuMa, in the first round, and was therefore knocked out the tournament.
June 2011, which had started by the early eliminations of Jinro and HuK in the 2011 GSL Super Tournament and the average performance of the team at the 2011 MLG Columbus, ended with the gathering of the team in Sweden for the DreamHack Summer 2011. With Jinro and HuK competing in this event, thanks to a schedule compatible with their participation in the next GSL, TLO was the only player missing in Jönköping (due to his Carpal Tunnel Syndrome issues). The group stage was quite an upset for Jinro's first participation in a foreign premier event in a long time, as he was eliminated with a disappointing 1-4 record. His teammates Tyler and HayprO didn't do any better, leaving HuK and Ret as the last Liquid's representatives in the playoffs. If the latter barely managed to qualify, HuK made a clean sweep in group stage and remained undefeated. He then went on making a stunning run in the playoffs, defeating the unexpected PredY in the round of 16, Socke (who had eliminated Ret in the previous round) in quarterfinals, and the Korean progamer July in semifinals, without losing a single game. His opponent in finals was the Warcraft III legend Moon, who also had an impressive run throughout the tournament. The best of 5 series turned out to be tied 2-2, and the two players faced each other in a decisive game on Tal'Darim Altar. The Korean player surprised the audience by doing a 6-pool, quickly scouted by his opponent. HuK managed to hold off Moon's pressure in order to become one of the few foreigners who won a premier event in which notable Korean players were participating. Prior to flying back to their respective places of training, Liquid's participants in the DreamHack made a detour via TaKe's studio in Krefeld, Germany, in order to compete in the HomeStory Cup III which was held from June 23 to June 26. HayprO, Tyler and Ret didn't get through the group stage, contrary to Jinro and HuK. The Swedish player didn't make it much further though, being cleanly defeated by MC in the winner's bracket and eliminated by Stephano in the loser's bracket. A few days after his victory at the DreamHack, HuK managed to live up the expectations by knocking-out ToD, XlorD, and IdrA in his first major victory over his rival. He was nonetheless barely defeated in winner's bracket final match by the TSL3 runner-up, NaNiwa, and then met his practice mate MC in the loser's bracket. He eliminated the twice GSL champion 3-1 despite the odds being against him, subsequently proceeding to the grand finals. This time, he was able to gain the upper hand against NaNiwa and won the tournament, his second notable achievement in a week.
Upheaval in the team: HuK leaves Liquid, two players are recruited
A few days after this successful succession of events, Jinro and HuK were back in the oGs-TL house in Korea, in order to compete in the 2011 Global StarCraft II League July. Jinro's run in the Code A was quite poor, as he was eliminated in the round of 16, hence failing to get a spot in the up and down matches. HuK on the contrary confirmed his recent good performance level by taking the first place of his group in Code S, defeating aLive and Killer. His opponent in the round of 16 was not less than MC, whom he had defeated two weeks before in the HomeStory Cup III. However, this time, his training partner got the better of him, and HuK fell out of the tournament, keeping his Code S seed though. On July 21, HuK had for the first time of his career the opportunity of competing in the 2011 Global StarCraft II Team League Season 1 (as a member of oGs-TL). He was indeed chosen by oGs's manager to battle against team Prime, and managed to knock-out Check and MarineKing in order to claim victory for his team. One week later, during day one of the 2011 MLG Anaheim, Team Liquid proceeded to its first transfer since September 2010 by recruiting the American Zerg player Shawn "Sheth" Simon, who had parted ways with FXOpen eSports a week before. Sheth, sometimes referred as "the nicest guy in StarCraft" for his manner and his commented ladder sessions, had reached the round of 16 of the 2011 July GSL Code A at the beginning of the month, as well as having been successful in the North American Star League Season 1 group stage (7-2 record earning him a spot in the main bracket, where he was defeated by Squirtle in the first round). He wouldn't stay in Korea though, as he stated that he preferred to focus on MLG instead. But even with this reinforcement, the team was no match for the influx of Korean players in this MLG Anaheim. The team's performance was nonetheless still convincing, as HuK took the seventh place of the event, and was the best-ranked foreigner. His teammates made respectable showings too, as Ret and Sheth being eleventh and thirteenth, just above HayprO and TLO (sixteenth and seventeenth). Tyler brought up the rear of the team, with the twenty-third place. The team provided a significantly poorer performance in the ASUS ROG Summer 2011 held on August 4. HuK, despite being regarded as a favorite thanks to his recent achievements, would disappointingly be eliminated in group stage, after his defeats against MaNa and Jimpo. Since HayprO also left the tournament at this stage, TLO was the only player of Team Liquid to reach the main bracket, where he was immediately knocked-off by the eventual winner of the event, DIMAGA. Two days later, Ret, who hasn't attended the Finnish event, competed in the 2011 European Battle.net Invitational in Poland. This invitational tournament, which granted two places in the BlizzCon 2011 Invitational for its finalists, saw the Dutch player excelling from the start to finish. Ret defeated Tarson, both the TSL3 finalists NaNiwa and ThorZaIN, and NaNiwa again in the grand finals in order to earn the winner's prize and a spot in Blizzard's 2011 premier event. His teammates HuK and Sheth made their entry in the North American Invitational a week later. Sheth knocked-out KiWiKaKi and IdrA, while his Protoss counterpart fell to SeleCT in the second round. SeleCT eventually sent Sheth in the loser's bracket as well, where he had to face his teammate HuK, who had defeated IdrA in the previous round. The Zerg player took the upper hand on his partner, hence earning his spot in the BlizzCon 2011 at the expense of HuK (he was however defeated again by SeleCT in the grand finals).
Sheth wouldn't stay the latest addition in Liquid's squad for long, as Nazgul went on signing Song "HerO" Hyun Deok on August 10. This transfer, which occurred after five months of discussions, wouldn't be too disorienting for this former member of Old Generations, since he would keep practicing in the oGs-TL house. Even though HerO wasn't a particularly highlighted player at the time, he didn't lack of credentials though ; he had indeed made his first steps in GSL Code A a month before (where he was defeated in the first round, but then failed to qualify for the 2011 GSL August Code A), and had won the FXOpen Invitational Series #1 in February 2011, defeating SjoW, his future teammate Sheth, MaNa, and TheStC on his way to the victory. On the day of HerO's recruitment, Jinro was defeated by Lucky in the first round of the 2011 GSL August Code A, which meant that he would have to fight for a Code A seed in the next preliminaries, and that HuK was the last member of the team still in GSL. On August 16, the latter, in spite of a defeat against Bomber, made it out of his group for the second time a row (at the expense of viOLet and of Killer once again), hence advancing to the round of 16 of the 2011 GSL August Code S. However, Liquid fans would soon find out that the Killer Vs HuK match ought to remain the last appearance of the Canadian player with the blue shirt. It was indeed revealed, a few hours after the match, that the mysterious countdown initiated by team Evil Geniuses two days before was hyping HuK's transfer to the American team. The Canadian player had decided not to renew his soon-to-be expired contract with Liquid and to favor EG's offer, stating that he was confident in his decision on a business level (worrying that he might ending up regretting it on a personal level though). As a result, HuK would leave the oGs-TL training house for a yet-to-be announced practice facility in Seoul (which later turned out to be the SlayerS team house ), where he would practice with his long-time American rival, IdrA.
Jinro's fall in GSL and MLG Orlando setback
Now deprived of its most highlighted player of year 2011, Team Liquid prepared itself to make his entry in the 2011 GSL October with two players remaining in the oGs-TL house, HerO and Jinro. The tournament started with a huge upset when Jinro failed to qualify for the Code A, being eliminated by a relatively unknown Protoss player, Weekend, in the preliminaries. GSL October would therefore be the first GSL where Jinro didn't attend since his first participation, in November 2010. The team still managed to keep a representant in the Korean league, as HerO defeated GuineaPig in final of his preliminaries group, hence earning a spot in Code A. The next days were the occasion for him to make his first steps outside of Korea, as he was invited in the 2011 DreamHack Valencia Invitational held on September 17, where he was eliminated by ThorZaIN in the second round after he defeated IdrA in round one. His run in the GSL Code A, a few days later, wouldn't be overly enthusiastic as he was eliminated in the round of 16 by YugiOh. Mid-September also saw the kick-off of several events over a series of weeks in which Team Liquid had players involved: the North American Star League Season 2, which featured the team's whole line-up, and the 2011 MLG Global Invitational North America with Sheth, Europe with Jinro, Ret and HayprO, and South Korea with HerO. But before these events came to their end, the team focused on the IGN ProLeague Season 3 held in Atlantic City on October's first week. Sheth and HayprO, who were still not qualified for the event, eventually secured their spots in the live qualifier, therefore joining their teammates Ret (invited) and HerO (who previously won the first online qualifier). They wouldn't make a long run in the main tournament though, as they both fell out of the tournament in the first round (HayprO being knocked-out by aLive and Sheth by MMA). HerO also lost at this stage of the competition to PuMa, the latest addition to Evil Geniuses's roster. Ret was the most successful for the team, defeating DeMusliM and aLive, only to lose to Lucky in the quarterfinals. With Jinro making an anecdotal appearance in the IEM Season VI - Global Challenge Guangzhou a few days before (elimination in group stage), the team was getting through a tricky period, with its players appearing to be a step backwards compared to their performances of the first half of 2011.
The 2011 MLG Orlando, occurring two weeks later, would not reassure the fans. Jinro, for whom it was the first attendance in a MLG since his victory in the 2010 MLG Dallas, finished at the 31st place (though it should be noted that his run began in the open bracket, hence being disadvantaged compared to his teammates who were seeded in the pool play). HayprO, Sheth, Tyler and TLO were slightly above (respectively 16th, 17th, 21st and 22nd). Ret and HerO were the most successful for their team, with the 9th and 13th places. The Korean progamer Polt particularly hurt the team, since he eliminated not less than four of its players (Jinro, TLO, Sheth and HayprO). It was the first time in the history of the MLG StarCraft II events that Team Liquid failed to have at least one player in the Top 8 (except for the first event of the 2010 circuit, the 2010 MLG Raleigh, where the team didn't attend). Further, the event was won by the former member HuK. In the following days, none of Liquid players competing in the 2011 MLG Global Invitational managed to secure a spot in the main event (Sheth being the closest one, since he lost to IdrA in the grand finals). The last event of this unsuccessful month of October was the BlizzCon 2011 StarCraft II Invitational, where Team Liquid was, alongside Incredible Miracle and Team Dignitas, the only team having two players attending Blizzard's convention (Sheth and Ret). The American player made a convincing entry in the competition, sending the BlizzCon 2010 runner-up Loner in the loser's bracket. He was then overwhelmed by the NesTea's ZvZ mastery, and subsequently fell into the loser's bracket where he was eliminated by KiLLeR. His Dutch counterpart wasn't more successful, being defeated by the Chinese invite TooDming in the first round. In spite of a convincing victory against mOOnGLaDe in loser's bracket round one, Ret was then eliminated by Sen. The same week-end in Europe, HayprO honored his invitation in the Electronic Sports World Cup 2011 by qualifying for the main bracket, where he was cleanly beaten by MC.
HayprO's unexpected run in MLG Providence
On November, the 2011 November GSL Code A started with HerO, but without Jinro who failed again to qualify, losing to a relatively unknown player (MinSeOk) in final of his preliminaries group. On the other hand, HerO won his round of 48 match and proceeded to the round of 32, scheduled to be played at the end of the month. On November 13, the North American Star League Season 2 group stage came to its end, with a convincing outcome for Team Liquid ; HerO indeed qualified directly for the main event, while Ret, Sheth, Jinro and HayprO made it to the playoffs. Tyler and TLO were left behind, keeping their seeds for the season 3 though. The same day, the GosuCoaching Premiere League Season 2 came to its end. Team Liquid, which had a successful run in the round robin, was defeated by Evil Geniuses in the semifinals (with PuMa beating HerO in the final game), on the same score than the previous encounter between the two teams (3-2), on GosuCoaching Premiere League Season 1 third place match. Liquid eventually took the fourth place for the second time in a row, failing to take the upper hand on Mousesports in the bronze match.
A few days later, the 2011 MLG Pro Circuit launched its final act, the 2011 MLG Providence, with a prize pool ten times bigger than the previous events and the attendance of the world's elite. For this special occasion, the whole roster was gathered for the first time in several months. In the open bracket, Tyler's and Jinro's runs didn't last for long as they didn't make it to the main bracket. HerO came out undefeated ( sending his teammate Sheth in the lower portion of the championship bracket), hence earning a place in the upper championship bracket. TLO lost to NesTea, but still managed to reach the main bracket as well. The championship bracket was the theater of the immediate eliminations of Sheth and TLO (who ended up at the 25th and 26th places), while HerO went on making an impressive performance ; he indeed beaten the seeded players PuMa, SjoW and Ret, and then faced the former Liquid player HuK. He couldn't take the upper hand on his predecessor, and fell into the bottom portion of the bracket. There, the three-times GSL champion Mvp ended his run at the 10th place, above Ret who was 15th.
However, on a spectacular turn of events that would take everyone by surprise, HerO wouldn't be the best-ranked player from the team. This honor was given to HayprO who, after several months of passable performances and of criticism about his level, went on an outstanding run. After an initial defeat against the eventual winner of the event, Leenock, he stormed his way through the bracket, eliminating Illusion, SeleCT, and KiWiKaKi, and then had to face NesTea. He lost the first game to his famous opponent, whom ZvZ was regarded as the strongest among the StarCraft II scene. At this time, NesTea had indeed lost only two official matches against a Zerg player: he lost to DIMAGA during the 2011 GSL World Championship and against BBoongBBoong in the Arena of Legends: Team Ace Invitational. But despite the odds being heavily in favor of NesTea, HayprO managed to win the following game on Metalopolis with a Muta-Zergling-Baneling playstyle, which led the two players to a decisive game played on Dual Sight. HayprO chose to launch an early one-base Zergling pressure with transition to a two-bases Roach pressure. The Korean progamer conceded defeat after eleven minutes, making HayprO not only advancing to the next round, but also becoming the third Zerg player to have defeated the three-times GSL champion in an official competition. His next opponent was, if possible, even more fearsome than NesTea: Mvp, three-times GSL champion as well, but also BlizzCon reigning champion, winner of the 2011 MLG Anaheim and of the World Cyber Games 2011 Korean Qualifiers. To the crowd's surprise (which was anticipating a NesTea Vs Mvp rematch of the BlizzCon 2011 finals), HayprO kept playing unexpectedly well, even taking the first game of this best of three match. Mvp nonetheless took the second map, and the players faced each other on Metalopolis for the right to advance in the next round. Mvp chose to apply a neverending Blue Flame Hellions harassment on his opponent, who tried to favor macro-management and took a quick third base. Soon enough, crippled by an excessive amount of Drones, the Swedish player found himself in a seemingly unwinnable position when his opponent initiated a Mech push, but still managed to repel him. Unfortunately for HayprO, he did not appear to realise the advantage he had claimed as he did not attack with a 200-120 supply advantage. Mvp remaxed his mech army and HayprO’s economy was not in a position to constantly remax again, giving Mvp the series 2-1. With the seventh place of the event, HayprO was not less that the second best-ranked foreigner, under his former teammate HuK and above IdrA.
Zenio joins the team
The next day, Team Liquid introduced its newest player: Choi "Zenio" Jung Min, who like HerO was formerly a member of team Old Generations. Zenio, who had left the Korean team because he couldn't live in the environment of a practice house any more, used to be a GSL Code S player from the Code S inception in January 2010 to the last season up to date, where he dropped in Code A (his best placement being reaching the round of 16 repeatedly, though he did reach the round of 8 of the GSL Open Season 2). Team Liquid also announced the upcoming production of a documentary realized by Michael Krukar and dedicated to the team. For the record, Zenio's first appearance under Team Liquid's colour the same day would be a victory against Mujuk in 2011 November GSL Code A round of 48. Three days after this addition to the roster, the team gathered again (with Tyler, Jinro and Zenio missing), this time in Jönköping, Sweden, for the DreamHack Winter 2011. HerO had the most auspicious start, coming out of his first group with a single game conceded. Ret, who've previously had mixed results in November (he didn't managed to qualify for the NASL Season 2 main bracket in the playoffs held earlier in the month, and was eliminated in the first round of the ASUS ROG Stars Invite, but had reached the semifinals of the Battle in Berlin), and Sheth (who did manage to qualify for the NASL Season 2 main bracket in the playoffs, unlike Ret and Jinro) followed him in the second group stage. On the other hand, TLO left the tournament in the first stage, and so did HayprO, who didn't confirmed his promising performances of the previous week in Providence. In the second group stage, the three remaining players from Liquid managed to earn their spots in the main bracket, with Sheth taking the first place of a tough group with NaNiwa (MLG Providence runner-up), Stephano (winner of both the IGN ProLeague Season 3 and the Electronic Sports World Cup 2011), and ClouD. HerO did also have a difficult group with DongRaeGu, Sen and elfi, but nonetheless made it to the playoffs. The two of them suffered a bit of an upset when they were pitted against each other in the round of 16, with HerO eventually taking the upper hand on his teammate. He then moved on meeting the local crowd's favourite, Seiplo, who had surprised the public by eliminating the reigning champion HuK in the previous round. HerO still cleanly beat him, and proceeded to the semifinals where he was set for another teamkill, this time against Ret who had took down ToD and Nerchio.
HerO's big break in DreamHack Winter
Looking forward to succeed to HuK as the DreamHack champion, HerO advanced to the finals where his contestants was not less than PuMa, reigning NASL champion. At this time, the two players had already met each other twice in individual competition: in the IGN ProLeague Season 3 round of 32, where the Terran player had eliminated his opponent 2-1, and in the 2011 MLG Providence, where the Protoss player had won by the same score (they've also met during the GosuCoaching Premiere League Season 2 playoffs, where PuMa won). Team Evil Geniuses's player took the first game of this best of seven match, with a strong bio-ball push following a four Barracks into expand. In game two however, PuMa's attempt to take a quick expansion was denied, leading to do a Marines-SCVs all-in which turned out to be a failure, as HerO made a good use of forcefields in order to tie up the series. The next game, on Dual Sight, was the occasion for PuMa to demonstrate his mastery of the 1-1-1 build order against Protoss. Even though HerO was denied scouting PuMa's base, he understood what his contestant was planning, and immediately built a Stargate. Even though his first Phoenix couldn't find PuMa's banshee, he made it useful by sending it in the Terran base in order to lift up MULE’s as they were called down, hence crippling PuMa's economy. The latter's Banshee was eventually taken down by a second Phoenix, after which the Protoss player broke down PuMa's wall-in in order to win this third game. A strong 3-Gate pressure combined with a good Forcefields micro-management in the game allowed HerO to be only one game away from the victory. The fifth round took place on Shakuras Plateau, where the finalists battled each other in a hotly disputed game. HerO, after losing an entire army in a confrontation and lots of Probes, tried to sneak a few Dark Templars in his opponent's base, without success. He was forced to surrender after one last engagement against the Terran army. PuMa then went on countering HerO's fast expansion in game six with a 4-Barracks pressure, therefore tying the series 3-3. The decisive game was played on Antiga Shipyard. The Protoss player lost his expansion to a PuMa's push, but nonetheless turned it into a good trade as he killed a good portion of PuMa's army, including several Ghosts and Medivacs. He then unsuccessfully tried to destroy a Planetary Fortress, and then held off a significant push on his third base, ending up with a huge lead. HerO eventually puts himself in an unlosable position when he took out two of his opponent's bases, leaving PuMa with only one mining Command Center. The Protoss player then built three Nexi near PuMa's ramp in order to show him how much he was ahead, and quickly obtained the surrender, hence winning the tournament. The outcomes of the event were brilliant for Team Liquid, with HerO as the new DreamHack reigning champion, and Ret third ex-aequo with NightEnD.
Unfortunately for the team, HerO wouldn't be as successful in his round of 32 match of the 2011 GSL November Code A a week later in Korea, as he lost to asd but still earned a chance to compete for a Code S seed for one game (the new GSL format introduced in this season indeed made it easier to qualify for the up and down matches). So did Zenio, who was defeated by MarineKing. In spite of this disappointing performance in the Korean league, HerO still had opportunities to shine in the end of 2011. On December 2, he was in Ontario, California, in order to compete in the North American Star League Season 2 main event. There were lots of expectations towards HerO's attendance in this event, because of his flawless showings in the group stage, as well as because of his recent victory in the DreamHack. Alongside the Korean player, Sheth was the second representative of the team in the event. Sheth was indeed the only one of four Team Liquid players competing in the playoffs bracket in November to have made it to the main event, since Jinro, HayprO and Ret had been eliminated at this stage of the competition. Sheth's opponent in the first round would be none other than PuMa, reigning NASL champion. The American player gave it his best, and eventually tied the series up 2-2. He lost the decisive game though, and dropped out of the tournament.
HerO, from success in North America to disappointment in Korea
On the other hand, HerO went on another commanding run, knocking-out HwangSin and HasuObs, and achieved a spectacular 4-0 victory against Sen in the semifinals. His final contestant for the title was PuMa again, for a second confrontation in a final of a premier event in a week. The Terran player, who had took the upper hand on IdrA and ThorZaIN in the previous rounds, won the first game in a dominating fashion, coming back from a significant supply disadvantage thanks to a good micro-management. HerO immediately tied up the series 1-1 by countering PuMa's proxy Starport on the following map, but his Gateway units/Immortals push in game 3 wasn't successful, and the Terran player took the lead again. The fourth game featured an epic conclusion when HerO, who was under siege from PuMa's army, managed to sneak a few Dark Templars in the Terran base and to negate his opponent's mining. Even though PuMa destroyed HerO's base, the Protoss player kept a significant lead, as he had another Nexus and a few Gateways. But HerO eventually lost his only Observer, hence becoming vulnerable to PuMa's cloaked Banshees, and even though he was able to clean-up all the Siege Tanks, he had to surrender. Now leading by 3-1, PuMa tried a timing push bioball/Ghosts in game 5, which ran into trouble when it met HerO's Blink Stalkers and Charge Zealots army. The Protoss player took the game, and then went on trying to hide a Stargate in the next game. Unfortunately for him, PuMa scouted it and managed to destroy its Pylon just seconds before a first Void Ray came out. The Terran player capitalized upon his lead, and created a large army which dealt the final blow to HerO, who therefore had to surrender and to settle with the second place of the event. Four days after the NASL Season 2 conclusion, Team Liquid (which didn't attend Evil Geniuses Master's Cup Series VI as well, after its refusal of competing in the Series V), made its entry in a premier team league, the IPL Team Arena Challenge 1. For its first appearance in a team tournament since the third place match of the GosuCoaching Premiere League Season 2 in November, the team made a terrible performance, being all-killed by SaSe for team Quantic Incredible Miracle in the winner's bracket first round. The team wasn't much successful in the loser's bracket, being cleanly eliminated by Team ReIGN four days later, with a 1-5 score. On the same day, HerO was back in Korea in order to participate in the 2011 Blizzard Cup. There were expectations around his participation in this hyped tournament (in which he was awarded a spot thanks to his victory in the DreamHack) because of his last showings, but HerO's appearance turned out to be an upset, since he was unable of winning a single game in his group, hence dropping out of the event on day one (even though it must be pointed out that this event, which was designed as an all-stars tournament, featured the ten best players of 2011 and subsequently offered an extremely high challenge, with DongRaeGu, Mvp, MC and Stephano as HerO's contestants). The next day, TLO announced that he was planning to go back to Korea in 2012, in order to practice in the oGs-TL house with Jinro and HerO. His teammate HayprO would also announce in January 2012 that he was to do the same. During the last week of December, HerO and Zenio competed in the up and down matches of the upcoming GSL season. The Zerg player convincingly took the first place of his group, hence allowing Team Liquid to have a representative in Code S for the first time since Jinro's drop in Code A in April (on an interesting notice, Zenio was the player who've sent the Swedish player in Code A during these up and down matches). HerO wasn't as successful, hence staying in Code A for the 2012 first GSL season.
2012: TLO and HayprO back in Korea
Year 2012 began by the HomeStory Cup IV, with a significantly higher prize pool than the previous edition and 32 talented contestants. Team Liquid had three players involved, HerO, Ret, and HayprO. The outcomes of their participation wouldn't be encouraging for the following tournaments though, as none of them made it to the main bracket. Ret and HayprO were indeed eliminated in the first group stage (with a 0-6 record for the Swedish player), while HerO fell in the second. The latter would participate in another European event before going back to Korea, the IEM Season VI - Global Challenge Kiev held two weeks later, where he was joined by his Korean teammate Zenio. HerO made an upset as he was eliminated in group stage in a somewhat tied situation, after his unexpected defeat against Feast. Zenio performed much better and made it to the semifinals, after his victories against NightEnD, Grubby and NaNiwa. He was then cleanly defeated by MMA, and eventually took the fourth place of the event, losing to Kas in the bronze match. Three days before, he had dropped in GSL Code A, after placing third in his Code S round of 32 group. On February 1, Team Liquid made its entry in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 2. The team managed to make a much better impression than during the previous season (where it was all-killed in the first round), and defeated coL.MVP 5-2, with a solid performance from Sheth who won four games. Furthermore, it was announced later than Team Liquid would finally participate in the Evil Geniuses Master's Cup Series, after it had accepted its invitation to the Evil Geniuses Master's Cup Series VII. This was followed by another news, this time being more symbolic: Tyler indeed decided to switch back to his previous ID, NonY, under which he had realised his best achievements during the Brood War era ( winning the Team Liquid Starleague 2). One week later, the Electronic Sports League held the last step of the Intel Extreme Masters Season VI before the world championship, the Global Challenge Sao Paulo. Ret, who was the only player from Team Liquid attending, made a solid performance. He dominated his group stage, losing a single game in three matches, and then narrowly beaten DarKFoRcE in quarterfinals. After losing to viOLet in semifinals, he managed to take the third place of the event thanks to a clean victory against ReaL. This performance granted him enough points to secure a spot in the upcoming IEM Season VI - World Championship, scheduled to take place in March, where he would be flanked by Zenio (thanks to his fourth place at Kiev).
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