The New Rosters of the Legends Stage (Part 2)
With the Challengers Stage over and done with it is time to move onto to the Legends were we will finally be able to see the likes of Danish super team Astralis, NA's best Liquid, the CIS legends of Natus Vincere. However rather then discuss why the above teams are likely to win the major taking place in Poland, I will be diving into the various roster moves we have seen from the teams that secured themselves a Legends spot from the last major. In the second part of this mini series I will be discussing the good and the bad of HellRaisers, Liquid, and compLexity's newest additions
It still shocks me that HellRaisers managed to grab a Legends spot at the FACEIT Major last year, and quite frankly, the changes their roster has gone through don't leave me very optimistic that they will be able to recreate that success again. Although the changes they went through happened in early November, it is still important to go over what the addition of Abay "Hobbit" Khasenov in place of Vlаdуslаv "bondik" Nеchуроrchuk means for the team. After the disaster that was post-Zeus Gambit, it was clear that Hobbit and all the other members of Gambit needed a clean start. The opportunity to play for HellRaisers was definitely not something the rifler would pass on. In fact in an interview he did with HLTV, he commented that he “joined this team because ANGE1 is in it.” and that he “had a dream to play in an international team”. Taking over the positions that bondik occupied may not of been what the Kazakhstanian was used to, but he has proven to be up for the task at hand.
HellRaisers are mostly known for their two star players, Özgür "woxic" Eker and Issa "ISSAA" Murad, so Hobbit obviously won't need to be the hard carry of the team. But it will be interesting to see if his individual performances and consistency return to what we saw during his breakout year as a rookie, especially now that he has a proper IGL to play under. It also helps that the team isn't being rushed into back to back events, like what happened with SuperNova, the EPL Finals and PLG Grand Slam without proper practice, and it will be interesting to see if HellRaisers chooses to continue with Hobbit taking over Bondik’s roles or if they will switch him into a more impactful fragging role. Hobbit has found himself a well deserved permanent home, but if HellRaisers want any chance of at least re-securing a Legends spot they will need him as well as woxic and ISSAA to pop off consistently. Especially since they will be facing the best teams in the entire world.
Despite the success the best NA team in the world was having at the end of 2018, all was not well within the roster. Both Epitácio "TACO" de Melo and Wilton "zews" Prado decision to leave NA and return to Brazil was a shock to many. Liquid had been a consistent grand finalist team, having finished half of their LAN tournaments in 2nd place. It may not of been first, a factor that has frustrated both fans and the players, but still made them one of the only teams to consistently have top-three finishes outside of Astralis in 2018. Liquid where just never quite there, and despite their amazing form it was clear that there was still a piece of the puzzle missing for the NA team. The trade of Liquid’s two Brazilian members brings in Jacky 'Jake' "Stewie2K" Yip and coach Eric "adreN" Hoag. As for their new coach, he has no prior experience in the position, but during his professional career he did play for Liquid, as well as stream team Mythic. Meanwhile Stewie, a player once considered to be a NA prodigy, has found himself struggling to live up to the name since leaving Cloud9 at the beginning of 2018.
The two have definitely started out their time on the team with a bang, winning the disastrous IBP Masters and marking the first time that Liquid had been able to successfully take down the best team in the world, Astralis, at a grand final. During TACO’s time with the team the Danes went 10-0 for Bo3’s/5’s against Liquid. Despite the poor conditions of the event, a win like that will give Liquid the confidence for future clashes against Astralis - hopefully leaving them with the mentality: “We beat them once, so we can do it again.” Despite winning IBP Masters, Stewie2ks spot is still in question on the team. As we saw from his time with MiBR after the failure of Cloud9’s Major-winning lineup, Stewie had one of the worst years of his entire career. Dropping some of the lowest numbers he's shown since 2015 and bringing his role of “star rifler” into questions. Granted he was playing different roles for MiBR, spots that were much more defensive then what he was used to, but it was scary to see how much the young star had dropped off over the course of just a few months.
No Inferno Bo1's to save them this time.