With a stable of bona fide talent and millions of dollars in earnings, Team Liquid is poised for greatness in 2020.
In 2019, Team Liquid established itself as one of the most successful esports organizations in the world, scoring major victories in League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and beyond. Thanks to the team’s combination of business acumen, strong community building, and a stable of genuinely talented players, Liquid is entering the new year with perhaps the most momentum of any esports org—a trajectory reflected in Team Liquid’s high earnings and even higher valuation in 2019.
Perhaps the greatest asset of Team Liquid is the organization’s willingness to play the long game. Founded in 2000 as a StarCraft team, Liquid developed naturally, its growth bolstered by a fervently loyal fanbase gathered under the umbrella of official community website TL.net. The Dutch organization didn’t jump into other esports until the foundation of its Dota 2 team in 2012, with additional expansions into titles such as League of Legends, CS:GO and Super Smash Bros. trickling in over the next few years.
By the beginning of 2019, Team Liquid was valued at $200 million, boasting established teams in every major esport except Overwatch. By the end of the year, Forbes pegged the value of the organization at an eye-popping $320 million. Here’s what happened to Team Liquid in 2019.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
2019 was a banner year for Team Liquid’s CS:GO squad. The team had seen some Counter-Strike success in the past, but new blood in the form of player Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip and coach Eric “adreN” Hoag—both signed in December 2018—allowed Team Liquid to ascend to the next level.
All in all, Team Liquid won seven offline major events in 2019, with their results peaking during a five-tournament win streak between June and July. Carried by these victories—and amid a period of relative inactivity for defending champion Astralis—Team Liquid seized the HLTV world No. 1 ranking, though that title eventually returned to Astralis in October. While the second half of the year has not been as kind to the Dutch team, Team Liquid showed this year that it has everything it takes to be a top-level contender in CS:GO.
League of Legends
Not to be outdone by the heroics of Liquid’s CS:GO team, the organization’s League of Legends squad mounted an epic run of its own in 2019. Team Liquid dominated the League of Legends Championship Series all year, defeating Team SoloMid in a reverse 3-0 to win the spring playoff finals and staving off a near-comeback from Cloud9 to top the summer playoffs.
In international play, Team Liquid distinguished itself with stunning upsets over storied teams such as G2 Esports and Invictus Gaming during a run to second place at the Mid-Season Invitational. In particular, Liquid’s victory over Invictus Gaming was perhaps one of the most stunning upsets in the history of League of Legends—the first time a defending world champion was sent home by a North American team in international play.
After this impressive run at the MSI, Team Liquid’s ninth-place finish at Worlds 2019 may have been a disappointment for some fans of the Dutch org. But as in the case of Liquid’s CS:GO squad, Team Liquid’s 2019 proved that the team can contend with other contenders within the highest echelons of professional League of Legends.
This overview would be remiss without mentioning Team Liquid’s Dota 2 team. Between late winter and late summer 2019, Team Liquid experienced considerable success, topping the field at MDL Macau 2019 and winning over $4 million during its second-place run at The International 2019. In fact, the team was so successful that, in September, it decided to strike out on its own, with Team Liquid founder Victor “Nazgul” Goossens heralding the moment as “the end of an era.” Team Liquid’s former Dota 2 team now competes under the questionably-named banner of “Nigma.”
Despite this exodus of talent, fans of Team Liquid’s Dota squad have plenty of reasons to be excited going into the new decade. In late September, Liquid picked up the Dota 2 squad of Alliance, which won DOTA Summit 10 in July. With a roster of experienced pros, Team Liquid Dota is in solid shape for 2020.
Thanks to this spread of impressive results, Team Liquid earned the second-most prize winnings of any esports organization in 2019. But Liquid’s success is not purely the result of its efforts in the major esports. It’s also a measure of Liquid’s commitment to smaller esports—and its willingness to stay out of some esports embraced by other premier organizations.
My mom and I were featured in a commercial for @Twitch + @CampbellsChunky Soup.— hungrybox (@LiquidHbox) November 22, 2019
A Smash Bros. commercial for a giant food company.
Featuring pop-offs, an esports arena, and....Melee on CRTs.
We truly are living in a simulation.
This whole decade was a trip. pic.twitter.com/THeegGtvjF
Team Liquid is one of the most prominent organizations in a number of smaller esports, giving the org a disproportionate social media footprint in the fanbases of games such as Super Smash Bros. and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. In Smash, Liquid’s marquee player is Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, who has been the world No. 1 Super Smash Bros. Melee player since 2017 and often acts as the face of the game for less experienced viewers. In PUBG, Liquid’s generally successful squad is more than capable of making fun of its own occasional missteps.
Additionally, Team Liquid’s decision to stay out of professional Overwatch (its team disbanded in 2017) may end up being one of the organization’s best decisions by the end of 2020. Though the Overwatch League started out strong and is in the midst of an expansion to a roadshow-style localized format, the league’s viewership has declined, and it recently lost its commissioner, Nate Nanzer, and lead broadcast talent Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles. With Overwatch slipping, Team Liquid’s patience might just pay off.
With a stunning valuation, millions of dollars in prize money, and a level of recognizability envied by all but a few of the major players in the esports world, Liquid appears poised to become the most valuable esports organization in 2020. Investors looking to tie their metaphorical cart to an esports horse would be wise to take a look at the logo of Team Liquid.