The eSports industry is still rather young, even by new tech-driven sectors of the modern age, and yet, its market has already breached the $1 billion mark. Set to continue to grow tremendously over the coming years, several new organizations and some traditional sports teams are looking to get in on the gaming action.
Now, the eSports leagues and competitions for each competitive game span a huge range of teams from around the globe, all competing for chunks of prize pools that range from sizeable to multi-million. Still, a mainstay name in the eSports scene as it’s grown to reach these unprecedented heights is that of Team Liquid.
Not just a long-standing brand, Team Liquid has made the right moves at the right times, signed on top-class talents, won major titles, and developed such a devout fan base that they have helped the eSports industry to grow rapidly as a result. Having exploited every possible avenue of competition in ways that most traditional sports teams simply don’t, Team Liquid has earned multi-discipline recognition and is now a colossus.
Yet, as eSports is still relatively niche when it comes to general public knowledge, many don’t know much – if anything – about Team Liquid. Here’s how they became huge, who you may liken them to in traditional sports, and the triumphs that have led to Team Liquid’s endearing popularity and backing.
The rise of Team Liquid as an eSports superpower
As detailed by the team, they come from humble beginnings in the form of a clan forged by Victor “Nazgul” Goossens in the game Brood War in 2000. In 2001, the team created a community site, which would prove to be a platform for viewers and potential competitors alike, developing into a hub for StarCraft. Here, Nazgul and Co. staged tournaments and encouraged the community to grow around Team Liquid.
The next big step came with the release of the StarCraft II beta towards the end of that decade. Team Liquid went all-in, creating tournaments and attracting the attention of top-class players, leading to them being granted passage to the Korean SC2 scene – the first overseas team to do so. Success in the Korea Republic followed, as did an all-important heated rivalry with Evil Geniuses, which captivated fans and players alike.
StarCraft was Team Liquid’s forte, the game that made the team and their fame, but “Nazgul” wanted to expand further. So, towards the end of 2012, he launched a Dota 2 team in North America, making Team Liquid a two-discipline eSports organization. Later, to kick off 2015, Team Liquid assimilated the popular League of Legends and Counter-Strike organization Team Curse, further expanding its reach.
With the coming together of Liquid and Curse, an unprecedented era of success ensued. Competing across the board in League of Legends, Dota 2, Street Fighter V, StarCraft II, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the silverware and prize money started raining down from 2015 onwards. Now, they boast a social media reach of over 28 million people and over 100 million hours of views on Twitch.
Making the most of the eSports scene to become the biggest team going
In traditional sports, teams tend to stick to their lane. For example, the Detroit Red Wings, whose star center Dylan Larkin is a top target as a brand’s athlete partner, are a hockey team, and that’s it. Given their revenues, name recognition, and success in the sports business, the Red Wings certainly have what it takes to expand the brand into other sports, but they haven’t done.
Team Liquid, on the other hand, has taken part in tournaments for 26 different games, including Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Hearthstone, Valorant, Rocket League, and Tekken 7 – all of which differ tremendously. This approach is somewhat more similar to that of college sports, with even the top college football teams competing at their highest level just being part of the university program of the Florida Gators, for example.
Still, to offer a comparison to a traditional sports team, Team Liquid is akin to Manchester United, loosely speaking. Team Liquid’s sheer dominance through the years is like that of the legendary teams captured in art under Sir Alex Ferguson. Still, with increased competition and becoming the team to beat, they’re not as guaranteed to win tournaments anymore, but still rank as the most successful team of all time, with United boasting 20 English league titles and Team Liquid having the highest overall team earnings at $37.6 million.
It’s the legendary name with the best players, its dominance, and the continual threat that continues to draw fans to Team Liquid, though. While United has stopped winning the few trophies on the line, Team Liquid’s stars continue to add to the trophy cabinet. This is why, across the disciplines, the team continues to be backed in the betting. They’ve always got top-class players who can compete at the highest level and even cause upsets. So, regardless if it’s betting on CS: GO, LoL, Dota 2, Valorant, or Rainbow Six, if Team Liquid is there, fans will pile on the odds.
The legacy of the team and this entrenched and unwavering belief in their ability to go big is well earned. In 2017, they won the richest competition in eSports, The International, taking home $10 million from the $24.7 million prize pool. More recently, in 2019, Team Liquid landed a further $5 million in Dota 2. That year also reeled in $2.4 million in CS: GO, which amounted to nearly 50 percent of the prize money that was on offer across their 32 entries. This year has also started hot in LoL, placing first, second, and second in LCS contests.
Team Liquid is still the biggest name in eSports, and as long as they continue to acquire top-class talents from around the world, they’ll remain a top pick for fans.