Team Liquid vs NRG, the rise of two very different CS:GO organizations in North America could be the makings of a tantalizing rivalry. With Team Liquid firmly established as a top five side and NRG doing very well to shed their “onliner” persona in 2018, the two teams are encountering each other more and more often at the business end of LAN events. Make no mistake, this one’s just as much about the bragging rights as anything else: regional dominance is on the cards in 2019.
Team Liquid: the usurpers
While it may have seemed like Cloud9 were destined to dominate the North American scene after their shocking major win in Boston, 2018 was actually all about the rise of Team Liquid on the continent. In fact, the difference between their performances at the two Valve-sponsored events of the year tell the tale by themselves: from 12-14th at the ELEAGUE Major with a disappointing 1-3 scoreline in the group stage after only beating BiG to a bronze medal at London after losing to the mighty Astralis.
There are clear caveats to Team Liquid’s supposed elite status – a positively horrendous record against Astralis and a lack of premiere tournament wins –, but even as ever the bridesmaid, they’re often the team to beat in high-level competition.
While it’s not exactly a domestic rivalry (since neither team feature a fully USA-based roster), the same dynamics tend to apply here with everyone trying to take Liquid down a peg or two – and NRG may be especially inclined to do so if you consider how often they’ve been thwarted by them in important events.
NRG: the pretenders
While there’s still a way to go for NRGto challenge for the top spots, they are one of the most exciting prospects in the current CS:GO scene, especially in North America. While they haven’t yet had the chance to grace the major stage, they’ve already established themselves as an excellent team in online leagues going back as far as 2017, following up with a fairly impressive set of LAN performances in 2018.
And yet, time and time again, they would run into Team Liquid. A 16-5 loss on Inferno would mark the beginning of the end for their campaign in the Americas minor for the ELEAGUE Major, and a 2-1 defeat in the final of the regional Katowice 2018 finals as well. Of course, NRG’s breakout LAN performance in the StarSeries i-League Season 5 knockout stage began with an impressive win over Liquid, but it can’t be argued that it’s usually nitr0 and co. who get the last laugh in offline environments as ECS Season 5, ESL One New York 2018 and SuperNova CS:GO Malta could testify – though, to be fair, NRG did win the elimination match over Liquid in the ECS Season 6 finals.
There’s clearly a lot more of this story to be written going forward, and with both teams on the rise and posting impressive results, they’re looking like the top two in search of North American dominance. A collision course is inevitable, and if their earlier tussles are anything to go by, this could very well turn out to be one of the great CS:GO rivalries of 2019.