If you wanted to pick out the biggest move in Dota 2 this year, you’d probably have a hard time deciding which transfers really defined 2019. For many, the return of ana to OG is going to take front and centre, and it’s hard to argue with his impact, but there can be no contender in terms of pure potential to change how the scene looks going forward. After years of success, iconic moments and the TI9 final, Team Liquid finally said goodbye to their incredible team, ushering in a new era.

Liquid metal

The ‘core’ of Liquid’s roster revolved around Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi, who joined Liquid in 2015 along with Ivan ‘MinD_ContRoL’ Ivanov and Lasse ‘MATUMBAMAN’ Urpalainen. 2016 saw Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi become a member of the team, before Maroun ‘GH’ Merhej rounded out the quintet which made history. They were simply incredible over the next couple of years, arguably peaking at TI7, helped by coach Lee ‘Heen’ Seung Gon on their way to the title, crowned the best team in the world.

Now though, there is a new five in Team Liquid tops, and fans are a little confused as to what they can expect from the ex-Alliance roster. It’s fair to say that the season culminating in TI9 doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the org’s chances of staying near the summit and repeating their TI final appearance, but there might be reasons to be cheerful if you dig a bit deeper into the numbers…

The five signed to replace Kuro and co. were on Alliance for at least a year, with four of them having been in the green and black since the end of 2017, but Liquid fans will look at what they achieved in that time with heavy hearts. Compared to the runaway success Kuro led his team to – not just TI wins but finals, supermajors and the like – Alliance finished 13-16th at the last International, and failed to qualify at all in 2017. Their results are decidedly underwhelming elsewhere in the circuit, although for what it’s worth, they did manage to win Summit 10 over paiN Gaming.

That represents something of an improvement – same goes for making TI9 of course – and the credit must be shared with coach Jonathan ‘Loda’ Berg, of Hell in the Cell fame. Sadly for him, he is not just coach but also co-owner of Alliance the org, which means he won’t be able to join them on Liquid. As such, there is a chance the recent uptick all goes to waste. On the other hand, the individual numbers look like they are getting better, if not quite on old-Liquid levels just yet.

It's a numbers game

Looking at the individual numbers for the Alliance players, it does appear as though they are on an upward trajectory, with the players all having a better KDA over the last three months than the last twelve. Their ‘Premium’ level wins have dropped according to DotaBuff over the same time period, but their professional performance overall has also improved, up to 83% from a yearly figure of 55%. Both are great indicators of an upward trend, but is it enough to suggest these five can replace one of the most legendary teams in Dota history?

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The signs suggest they have room to improve further, and none of the five are over the age of 25, with three yet to reach 22, so the fans of Liquid have some reason to be hopeful that the trend can continue under the new org. Equally, there is a chance that TL are able to provide far more support than Alliance for the team, meaning there is the potential for rapid and extreme growth if things all go the right way and personalities click in the group.

All in all, it looks as though the improvement shown by this group under the Alliance banner was solid and dependable, but there is no guarantee it will continue. What we can say is that this team does have the potential to go a lot deeper into events like TI that has previously been the case, but their signing is a risk for an org that likes to be at the sharp end of every facet of competitive gaming. Yet, it represents a huge opportunity for five young men to make themselves legendary in esports’ richest scene.

Photo: Valve / Flickr