The world of esports moves fast, and 12 months can be a lifetime, so when the news broke recently that Team Liquid were going to split up their Dota 2 roster it was something of a shock. The longest-running active roster in the game had been together since September of 2016, when Miracle joined MinD_ContRol, GH, MATUMBAMAN and Kuroky on the team, but that is no more as MATUMBAMAN was released last week, with his team seeking an immediate replacement.
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The timing of the move is a little odd, and speaks to it being something of a surprise to the org and team as well, as few, if any sides would choose to make a change this close to a Major, let alone TI9. That will all come out in time no doubt, but the more pressing issue is the fact they need a fifth, and fast, and the options aren’t great given where we are in the Dota 2 calendar. With that in mind, let’s look at a few options Team Liquid could turn to for Matumbaman's replacement...
Many fans seem to thing w33 is the most suitable replacement that Liquid could get at short notice, and he is available at the moment after his time with paiN gaming ended. He wouldn’t necessarily need to be the star of the show, and that would be great for the established big names on the team, and he’s played in both Europe and the Americas lately too. It’s been a while since he was on Secret, and that could be the main problem for the player, adjusting to once again being part of a massive team.
Star power and star players are never a bad thing, but Dota is a game with a limited number of resources, and a limited number of kills to go around. If it had been a more active player to leave, a big name coming in might make sense, but replacing a more supportive element like MATU with sumaiL has the potential to mess up chemistry and damage the team a lot, not to mention costing a giant pile of money. Still, the idea of the young star on a different team is very attractive, especially if you’ve lost faith in EG’s ability to win.
Things didn’t work out that well in OG for him, but it’s never easy replacing a beloved champion, and it was clear that nobody on OG really believed they could do better than ana. However, Pajkatt is currently without a team, and may be a great short term experiment that has the potential to work out in the long term if need be. The personality issues that held him back in OG will be different in a different group too, and he’s too good to sit on the sidelines for long.
An underrated pick, but a player with the potential to improve that has bounced around a bit of late, and still appears to have the hunger. For his part, Gunnar may just be happy to play for a team that doesn’t featured EternalEnvy, and if Liquid did pick him up it could also be on a trial basis to assess how well he copes with the jump in level and expectation, as well as leave room for a statement signing post-TI9.
We don’t know for sure, but Keanu Reeves appears to be able to do anything, and that means he’s good at Dota 2 most likely. Add to that he’s flavour of the month online and can probably get you early access to Cyberpunk 2077 and it’s clear he’s the real ‘best choice’ Liquid could make, just ahead of Terry Crews. Just be thankful it’s not 2017, as this section would be all about Jennifer Lawrence probably.
Picture: Adela Sznajder / ESL One Birmingham