Team Liquid’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squad has become the first team in North American history to be ranked No. 1 in the world by HLTV. Liquid attained the No. 1 ranking after winning the Dreamhack Masters in Dallas, Texas this past week.
With the DreamHack championship coming after a finals win over ENCE and a first place finish at the Intel Extreme Masters XIV in Sydney, Australia last May, Liquid’s list of tournament finishes remains impressive. Along with the previous placements, the team also boasts second place finishes at the CS_Summit 4 and two Blast Pro Series events which helped this team reach the No. 1 ranking in the world.
And while tournament finishes are important, Liquid have made a strong argument during the months of April and May going 46-18 with significant wins over FaZe Clan, MiBR, Natus Vincere, and Astralis.
This is enough to make esports journalist and CS:GO analyst Duncan “Thorin” Shields a believer.
“Team Liquid are the first North American CS:GO team to ever be ranked world number one,” Shields told Upcomer. “That's fitting because there has never been a core as good as this in the game's history and their success outside of championship titles befits one of the best teams to ever play this game. They beat the teams in front of them and won the right tournaments and now they can justifiably be called the best CS:GO team in the world.”
Getting to that No. 1 ranking in the world has not been an easy task for Liquid, but has always been the goal according to Liquid’s General Manager Steve Perino. His experiences from managing other teams in the organization such as his League of Legends team, which compete in Riot’s League Championship Series, has helped prepare him in what to look for in a roster.
“Today we finally achieved that goal and became the first ever North American team to achieve the number one ranking in the world,” Perino said to Upcomer. “For me it’s a point of validation that hard work and dedication with the right support structure can pay off. We learned something from every roster move and always continued on the mindset of being the best.”
While Liquid has in fact earned the No. 1 ranking in the world, somewhat of a dark cloud surrounds the top spot. The former No. 1 team in the world, Astralis, have chosen to be mostly idle during the past three months. The Danes have competed in just two events, both Blast Series, in the past two months finishing fifth in Miami and second in Madrid.
"For some Counter-Strike purists, it might feel like a hollow victory to see Team Liquid go number one after a prolonged absence from Team Astralis,” esports journalist Richard Lewis told Upcomer. “I don't subscribe to that and think the number one slot is well earned.”
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Lewis has his reasons why he believes Liquid is deserving.
“If a team isn't active, isn't out there defending their spot, then what do we have to go on? Team Liquid have been out there, placing consistently well at events. It's not their fault Astralis have shown little interest in competing at real tournaments lately,” Lewis goes on. “Liquid's come a long way and have finally cemented the first world number one spot for North America in CS:GO. It's a huge achievement whatever the circumstances and one the community should embrace as valid."
Often times in the Counter-Strike ecosystem, a change in the ranking isn’t due to a head-to-head match. Instead, the way that HLTV’s ranking system works, you acquire points by the amount of tournaments you attend and how you place in those tournaments.
“Taking the top spot is not necessarily always in decisive fashion, despite what some might imagine,” Shields explains. “However, it represents a significant feat nonetheless.”
None of that really matters to one Liquid player. Keith “NAF” Markovic wants more.
“It feels great, it's a massive milestone to hit,” Markovic says. “But the more important thing is retaining #1 for a long time, that's the real mission.”
That statement seems to resonate and fall in line with where Perino wants to keep this team.
“For our players and organization this is a giant milestone that we couldn’t be happier to achieve. Next up is solidifying a Liquid Era.”