Today is truly a day without precedent. For over a decade TeamLiquid has been a haven for all things StarCraft, and for many years that was the area on which we focused. In 2010 we expanded our remit to incorporate an SC2 team that has traveled the world and will participate in the SK Planet Proleague for the first time this week. In August of this year, we took one step further and opened our doors to Dota 2 coverage, an endeavor that has helped TeamLiquid's reputation for high quality content extend into a new sphere of esports.
Now, it is with great pride that we can bring you news of another huge step for TL; today, we announce a Liquid Dota 2 team. We've recruited five of the best players in North America, and we’re ready to enter the world of Dota 2. They will step forward under the Liquid flag, embodying the same ideals and values that the Liquid name has come to represent in StarCraft.
When you have no players to start with and are looking for a team of five well mannered and skilled Dota players who also have to fit together in terms of their ingame roles, chances are you are going to be looking for a long time. After adding Dota as an officially covered game to TL I have always looked at the scene with the thought that we may never have a Dota team. I've always been open minded towards the possibility, yet at the same time knew that it would take a lot for everything to come together. The things Liquid looks for in players would be hard to find in the extremely volatile, and sometimes immature, nature of the Dota scene.
So there I was, just following Dota to gain a greater understanding of the scene as well as the players, when an unexpected opportunity came along. I saw that it may be possible to get five players together who could really represent Liquid in the way I had envisioned a team under our banner, and this happened much sooner than I expected. The first player to grab our interest was BuLba. From the very beginning, Sam "BuLba" Sosale understood that forming the right team under the Liquid brand could be a huge opportunity for all of us. He followed and played SC2 and as such, he knew what we were looking for. In forming this team we have a lot to thank BuLba for, as he was there from the beginning, walking with us through the possibilities and helping us try and figure it all out. This is where we came up with the idea of forming a team with FLUFF, ixmike88, TC, and Korok.
We had our eye on Korok, who was team-less at the time, and started looking at him seriously. We knew that Quantic had relied on Korok heavily as a carry, and wondered whether he would be open to playing in a more dynamic setting with the team we had planned for him. After some discussion with Korok about the possibilities of playing other styles and roles, we were ready to take the next step.
After this, it was time to do as much research as possible. I spoke to people whose opinions I respect, watched a lot of videos, read many interviews, and most of all, talked a lot with the players themselves, all with positive results. Knowing FLUFF to be an excellent captain and with his having been together with TC and ixmike88 for so long, he knew exactly what they were about. Things seemed to be coming together. Reading FLUFF's blogs were an eye opener as well. They made it clear that he was a leader who put a lot of thought into what he did.
Then there is the intelligent and analytical play of TC, and combined with his hard work we know it will certainly take him places. He is always considering new ways to understand the game and play heroes, such as in his movespeed Tiny build that was later made famous by Ehome at The International 2012. Finally, we had ixmike88 who spent a lot of time before TI2 creating a database of tournament games, heroes and picking tendencies per team, and carefully analysed the positions of each player. It didn't take long to be impressed with their dedication. It was nice to see how TC, BuLba, ixmike88 and Korok all knew a lot about TeamLiquid.net and as a result connected easily with what I was looking for. All five guys approached playing with each other with enthusiasm but some caution as well.
The beauty of this team coming together is that these are not players who will do something in the spur of the moment. They won't panic and make a rushed decision. Although the names on the team would make you want to jump at the opportunity, everyone took their time figuring out whether this was indeed going work.
Both Liquid as well as all the players are keen on changing the dynamics of the scene, in the sense that teams can't continue to constantly switch players all the time if they want to keep up with the teams in the Chinese scene. It is time to make clear choices based on players’ potential and personality, and then stick with them through hard periods and eventually become the best a team can be. This was the reason that everyone was extremely careful about making the right choice. Before deciding, many scrims were played, and discussions between the team and players were plentiful. Eventually, everyone committed with full confidence.
Brian "FLUFF" Lee will be the captain of the team. He is an experienced and trialed captain who has played with TC and ixmike88 for a long time. For those of you who are interested, there are some behind the scene videos of their training for The International where they show a level of dedication I have rarely seen even from full time professionals. The best impression of FLUFF as a captain and a person is conveyed, in my opinion, by the blogs that he wrote on the compLexity website. A personal favorite of mine is For What It's Worth in which he talks about his views on respect.
After many talks with Korok, BuLba and TC it was clear that they all felt that they could play in a dynamic 1 (carry), 2 (mid), 3 (offlane) setting, switching around when necessary and as a result being able to stay unpredictable with the picks. It's an interesting choice to play with three dynamic positions. Some teams do, but many don't. If you assume your players are perfect, being dynamic is unquestionably the best. However, it could be that the task of being dynamic is so much more difficult than a more focused role that it loses its effectiveness. In Dota, it is definitely plausible that you can have three players good enough to play these dynamic roles, as some Chinese teams are already showing. It is exciting to see the confidence our players have in being able to pull this off, and in doing so they have our full support.
Though each of these players brings something unique to the table, they do have one thing in common; they are all hardworking and respectful individuals who have their minds set on long term dominance. As we understand that it can take some time for a team to truly become united, we will give them as much time as they need to figure things out.
Along the way you can expect most of them to be streaming regularly. FLUFF has already said he will write more awesome blogs like he did with compLexity. Finally, I'd like to thank Jason Bass and Jason Lake from CompLexity Gaming for being so cooperative regarding the buyout of their players.
Meet the Team
Brian “FLUFFNSTUFF” Lee has always had an eye for competition. Introduced to DotA while in high school, he spent a year playing in pubs before making a conscious decision to only play serious matches. Harboring hopes of one day assembling a great team, he spent years studying and practicing so he’d be able meet the challenge head on when the opportunity arose. After the North American scene subsided in 2010, he had a brief stint in both HoN and LoL, time he describes as being used to gain a greater understanding of his original love. This of course helped him a great deal when he returned to Dota 2 in 2011.
Having spent long years with teams that lacked direction or purpose, Brian found himself unsatisfied with the captains he trained under, and took it upon himself to step into a leadership role. He formed FIRE in the fall of 2011 under the basis of meeting like-minded players and, after a series of wins, his new team was picked up by compLexity. The team would soon earn an invite to The International 2012, and become champions of The Defense 2.
As Liquid’s Dota 2 captain, Brian will continue to lead from the front while playing as a support in game.
Sam “BuLba” Sosale began his DotA career five years ago, shortly before college. Entering the North American scene at an active time, he soon found himself playing competitively in the many inhouse leagues that existed. As the scene around him began to wane, he dialled back his participation and bided his time, waiting for Dota 2’s release. Despite curtailing his DotA activities, he won MYM Prime Nations 3 during this time as part of an underdog Team USA that took down a star-studded Ukrainian lineup largely composed of members you might recognise from a present day Na`Vi.
Starting his Dota 2 journey on EZ Style, his original crew was picked up by It’s Gosu, and there he played for a time with Korok. In April 2012, he moved to Evil Geniuses with whom he attended The International 2012. One of the most flexible players around, on Liquid he will continue to bring his signature Tinker and Invoker to the mid lane as well as diversify into carry and offlane roles.
Steven “Korok” Ashworth has perhaps the most storied history of anyone on Liquid. Introduced to DotA when it was still being played in Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, after several years he moved to establish himself in the competitive scene. He was named captain of the Blight.USA squad, and was a a stand-in for Nirvana.int at ESWC 2010, playing alongside titans Fear, Puppey, and Demon. As the North American scene entered hibernation, he too found himself in HoN, where he developed his trademark style and was seen on both the famed SK and EG teams during their respective periods of dominance.
After Valve’s first The International tournament, he came back to his first love, and played on It’s Gosu alongside BuLba, Universe, PaintItGold, and Bdiz. From there, he moved to Quantic, accompanied by PainItGold, where he cemented his reputation as one of the toughest carries North America had to offer. When Quantic was to be no more, he found himself looking for a new opportunity and came across what would soon become Liquid, a team that was searching to fill out the rest of their roster.
On Liquid, Korok will alternate between the hard carry, mid, and offlane roles. Look forward to seeing him show off the aggressive play that’s earned him his prestige, and bringing his aggressive style to the lanes he occupies.
Tyler “TC” Cook’s DotA career started in WarCraft 3 custom games around seven years ago. In fact, he played them with many of his current teammates back then. Bitten by the inhouse bug at a time when the North American scene was populated by leagues, he soon lost interest in other types of games. After some time with HoN in 2010 and 2011, he first saw Dota 2 at The International 2011. Afterwards, he directed all of his efforts toward getting a key and revitalizing his DotA career in the new iteration of the game.
Early on in this new pursuit, he met FLUFF and, on discovering that they saw the world of Dota through similar eyes, the two decided to join forces and form the original FiRE, a team that would lead the boys to their breakout success in fall of the same year.
Most famous for popularizing the carry Tiny build before EHOME went on to use it in The International 2012, TC will be seen in the 1-3 positions on Liquid, where he will showcase both his unique style and and his strong carry ability.
Michael “ixmike88” Ghannam made his first forays into DotA nearly a decade ago, and is thus now able to look back on “a wasted youth,” as he likes to joke. Driven by a deep passion for the game, he soon tired of playing casually, and began his journey into competitive DotA. A self-styled “inhouse junkie,” he has thirsted for competition ever since he first found the game and is proud of having participated in nearly every online league of the last several years.
Though he had played with FLUFF briefly in the original DotA, on FinalStyle, it was when they met during the Dota 2 beta that the two realised that their goals and outlook regarding competitive play synced perfectly. The two have been playing together ever since.
A man who will happily settle into any role demanded by his team, he finds himself playing support on Liquid, where he will put the ‘stache on everything from Venomancer to Shadow Demon.
Interview with the team
What is your first memory of another player that is on Liquid with you today?
TCPlaying MM early on vs FLUFF, and playing vs BuLba in DXD in Dota 1.
BuLbaMaking a team with Korok in Dota 1 called LUST and giving Kuroky's pudge a 15-0 start but still winning the game. This was when he was on Ks.int.
ixmike88Me and Korok used to 1v1 each other when he was a self proclaimed best 1v1 player and rushed Dagon with 2.5k gold start.
FLUFFNSTUFFTC destroyed me mid with Windrunner in one of the first pubs I played against him.
KorokI remember Bulba telling me he was white and his real name was Sam Spaulding.
Tell us one thing about the person above you which nobody really knows.
TCFluff unleashes his inner rage ingame when we mess up making us focus.
KorokTC likes reading TeamLiquid and reddit during drafts and whenever I ask him for his advice he tabs back in and acts like he was paying attention.
BuLbaWhen morph got nerfed, Korok went into a slow hibernation state reflecting on how depressing life is.
ixmike88Sam goes to Europe and never has anything to eat and complains about the salads.
FLUFFNSTUFFixmike88 ate a peanut butter burger every single day for lunch at our bootcamp and ate a whole chunk of wasabi because he thought it was actually a separate item of food.
How did that happen? Did no one tell him?
ixmike88I got tricked. I didn't know what it was, someone told me to eat it.
It was so disgusting. It was just a little ball in the tray and I picked it up and ate it...but I had to spit it out.
FLUFFNSTUFFHe had the funniest face and reaction.
How do you feel about Liquid getting a Dota team? Are you familiar with the team’s history in BW and SC2?
TCI'm not as familiar with TL's history in BW, but once I stumbled upon the site around when SC2 was in beta it really got me into competitive starcraft. I would stay up some nights to watch Proleague / Starleague. I'm really excited about Liquid picking us up as their Dota 2 team. The TL community is amazing and it's great to be able to be a part of it.
KorokI think it's pretty awesome TL is expanding into Dota 2. The name has a huge reputation which will be hard to live up to. I started following TL around the SC2 beta and onward.
BuLbaIt was really exciting and surreal. I followed Team Liquid for the latter part of Brood War (the TSL with Nony's victory) as well as most of SC2. I stopped following SC2 religiously once Dota 2 came out, but still watch the major tournaments. It's great to be part of a community with such a history as this one and I hope we represent them well. Being on a team with all these personalities that I have followed throughout Starcraft is going to be awesome. Also, special shoutout to my boy Flamewheel!
ixmike88It's a good step for Dota 2 because Team Liquid is very popular in the SC scene and Liquid acquiring a team can attract a lot of attention from other games. I am honored that we were chosen to represent them. I was familiar with TL's prominence in esports just from playing and watching competitive SC2 for a while, and I was excited that Liquid decided to recognize Dota 2 when they added it as a main game on their forums.
FLUFFNSTUFFI'm not very familiar with Liquid's history, but from what I'm told it is a great hub for the community with a strong reputation. I'm pleased to see DotA 2 being introduced to the site. It will definitely both broaden the exposure of the game and produce a long-standing community within its forums.
It's Liquid's vision to try and form a team that can stay together for a long time, do you think that's possible in a world as volatile as Dota 2?
TCIt can be difficult, but if people have similar mindsets and motivation I think its definitely possible. Dota 2 is starting to get bigger, and stability is key for long term success.
KorokI don't believe a team can keep the same roster of 5 for a long period of time (>1 year) unless they are at the very top or are very comfortable with each other. A lot of these reformations can be attributed to immaturity or lack of motivation. With the way the LANs are setup for Dota 2, it's expected that several team will shuffle right after The International. As long as team members can survive through the inevitable downtimes and put them behind them, a team can definitely survive for a long time.
BuLbaI think for a team to actually be relevant at the top, they need a consistent core that sticks together through both the ups and downs. I have to say it is definitely possible and we hope to prove that it is. Team games will always be volatile because of the social aspect but as the competition gets stronger, you have to put aside your differences and strive to do your best.
ixmike88I think it can be possible, especially if everybody shares the same attitude and dedication. A lot of teams have personality clashes, expect to win right away, and lose motivation if they don't. They may believe that replacing players will be "the answer", but as in any other competitive atmosphere; you need a lot of perseverance, motivation and hard work.
FLUFFNSTUFFDotA 2 teams will only succeed when players stick together once they find the right dynamic. Through the good and the bad, they have to understand what their end goal is. I believe that all of our players are mature enough to put their best foot forward and really desire success. Thus, a long-term team with long-term goals will be the focus of our squad.
If you had to pick a Dota 2 hero to run for president of your country, who would you pick, and why?
TCAntimage. The fun ends now.
KorokMorphling, because he can replicate other people and just mess up everything.
BuLbaMeepo, cause he can delegate his clones to do the work.
ixmike88Invoker, because he's a genius.
FLUFFNSTUFFWindrunner because I'd be her first man.
You have an Aghanim’s Scepter. What does it change about you?
TCAbility to make copies of myself.
KorokI'd be able to communicate without talking.
BuLbaI can kill multiple teams at once.
ixmike88The ability to summon pho and peanut butter burgers on demand.
FLUFFNSTUFFI would mind control TC.
FLUFFNSTUFFTC doesn't like my ideas but he's pro. I get his skill but he can't complain.
What would it take to make you happy with your first year on Liquid?
TCBe able to meet fans/staff/players at a LAN event and be involved in the community. And win lots of games for our fans.
KorokI'd be happy if I got to rub TLO's beard. Also, I'd like to attend a few LANs and TI3.
BuLbaMeet all the staff and players at a LAN (hopefully MLG!). Do well at TI3.
ixmike88Win TI3! That was easy.
FLUFFNSTUFFMaintain consistent results in offline and online tournaments through effective practice. That's about it.
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