It was a rough start for Team Liquid, but is kind of expected given the reshuffle that just occurred, changing the entire makeup of the team coming into IEM Katowice. Also featuring nitr0 talking about his return to CSGO from VALORANT.
Team Liquid have significantly revamped their roster heading into the 2022 season, reintroducing Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella to lead alongside Joshua "oSee" Ohm and Richard "shox" Papillon. Keith "NAF" Markovic and Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski remain from the previous roster, making them the only team representing North America in Katowice following the withdrawal of Complexity Gaming.
Nitr0 is returning to the Team Liquid roster following a stint on the 100 Thieves Valorant roster. When asked about their first-round opponents, FaZe Clan, he seemed confident about his teams odds:
nitr0: It's been a learning experience for sure. It is going to just require a lot of hours to get back to my full form, but with the amount of hours I have had so far, I feel really good. I think we could take FaZe, even if they had ropz, but with their stand-in they are definitely going to struggle more on their end. With the amount of practice we have put in since BLAST, we definitely stand a better chance, but it is also a best-of-three compared to BLAST's best-of-ones. It's going to be a good match for sure, I think we'll take it.
However, things would not pan out as planned for the North American squad. Despite taking an early lead in the series with a 16-11 win on Mirage, stellar AWPing from Helvijs "broky" Saukants and strong performances across the board from the FaZe Clan would see Liquid fall on both Ancient and Inferno. Despite having a stand-in, FaZe would hand Team Liquid their third head-to-head loss of 2022, maintaining their undefeated streak over Liquid’s new roster.
The loss puts Team Liquid in a very dangerous position, and their future at Katowice may soon end. After an upset loss to Fnatic, G2 Esports find themselves in the lower bracket alongside Liquid. The two teams will compete to avoid leaving the tournament in last place — a fate that G2 has avoided since the last ESL Pro League. Team Liquid will have to go through a G2 squad with their backs against the wall, making talents like Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov all the more intimidating. If Team Liquid isn’t able to get their stars back into form, it could result in a much shorter stay in Poland than they would like.