Team Liquid is still the best team of the year, despite losing to eventual Berlin Major champions Astralis, but with ESL One New York and DreamHack Malmo coming up, that title could be put to the test. While teams like Cloud9 and Complexity have faded away from relevance, NRG has emerged as a new challenger to the throne of North America's finest.
Team Liquid's Major Fall
Team Liquid has been the best team of 2019, but when it comes to majors the team has yet to move past the semifinals. Team Liquid has often been criticized for their inability to perform at the big events, but in all honesty, the team looked flatter than usual; which begs the question: how prepared were they for the last event? It's too easy for players and teams to become over confident when they are on a winning streak and that seems to be the case for Liquid. The best team in recent history, man for man, allowed Astralis to regain their title as back-to-back-to-back Major champions, for the first time ever in CS:GO history.
Team Liquid's fall from grace is temporary. Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken is yet to reach his peak and Jakey "Stewie2k" Yip does not seem to be losing the aggressive form he's always had. Team Liquid have a chance to bounce back at one of their historically best events - ESL One New York. In past iterations of the event, they've displayed three strong consecutive performances, Team Liquid have a chance to prove they are still on top; along with homefield advantage. While they might be the North American darling, thanks to Cloud9's recent fall from grace, they are by no means alone at the top of North America.
NRG was mired in mediocrity for a period, with a variety of mixed nationality lineups, they failed to achieve anywhere near as much as they spent on the team. Eventually, things clicked once they brought in longtime Canadian IGL Damian "daps" Steele. NRG started off red hot online, this translated to LAN with wins at IEM: Shanghai 2018 and CS_Summit 3. NRG now possessed players with high ceilings and veteran play, that made for good Counter-Strike fundamentals.
Much like every daps led team, when they hit that theoretical ceiling this year a familiar roster move came about: -daps + Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz. A skilled journeyman, stanislaw has made stops at almost every top CS:GO organization in North America; including stints at OpTic Gaming, Team Liquid, compLexity, and now NRG. Much like when daps took Conquest, and made them relevant under OpTic Gaming, he was kicked - despite his good in-game leading abilities, he is a notoriously poor fragger.
NRG's very strong placing at the recent Major has gone a long way to give some credence as to why NRG put trust in the stanislaw process. While he has been known to leave projects at abrupt times (OpTic Gaming and Team Liquid), stanislaw's skills on the server cannot be underplayed. NRG are not as skilled as Team Liquid, man for man (no one is), but their potential is almost equal. NRG, much like Liquid, possesses high impact playmakers in Tarik "Tarik" Celik and Cvetelin "CerQ" Dimitrov that absolutely light up the server.
Meeting in NYC
Both of NA's current powerhouses are looking to do battle in the Barclays Center, but with entirely different things to prove. Team Liquid have proven they are a top team already and want to cement an era, despite some missing hardware. NRG wants to prove they are a top team by nabbing a big trophy, with big names in attendance. While there are a lot of storylines to follow in New York, the rise of two NA powerhouses will be one for the history books.