After a few key contract expirations, the once prolific Team Liquid seems to be reassessing its stance on Fortnite.
Competitive Fortnite, as a whole, features some of the most recognizable esports organizations in history. FaZe Clan, TSM and NRG involved themselves from the beginning of the game’s life before tournaments became viewership spectacles. However, the Dutch organization known as Team Liquid set the bar high early with a talented lineup. The team’s original roster included Ryan “Chap” Chaplo, Noah “Vivid” Wright, Tom “72hrs” Mulligan and Jake “Poach” Brumleve. All four own their rightful place in the history books.
Anyone familiar with competitive Fortnite’s infancy should understand the impact of these players. Vivid was arguably the best competitor in 2018, given his consistent tournament wins. Chap, 72hrs and Poach all followed a similar path. Liquid’s involvement in Fortnite remained constant over the years, but some recent contract expirations have left just three professional players remaining on the roster.
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Five contract expirations in one year
Parted ways with @TeamLiquid, thank you guys for an amazing two years and everything you’ve done for me.
— FaZe Cented (@Cented7) March 10, 2021
The post-Fortnite World Cup era began a steady downtrend for Team Liquid. Long-time members and veterans Chap and Vivid left respectively in the spring and summer of 2020. Nearly one year later, top contender Evan “Cented” Barron went to FaZe Clan, and Alex “Fiber” Bonetello parted ways soon after. Now, World Cup Finalist River “Riversan” Handley seems to be on his way out. Some of these movements are challenging to argue, but it’s what Team Liquid has not done that’s more surprising.
Three pick-ups since 2019
— Liquid Pulga (@thaleshcg) February 17, 2021
Watching the “OG” roster whither away except for 72hrs broke the hearts of Liquid and Fortnite fans. The Netherlands-based organization currently has just three players remaining. One is European sensation Mitr0, who Liquid handed a reported $100K USD contract back in January of 2020. The other two remaining pieces are NA East player Josef “Stretch” Liepshutz and the recently signed Brazilian FNCS Champion Thales “Pulga” Henrique. Liquid saw many free agents across different regions hit the market over the last year but made few moves, and it leaves us wondering what could be on the horizon.
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What’s next for Team Liquid?
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done these last 2 years River, you’re a phenomenal player and person. It’s been an honor getting to know you and I’ll forever be rooting for you. Please never hesitate to reach out if you need anything!
— Kory Arruda (@LiquidSymbolic) April 3, 2021
The organization’s direction seems unclear at this stage. Epic Games’ unwillingness to cooperate and provide an incentive to esports brands weighs heavily on most. Several established teams have left competitive Fortnite entirely due to a lack of support. Team Liquid could follow that same path with so much uncertainty from season to season. Other organizations such as TSM and Luminosity Gaming have taken a content creator approach, signing names like Co1azo and Nick Eh 30 respectively, both of whom are well-known commodities on Twitch.
Veteran Fortnite player 72hrs remains on Team Liquid, but he is more of a straightforward variety streamer than a strict competitor. The organization also recently signed Alina, known by most as Alixxa on Twitch. There is an evident blend of Fortnite personalities under the Liquid banner. A different yet straightforward explanation for this shift in direction could be that the esports brand wants to allow Fortnite World Cup contracts to expire before seeking out more potential players. Whatever the case may be, Team Liquid’s roster has shrunk significantly since first joining Fortnite in 2018.
Hopefully, the legendary organization will resurge in the coming months. Although Epic Games halted any Fortnite World Cup plans until 2022, its competitive scene continues to thrive. New and exciting talents continue to breakthrough every day. Add in the multimillion-dollar prize pools, and the once iconic game still has plenty of juice left in its system.
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