The Roar
The Roar


Team Liquid and the troublesome concept of best in the world

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3rd June, 2019

So much for the French Revolution, eh? At best, it’s on hold after Faze and Furia made light work of G2 and Vitality in Dallas.

But North America has had a pretty famous revolution of its own in the past, and Team Liquid are doing a pretty good job of ruling the world with Astralis currently vacant.

Given the country’s history, perhaps some kind of coup metaphor is more appropriate, but the best teams in Counter-Strike are from Scandinavia, not South America so that starts to fall apart faster than you can say “US-backed capitalist dictatorship.”

Whoa, alright, let’s get back to the nerd stuff, shall we?

With the current world number one, Astralis out of action in recent months, it’s difficult to say whether Team Liquid rules the roost in their stead.

It’s possible that by the time this gets published, HLTV has updated its rankings and Team Liquid has already overtaken the Danes.

Liquid is currently 88 points behind their rivals, but with HLTV weighing recent tournaments over older ones, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dreamhack Dallas was enough to tip the scales.

The trouble is, nobody can really say for sure if Liquid is the best team in the world or not. Can you really call someone the new champion if they haven’t defeated the previous one?

The teams haven’t met for a while (a quirk of Astralis’ unique schedule), but they have been surprisingly evenly matched so far this year. In eight matches, the teams are split dead even: 4-4.


Context is important, and some of those matches were best-of-ones, but only ENCE with a 2-3 record even comes close to matching that sort of form against the reigning major champions.

But having beaten the Finns too, there isn’t much left for Liquid to do except repeat their own achievements and try to maintain the same form.

Oh, and I guess that, given the allusions to my previous column earlier, they probably ought to beat Vitality at some point, just to make their dominance clear.

The next opportunity for Liquid to become undisputed kings of the Counter-Strike world is still a couple of weeks away.


Astralis team celebrate their win vs Liquid at the FaceIt Major at The SSE Arena, Wembley on September 22, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Kieran Gibbs / ESPAT Media / Getty Images)

The Americans didn’t qualify for ECS, but ESL Pro League takes place later this month. Liquid made it to that one and Astralis won’t be ducking it, so it’s likely that we can finally put the matter to bed. Until ESL One Cologne a couple of weeks later. Urgh.

Realistically, Best Team in The World is always going to be a contentious moniker, regardless of facts and figures. In a scene that is made up of so many different tournament organisers running so many different events, you can’t even really point to the major and say “yep, that proves it,” because the major was months ago now.

Tons of events have happened since then, and the current major champions have only been to some of them.


You certainly can’t say “team X” beat “team Y” so they’re the best either, because that is too small a sample size to define anything.

And yet, it’s not exactly arbitrary either. Clearly some teams are better than others, so surely the logical conclusion is that there must be a best team somewhere, right?

Well, maybe, but I’m actually not convinced that there is. If we could make every team in, let’s say, the top eight play each other 100 times, we might finally arrive at a conclusion.

But not only is that impossible, it’s not very fair to team nine in the ranking. Then where do you draw the line on who gets to take part? It doesn’t really matter, because as I said earlier, this whole scenario is impossible.

In the end, if you think it’s necessary to decide on an actual best team in the world, you need to be willing to accept that the concept is a fluid one. It sounds like a solid, tangible idea, but really it’s completely vague and subjective.

If Liquid beats Astralis, but then loses to, let’s say, Ghost, are Ghost now the best team in the world? Of course not.

Yet we all sort of know, somewhere in our minds, that Astralis or Liquid probably is the best team in the world right now. You can offer as much evidence in favour of one or the other as you want, but someone else will have just as many reasonable arguments to support the contrary.

Xmithie of Team Liquid

Xmithie celebrates with his Team Liquid team-mates. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)


Sports are subjective at the best of time, but the nature of the Counter-Strike circuit makes our game even harder to pin down. You know with some certainty that the Roosters were the best team in the NRL last year, but were Astralis the best team in Counter-Strike. Probably.