Heading into the third and final stage of the year, Team Liquid had their backs up against the wall. Having missed out on the Berlin Major, they only had 455 SI Points to their name. In order to qualify for next year’s Six Invitational and without wading into the Six Invitational regional qualifiers’ carnage, they could not afford to finish outside the top four in the BR6.
To achieve this, Liquid opted for a change in their roster. Right after the end of Gamers 8, Paulo “psk1” Augusto announced his retirement from competitive play. Signed in his place was a huge name -- former Six Major champion Lorenzo “Lagonis” Volpi.
An extremely charming and a humble person, Lagonis has become one of most respected players in Brazil. Following his short stint on Black Dragons, he became the rock for Team oNe in the 2021 season and continued in 2022 even after Karl “Alem4o” Zarth moved to G2 Esports and 00 Nation signed the remaining three players from that Major-winning team.
In 2022, after rebuilding the Team oNe roster from scratch with three rookies, Team oNe qualified for the Charlotte Major. He helped them win their first Copa do Brasil title, too, after clutching a 1v4 round in the final round of a BO5 series.
And now, Lagonis has been a breath of fresh air for Liquid. The man, who defines himself as a “team player” and someone who can “get the team together” by bringing “new experience from outside the electronics sports, attributes it to his past as a tennis player.
Despite his skills, though, Lagonis found that adaptation to his new team wasn’t easy. After his arrival, the team had to rotate roles as he was given the IGL and hard support role, with Gabriel “AsK” Santos moved to a much more aggressive position.
“Some things I helped the team is being a more aggressive roster, that was the main thing I focused. The team liked getting more adaptive, not playing that traditional Siege that Liquid was known of (sic), like the step by step… so more [adaptable] play style and make the players feeling comfortable and more free to do what they think is correct.”
The changes have certainly helped elevate the team. Individual statistics soared for the Liquid players in Stage 3, compared to Stage 2, with Luccas “Paluh” Molina and AsK best and third-best in the BR6 by SiegeGG Rating. The former looked back to his best and was brilliant in the entry department with an entry balance of 14-1 (+13). AsK, too, took to the change of role like a fish to water and was virtually lockstep with Paluh.
“He is fearless, it was the opposite, he is super aggressive and he was playing support, so it was not good,” praised Lagonis.
Pablo “resetz” Oliveira, too, the team’s second support, saw his performances improve and also received praise from his IGL.
“He is really aggressive, he doesn’t care if the enemy know where he is, he is just doing what he wants,” said Lagonis.
Despite all the praise he heaped on his teammates though, Lagonis’ Liquid is a work in progress. For the second stage this year, Team Liquid and FaZe Clan had to face off in the final match of the season to confirm their Copa Elite Six places -- and virtual qualification to the Major.
It took until round 15, but Team Liquid qualified for the CES as Lagonis’ efforts pushed Team oNe down to fifth place and avoided being “very frustrated” at a second Major miss. Instead, Lagonis is now living his dream.
“It was always, from the start, it was my dream to play for Team Liquid, so this is a dream that I had for like three years, before I turned 18 and became a professional player,” he shared. “We have different experiences, Paluh and Nesk, the young boys, AsK and resetz, I am the middle because I have a little experience, but I am young at my age, I am only 20 years old, but one of our difference from the other teams is that we have this mix.”
Team Liquid will face TSM, Heroic, and SANDBOX Gaming in the group stage while they also pursue direct qualification to the Six Invitational 2023. Key to this effort will be a successful test of their map pool against international opposition -- something that their clashes against FaZe this stage have helped them prepare for.
“FaZe Clan, nowadays, have the best map pool, but I don’t know if all their maps are really strong because we could have won some maps against them,” he said of those preparatory duels. “Having all the maps is a very good things … but this is a thing I say to the team, if you want to be a champion you need to have a good map pool.”
Catch Team Liquid on the international stage again at the Jönköping Major, which will take place from Nov. 21 to 27.
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