North American CS:GO pro Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin has revealed why the Team Liquid line-up he played on with Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev was never destined to last longer than it did.
S1mple spent two stints on the Team Liquid squad in 2016, and prior to the team’s more recent ascent as one of the top teams in the world they were the most successful periods in TL’s history in CS:GO.
Unfortunately it wasn't to last, and despite some ground-breaking results s1mple and Team Liquid parted ways, with the Ukranian super-star instead taking his talents to Na'Vi.
What that Team Liquid line-up might have been capable of if they had remained as a squad throughout that period and going forward is one of the great what-ifs of CS:GO, but according to Hiko it could never have happened.
S1mple’s ascent to his current position as the world’s greatest player was arguably delayed by his infamously difficult personality during his early years as a pro, and Team Liquid’s Jonathan ‘EliGE’ Jablonowski has also been called out for being hard to work with in the past. According to Hiko, the clash between these two players was irreparable.
“At the time, the way that S1mple’s personality was and the way that EliGE’s personality was, there’s no way that we would’ve been able to keep both of them. It just would not have happened. There were so many problems we had and so many fights we got into that were just stupid fights if you were on the outside looking in, that it just would not have worked.”
S1mple has himself attributed his departure from Team Liquid to his own desire to return to his home country of Ukraine, but Hiko thinks that even if he’d chosen to stay in the US it would only have been a matter of time before the team broke apart anyway.
“I don’t want to say that it ever came to a decision we had to make between keeping S1mple or keeping EliGE, but it would have gotten there eventually.”
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By all accounts, both players have massively improved their attitudes when it comes to working with other players, with more recent teammates of s1mple and EliGE praising their respective transformations. It seems that at the time when they played together, however, having both on one team was never going to work for long.
While they never claimed a significant title, or even managed anything like the consistently elite showings of the modern Team Liquid, the s1mple-era TL did help raise the bar for North American performance, particularly at the most important events of all - the Majors.
With the fragging power of the player who would go on to be near-unanimously hailed as the best player in the world, perhaps even the greatest of all time, Team Liquid were able to reach the quarter-finals of the MLG Columbus Major, then matching the record for the best run by a North American team. They were defeated in two maps by eventual champions Luminosity, with both going to overtime.
S1mple would ultimately part ways with the team shortly after, with rumors suggesting that internal discord was the source of the fracture.
After officially leaving the squad, s1mple did later return as a stand-in, most notably for the ESL One Cologne Major later in 2016. There, they went even further than in Columbus, becoming the first NA team to reach the grand finals in which they were again defeated by the Brazilians, who were now playing as SK Gaming. That was s1mple’s last tournament with Team Liquid.