Nabil ‘Nivera’ Benrlitom is the latest CS:GO professional to move to Riot Games’ title. He will link up with his brother, Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom, on Team Liquid.
The Belgian talent, 20, has been formally unveiled as Liquid’s new fifth player after months of reports linking him with a switch to Valorant.
He will replace James ‘Kryptix’ Affleck, who has been part of Liquid since the Netherlands-based organization expanded into Valorant in August 2020 with the signing of the fish123 roster. According to Liquid, the British player will be “temporarily stepping down from the team to deal with some personal issues.”
Nivera’s unveiling comes as a timely boost for Liquid, who will compete in the EMEA last-chance qualifier for Valorant Champions, from October 10-17.
Liquid hope that the injection of fresh blood will revitalize the team after they missed out on the VCT Stage 3 Masters event in Berlin following a disappointing 5th-6th place in the EMEA Challengers Playoffs.
A rising talent
Nivera burst onto the global CS:GO scene in October 2020 when he joined Vitality from Heretics. He helped the team to win IEM Beijing-Haidian Europe and the BLAST Premier Fall Finals later that year as part of a successful six-man rotation.
Vitality were pushing the boundaries of tactical flexibility with expanded rosters, but their plans were thwarted when Valve announced the ruleset for the 2021 Major circuit.
With teams losing a portion of their RMR points if they substituted out players in the Regional Major Ranking (RMR) tournaments, Vitality had no option but to stick to a five-man roster, moving Nivera to the bench. According to the team’s in-game leader, Dan “apEX” Madesclaire, the Belgian was the odd man out simply because of his role.
As the months went on, the uncertainty over Nivera’s future grew. Given the scarcity of options in the Counter-Strike scene at the highest level, many believed that, if Nivera didn’t get picked up by another team quickly, it would be a matter of time before he added his name to the long list of players that have left CS:GO looking for greener pastures in Valorant.
However, Nivera told Dexerto that he is making this career move by choice, not by necessity.
“I could have joined many CS teams, but I lost my motivation to play,” he said. “I didn’t want to continue playing CS professionally.
Nivera has been actively playing Valorant almost since he was benched by Vitality, six months ago. Although he has yet to be tested in a competitive setting, he is confident in his ability and knowledge of the game.
“I know pretty much everything about the abilities and how the game works in general,” he said. “There are a lot of similarities with CS. That’s why I was able to learn the game a lot faster.”
On Team Liquid, he will finally get the chance to play alongside his brother ScreaM, whom he looked up to growing up as he was taking his first steps in Counter-Strike.
And just like in 2019, when he joined Heretics on advice from ScreaM, Nivera sought his brother’s opinion when things turned sour in CS.
“He told me that Valorant will be a big esports game in the future, and I trust him,” Nivera said. “He helped me a lot during my CS career. I always took good opportunities.
“I would have switched anyway, I think. But yes, having my brother alongside me will be really entertaining.”
Nivera is in for a baptism of fire when he makes his debut for Liquid. His team will have only one more chance to qualify for Valorant Champions, with G2 Esports, SuperMassive Blaze, and Guild some of the other big-name sides that will also be vying for the spot at the end-of-the-year event.
Not that it seems to faze Nivera personally. He appears determined looks to make a grand entrance, just like he did in 2020 when put on Vitality’s jersey and wowed the CS:GO scene.
“As usual, I’ll give my best. I’m pretty sure with time we’ll be one of the best teams in the world,” he said.
“Our main goal now is to qualify for Valorant Champions. We will work really hard for it.”