posted by SmittyW.,
Until Lasse 'Matumbaman' Urpalainen was dismissed from Team Liquid's services, the roster was the most persistent squad of the tier 1 Dota scene. With his replacement Omar 'w33haa' Aliwi played a phenomenal tournament at the EPICENTER Major. But are they ready to win The International 2019 yet? This was the biggest upset since the Beatles went separate ways: after years with Team Liquid Matumbaman was benchend and replaced by w33 just before the EPICENTER Major. Many fans questioned the decision to get rid of the Finnish veteran and didn't expect much from the renewed Liquid squad. However, Kuro S. 'KuroKy' Takhasomi and his team-mates didn't fail to amaze.

It seemed like Kuro's philosophy bore fruits already weeks after exchanging players. Back in January, the captain told Alexander 'XBOCT' Dashkevich in an interview that any change is sometimes a good change. That's why they hired Roman 'rmN' Paley as a coach as a substitution for Soung-Gon 'Heen' Lee who wanted to leave anyway. As Liquid was still lacking satisfying results, this call could have been made to give the team a fresh start and be a legit contender for the Aegis in August.

Team Liquid can go confidently into TI

In the same interview, Kuro gave away his plans for the future. When asked, what his goal was next to winning TI again, Kuro responded confidently: "Win two more TIs."

Team Liquid are surely one of the top favourites in Shanghai, as they boast star players on every position. Kuroky is of course a true master mind and a great position 5 player, the same goes for Maroun 'Gh' Merhej on position 4 and Ivan 'MinD_ContRoL' Borislavov on 3. Both players have shown top level performances for two years now. Although players like Ludwig 'zai' Wåhlberg surpass them at times, they are always super consistent at what they are doing.

And then, there is Amer 'Miracle-' Al-Barkawi. The carrry has always been a force to be reckoned with, but momentarily, he seems to be unstoppable. At EPICENTER, he was elected MVP and this vote was supported by the joinDOTA community who awarded him this title as well. The 22-year old TI winner currently beats the hell out of his enemies like they owe him money, and some people even claim that he is the GOAT of Dota 2.

The new one

Until now, w33ha turned out to be a fine addition to the squad. At EPICENTER they made some mistakes that can be attributed to the little amount of time the team had to adjust before playing the event. But it is quite remarkable that they became runner-up in Moscow, nevertheless. We can expect that this will have ceased to be an issue by mid-August.

With w33, they hired an extremely good mid-lander who is probably even better than Matu on this position. Miracle- can now fully focus on his role as a hard carry and thanks to w33's huge hero pool, Kuro has still a lot of options when it comes to drafting.

Anything less than the Aegis is too little

With this line-up in their back, Team Liquid should get at least among the top 4 or 3. Of course, this is not what they are aiming for. Kuro and co. have the ambition to become the first side ever to claim the Aegis for the second time. And there are few teams who could pose a threat to them to be honest. Apart from Vici Gaming who wrestled them down in the EPI finals and Team Secret who are probably still a bit ahead, Liquid have nothing to fear. The expectations are really high, but if there is a team that can meet them, it might be Liquid.

Will Team Liquid win TI9 with w33?

Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson, ESL