After sniffing around Snax and jks (original as ever, NA), Liquid have added Latvian superstar entry YEKINDAR as a stand-in for IEM Cologne.
Quite how they managed that one, w€ ju$t don't know.
But yes, on sporting merit, YEKINDAR is the best player not on a team right now. For our money, he's a top 5 player in the world full stop, and Liquid should be doing everything they can to secure him long term.
He'll release EliGE back to his old 2nd and 3rd in roles — which might stop this happening — and add the firepower Liquid have been sorely lacking this year.
And more importantly, he just clicks heads. He's Counter-Strikes’s own raumdeuter — the innovation of Thomas Müller with the entertainment value of Jay-Jay Okocha.
The problem is, we can make the same argument for signing him for most of the top 10. NAVI have ruled him out since they don't want to do business with VP. But, Cloud9 have lit the way for a morally murky but effective loophole of using an agency middleman, something other orgs will surely copy.
Don't get it twisted — it's Liquid who are on trial in Cologne, not YEKINDAR. G2 and Vitality should be knocking his door down as we speak.
For Cologne though, YEKINDAR is all Liquids. And stand-ins are the trend right now: FaZe jks; ENCE Snax; NAVI sdy (though he's more of a trialist, really) have all had success.
Last time Liquid had a stand in in Cologne in 2016 they made the final. They may have had the GOAT (jdm) back then but they need to play their hearts out once again: they're playing for more than NA; they're playing to convince YEKINDAR to sign on the dotted line.