When talent meets loyalty, it comes in the shape of a guy with a golden smile.
After eight years as a member of Team Liquid, Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski has officially become the longest franchise player in CS:GO history. In those eight years, he’s experienced both the highs and lows, but his perseverance under the North American organization’s banner has led him to become one of the top rifles in the game.
After such a milestone, we decided to look into EliGE’s history with Team Liquid: from the best to the worst and everything in between.
EliGE was first spotted by Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella back in 2014 while he was playing with Elevate, His incredible performances during the CEVO Professional League made Cannella curious, and he started to ask questions that made EliGe feel like he was being scouted.
Shortly after, he received a phone call with an official offer to start a journey that can be described as nothing but historical.
His first couple seasons with Team Liquid were slow and without any trophies, The team had some 3rd-4th finishes in IEM San Jose 2015, MLG Columbus 2016, Dreamhack Austin 2016, ESL One New York 2016, and ESL Pro League Season 5; They reached the game’s biggest stage at ESL One: Cologne 2016, but Liquid and EliGE finished second to Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo’s SK Gaming.
EliGE’s Best Year
Though 2017 was the year EliGE first rose to HLTV’s list of top 20 players, the real achievements and tournament wins came during Team Liquid’s hot streak in 2019, when EliGE also achieved his highest rank in HLTV Top 20 players, at 4th place.
EliGE couldn’t ask for a better start to the year as they won iBUYPOWER Masters. After two second placements at BLAST Pro Series São Paulo 2019 & BLAST Pro Series Miami 2019, Team Liquid went to the next level and won six S-tier events including DreamHack Masters Dallas, ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals, ESL One Cologne, and IEM Sydney 2019 to win the Intel Grand Slam Season 2, with a prize of 1 million dollars, in only 63 days.
Struggles come before any success, and even while one is on top of the scene, it never lasts forever.
During 2017, EliGE had one of his hardest times as a professional player, Though he was the 12th best player in the world, he struggled mentally.
According to Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken, who talked about his teammate in an interview with Dexerto, it was a different type of toxic. Instead of saying mean things straight out, he tended to shut down and not say a word until after the matches, when he would release all the negative energy and feedback, which certainly wasn’t in the friendliest way possible.
It was a repetitive pattern that made his teammates feel uncomfortable and tired without any obvious solutions, which led to discussions to remove him from the lineup.
Instead, EliGE began working with a sports psychologist who helped fix his mentality and he stayed with Liquid to later achieve something that was inevitable.
Surviving the Storms
During the eight years under Team Liquid’s banner, EliGE has played alongside some of the legends of the game, such as Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyljev, Spencer "Hiko" Martin, Epitácio "TACO" de Melo and Fallen.
Though Liquid and EliGe have witnessed multiple shuffles over the years, the golden smile remained an untouchable pillar that survived the storms.
nitr0 was the only player that remained from the original 2015 Team Liquid roster, although even he left for a short period of time to pursue a Valorant career. While most roster changes up until after 2019 saw the removal and signing of single players instead of changing the core, especially after signing both Twistzz & Keith "NAF" Markovic which helped to stabilize the team for the short upcoming years.
After the downfall of Team Liquid With the exit of nitr0 followed by Twistzz's transfer to FaZe Clan shortly after, a series of unhinged transfers and shuffles happened in the team with hopes of filling the gaps. But, after the changes showed little to no success, the removal of Michael "Grim" Wince, Jacky "Stewie2K" Yip and Fallen occurred. EliGE was “safe” during these roster changes due to him proving himself as a reliable and star player.
One Player, Six Coaches
Results don’t always depend on players alone. Coaches can also have a major role in the success of a team.
During EliGE’s time with Liquid, he worked with many coaches, starting from James "GBJame^s" O'Connor, who lasted seven months before parting ways with the organization. He was followed by Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu, but the same scenario played out, and Tadeu exited the organization.
Wilton "zews" Prado was the most consistent coach EliGE had, with over two years as the head coach from late 2017 to 2019 before becoming MIBR’s coach.
That’s when Eric "adreN" Hoag took charge and became the most successful coach in Team Liquid’s history with their incredible dominance in 2019.
Jason "moses" O'Toole had a short experience during the team’s worst days, which led to signing the current head coach Damian "daps" Steele.
EliGE’s Personal Achievements
In eight years, Jonathan made an appearance in the HLTV Top 20 players for five consecutive years. 2019 was the best year for both him and his team as he was ranked the 4th best player in the world.
He has been the MVP in four different events: ESL Pro League Season 11 North America, IEM Chicago 2019, ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals and Dreamhack Masters Dallas 2019.
According to https://www.esportsearnings.com/, EliGE has made over $1,100,000 in earnings ranking in the top 20 highest-earning players in CS:GO.
The future of the team and region might be unpredictable, but for EliGE it’s simply Team Liquid. He said the following in an interview with CS.MONEY.
“I would stay as long as possible [With Team Liquid]. As long as I’m happy, I would keep staying because I still think it’s the best org to play for. They gave me everything that I could ask for. I think that they’re very fair. And for NA, I think that they’re also the best team, so it’s everything that I want all in one package.” -EliGE