North American fans can finally relax. Team Liquid has landed the services of Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis for the upcoming event IEM Cologne, which will hopefully lead to a long-term deal with the organization. Over the past week, rumor on rumor emerged for where YEKINDAR would end up. With his arrival at Liquid confirmed, he chose the team where his abilities will be best used. Out of all the teams who were in the market for him, Team Liquid needed him the most.
YEKINDAR recently became available from Virtus.Pro due to him not wanting to play for the organization. YEKINDAR is not Russian, but he found himself playing for an organization backed by public enemy number one due and facing backlash for it. Although his numbers fell off in the last few months, a change of scenery is just what he needs to be the unstoppable force he was during the peak of Virtus.Pro and Team Liquid is the best destination for him.
Why YEKINDAR is perfect for Liquid.
When Team Liquid peaked with their Intel Grand Slam run in 2019, many things were in place for the team. Mainly, Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip was at the top of his game and posting entry kills alongside Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski. Now, things are different. Stewie is gone, but a solid core of EliGE, Keith “NAF” Markovic, and Joshua “oSee” Ohm are present. However, there is one thing missing: an aggressive entry player to open up rounds.
Most of the team’s firepower comes from EliGE and NAF, and both need lots of space to operate. During shox’s tenure with the team, Liquid either used nitr0 as an entry or played passively around oSee’s AWP, with the occasional straight-up duel from NAF. In fact, since 2020, Team Liquid has been a very passive team because of the time and space EliGE and NAF take up. Their entire style will change with the addition of YEKINDAR: a player who is arguably the best entry fragger in Counter-Strike.
With YEKINDAR, EliGE and NAF will have the room they need. oSee can pick off players and fall back, and nitr0 can adopt a more supportive role for the team while continuing to IGL. Additionally, YEKINDAR provides a much-needed boost in overall firepower. At the recent major PGL Antwerp, Team Liquid had the worst Kill/Death differential of the entire tournament at -92, with the team K/D sitting at .76. Adding a player who has a positive K/D (1.06) and consistently gets entries will only improve the team.
A Deep Dive into the Statistics
In case you don’t believe the aggressiveness YEKINDAR brings to the table, let’s dive into his stats. In the past year, he attempted entry kills in 32.6% of rounds – the second most behind Andrei “arT” Piovezan. Of those rounds, he succeeds 58.6% on the CT side and 44.4% on the T side, with a combined success rate of 51.6% of rounds. Of the players who attempt opening kills in over 25% of rounds, he has the highest kills per round (.17) and the third-highest success rate, behind Fredrik “roeJ” Jørgensen (53.8% success over 26.3% of rounds) and Nikola “NiKo” Kovač (57.8% success over 29.1% of rounds). His aggressiveness and willingness to die are exactly what Team Liquid needs so that EliGE and NAF can have space to frag out and not be forced to entry on a site with 10 seconds left (The Statistics are against top 30 teams in the past 12 months and are from HLTV).
No More Jame Time
Not only did YEKINDAR struggle throughout the past few months during the conflict in Ukraine, but his style has been limited by Dzhami “Jame” Ali. Virtus. Pro’s playstyle very much revolves around Jame’s AWP, and YEKINDAR has been forced to decrease his aggressive playstyle to match the team’s pace. But, on Liquid, he can do what he wants to do as his style is perfect for the team. We’ll have to wait and see for IEM Cologne, but YEKINDAR could turn into an even better player than he already is because of the passive AWP playstyle not being present.
We’ll have to wait until after Cologne to see if a long-term deal is formed with Team Liquid and YEKINDAR, but things are looking up for the North American squad. Having been a top 15 team with such a key piece missing, Team Liquid will most likely find themselves in the top five very soon if they can hold on to the Latvian player.