The Story of Team Nigma (former Liquid) – Part 1

Team Nigma Dota 2
Image credit: Tanikal

Dota 2 Team Nigma is a relatively new esports organization created in late 2019. Although this team is less than one year old, they are already the second-ranked team in Europe and the CIS region and fourth in the whole world. Of course, nothing like that can happen overnight. The story behind this team is a little bit more complex so stay tuned and find out the real untold story behind Dota 2 Team Nigma.

Forming of the Organization

On November 25, 2019, some former Team Liquid players decided to leave the organization and form their own team called Team Nigma.

Their roster of Team Nigma was and still is composed of:

  • Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barkawi
  • Aliwi “w33” Omar
  • Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov
  • Maroun “GH” Merhej
  • Kuro Salehi “KuroKy” Takhasomi

Remember the story behind the creation of Team Secret? KuroKy was unsatisfied with the results at The International 2014 so he decided to leave Na’Vi and create a player-owned organization alongside with Johan “N0tail” Sundersten.

Neither one of those two players stuck with Secret – KuroKy went to play for Liquid while N0tail decided to create another player-owned team, Team OG, which turned out to be quite the success.

A similar thing happened here too, once again with KuroKy at the wheel. Following the second place at The International 2019, the entire Team Secret roster decided to depart from the team and form their organization. With that in mind, this team isn’t quite new because the team core dates back to 2017 and Team Liquid where their story actually begins.

Forming KuroKy’s Squad

Team Liquid was left without a Dota 2 roster after TI4. However, they decided to return to Dota 2 in late 2015, so they invited KuroKy to be the captain and created a team around him. He and MinD_ConRoL played together and experimented with teammates until they found Miracle- and Kanishka "BuLba" Sosale in late 2016.

After a few disappointing tournaments with one loss after another, BuLBa stepped down from the active squad and GH came as a temporary solution. With GH in the team, results improved immediately. Liquid won DreamLeague Season 6 LAN and soon after that decided to sign GH as a fifth squad member. He was officially signed on January 2, 2017, and that was the beginning of this amazing team.

Team Nigma squad
KuroKy's Squad (Image credit: Monster Energy)

The team was now composed of KuroKy, GH, MinD_ContRoL, Miracle- and Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen. The only difference between this team and Team Nigma today is in one player, w33, who replaced MATUMBAMAN two years after that, just before the TI9, but more on that later.

The Dream Team's Incredible Run

As soon as GH signed for the team, TL went to win another two LAN tournaments – StarSeries Season 3 and Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017. The only thing that was left to do was to qualify for the TI7. KuroKy’s team started off well and they won StarLadder i-League Invitational #2, then defended the title in Moscow at EPICENTER 2017. With excellent gameplay and excellent results, that was more than enough for them to be among the six invited teams for The International 2017.

Liquid had one more title to defend before TI and that was at the DreamLeague Season 7 Finals in Atlanta – an opportunity to try out new tactics. After an intense Grand Finals match against Planet Odd, they won 3-2 and went to the TI as one of the favorites to win it.

Not This Time, Asia – TI Trophy Back in Europe

KuroKy and co. entered the tournament with high hopes built upon a strong track record at recent events. The squad was seeded into group A with other favorite teams like Evil Geniuses, LGD, TNC and Team Secret. Despite the tough competition, the team finished first in Group A with a 5-3-0 record.

In the main stage, however, TL faltered to a 1-2 loss against Invictus Gaming in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals. That loss dropped them into the Lower Bracket where they were found in the sink-or-swim situation of elimination series.

The first must-win match was against Team Secret who immediately secured a 1-0 edge and looked liable to dominate a second match as well. Clement "Puppey" Ivanov’s team started with an early 6-0 lead but Liquid had different plans.

In the wake of compelling a turnaround in Game 2, they composed an unkillable Troll Warlord and dangerous Necrophos which lead them to amazing comeback and ultimately a victory in Game 3.

The next challenge was Team Empire who just smashed NA top picks and TI5 champions OG without losing a single game. Team Empire, who were longing for a recurrent miracle, were squashed anyway as Liquid swept the series with 2-0 to ensure a top-six finish while eliminating them in the process.

Another directly invited team from the CIS region was waiting in the next round –, another team that was looking to restore themselves after an 0-2 loss against LGD.FY in the Upper Bracket Semi-Finals. What followed was one of the most intense and the longest matchups of the whole tournament. The first game alone lasted 103 minutes. In Game 3, both teams utilized astounding team fight coordination and pushed each other to the very edge. Eventually, Liquid prevailed by a razor's edge and secured their spot in the Semi-Finals.

In the Semi-Finals, Liquid confronted LGD Gaming that had eliminated a strong Invictus Gaming squad earlier that same day. Regardless of some clutch LGD plays, Liquid figured out how to dominate that game easily and went to the Lower Bracket Grand Finals. There, they faced LGD.FY.

Going head to head in their first game against LGD.FY, Liquid continued with their amazing Lower Bracket run and secured a spot in the Grand Finals of the Main Event where the winner of the Upper Bracket, Newbee, awaited. Resistance was futile – Liquid were practically unstoppable and Newbee couldn’t do anything about it. In the end, KuroKy and his squad won the series with 3-0 and secured their first international trophy.

But this is just the beginning. The story behind Team Nigma isn’t over just yet.

Make sure to come back on EarlyGame for Part 2 and more Dota 2, fun videos and news from the gaming industry.