As nitr0 leaves, Stewie2k may be the top dog at Team Liquid

Nick J. July 30, 2020

In Jake "Stewie2k" Yip's teams, if you're not performing, you're gone.

With Nick "nitr0" Canella out of Team Liquid after a five-year stint on the North American side, a trend is establishing itself surrounding Stewie2k and his leadership role in his teams.

The story starts months before Cloud9's historic run at the ELEAGUE Boston Major, where two long-time Cloud9 members were swiftly ousted from the team. Both Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert and Michael "shroud" Grzesiek were suddenly benched from the Cloud9 roster and subsequently replaced by Tarik "tarik" Celek and Will "RUSH"  Weizerba.

The move eventually led to North America's first CSGO Major title, but the sudden removal of two of the team's most popular members left fans scratching their heads. With nitr0's departure from Team Liquid, a rumor that has been all but confirmed by Twitter posts from both nitr0 and Team Liquid owner Steve Arhancet, the situation regarding nitr0's removal remains murky.

Stewie2k has often been compared to Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev in his desire for perfection from his teammates, leading to rumors that with a Stewie-led team, if a teammate isn't pulling their weight, they're cut loose. It's entirely possible that this situation took place again and led to nitr0's removal.

Stewie2k's CSGO teams have cut establish vets before

nitr0, a former in-game leader, rifler, and AWPer, played for Liquid for 1,989 days. That's an eternity for a player to spend on one team in CSGO. But in that time, nitr0 has gotten married and grown older, possibly signaling a shift in priorities for the CSGO veteran after his many titles won. It's been more than a year since Team Liquid found themselves on top of the CSGO world. TL won the IEM Grand Slam in record time, famously winning several consecutive tournaments to claim the $1,000,000 grand prize. But since then, Team Liquid has at times struggled. 

The team's difficulties can't be pinned on any one player, including nitr0. His performance has dipped at times, but other players, including Stewie2k himself, have also struggled as CSGO's 2020 season shifted to online play. What makes this move different than others is the apparent secrecy surrounding nitr0's removal from the team. In a Twitter post from Arhnacet, the TL CEO was tight-lipped about "changes" coming to the organization's Counter-Strike squad.

"It's also really important to provide information to all of our fans, the community and the fans of the players about what the changes are and why we're making those changes. But unfortunately, we won't be able to do it right now. We are working on it and it will come soon," Arhancet said.

Similar surprise changes came to Cloud9 soon after Stewie2k gained the IGL role, and it doesn't seem like things are any different here. Fans will have to wait to see what Team Liquid says in regards to these changes, but it's not hard to imagine that Stewie2k's quest for perfection could have played a role.