With a spot in The International 2019 locked up, Team Liquid has made a big change to its Dota 2 roster.
The organization has announced longtime core player Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen has been deactivated from the lineup after almost four years with the team. The news was revealed on Twitter, and was acknowledged by Matumbaman shortly thereafter.
“We would like to announce that Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen has been moved out of our Dota 2 starting roster,” Liquid announced in a statement. “This was a mutual decision and one that we believe is in the best interest of all parties. Matu is open to new opportunities as we explore the ideal next step for him in his career.”
The statement goes on to discuss Matumbaman’s key moments with the organization and clarifies that he has not been officially cut from Liquid at this time. He is currently benched by the team, but will likely be fully released in the near future.
The move comes as something of a shock. Liquid had an ugly start to the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season, failing to qualify for the Kuala Lumpur Major and posting disappointing finishes in both the Chongqing Major and DreamLeague Major. The ship was seemingly set right in May when Liquid came in second place at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major but this was followed by an early exit from ESL One Birmingham.
It is unclear what specifically led to the decision, as there were no reports of strife within the team.
Matumbaman, Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov, and Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi have been the core of Team Liquid’s Dota 2 roster since the organization’s return to the game in 2015. The team quickly established itself as one of the best in Dota 2 with strong performances at Valve-sponsored majors and placed in the top eight at The International 2016. Though the roster suffered some turnover in the months that followed, Liquid rebuilt and posted an exceptional 2017 that included first-place at The International 2017.
Liquid stated that it currently has a fifth player lined up to replace Matumbaman and will announce their new addition ahead of the EPICENTER Major. The team incurs a 20-percent penalty to its points in the Dota Pro Circuit, but still remains in position for a direct invitation to The International 2019.
Matumbaman’s competitive future is unknown. He has enjoyed success at both the No. 1 and No. 2 position, and there is no shortage of potential landing spots for him. Unfortunately, the odds are still stacked against him in terms of qualifying for TI9.