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| 27. November 2021

CS:GO – Star Sprayer: The Story of EliGE

The grand mountain witnessing dynasties build and fall, the ever-present eye of this American has been there for everything. Absorbing the friction heat of the s1mple days to taming the majestic Astralis an era later, EliGE has been an ever-constant participant in all highs and all lows. Here is the story of an unwavering, immortal NA legend.

Early Career

After altercations with his brother over whose turn it was to play on the computer, Jonathan Jablonowski was gifted his own setup by his parents. At the mere age of 8, he had already decided that he would be a gamer when he grew up, and he stuck to his word after reading the quote “Winners never quit. Quitters never win.” in his taekwondo class.

Starting out with Starcraft and playing a few competitive tournaments in Starcraft, EliGE started playing CS 1.6 for fun, but never saw it as a real esport option, like Starcraft was. But that changed with the release of CS:GO, and 2014 is when EliGE became serious about the famed FPS.

For how skilled he was, it only took him 7 months of jumping from team to team to fix a spot in Team Liquid. By early 2015, a 17-year-old EliGE was already married to an organization that he still remains faithful to. The year passed by with a few discrete qualifier and tournament wins, scattered throughout the year. But in only 9 months, the roster had witnessed constant changes and building strong team spirit and cohesion proved to be difficult.

The s1mple Fiasco

2016 came along and with it, Hiko brought in a young Ukrainian propeller, s1mple. s1mple’s introduction to the team made them an unstable powerhouse, a bomb ready to explode and kill its neighbors, at the cost of its own destruction. Team Liquid performed exceptionally well at the two Majors s1mple was involved in, but a harrowing semifinal exit to coldzera and co. and a Grand Final defeat to the same team meant EliGE and Team Liquid would come as close to a Major trophy than they’ve ever been.

NA CS had never shone as bright as that and a whole continent relied upon two stars who simply couldn’t look eye-to-eye: EliGE and s1mple. In the end, it was the emotional Ukrainian who packed his bags and flew back home in July, leaving Team Liquid a broken mess. But even with s1mple gone, the waters wouldn’t cool down in America. EliGE’s teamwork and attitudes were questioned and after months of pointless scapegoating, he had reached a point where he became a genuine problem.

2016 would close out with Team Liquid not making it to a single Grand Final, with a semifinal appearance in ESL One: New York 2016 their best of the year. Team Liquid had completely crumbled, but EliGE vowed to his team that he would do all it takes to be a better teammate, a person who’s more than just individual skill.

The Rebuilding Years

2017 and 2018 passed by in rebuilding the broken American team. Numerous roster changes meant EliGE and nitr0 would be the only remaining players from the s1mple days. And then Stewie2k joined Team Liquid in December 2018, and things would never be the same.

Coming to Liquid almost a year after leading Cloud9 to a famous NA Major victory in Boston, Stewie2k instantly wound in with the Liquid players, and the team would go on to reach unprecedented heights. After being ranked 12th and 15th best player by HLTV in 2017 and 2018, EliGE would jump to otherworldly powers in 2019.

The Golden Age

After winning the very first tournament of 2019 with Stewie2k against the Astralis, Team Liquid had decided that 2019 was their year. After a rough summer, the Americans had the teamwork of winners and over the next few months, they tore through each and every obstacle that dared to face them.

After an IEM Sydney win over fnatic in May, Team Liquid won DreamHack Masters Dallas 2019 against ENCE, ESL Pro League Season 9 against G2, and ESL One Cologne 2019 against zywOo’s Vitality, to win the quickest ever Intel Grand Slam and being only the second team to do so, after the legendary Astralis.

Team Liquid had won four out of four S-Tier tournaments leading up to the second 2019 Major, and the team had never looked stronger to win a Major, not even in the s1mple days. But disaster struck against Astralis when the Danes pulled out the greatest ever anti-strat on Liquid’s strongest-ever map, Vertigo. Liquid could only watch as Astralis ran rampant on the CT side of Vertigo and then went on to win the Major with similar force.

Team Liquid could only settle for a 5th-8th place again, just like in the first Major of 2019. But after this golden run of tournament wins leading up to the Major, Team Liquid would never be the same again. 2019 ended without a single tournament win after the Berlin Major tragedy.
Nevertheless, EliGE’s grand performances were acknowledged, when he was named as the 4th Best Player Of The Year by HLTV.

The Last Slump

2020 came and went, with Team Liquid suffering due to the pandemic, just like the rest of the teams and the world. They won just one tournament in the whole of 2020, but that was the least of their worries as their long-time IGL, nitr0, quit the team suddenly in July 2020 and joined ex-Liquid star Hiko in Valorant.

New roster changes meant the American headshot machine, Twistzz, left for FaZe Clan and Grim, and legendary IGL, FalleN joined the team. EliGE was named the 8th Best Player Of The Year by HLTV in 2020, despite his team’s slump. 2021 was not kind either, despite the presence of FalleN. Team Liquid never really regained themselves and quit the PGL Major 2021 in the Group Stage to FaZe Clan, with their very own Twistzz thumping the last nail in their coffin.

The Immortal Legacy

EliGE may not have won the Major, but the master rifler won an Intel Grand Slam, writing his name in the Counter-Strike history book with golden ink. He has overcome attitude issues and teamwork issues, to create a team from Ground Zero and take them to levels one could only dream of.

It’s unlikely that a 24-year-old EliGE will ever reach those heights, given whispers of IGL FalleN’s exit from Liquid. But the legacy of this veteran master whose sprays never go awry is a bright and proud one, and not even the Danish Gods could tarnish the legacy of the man who singlehandedly won the hearts of an entire continent.