Inhumane reactions this, Clutchmeister that… back in his compLexity Gaming and Cloud9 days, Spencer “Hiko” Martin made quite a name for himself. Hiko was dubbed as the “North American hope” as he joined Team Liquid, a squad seemingly unable to scale the obstacle of European teams. After initially turning the team’s fortunes around, it now seems that the Hiko effect is fast approaching its expiration date.
After arriving at Team Liquid, Hiko vouched to pick up the European star Oleksandar “s1mple” Kostyliev. The duo went on to lead Liquid to a semi-final placing at MLG Columbus 2016 and a Cinderella run at ESL Cologne 2016, placing 2nd to SK Gaming. The CS:GO oracles predicted Hiko’s rise to greatness, indeed he is the only North American to have three semi-final or better placings at Valve sponsored majors.
With the arrival of Jacob “Pimp” Winneche instead of the recently departed s1mple, Hiko and co. secured a surprising semi-finalist placing at ESL New York 2016 after doubtful online results in the ESL Pro League.
“Hiko, s1mple, nitr0, EliGE, jdm64. Easily the most skilled line-up to ever represent an NA org in CS:GO.”
Duncan “Thooorin” Shields
Soon after, Hiko assumed the in-game leader role for Team Liquid in preparation for their next big test: The ESL Pro League LAN Finals. Facing up against unremarkable competition, Liquid were predicted by many hopeful fans and avid followers to place top 3 at the least, advancing from the group fresh off the hype from ESL New York 2016.
Instead, Liquid showered their fans with choking hazards, losing their first 3 games and eliminating any chance of further advancement in the tournament.
At the ESL Pro League, Liquid garnered a measly six rounds in their first two losses, only to win 12 more in their next loss. Their only win was the result of a counter choke from Immortals after a 13-2 half (16-14). The community’s damning eyes were fixated on Hiko, the supposed mastermind behind Liquid and lead tactician for the tournament.
Hiko has to harbour some of the blame for Liquid’s disappointing performance. Much like Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer from Team EnVyUs, he made sure that the play around him secured him easy frags and winnable clutch situations. As one of the “clutch masters” and star powers in the current CS:GO era, you’d expect Hiko to put up a godlike performance. Sadly, the man, the myth, the legend we knew was nowhere to be seen.
In the past three months – according to HLTV’s statistics – Hiko has had a 0.95 rating (both online and on LAN), and a kills per round average of 0.63 over 59 maps of activity. At the ESL Pro League LAN, all of his sub 1.00 ratings were under 0.80, and the lowest was a rating of 0.32 in a blowout vs EnVyUs. Out of the five matches played, he only had a positive rating of 1.12 in a 16-12 loss versus Mousesports. Clearly, the “legend” has failed to make an impact for the team as a whole under his leadership.
“With Hiko, you expect him to structure a team in a way that he benefits the most. Considering his role in the past compLexity and C9 iterations, you could almost compare it to what I say about Happy’s IGL’ing in EnVyUs.”
Duncan “Thooorin” Shields
It is time to stop clinging to the golden times of Hiko’s North America. The player we knew from before is not the same man we see playing today. If Liquid want to return the success they reaped back in the good ol’ days… they may have to bid their once great hope farewell.
Other than inserting Damian “daps” Steele, – who has familiarity with Nick “nitr0” Cannella and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski – Team Liquid are left with the option of removing Hiko and moving Pimp into IGL command.
If we were to approach the Pimp IGL move, we can always go for a European import to play a support role – something that Liquid needs to support Josh “jdm64” Marzano’s prioritised AWPing role. Coincidentally, the buyout from FaZe may be too much for Liquid’s budget. The recent rise of untested talent in C9’s Timothy “autimatic” Ta, Liquid may provide a potential remedy and look deeper into the echelons of the North American scene. There a certainly a lot of possibilities for Liquid right now, but the question stands: which path will pave the way for another sprout of success?