Analysing Team Liquid’s MMO moves by acquiring Limit Guild

International esports organisation Team Liquid has announced its acquisition of MMORPG raiding guild Limit Guild.

The acquisition rebrands Limit Guild, most famous for its World of Warcraft (WoW) raids, under the Liquid banner, becoming Liquid Guild and installs a new vertical in Team Liquid’s esports rosters — Liquid MMO. The new division will position the org into MMORPG titles such as WoW, Final Fantasy XIV Online as well as Riot Games’ upcoming MMO title.

Team Liquid MMO
Liquid MMO’s branding. Image credit: Team Liquid

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According to a release, Guild Leader Max ‘Maximum’ Smith has received an equity position in Team Liquid and will become a minority owner. As such, he will oversee the organisation’s present and future MMO efforts. Smith joins other recently announced Team Liquid athletes and creators in the organisation’s co-ownership structure.

“When Team Liquid enters a new space, we do so intending to be the best,” said Steve Arhancet, Co-CEO of Team Liquid in a release. “We maintained that philosophy with MMOs — wanting to work with the best to achieve competitive greatness.

“With Max [Smith] and Limit, we found not only an excellent team with a proven track record, but an authentic group of individuals who pursue greatness with integrity, aligning perfectly with Team Liquid’s values as an organisation.”

Limit Guild’s 40+ person operation joins Team Liquid as athletes, coaches and staff of the newly formed Liquid MMO. The organisation will host and broadcast an in-person LAN operation as the guild looks to reclaim its World First glory by attempting Mythic Sepulcher of the First Ones.

Liquid MMO
Another look at Liquid MMO’s unique visual aesthetic. Image credit: Team Liquid

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For those unfamiliar, WoW’s Race to World First (RWF) competition is a bi-annual event showcasing the game’s top-tier guilds, or player organisations, as they compete to be the first to complete the newest instalment of endgame content: Mythic Dungeons. The first guild to succeed is awarded the global ‘World First’ in-game achievement.

Rather than the strictly PVP nature of the majority of esports competitions, RWF is a unique blend of highly coordinated multiplayer speed-run attempts combined with a simultaneous race to compete the same achievement.

Leading up to the competition, guilds spend countless hours workshopping and fine-tuning complex raids attempts, some of which stream the progress on platforms like Twitch to massive audiences. This unlocks the potential to offer sponsors air-time activations and provide fans with behind-the-scenes live content on how top-tier guilds coordinate.

“Couldn’t be happier to join Team Liquid,” commented Guild Leader Smith. “From the start, everyone at TL impressed us with their professionalism, their commitment to winning, their global presence and vision for expansion in MMOs. They’ve entrusted me with minority ownership of the company, a huge honour and responsibility I won’t take for granted.”

This isn’t the first time an esports organisation has dipped into the MMO space. In October 2019, the former Limit Guild joined North American organisation Complexity, competing as Complexity Limit. The guild brought the World First title back home to NA for the first time since 2012 with February 2020’s clear of Mythic Ny’alotha, followed by December 2020’s clear Mythic Castle Nathria.

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Complexity Limit relinquished its World First title in July 2021’s raid of Mythic Sanctum of Domination to the rival Echo Guild. In December 2021, Limit and Complexity parted ways.  Fans speculated whether Team Liquid, Cloud9 or 100 Thieves would pick up where Complexity left off, as seen in a teaser video on Smith’s Twitter.

“As someone with a history in this genre, it’s amazing to see Liquid MMO finally take flight,” said Mike Milanov, Chief Business Development Officer for Team Liquid. “We have been evaluating this for many months from a brand, commercial and athletic perspective. 

“Bringing on board Max [Smith] and team involved a sizable long term investment into a whole new ecosystem for Liquid and we are excited to grow this venture as we race for world firsts in World of Warcraft and new titles on the horizon.”

Distinct from the organisation’s LVTH-N tactical shooter banner and LQD clothing range — Liquid MMO has set itself to lean more into its fantasy roots, perhaps as a homage to its Lord of The Rings-inspired identity. Detailed in the release, Liquid MMO’s visual identity and design philosophy is ‘inspired by fantasy worlds, incorporating elements that might be found in the skylights of The Crystarium or on the gates of Silvermoon.’

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With Claire Hungate’s appointment as Team Liquid’s President and COO last September, the organisation has taken a vocal stance on its diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, accessibility, and justice values, as Hungate shared during a panel at ESI London 2021 in November.

In the release, Hungate commented: “Team Liquid places a high premium on diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice in the esports and gaming space, and we’re going to apply those values throughout Liquid MMO.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to elevate marginalized voices by creating safer, more empathetic communities within the MMOs we enter. It’s a priority for Team Liquid to lay the groundwork for more women to earn top flight competitive opportunities, and at the very least, play in a space free from harassment and toxicity.”

Limit’s Azorea was announced as Liquid MMO General Manager and will ‘spearhead the creation of an advisory council of women in the space, aimed at developing resources and strategies that enable more women to grow as expert players’.

As part of her role, Azorea will help Team Liquid ‘identify cutting edge raiding guilds led by women to shine a light on their communities, offer mentorship and create safer spaces for women to thrive’.

“I have always been passionate about diversity and inclusion in the Warcraft community,” said Azorea. “It’s so exciting to now have the opportunity and resources to make a significant impact in a space that means so much to me!”

Esports Insider says: Coming off the heels of Microsoft’s intent to acquire Activision-Blizzard, the mergers and consolidation of the industry we predicted in our end-of-year ESI Digest episode seem to be coming to a head rapidly. Team Liquid moving into MMOs is an incredible blue ocean opportunity for not only the organisation but the development and awareness of MMO esports. Interestingly enough, RWF is an un-sanctioned competition, meaning that publisher Blizzard isn’t involved in its operation at any level, which stands to reason that there’s an untapped potential for esports infrastructure to move into the space if Team Liquid can find success.

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