Superstar midlaner Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan shined in his return to the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) as a stand-in for Team Liquid, leading them to a 2-1 victory over Brame Esports on Wednesday (28 April) to start Week 3 of competition in the upper division of the European regional league.
Liquid formally announced SumaiL will be their stand-in on Saturday (24 April) as offlaner Samuel "Boxi" Svahn was taking a temporary break from competitive play "to be with his family". Despite not playing in any professional matches since early December last year, SumaiL showcased his signature laning dominance and unparalleled playmaking abilities in his first outing with Liquid.
SumaiL's best showing in Liquid's three-game battle against Brame was undoubtedly in the decider, where he put on a show with Puck. He repeatedly found great openings to initiate teamfights for Liquid, disrupted Brame's attempts at counter-initiating, and set his teammates up for success.
In the clip below, SumaiL paired with Tommy "Taiga" Le on Earth Spirit to get the jump on Brame at the 20-minute mark.
Michael "miCKe" Vu on Faceless Void then followed up with a Chronosphere, which SumaiL deftly stayed out of in order to deal damage on the enemy Juggernaut. While Brame's carry was still able to cast Omnislash once Chronosphere ended, he still ended up dead once his own ultimate expired thanks to a well-timed Illusory Orb from SumaiL.
With Brame on the run, SumaiL used Dream Coil to set up the kill on the Centaur Warrunner then secured the teamwipe — and the Ultra Kill for miCKe — by quickly getting in position to have Ink Swell from Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi's Grimstroke hit the remaining enemy heroes.
In another clash at the 28-minute mark, SumaiL was able to dodge a Blink-Hoof Stomp initiation from the enemy Centaur Warrunner. With Brame's initiation attempt foiled, SumaiL then locked down the enemy Lion and Death Prophet with Dream Coil, allowing Max "qojqva" Bröcker on Razor to run them down and secure an Ultra Kill for himself.
Brame eventually tapped out after 35 minutes to give Liquid the win. SumaiL notched a series-high 15 kills and 16 assists against zero deaths, with his playmaking on Puck also empowering miCKe and qojqva, who combined for 25 kills between themselves.
Team Liquid coach William "Blitz" Lee had nothing but praise for SumaiL in the post-match interview, noting his contributions to the team outside of the game and wondering out loud why other teams didn't signed him before Liquid were able to get him as a stand-in.
"I’m really surprised more teams aren’t lining up to talk to [SumaiL]. His skill is right up there and personality-wise he fits in excellently. He’s been teaching us a lot and he leads a lot of the replay sessions. He’s not anything at all like what I think people would expect, he’s a super humble and nice guy," said Blitz.
Blitz also heaped praise on qojqva, who gave up his position as Liquid's midlaner to SumaiL and shifted to being the team's offlaner — the role vacated by Boxi — instead.
"[Qojqva] adjusted so quickly to the role. We gave him three days of practice and we were like, “Yo, just figure it out. It’s nothing like your hero pool, you are gonna have to now call like an offlaner, everything is different.”
"But he’s done a phenomenal job of figuring it out. Honestly, Max is the only reason any of this works. As good as SumaiL is as a midlaner, the fact that we are able to slot Max in [to the offlane] helps a lot," said Blitz.
With their victory, Liquid now have a 2-1 record and tied for second place in the league with Team Secret and OG. They have a good shot at making it to the second Major of the circuit, though they still have four matches remaining against Hellbear Smashers, Tundra Esports, OG, and Team Secret.
Those last two opponents will be especially difficult, though they certainly seem like winnable matchups for Liquid with SumaiL on the roster. To that end, Blitz added that they will be looking to better integrate SumaiL with their signature unorthodox drafts and playstyle.
"Further down the line, when we get a little more comfortable and we have a few more days [to practice], then you could probably see us go back to doing crazy things. SumaiL is an excellent safelaner, miCKe can also play mid, Max can also play mid. Give us a bit more time and we’re gonna figure some stuff out. How much liquid needs him in the coming weeks," said Blitz.
With all that said, Blitz reiterated that SumaiL is still just their stand-in and that — regardless of their results with him — Liquid is still going to compete with Boxi once he returns from his break.
"This is not a long-term thing no matter how well we do with SumaiL, even if we go 4-0 and win the Major. However long [SumaiL] plays with us, I’d still love to give up [all of that for] the opportunity for Boxi to come back," said Blitz.
"We have no timetable on anything. Just whenever he feels like it, [we will welcome Boxi back with] open arms."
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