esports

How The Members of Liquid Got Their Names

By Steven Strom
It seems a professional’s eSports name says less about the player, and more about the sport itself.
TL 5 man portrait
TL 5 man portrait
Player names. Just about everyone has them. Some people share an identity across multiple devices and services; others pick and choose as they go. You might put a great deal of thought into them, or you might choose them at random.
Unlike most of us, professional eSports players have these aliases splashed across screens around the world. To many people they have no other name outside of the one they chose. That makes them a huge part of the players’ identities, both personally and professionally. You would think that means every player puts a painstaking deal of consideration into their player name.
“Well mine is pretty simple,” said Max "Qojqva" Broecker. “I disliked my Dota 1 nick[name] a lot so I just closed my eyes and typed six random letters.”
Qojqva (pronounced "coy-cua") joined Team Liquid in offlane and carry roles in late 2013. Clearly, there wasn’t much thought put into his professional name. Interviewing the rest of Team Liquid, I found that sort of irreverence to be the rule, not the exception.
“I had a clan on Battle Net in Dota 1 with a few friends and just chose the name BuLba for that, kept it since,” Sam "BuLba" Sosale explained.
Not all of the players’ responses were so laconic. Peter “Waytosexy” Nguyen’s story behind his particularly striking name is more in-depth.
qojqva of Team Liquid
qojqva of Team Liquid

A Young Person’s Game

“Back in Dota 1 I only played APEM [All Pick Easy Mode] games under the name noobster99,” Wayto explained. When I moved over to Heroes of Newerth I wanted to make a new account dedicated to only AP games and I decided to go with the name Waytosexy because I thought it was cool and funny.”
His response is interesting because, in a way, it highlights one thing most pro players have in common: age.
Wayto is just 20 years old, putting him in the average spectrum of Dota 2 players. At 22, BuLba is hardly any older, and Qojqva is only 18. Remember that each member of Team Liquid was even younger when their careers began.
“I had a good record in Heroes of Newerth and got asked to play in a tournament and so from that day on I decided to keep my name,” Wayto continued.
An older player might be too self-conscious to stick with, or even pick, names like noobster99 and Waytosexy. How many of us have looked back on the Xbox Live tag we created in high school and cringed? A professional can’t really afford that luxury, as their name is as much a part of their branding as their personality.
Peter "Wayto" Nguyen having a giggle
Peter "Wayto" Nguyen having a giggle

We Built This Together

But that’s alright! That certain disregard for self-awareness brings a positive.
There’s an entire language surrounding Dota 2 and games like it. Terms like carry, laning, and ganks have entirely different meanings to a player, and pro names are part of that vernacular.
Likely without realizing it, these players are creating a culture around themselves. Handles like Waytosexy let outside observers know it can be an enjoyable one, if they’re willing to put in the effort to understand.
Like any culture, legacy is a key component of professional Dota 2. The remaining members of Team Liquid share similar origin stories that illustrate this fact well.
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho
Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho

Remembering your Roots

Jimmy “DeMoN” Ho says his name comes from Warcraft 3, home of the first Defense of the Ancients and its community.
“I would always choose the hero "Demon Hunter" because he was the most awesome looking and buff...,” he said. “From there I was very indecisive on which nickname I wanted constantly changing it almost every week and finally concluded this is the one I want.” He went through multiple variations before settling on DeMoN, as we know him today.
You might be able to guess where Tyler “TC” Cook got his name, but there’s slightly more to it.
“Back in [Warcraft 3] I used the name Troll_Chief. It was like 10 years ago and I would play orc and only build trolls and lose every game, when I started playing HoN I started using TC as my name coming from my initials.”
As the progenitor of Dota 2, Warcraft 3 has an important role in the DNA of one of the biggest eSports played today. Despite the youth of the players, their names act as small nods to a legacy over a decade old. eSports is bigger than ever, yet the people who make it possible haven’t forgotten their roots. We’re just lucky enough to watch the brand new culture they’re creating grow up around us.
And, in case you were wondering, I did ask BuLba where he got the name.
“It was just my favorite Pokémon,” was all he said.
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