Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken is a 17-year-old Canadian Counter-Strike: Global Offence player currently plying his trade as a rifler for Team Liquid. His professional career officially kicked off at only 16 years of age, where Twistzz was the first player to be younger than the Counter-Strike franchise itself to play in the ESL Pro League.

Twistzz’s professional career has been relatively short. However, in this short amount of time, we have seen astronomical growth by the young Canadian rifler. His career kicked off in 2015 when he played under the Tectonic name for two months before moving on to SKDC, which then became Team AGG and then became KKona.

In March 2016, Twistzz joined Team SoloMid. At Team SoloMid, Twistzz played under the leadership of FNS, and alongside players such as Semphis, autimatic, SicK and later on Relyks. Twistzz would go on to enjoy a fruitful tenure at Team SoloMid from an individual standpoint, consistently putting up high numbers in both online and offline play.

Twistzz had not attended a recorded offline tournament with any of his teams prior to his arrival at TSM. Under the TSM banner, Twistzz was able to compete in six tournaments, which were:

  • Americas Minor Championship – Cologne 2016
  • ECS Season One
  • Northern Arena 2016
  • iBUYPOWER Masters 2016
  • Americas Minor Championship – Atlanta 2017
  • ESEA Season 23: Global Challenge

Twistzz’s raw talent was prominent throughout the vast majority of the online games he played. Players may find it difficult to translate online performance to the offline realm of competition. However, Twistzz did it almost seamlessly.

TSM placed third at the Minor Championship. Whilst they were unable to qualify for the main qualifier for the Cologne 2016 Major, it was a good sign for that team overall, and in particular Twistzz. TSM beat teams such as NRG, Team Kaliber, and Selfless Gaming to secure their third place finish. At this tournament, Twistzz finished with 219 kills and 222 deaths across twelve total maps played. He had also finished the tournament with 75.9 average damage per round (ADR) and 0.7 kills per round (KPR). For his first tournament in an offline setting at the time, these numbers are no laughing matter.

The next tournament for Twistzz and TSM was the ECS Season One finals. Here, TSM was placed in a group alongside international heavyweights such as Fnatic, Astralis, and Cloud9. Coming into this, TSM looked to upset, and that’s exactly what they did. Their opening match was against the Danish side Astralis on Cobblestone. TSM was able to win with a 16-12 scoreline, with Twistzz putting up 17 kills and 66.4 ADR. Their next match was against Fnatic on the same map. TSM lost narrowly, with Twistzz breaking even with an 18-18 scoreline and 71.5 ADR. In their final group stage match, TSM had to do battle with fellow North American side Cloud9 in a best of three series that would determine which team would move forward and which team would be eliminated. The series lasted two maps, which were Cache and Train. TSM was able to take both maps with scorelines of 16-7 and 16-11. Twistzz finished the best of three series with 37 kills, 27 deaths, and 70.8 ADR. In the semifinals of the tournament, the North Americans came up against Luminosity. The Brazilians wiped the floor with TSM on Overpass, crushing them 16-3, and then went on to have a closely contested affair that would end 16-14 in favor of the Brazilians. Twistzz finished the battle against the Brazilian side with 39 kills, 41 deaths, and 93.1 ADR. Overall, Twistzz finished with 111 kills, 77.1 ADR and 0.71 KPR across the six maps played at the ECS Finals.

This was Twistzz’s first taste of tier one Counter-Strike competition at an international level, and for a player that was still relatively new to the higher level of Counter-Strike at the time, Twistzz gave a fantastic account of himself against notable opponents such as Astralis, Fnatic, Cloud9, and Luminosity.

Toronto, Canada was the next stop for Team SoloMid. The North American side was set to compete in the Northern Arena tournament. Team SoloMid were placed in a group alongside Echo Fox and OpTic Gaming. TSM’s opening match was against OpTic Gaming. The two sides did battle on Cobblestone, Mirage, and Train. OpTic claimed Cobblestone with an overtime victory. TSM bounced back by winning Mirage in a convincing style, ending the match 16-6. The deciding map was a closely contested affair, but OpTic was able to run away with it narrowly, winning 16-14. Twistzz was a consistent feature for TSM, putting up decent numbers across all three maps. The young Canadian rifler finished the series with 66 kills, 55 deaths, and 81.9 ADR. Their next set of matches was against Echo Fox on Dust II, Mirage and Nuke. This best of three was hotly contested throughout, as the teams traded 16-14 results, with Echo Fox taking Dust II and then TSM taking Mirage. Echo Fox took the final map, Nuke, rather comfortably. The Foxes closed out Nuke with a 16-9 scoreline and sent TSM home. Twistzz finished this series with 53 kills and 64.8 ADR. Despite TSM’s early elimination from the tournament, Twistzz was able to maintain his performances from a statistical standpoint, ending the event with an overall ADR of 73.5 and 0.69 KPR.

The iBUYPOWER Masters was a disastrous event for TSM as a team, with the North American side managing to pick up a mere 19 rounds throughout their short tournament lifespan. At this tournament, they met Renegades in their opening match on Cobblestone and were beaten by the Australians 16-9, with Twistzz contributing 15 kills and 84.5 ADR. TSM then met European giants FaZe Clan and were swiftly dispatched of over the course of two maps. Over the two maps, TSM accumulated a total of ten rounds – seven on Nuke and three on Mirage. Twistzz finished the series against FaZe with 25 kills and 73.1 ADR.

After a disappointing Northern Arena tournament, TSM had the opportunity to compete in the Americas Minor Championship for the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta. They were set to compete against the likes of Muffin Lightning, Immortals, and Cloud9 for a spot at the main major qualifier. TSM lost their opening match up against Immortals 16-14 on Cache and were relegated to the losers bracket immediately. Fortunately, they were able to dominate Muffin Lightning on Cache and Mirage to set up a losers’ finals match against Cloud9 for a spot in the main qualifier. Cloud9 beat TSM 16-3 and 16-12 on Train and Cache, and this ended their run at the minor. Twistzz had strong performances against Immortals and Muffin Lightning, but, like the rest of his teammates, failed to have much impact against Cloud9.

TSM’s tenure at the ESEA Season 23: Global Challenge LAN was short lived after suffering an early loss to Bravado Gaming on Mirage. The North Americans were then eliminated at the hands of Rogue after they lost 16-4 on Train and 16-12 on Dust II.

After the ESEA Season 23: Global Challenge, TSM were allowed to add seangares and Shahzam to the active lineup to replace FNS and Semphis.

The two were added on the 14th of December, 2016. A week later, an open letter was published in the Professional eSports Association, the member organizations and the Counter-Strike community by SirScoots on behalf of the players who’s organizations were involved in the PEA. This letter was published after a report was published on Slingshot Esports which indicated that the PEA intended to outlaw its teams from playing in the ESL Pro League. The initial letter was backed by the players of Cloud9, CLG, Immortals, Team Liquid and Team SoloMid. The second letter was then backed by these five teams and NRG.

One day after the publication of the letter, seangares revealed that he had been removed from Team SoloMid due to his involvement in the letter. The remaining players on the TSM roster, which were ShahZaM, SicK, Relyks, and Twistzz elected to play with seangares, and as a result no longer represented TSM.

On January 14, seangares and the remainder of the TSM roster were signed by Misfits.

Regardless, Twistzz was able to play under experienced players such as FNS and Semphis and was able to develop as a player. His performances were consistent online and offline. Under Misfits & seangares, Twistzz was only able to attend one tournament, and that was Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas. Here, Misfits were put in a group with Fnatic, Gambit, and Virtus.pro. Misfits’ opening match was against the Polish veterans Virtus.pro on Cobblestone. The veteran side beat Misfits 16-12 on Cobblestone, but Twistzz was able to step up to the plate against the Polish side, finishing the match with 23 kills and 100.7 ADR. Their next and last group stage match were against Fnatic on Mirage. Misfits were dispatched of by the Swedish side, losing out 16-9. Twistzz was able to, once again, step up to the plate and deliver a solid performance, ending the match with 19 kills and 85.8 ADR.

Although his time under seangares was brief, Twistzz was able to kick off 2017 strongly, both online and offline. On April 14, 2017, Twistzz was transferred to Team Liquid, as a replacement for Pimp. Twistzz now had the opportunity to work under a great mid-round caller in the form of stanislaw, and more importantly, a world-class coach in the form of zews.

 

Under the Team Liquid banner, Twistzz has competed at the following events:

  • cs_summit
  • Dreamhack Austin
  • ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals
  • ECS Season 3 Finals
  • PGL Major Krakow Offline Qualifier
  • ESL One: Cologne 2017
  • ESG Tour: Mykonos
  • ESL One: New York 2017

Six days after his addition to the Liquid lineup, Twistzz and Liquid were set to compete at cs_summit for their share of a $150,000 prize pool. Liquid’s opening match was a best of three against NIP. The best of three stretched across all three maps, with Liquid claiming Nuke 16-10, NIP claiming Inferno 16-7 and Liquid destroying NIP on Cobblestone 16-3. Twistzz kicked off his time at Team Liquid in a phenomenal fashion, ending the series with 57 kills and 90.6 ADR. This put Team Liquid in the semifinals of the upper bracket, where they faced Gambit on Train and Nuke. Gambit dominated Liquid on Train, as the North Americans lost that map 16-1. Gambit won Nuke in overtime and condemned Liquid to the lower brackets of the tournament. Despite Liquid’s loss, Twistzz’s performance shone through once again as the youngster dropped 42 kills and finished with an ADR of 84.9. Liquid’s final match of cs_summit was against OpTic Gaming in a best of three that stretched across Nuke, Train, and Mirage. In this series, OpTic won Nuke 16-10, Liquid won Train 16-10 and OpTic won Mirage 16-10. Twistzz finished the match up against OpTic with 53 kills and 68.3 ADR.

With limited time to gel and settle with his new team, Liquid was off to Dreamhack Austin. Their opening group stage match was against Immortals on Inferno. The North Americans were unable to get off to a solid start, losing 16-11 on Inferno. Twistzz had an anomaly, mustering up a total of 10 kills and 41.4 ADR instead of his usual high-performance matches. This anomaly was remedied in their elimination match vs. G2, which was played out on Cobblestone, Train, and Nuke. Twistzz proved that the Immortals match was an anomaly, putting up 64 kills and 90.8 ADR in their 2-1 loss to the French super team.

About a month later, Liquid was set to compete at the ESL Pro League: Season 5 Finals in Dallas, Texas. By now, Twistzz would have had more time under his in-game leader and coach to define his role and expectations on the server, as well as having the time to gel and build chemistry with the rest of his teammates.

Liquid was placed in Group B, where their opponents were Na’Vi, OpTic, NRG, mousesports, and North.

Here’s how Liquid and Twistzz fared throughout their group stage:

vs. Na’Vi, 16-4 L on Train, Twistzz with 9 kills and 45.4 ADR
vs. OpTic, 16-5 W on Nuke, Twistzz with 10 kills and 62.6 ADR
vs. NRG, 16-3 W on Mirage, Twistzz with 11 kills and 56.4 ADR
vs. mousesports, 16-12 L on Inferno, Twistzz with 27 kills and 100.8 ADR
vs. North, 16-10 W on Cobblestone, Twistzz with 26 kills and 105.4 ADR

 

After a slow start at the Pro League Finals, Twistzz managed to get the engine roaring and finish the group stage out with some strong performances.

Twistzz’s strong performances towards the later stages of the group stage would continue to Liquid’s best of three against Team EnVyUs. The opening map of the best of three series was Cobblestone, which went the way of Team EnVyUs after a closely contested game which ended 16-14. The next two maps, Train and Nuke, went to Team Liquid after a 16-10 and a 16-4 win on both. It was a strong performance from Team Liquid all round. Twistzz finished the matchup with 58 kills and 87.3 ADR.

North was waiting for Liquid in the semifinals of the tournament, in what would be an extended rematch from their encounter in the group stage. Liquid was decimated on Nuke, losing out 16-5. The North Americans were able to put up a bit more of a fight on Mirage but unfortunately went down 17-19 in overtime. Through Liquid’s loss, Twistzz shone through, alongside EliGE. The duo put up a combined kill count of 94 (49 for EliGE and 45 for Twistzz). EliGE finished with 92 ADR, whilst Twistzz finished with 72.6 ADR.

The next stop for Twistzz and Liquid was the SSE Arena in Wembley, London for the ECS Season 3 Finals. Liquid had an early exit, going out in the group stage after losing to Astralis 16-11 on Inferno in their opening match. Liquid then successfully eliminated fnatic in their first elimination best of three, beating the Swedish side 2-1. Liquid then met Astralis once again and, to the surprise of many, managed to take Overpass away from Astralis in a convincing manner. Unfortunately, Liquid lost the best of three 2-1 and was sent home early. Throughout Liquid’s short-lived tenure at the ECS Finals, Twistzz once again showed that he was more than able to compete in the top flight of international Counter-Strike. The young superstar finished the tournament with 139 kills and 98 deaths, 0.80 KPR and 78.5 ADR.

Liquid was unable to qualify for the PGL Major in Krakow after finishing their qualifying campaign with a 2-3 record, winning against the likes of TyLoo and HellRaisers, but losing to teams such as PENTA, BIG, and FlipSide. Twistzz had another great showing at another offline tournament, finishing the tournament with an overall K/D of 1.18, 80.4 ADR and 0.80 KPR.

Cologne was the next stop for Liquid. The North Americans squashed Na’Vi in their opening match, winning 16-7 on Inferno. In their second match against Immortals, the North American side was taken into overtime by the Brazilians, but eventually, Liquid prevailed and closed it out 19-15 on Train. Their third and final group stage match was against OpTic, and it was a dominant performance against the GreenWall as they finished the match with a 16-5 victory on Cobblestone. Liquid then met the European giants FaZe in the quarterfinals of the tournament. FaZe sent Liquid packing, beating them 16-9 on Overpass and 16-5 on Train. Twistzz was, once again, a significant factor in Liquid’s showing throughout the tournament. His performance against FaZe, despite the losses on both maps, Twistzz’s performance stood out. The young Canadian finished that best of three series with 36 kills and 78.3 ADR.

The last two tournaments, ESG Tour: Mykonos and ESL One: New York was Team Liquid’s best tournaments in recent memory. The North Americans managed to secure back to back 2nd place finishes. The North Americans competed against some notable opposition, such as BIG, Virtus.pro, SK Gaming, mousesports, Astralis and FaZe Clan throughout these two tournaments to secure their back to back second placings. In both of these tournaments, Twistzz’s performances were essential in getting Liquid to their high placings.

Twistzz is a player rich in individual skill and has been since the start of his career. He is not an incredibly flashy player but always has the capability to put in the superstar like performances that can give his team the edge in any match.  As time progressed, he has been able to work under some intelligent in-game leaders such as FNS, seangares, and stanislaw, as well as having the chance to work under a major winning coach in the form of zews.

The amount of raw skill he possessed and still possesses at such a young age makes him the ideal player for in-game leaders to fit into their system. A young player with skill like that can be shaped into the optimal player.

The surprising thing about Twistzz was how quickly he was able to adjust to life at Team Liquid, and how quickly he was able to adjust to playing against some of the best teams in the world in an offline setting. Players that are lacking that top tier experience may struggle when competing with a new team at the top level, but Twistzz’s transition from limited offline appearances against generally weaker teams to almost constant offline tournaments with Liquid against top teams has been, for the most part, seamless.

The documentation of his career is important because of this. This player was a hard hitter throughout his tenure playing in lower tiered competitions such as the minor championships, Northern Arena and the Global Challenge LAN. Twistzz got his first taste at top-flight Counter-Strike at the ECS Season One Finals and made the most of it, putting up decent numbers against top teams. TSM was a side that had lackluster performances for the most part, and through these, Twistzz was able to perform well individually. At his next top-tier event under seangares and Misfits, Twistzz performed extraordinarily against the top teams present in their group. Misfits were not able to make a dent, but Twistzz was.

Now, under Liquid, Twistzz has the experience of seasoned veterans around him to learn from and to play off of. He got off to a solid start with Liquid against top teams and has kept that momentum going ever since. Twistzz has players that are highly skilled and that are seasoned veterans to help guide him, as well as an incredible coach with a great mind for the game to help him develop into an even better player than he already is.

Twistzz has already impressed with his performances, as they have been an integral part of Liquid’s recent successes.

As he evolves further, and as the team evolves further, Liquid is surely going to be considered a genuine threat on the international stage, and Twistzz will be one of the main catalysts for that.

Twistzz has been an exciting player to watch throughout the early stages of his career, and will certainly be a player to keep an eye on as he continues his personal evolution as a person and as a player.

 

Statistics credit: HLTV.org
Featured Image Credit: Team Liquid

About The Author

Jonah
Esports - Staff Writer

My first video game was Tonka Construction for the PC. I played that in 2000, at 3 years of age, and have been hooked by video games ever since. I like to dabble in as many games as I possibly can, but nothing can come close to a captivating story, an intense multiplayer experience or a well made RTS game. In 2015, I found what can only be described as passion and love for esports. Now I convey that passion, love and knowledge through articles about esports titles, most notably Counter Strike.