Premier esports organization Team Liquid announced on Friday that they had signed Super Smash Bros 4 phenom Saleem “Salem” Young, last year's Evolution Championship Series champion and the world's best Bayonetta player. This isn’t Team Liquid’s first foray into Smash 4—longtime top player Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada was part of the organization during the earlier days of the competitive Smash 4 scene—but it marks the team’s return to the popular fighting game scene after an absence of almost a year and a half. The signing of a Smash 4 player to a major esports organization is undoubtedly an encouraging sign for the longevity and prosperity of the competitive scene.
Salem is joining a stacked Smash roster that features top Super Smash Bros. Melee names such as Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma, Ken “Ken” Hoang, Kashan “Chillindude” Khan, and Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez, along Hungrybox’s coach, Luis “Crunch” Rosias. Although its unclear if Crunch will be extending his coaching talents to Salem, the Bayonetta main will not be Team Liquid’s only Smash 4 player: Hungrybox seems to be showing some interest in competitive Smash 4, entering this weekend's Frostbite 2018 with a new main, King Dedede.
With an EVO title under his belt, a recently-minted No. 2 spot on the Panda Global Rankings (the de facto top spot after the retirement of world No. 1 Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios), and a reputation for extremely clutch plays, Salem was a clear choice for any esports organization looking to sign top-level Smash 4 talent. With the aid of Team Liquid, he just might snag the top ranking in the next edition of the Panda Global Rankings.