Team Liquid are definetly ready to prove their idea that they are strongest NA team in CS:GO.
After big struggles at IEM XVI - Katowice and BLAST Premier's group stage Team Liquid fulfilled the classic promise and actually came back stronger. The team got 3rd place in their group at ESL Pro League Season 15 and is ready for the battle against Heroic to prove that NA still has its powerhouse. Before the start of play-off, we spoke to Team Liquid about EliGe's opinion on oSee, shox's role in the team and nitr0's comeback from Valorant. And, of course, about the strongest team in NA.
EliGe: "oSee is definitely going to be a top-20 player this year"
How has it been so far representing Liquid and playing at tournaments?
oSee: Yeah, it's been a dream come true. Honestly. Obviously, Liquid is one of those orgs that when you start off your career you dream of being on it. So being here now it's been really nice. And hopefully, I can show a good face for NA.
How are important oSee's performance and impact for this team to succeed?
EliGe: I would say that oSee is really impactful. You have to be pretty active overall to be getting the most out of it. I don't want to put too much pressure on him or anything. But he knows that it's not just about him. We all are going to step up when we need to, we're all going to do the job that we need to.
But I do think that like the oSee is really important in the meta. And he's been doing a really good job so far at figuring out what he needs to do, what his job is during certain protocols: whatever we need to do aggression, where we have to kick it back a notch and play passively.
And I think he's been pretty quick at learning that type of stuff. He has a good analytical mind. So the progress has been pretty consistent and upward. He's gonna be playing really well. And is definitely going to be a top-20 player this year.
NAF: "Richard has been phenomenal so far"
You have been playing with Shox for a few months. What does he bring to the team in terms of his mental game and his actual game?
EliGe: So far, Shox has been really, really helpful. He has a really good macro overlook of the game. And he really helps a lot during theory, when we're trying to talk about how we want to play against certain types of play styles or during a round if we're struggling against something specific. I think that he's pretty good at coming up with those types of solutions and getting us all on the same page.
Richard has been the main reason why we've been able to get on the same page, he has a lot of good stuff that he brought. And that's just the biggest thing that we need when we're a new team. How do we want to structure our gameplay around our solutions. And he did that in a really concise and articulate manner. We've had a pretty good workflow coming into this event. So yeah, I think that he's been incredible so far.
NAF: Richard has been phenomenal so far. He has super understanding and he definitely has way more experience than we do together. He's been around a lot longer than we have and he's dealt with a lot of issues and things that the team will come across. And since he's been through a lot of experiences, it's been super easy to work with.
He's super understanding, he's still amazing. The greatest player of all time, my man Shox! I'm super pumped to continue playing and being in more lans with him because ultimately he's been a great teammate.
Shox, how is your English doing? You mentioned some little issues in communication during the IEM. How is going right now? Are you, maybe, taking lessons, or just naturally improving?
Shox: I believe I'm naturally improving. But still, when you are not speaking your native language, or even when you are learning something new in your life, you're gonna come down to a different period when you can feel like you are staying in the same place. And sometimes even feel like you're being worse.
It's been four months since I've been with the guys. In the first two months, I learned a lot. It was a time when I improved as fast as possible, for sure. And I can feel that this one month, I'm not improving that much. It's hard to actually get to the next step. But it's something that, of course, I'm trying to do. But you have to accept that it's a part of the process.
When you start learning how to drive a car, you don't really know what to do. With every step, you're gonna feel more comfortable, more confident. But there is always a step when you could just get down and don't feel that much confidence. And you just have to accept that period. Once it passes, you can move again, to the next one. The most important is not having that period for too long.
For this one month, my English was being the same. So I'm just aiming for the next two months to improve again. Because I feel that I'm definitely confident and comfortable with the guys. But if there is a world where I can be even more comfortable, it's gonna be really amazing. And this is what I'm aiming for.
"Heroic's playstyle isn't anything super special"
Recently, you guys play very well on Dust 2. Was it because your group had so many teams who play that map so you actively practiced to counter them? Or there is any other reason?
NAF: For us, Dust is one of the maps that I'm leaning more towards, one of the more comfortable sides. It's a map where we all click pretty well on. Even when Richard was playing on Vitality previously, they were a good team on that map.
But in terms of any other teams, I'm not really looking into specific. And right now, being a fresh team, we mainly just need to focus on our game and not really necessary any other teams. We can't just try to work against other teams and discover what their cover picks are. It's too early for us. So right now we just need to find out what we're comfortable with. And yeah, as you said, I think Dust was just one of our stronger maps, more comfortable maps. I'm sure it's a map where we'll continue to strive on.
How do you see Heroic as a direct opponent for you in terms of playstyle, and so on?
NAF: I think Heroic has always been a pretty fair match-up versus us. And we had a lot of online games during the previous year with our previous lineup. And I feel like a lot of the games where we played against them are really close. I think it's a play style that we understand, especially with Cadian, and how his team works.
Overall, I think their playstyle isn't anything super special. They have good chemistry and a good understanding of what their teammates are going to do. I'm excited to play them.
It's always been a tight matchup regardless of what the lineup has been. I played them plenty of times and all the matches have been really great. Besides the one specific one, I guess!
NAF: "Ultimately, who's the best NA team is right now? I'd say us"
Do you see Liquid as the only top-tier CS:GO team in NA right now? Junior from Complexity states that Liquid and Complexity are 50-50 right now. But what is your take?
NAF: As one of my teammates said it's more 60-40 at the very moment. I mean, other teams aren't in the playoffs. And we are. So I believe we have some sort of edge right now.
But in all seriousness, Evil Geniuses are having a rough patch. I think they're on the same boat as we are. They're just a new team, and they need to figure things out. And sadly, it's not going too well for them. At our first event, we also had a rough start. So it's expected from them to be dealing with that as well.
Complexity seems to be a great team, all the players want to play with each other. But ultimately, I do believe we are the better team. By far, I believe we are better players. Complexity has more inexperienced players so they'll make a lot more rookie mistakes. I think when it comes to big stage games we'll always be striving more than they are right now. But I think they have a lot of promise.
Fang has been pretty good, Floppy is playing pretty good. Grim is a great player as well. And obviously they have Junior, who's also a really good up and coming player. So I think the sky's the limit for that team is all about how quickly they learn to deal with the lack of experience. From what I've seen recently, even in their group, they perform pretty well.
But ultimately, who's the best NA team is right now? I'd say us. But we'll see. I guess we will see this question again down the line throughout the year.
NA teams struggle a bit during this Pro League group stage only winning one series against a European or CIS. Is that a fair picture of the power balance between regions?
EliGE: Um, I don't think that it's completely accurate. People are gonna say that our group was a little bit easier. But it's not really our fault. Overall, we have been playing pretty well in the past couple of months, even though we are a brand new team. We've only played tournament winners in our last tournaments. They literally dominated so we had really good match-ups against them.
So far we're just playing who we are set to play. Now we're going to be playing Heroic and you're going to see a similar thing. It's going to be a really, really good matchup for us.
We're going to be winning it 2-1. I'm not going to say it's gonna be close or not, but it's gonna be a 2-1 for us.
For everyone else. I think that it's just really hard, as Nick was saying before, to just make a completely new team and to expect to be at the top. It's just not going to be possible. There are too many side goals in this game right now for you to start from scratch. No game protocols, never went over game theory or how do you want to approach different scenarios. There's just only so much time in a day. It's just really unrealistic.
I know everyone wants to meme on NA CS, attack, and come up with the best meme that's going to get all the likes. But if you want to be realistic, it's going to take time. People have to learn their way. I just hope that no one gives up or feels like it's impossible because it'll feel like it's impossible sometimes. When you're hitting a brick wall, or you just went 0-5, or 0-4, and you just got owned. But you have to take every single game as it is and that whole experience and just keep learning from it as much as you can. And as long as everyone is wanting to move forward, we're gonna see the teams get better and better.