AZR: "Some parts of our game weren't gelling well with NAF"

Aaron "AZR" Ward talked to HLTV.org about the departure of NAF, adding jkaem and their tournament so far.

Renegades kicked off the event with two losses, being on the edge of elimination after facing G2 and Liquid. The Australian team then recovered, defeating fnatic 2-0 after being 11-0 down on the first map, and now picked up their second win by taking down TYLOO.

jkaem slid into NAF's roles, AZR says

One of the longest-standing members of the squad, Aaron "AZR" Ward, revealed that Keith "NAF" Markovic's departure didn't hit them as hard as some people would think.

I want to start with the Major qualifier, coming into it you were in good form, you won StarSeries Shanghai before that, had some good results. After it didn't go well, what was the feeling in the team?

Yeah, the Major qualifier didn't go as expected, we really thought that we were going to qualify, we were feeling really confident coming in after having such a hot streak at the end of 2017. But yeah, losing 2-3 and not qualifying was pretty depressing to be honest. Yeah the mood wasn't that great and obviously, after, Keith (NAF) wanted to join another team and that is all good. But we will see how things go.

Tell me about that, NAF going to Liquid. Obviously, not the first player to be picked off by Liquid from any team, but how was dealing with that, was it a big blow to you guys?

I don't think it was the hugest blow, I think what Keith brought to us was a lot of firepower, but other than that, I think it was mutual on both ends. I think some parts of our game weren't gelling well with Keith and vice versa, so I think we were both pretty happy with the outcome in the end.

You brought in jkaem, how did that happen, why him? It seemed like a bit of a weird pickup when it happened...

Yeah, so pretty much we were just thinking who to get, we were going through names, a lot of names, from Asia, Australia, wherever pretty much. And jkaem popped up, we messaged him one day and asked if he can come play with us. He was like "Yup!" and the next day he was on a plane, and it's been pretty good so far.

You announced him, as far as I know, as a stand-in, not as a trial player. Does that mean you already have someone in mind that you plan to pick up later?

Yeah, I think we have a few names that we plan to go for in the future, but for now, it's just a stand-in/trial for jkaem. We will just see where we go, we have a few things to go over I guess.

So far he has been playing pretty well, it kind of reminds me at least of when you had atter as a stand-in at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas. Is there anything you special you do when you have a player like this coming in the team with not that much practice, is there something about how you set him up?

Nothing crazy, we just slid him in some of NAF's spots pretty much. And him coming to America, we didn't have much practice at all to be honest, we were playing a lot of officials every day, and then we flew here, fight jetlag and then we had more officials. So we've had a bit of a tough time getting our practice down. I mean, after the Liquid game I think we just went back to the practice rooms and we had to iron out everything pretty much. So nothing to crazy, just practicing.

As you just mentioned, the first two games were losses. How was the feeling after losing those games, was it a big hit for you guys?

G2 was a rough game, we lost 16-8 and 16-2, it was our first game on LAN with jkaem so our teamwork wasn't the greatest. That is definitely what we had to go over. And versing Liquid, I think we had an ok game, we won one map, one was close and the last game was pretty one-sided to them. But there was a lot of stuff we still had not gone over with jkaem which I think affected us a little bit, with our CT setups and stuff like that. But nothing too much.

After that, you had the elimination game against fnatic and you were 11-0 down I think, so tell me what happened at that point?

At the beginning of that map we made quite a few mistakes in some of ours strats, like losing the bomb on the last player coming into the site and then we couldn't retrieve it for a minute or something like that. Coming back from 11-0 we made a huge comeback which is really good, the 11-0 to 12-3 half and then winning 16-14, we kept the communication high, which was really good, we were getting pretty loud and everyone had the confidence to bring it back, so yeah, it was good.

Can you give me a short rundown of the match against TyLoo, how did it go?

First map was Mirage and we started out T-side. I mean, there was a lot of scrappy rounds to begin with, anti-eco wins back and forth, but we ended up winning the battle and breaking their money and then we just went from there. So Mirage was pretty straightforward from us. On Cobble the same thing happened pretty much, we lost the pistol, the first three rounds, but I think we won the next 11 or so in the row. On the CT side we couldn't hold them off pretty much, it got a little bit shaky towards the end, but we knew we were getting it done.

Australia Aaron 'AZR' Ward
Aaron 'AZR' Ward
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
857
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.14
Canada Keith 'NAF' Markovic
Keith 'NAF' Markovic
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1143
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.16
#1
 | 
France BaguetteArmy 
L
2018-02-20 14:13
unlucky matching against naf who knew their strats
2018-02-20 14:14
#36
 | 
Germany AdiZen 
Yes gelling your old mate as an enemy is always hard
2018-02-20 15:00
#14
nukkye | 
Czech Republic kczr 
Australia cunt
2018-02-20 14:17
#33
 | 
Sweden New@ac@low@id 
Not gelling better at typing hltv?
2018-02-20 14:56
#84
 | 
France BaguetteArmy 
Not getting a better team?
2018-02-21 00:48
#90
 | 
Sweden New@ac@low@id 
Plasticfazefangay
2018-02-21 07:47
#2
f0rest | 
Bosnia and Herzegovina Fackyyy 
Go rng
2018-02-20 14:13
nice
2018-02-20 14:13
gelling
2018-02-20 14:14
go aus
2018-02-20 14:14
#6
 | 
United Kingdom Fizzhaz 
ok
2018-02-20 14:14
#7
 | 
Brazil Darknesss_ 
yeah sure Kappa
2018-02-20 14:14
#8
 | 
Poland vzk 
Ok. 2-3 GG
2018-02-20 14:14
#9
 | 
Australia kTw0 
Is it true that NAF is toxic?
2018-02-20 14:14
#20
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
Hazed said so and there is that clip of NAF and RUSH fighting so probably
2018-02-20 14:20
#25
 | 
Pakistan perth 
youtube.com/watch?v=0B9GbUcTyiY youtube.com/watch?v=vpgEh5QL-rU Links to both of the videos #20 is referring to. Of course they are not recent but I doubt it's changed much.
2018-02-20 14:37
#92
 | 
Australia kTw0 
Thanks mate
2018-02-21 14:35
stfu naf kept rng relevant
2018-02-20 14:14
#18
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
LUL, They already have signs of playing better without him
2018-02-20 14:19
#26
 | 
North America SnareWare 
agreed
2018-02-20 14:37
#32
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
The only international tournament jks, AZR, and Ustilo have ever won in their entire careers was a month and a half after NAF joined and he was their best player by miles for his entire time in the team. If you think jkaem will put up the numbers NAF did nearly as consistently you're going to be pretty disappointed.
2018-02-20 14:53
#35
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
They don't need a player who can frag better than NAF, They need a player who can frag ''well'' while not taking all Jks positions and not having to have Ustilo bait for them, Everyone so far this tournament (apart from Nifty) individually have been better because Ustilo doesn't have to bait for NAF, Jks has most of his old positions and roles back and AZR has been fairly consistent apart from that cobble game against Fnatic, Jkaem seems solid especially after only a weeks practice, Sometimes fire power isn't the answer, That's why having the 5 best players in the world on the same team wouldn't work well
2018-02-20 15:00
#38
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
NAF had the best entry kill stats on the team so I can already tell you half your argument isn't sound. You're replacing a superstar with someone who's playing his spots not nearly as well. jkaem is wildly inconsistent. Not to mention how they haven't even actually signed him...he's a stand in. This team is being carried by someone who's not even on it. If jks was going to prove he was capable of being a carry on this team he had 3 years to do it and never did. I don't see that changing now. He should've been, but it's obviously not happening.
2018-02-20 15:18
#39
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
Ustilo baited for NAF again, It wasn't NAF getting a 5 on 4 advantage, Jkaem is signed to a 6 month contract, ''it's just a stand-in/trial for jkaem. We will just see where we go, we have a few things to go over I guess.'' Sounds more of a trial than a stand in to me, Jks is a clutcher, Not a site opener, He is also amazing at solo anchoring sites, He isn't the type of player to just death match into sites, He is similar to Xyp9x in a way
2018-02-20 15:25
#47
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
Opening kills refers to the first kill in the round. This doesn't mean trade killing. This is NAF walking into someone on defaults and killing them. NAF plays by himself on T defaults like 85% of the time. The only times he's with the main group is on execs, where he's tradekilling, because he's their best player. CT sides he's just one of their more aggro players because of the spots he plays (cat on mirage..etc) You're saying/complaining that NAF stole jks's spots lurking, while also saying all of his kills are from baiting ustilo...you don't even know what you're trying to argue. There's a reason you don't see device, dupreeh, or magisk giving up their space for xyp9x...it's because you give it to the guy who consistently wins games for the team. jks isn't a star player and there's 3 years of games to prove that point.
2018-02-20 15:36
#48
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
Would like to see where you got this information from because NAF baited Ustilo a crazy amount, You're probably just looking a single tournament, + I'm obviously talking about T sides, Ignore all CT side opening kills, Lurk isn't a position, Lurking is so ineffective in this day of CSGO, You're not going to have a player lurking every single round it becomes predictable, Lurking is to be used now and then, Device is an AWPer as of late and Dupreeh is an entry, They aren't interfering with Xyp9x's role ... What retarded examples to use
2018-02-20 15:38
#51
swag | 
Philippines SwagZero 
+1
2018-02-20 15:41
#52
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
The only times NAF has the opportunity to bait him on T sides is executes....because you know ustilo is a fucking entry fragger...not to mention the least skilled person on that team. NAF plays by himself on defaults. He's done this on literally every team he's ever played for. You can not bait someone you're across the map from. Every statistic about opening kills proves you wrong. Even if you were right (which you're not), guess what? He should be baiting ustilo because he's miles better than him. CT side opening kills are also just as important as T side opening kills...but that goes against your point so you'll ignore it. My point about xyp9x is that you don't see star players drop their role to let someone who's inarguably worse than them feel more comfortable. I'm done w/ this now, you're clueless. Have a nice day.
2018-02-20 15:45
#54
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
You just went from saying NAF doesn't bait to NAF should continue to bait Ustilo because he is the ''worst player'' I would say T side opening kills are more effective, But Renegades CT side was never a problem, It was there T side, Wonder why :thinking: Astralis has more star players, Xyp9x just needs to close out rounds, Jks has to also be a star of Renegades, If Renegades had 3 better players than Jks then yeah maybe he could sit back and do his role but he can't when he has always been the best / 2nd best player on Renegades, Example, Felps individually is better than Boltz but SK work better with Boltz due to roles, How don't you understand that?
2018-02-20 15:58
#75
 | 
World Beard43 
I just checked the stats for when NAF was in RNG, the last 10 matches chronologically, not a single one where he had the most opening kills. You're making shit up.
2018-02-20 17:38
#77
 | 
World Beard43 
FK Diff isn't first kills
2018-02-20 17:50
#78
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
You're right, it's the number of first kills with the numbers of times you died first subtracted. It's a better statistic. I couldn't give any less fucks if someone else is getting slightly more first kills if they're dying twice as often when doing it.
2018-02-20 17:52
dude why are you guys even arguing just to argue? larcasm brought info and proof, and you fuckwits still refuse to consume the idea of NAF playing a role very well USTILO ia meant to be a moving decoy for the others to smash tradekills and open the sites And you dumbfucks must learn to understand what larcasm tries to tell you guys
2018-02-20 23:51
#42
swag | 
Philippines SwagZero 
Classic rand thinking fire power means everything
2018-02-20 15:27
#45
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
Classic rand thinking replacing your best player with someone who isn't nearly as good and it 10 times more inconsistent isn't an issue. Firepower is what this team has struggled with for literal years. NAF was the first time they've had a legitimate star player ever.
2018-02-20 15:38
#50
swag | 
Philippines SwagZero 
A best player isn't your best player if the team is sacrificing too much to make him in good spots, Uhm no, When the lineup was Azr, Jks, Yam, Ustilo and Rickeh the problem was no IGL, Yam needed to be removed for Spunj or another IGL
2018-02-20 15:41
#53
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
who out of AZR, jks, yam, ustilo, or rickeh is a star player? AZR, Ustilo, and jks have had 3 years on this team to prove they're capable of being star players of a successful team and have repeatedly shown they can not. Yam is/was ridiculously inconsistent. He was good when he was on, i'll give you that, but it wasn't nearly common enough to call him a star. Rickeh you could almost make an argument for, but he's also inconsistent as hell on top of not able to keep up w/ tier 1 competition. This team's problem has been firepower since it's inception. That's what happens when you take a bunch of people from a smaller pool of players, there's less outliers.
2018-02-20 15:52
#64
swag | 
Philippines SwagZero 
Jks and Rickeh were stars, AZR also was a lot more consistent back then, No
2018-02-20 16:10
#66
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
So this team had 3 star players and still never accomplished anything? Never won even a smaller LAN event. AZR hasn't been consistent in his entire career even if it has been worse recently, Rickeh falls off vs. good teams, and jks has never played a role that wins games for his team. He's not a star in the same way xyp9x isn't. Xyp9x is a fucking incredible player (better than jks), but he's still the 4th best player on his team because the role he plays doesn't win them games alone. If jks wants to be on a team that actually accomplishes something, he needs to be the third best player. Playing a role where you win your team rounds from behind is important, but it's inconsistent as hell. Sure he's really good in 2vX or 1vX situations, but it's not a way to win games on a consistent basis.
2018-02-20 16:17
they were playing in Australia until 2 years ago or smth where they dominated their scene and qualified for 4 majors. Spunj had a hard time fragging and yam wasn't enough. Since then, they have been trying to find a good fitting player which is not easy. Since jks has to adjust his role for the new players he can't really step up. If you let him play his own role which he's actually good at he might carry his team again. Firepower is not their problem and they have a fairly high skill roof, but they are inconsistent af.
2018-02-20 18:59
#80
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
This core has been in NA pro league for about 3 years. They've only qualified for 2 majors (counting this one w/ NAF) while having an essentially free route to the main qualifier because they're in the Oceanic Minor. They've never won an international event until I-League with NAF, and they've played together since early 2015. In what world do you think that this core is the start of a world-class team without picking up two star players. NAF is a monster and even then they were only poised to be an upset team. jks had 2 and a half years before NAF joined to carry and didn't do it. You say carry his team "again", but he didn't do it in the first place...carry implies he brought them to winning anything. He was their best player, but never a carry. You don't see people playing jks's role being the best player in their team because you can't win games from his role. Xyp9x is way better than jks at jks's role and is still the 4th best player on his team. Winning 1vX's or 2vX's for your team isn't a consistent way to get results. Firepower has always been their problem. The only players they've ever had who consistently play decent-to-good against top-level competition are NAF and jks, and as previously explained, jks isn't a star player. He's good, but not a carry.
2018-02-20 19:12
I wasn't walking about their time in NA, they are not the best players but it's not really easy finding better AU players. There is no way they will be a top team, but they are better than ever before. Their individual skill is decent, but they are almost never stepping up at the same time, which leads to them choking a lot.
2018-02-20 21:28
#67
 | 
Australia c0meatm3_Bro 
are you sure you are looking at the same team? jks was the carry for almost all of Vox and the start of Rng. it was when he started trying different roles that he started to become inconsistent especially when NAF was on the team, he gave up all his roles for NAF so of course its going to affect his game. Ustillo was never going to be the star player he does all the shit roles, hes a support player/entry, most times he does them pretty well and he gets impact kills aswell, he might not put up huge numbers but when he does get kills they mean something and as a support player hes pretty good. AZR is just inconsistent
2018-02-20 16:28
#68
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
I'm saying they spent 3 years trying to make him a star player and the team accomplished nothing. With NAF he took a hit, but NAF is a better player and the team looked the best I've seen them because he's a better carry player than jks. I don't think you can have a team that's competitive internationally if jks is your best player, especially with the role he plays. His main purpose is closing rounds much like xyp9x. Now xyp9x is an amazing player, but he isn't remotely the star of his team.
2018-02-20 16:33
#69
 | 
Australia c0meatm3_Bro 
the problems never been Jks though its been the players around him, thats hardly his fault. Jks is good enough to be in any NA team, C9 and i believe liquid both tried to get him but he enjoys playing with Australians, Jks Ustillo and maybe Nifty if he hits form again are the 3 players that should make the core of RNG they can build a team around them, if you made an argument around removing AZR i think anyone could understand since hes not consistent. but the other 3 do there jobs really well (nifty is considering hes IGL aswell) What RNG need even when NAF was on the team was a good IGL, one that could frag better then Spunj could. that would also free up Nifty to focus on his AWP aswell. the team tactically was really good and structurally was really good with spunj on the team but he couldnt keep up with fragging.
2018-02-20 16:38
#70
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
I just think if you want a team that's consistently getting out of groups at large events, you need jks to be your third star. He could definitely play with a TL or a C9 playing a role like RUSH is on C9 currently, just being a consistent player who's not going to make mistakes. I just don't see jks as the best player of a good team.
2018-02-20 16:40
NAF helped RNG perform there's no doubt about that, but his fragging wasn't his most important role in my eyes. It was the potential to get kills when he shouldn't have been able to, the potential to turn a 2 v 5 into a win not just consistently high fragging. And you could see it in the performance of the rest of them. The Aussies' stats increased and became more consistent and Nifty was allowed to be more free flowing.
2018-02-21 01:10
If AZR found consistency he would be the star of the team. The dudes an absolute beast when he's on point, he could outgun anyone. He just needs to do that regularly
2018-02-21 02:48
#89
 | 
United States LarrcasM 
AZR has never been remotely consistent in his entire career though. I don't see it happening.
2018-02-21 06:20
Unfortunately you're right. But hey, there's a first time for everything. Here's to hoping I guess!
2018-02-21 12:25
#13
China o_O 
it says Kieth like 3 times lol
2018-02-20 14:15
jkaem leaking contract info smh
2018-02-20 14:18
#16
 | 
Sweden drakendilf 
Well NAF is better than entire renegades team put together so good on him for moving on. xd
2018-02-20 14:18
#27
 | 
Russia SeniorTomato 
+1:D
2018-02-20 14:37
#28
 | 
Pakistan perth 
Renegades>NiP My left asscheek>NiP even
2018-02-20 14:40
#17
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
One of the longest-standing members of the squad, Aaron "AZR" Ward He is the longest standing member
2018-02-20 14:18
#22
 | 
Greece hekzy 
+1 ever since the original Vox Eminor lineup
2018-02-20 14:29
#23
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
Yeah he formed the original team with Spunj, Havoc, TopGun and Snyper, Jks replaced Snyper pretty early on though
2018-02-20 14:30
Fuck I miss that lineup :( jks AZR SPUNJ topguN Havoc They had the energy and passion, and great personalities as a team.
2018-02-21 02:45
#19
Estonia pj4 
Hltv hyre me i vil not make gramar errors like thks huy who write articel
2018-02-20 14:20
GELLING
2018-02-20 14:24
GELLING WELL
2018-02-20 14:33
#29
 | 
United States CheatCleaner 
GELLING WELL LUL
2018-02-20 14:42
#56
 | 
World Beard43 
I don't get the joke? Are you saying they did gel well?
2018-02-20 16:01
Hope that RNG will sign jkaem or at least go to Asian minor for next major with him. He's insane player and I want jkaem stickers so bad
2018-02-20 14:45
#31
 | 
Pakistan perth 
NAF belonged in despicable me, not Renegades.
2018-02-20 14:48
They don't realise that they suck I guess. Just lucky to be from Australia and get that sweet Renegades paycheck for being tier3.
2018-02-20 14:58
#44
 | 
Pakistan perth 
waaaaaaaaa waaaaaaaaaaa waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
2018-02-20 15:28
Forgive my potato English but skills but I've never heard of 'gelling' in my life.
2018-02-20 15:11
Pretty standard term used here, perhaps it's just an Aussie thing, would be interested to hear from UK/Kiwis if they use it there.
2018-02-20 15:25
#41
 | 
Brazil cykr 
Living and learning
2018-02-20 15:27
#46
 | 
Spain JasonRacism 
It's never used here, Can kinda understand that it would mean something like ''fitting in''
2018-02-20 15:30
Basically, yes.
2018-02-20 15:39
#55
 | 
United Kingdom boydicus14 
I've never heard it in my life and I'm English
2018-02-20 16:01
#57
 | 
World Beard43 
gel; verb; To come to a firm and useful form; work. present participle: gelling Do they still teach English in England?
2018-02-20 16:05
#58
 | 
United Kingdom boydicus14 
tf? just coz you found it online doesn't mean it's in use lmao
2018-02-20 16:05
#59
 | 
World Beard43 
It's a common term
2018-02-20 16:06
#60
 | 
United Kingdom boydicus14 
where are you from?
2018-02-20 16:06
#61
 | 
World Beard43 
Australia
2018-02-20 16:06
#62
 | 
United Kingdom boydicus14 
So there we go, it's probably used a lot in Australia, but as I said, I've never heard it here in England
2018-02-20 16:07
#63
 | 
World Beard43 
I guess you learnt a new word today :-)
2018-02-20 16:09
#65
 | 
United Kingdom boydicus14 
I guess I did indeed
2018-02-20 16:12
You've never heard it in England? Do you play team sports? It's used alot to describe whether a team is coming together or 'gelling' as you'd say. I play rugby and people regularly comment on how teams are either coming together or gelling together.
2018-02-20 16:57
#81
 | 
United Kingdom boydicus14 
Nope, though I only do badminton and cycling as sports so I guess not team games
2018-02-20 21:17
#43
 | 
Turkmenistan 1337guy228 
is he an australian aborigen ?
2018-02-20 15:28
I dont think so
2018-02-20 16:40
#73
NEO | 
Macedonia ElGancho 
Jkaem is good ,sign him
2018-02-20 17:15
He sort of talks like I write (wrote..?) , Kinda lul. I mean, pretty much etc, just missing The LE.
2018-02-20 17:17
#88
jks | 
Australia Mosski 
NAF is a snake
2018-02-21 06:10
Login or register to add your comment to the discussion.