Our last interview from the group stage of ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals is with Liquid's coach, Wilton "zews" Prado, who talked us through the last month from the team's point of view, as well as their run to the quarter-finals in Dallas.
Liquid have secured a place in the quarter-finals after beating Grayhound and Space Soldiers in the first two rounds of the upper bracket, before they fell to Astralis in the match for first place on day three of the group stage.
We caught up with the coach, Wilton "zews" Prado, to find out more about how the team reacted to their early exit at DreamHack Masters Marseille, and had him talk us through some of the matches Liquid played in Dallas up until now.
Talk me through the last month since you played your first event in Marseille, which didn't go so well shortly after you added TACO, how did that go after you played your debut?
After Marseille, we looked at our performance there and we realized we didn't have the rotations and the teamplay aspect down as we had before we substituted a player. Last-second we got an invite to IEM Sydney, which we decided to decline due to all this and take three weeks of practice to try and get our teamplay going, get our map pool worked out, and that's what we did.
We just had the last online matches, we practiced a lot, changed our map pool a bit, tried to improve in some aspects. With TACO, a lot of it is maps like Nuke, he had to get the communication down just to start with, knowing the names of the positions already helps a lot. That's what we've been trying to focus on, it's still not close to perfect, any team I think needs like three to four months to start being close to 100%, but it's been a good improvement so far for us.
Has it been a big difference between steel and TACO in terms of roles or playstyles?
It's always going to be different because even though they play similar roles, they don't play similar styles at those roles. TACO really plays more aggressively, he likes to take duels, he likes to take charge of situations and control the team, so even though it's a simple substitution, it changes a lot in the way that we play and how maybe the mid-round calls go. So, it's not been hard per se, it just takes time.
How are you feeling about your showing here thus far? Up until the Astralis match, you looked more than confident, are you satisfied with your performance in groups?
Our first goal was to reach the stage and just do our job. Playing against Astralis we knew would be hard, up until then we had easier matchups than most other teams - nothing against the other teams, it's just that Grayhound is less experienced and Space Soldiers came in with a replacement due to visa issues.
I'd say we're semi-satisfied, we still need to go further and we still want to go further, but the first two showings were a lot better than today. Nuke was a super-strong map for Astralis, I don't think it was that bad, a few details, if we didn't lose the eco... Inferno wasn't as good, there's a lot more we can finetune there, but a lot of those situations I don't see repeating themselves in the way that they happened.
It's one of the matches where we got shot from the back a lot, we lost almost all the clutches, the flashes, the timings, our rotations were maybe three to five seconds late, and that causes them to get smoked out, so if we're able to finetune these things, I don't think this performance will be repeated.
Astralis have been dominant against pretty much everyone, aside from the grand final in Sydney. As someone who has just faced them, what do you think makes them so hard to play at the moment?
Astralis right now have a really solid map pool, with the removal of Cobblestone, it solidified even more. They're a really good team who has a good coach, they have a good environment, they have all the right pieces. I say it like they're so far ahead of the competition, not only because they're ahead, but because everyone else is a step behind. Everyone has some flaws that they don't, it's not them being so far ahead. In that being said, they aren't an unbeatable force, we were able to take a map off them in Marseille even despite the weak performance.
They lost the final in Sydney, I will also say that group stages and playoff stage games will always be different for teams that are known to have issues on stage. It's all about how that one match is going to start. I think they're really far ahead, they are the team everyone is going to look at, they're probably going to change the meta towards a more tactical side, but at the same time, everyone is looking at them now, they're the team that is going to be the most studied. In the following events, especially during this long run that we're going to have, I don't think they'll be having the dominant performances we've been seeing.
You're going to play a familiar matchup in the form of mousesports in the quarter-finals, is that one you're confident with?
Always confident, it's going to be in front of an American crowd. The mousesports matchup has always been dear to us ever since Mykonos and StarSeries in Kiev, we've faced them a lot. They're a team that has been on the rise lately, they've solidified their place among the best. We're confident, it's going to be dependent on the match.