TACO: "If I could give any advice to NRG, I'd say to stay humble"
Epitacio "TACO" de Melo is the first player we talked to at StarSeries i-League Season 5, learning about Liquid's communication, relationships in the team and more.
Liquid started the tournament in Ukraine on the right foot, picking up a confident win over NRG. Cache was a one-sided affair, while NRG fought back on Inferno, but still only got 11 rounds, despite winning both pistols.
The last tournament you played was the ESL Pro League Finals, you got to the grand final there, played Astralis, a team that is very dominant at the moment. You still got very close, pushed them further than a lot of people would expect, but you couldn't take the title. What do you think that a team needs to do right now, maybe your team in particular, to get over their level and beat them consistently?
I would prefer to say that we should just play our game. Astralis is a really good team, but when we played against them, we just played our game, we didn't do any antistrats. I feel if we improve our game, fix the mistakes we did against them, we can win against them. Of course, they are in my opinion the best team in the world, I think in the HLTV ranking they are the best as well.
As we see, they have this tactical side to them, they make a lot of smart moves around the map. Do you think you need to outplay them in that regard, or is it more about raising the individual level of your players because they are really strong in that regard as well?
Yes, right now the individuals on Astralis are really strong as well, but what I think is beautiful to watch when Astralis play is the team play that they have. They probably have really good communication, they always make good decisions in the middle of the rounds, I feel like if they have a good start, they just beat everyone easily. But if they don't start well, I feel like they are not that strong, they are vulnerable.
Playing Dust2 for Liquid, you held the B site and you picked up the AWP fairly often. So it kind of reminds me of back when you were playing Cobblestone on SK (AWPing the B platform). Is it a similar dynamic, that you prefer to play the spot with the AWP and not rotate players around, maybe have NAF come from mid to AWP that position?
Yeah, it's something that I'm good at, I can AWP as well, I'm not bad with this gun. In this team it works that I'm holding most of the bombsites with NAF, so at some maps, like Cache, he likes to AWP B so I don't take the AWP on Cache, while on Train and Dust2 I like to AWP B. It's not something that we set up, it is just something we do because I like it, because I feel confident and comfortable doing those things.
You are obviously communicating in English now, it has obviously been a couple of months already. How has that been going on, are you confident in the way you communicate right now?
At the first tournament I played, Marseille, it was kind of scary, I wasn't ready yet. In practice, I was doing great, but in the tournament it's different, everything is different, even communication. In Dallas I think I did great because we had no problems, in the entire tournament we had no problems with my communication. We didn't lose any rounds because of it, but of course, some mistakes are still happening, like one on Inferno, I was playing arch and I went into cubby. The guy came boiler and he was the last one alive, it was a 4v1 and I started saying "He's cubby, he's cubby! -Oops, I'm cubby, he's boiler!" (laughs).
Stuff like that happened, but there were no big problems with my communication and I feel like I'm improving a lot in-game. Because the communication in-game is not the same as outside the game. We can use technical terms, in-game slang that helps me a lot. So I think I'm improving a lot and I think my team is helping me a lot as well.
Talking about your team, the players on Liquid feel like quiet, reserved people in general, and you are classic outspoken, happy guy, you have that Brazilian flair as well. So how has that been meshing so far, is it weird it any way?
They are not that quiet... maybe for people on the outside, you may think that they are quiet or whatever, but with me, we are always messing around, making jokes, they are really funny, we have a lot of fun together. But yeah, I think I'm the different one, I'm the black sheep of the team (laughs). I think it's fine as well because we can find a balance - they are reserved, quiet, and they have me, who, you know; I just like to mess around. I think it's a good thing that they have me to create that balance.
With you leaving SK, Stewie2k came in, so it was kind of reverse situation, Liquid had a Brazilian coming in and SK has an American, they had to change the communication and everything. They are obviously not living up to their expected level so far, what do you think the issues are for them?
I feel like I could never answer this question because I've never had this challenge in my life. I feel like they are improving their communication, from what I've heard—I still talk to them at every tournament, they are still my friends—, so I don't think they have big problems with their communication. They have the same problems I have in Liquid, small mistakes, but I don't think they are having big communication problems right now. They are improving their English a lot as well, and as I said, in-game communication is different from speaking outside of the game. I think they are going to get it, I think they will be perfect at communicating in English.
You played against NRG now, it was a 2-0, pretty confident win I would say. In general, NRG was really good online at the start of the year, you played them online I guess with different teams. Is there something you saw here that is different, now that you are playing them at LAN?
I can't lie, I should respect them as a team as well, they are a team that works hard, they were doing really well online, but I think playing against them on LAN was easier. I don't know why, really, maybe it's just different. Also, we did practice against them after they got some good results and it was kind of bad, they were just pushing everywhere, they were not practicing well.
They got good results online, they qualified for tournaments, but if I could give any advice to them, I'd say to stay humble, don't think you are the best team because you are not the best team yet. You can get there, you have potential, but stay humble, keep practicing, it's different playing online. I think they are a good team and they are going to get there.