After three days of play at the $300,000 StarSeries i-League Season 6, Renegades find themselves in the 2-1 pool. They started off with an upset loss to CyberZen on day 1, but turned it around with victories over compLexity and TYLOO.
Talking to liazz for the first time since he signed for Renegades, we went back in time to hear about his origins in Australia and his evolution as a player, his signing for Renegades, and the team's first tournament together.
Let's start off with today's match, which was against TYLOO. For you, perhaps not as much, but it's a classic Asia Minor matchup. What was the feeling in the team when it was drawn?
I think there were mixed feelings. The other boys, AZR, jks, and jkaem, they didn't really want to play them because they've played them so many times that now there are a lot of mind games involved. It feels to them like it's a bit of a toss-up. For Gratisfaction and me it's a bit different, Sean has played them a couple of times, I think, but I haven't played them since 2016.
I think the idea of having new players brought some hunger to the other guys because they were really stepping it up during the game. It was great, maybe not so much when we drew TYLOO, but it was great once we started playing.
About your signing for Renegades, can you walk me a bit through how you were approached and the backstory behind it?
It was a bit rough. I was approached by one of the operational managers who wanted to feel me out and see if I would be interested in joining. Up until the very end, right before I actually joined, I didn't actually know who I'd be replacing or what the team would look like... I didn't know what the atmosphere on the team would be, I didn't know if it was a management decision or anything like that.
I was jumping into the blue, I didn't really know what was going to happen, but when an Australian player is approached by Renegades it's almost impossible to say no. It's an opportunity that not many people get and you sort of just have to take it when it comes.
For people who may not follow the Oceanic scene, can you give me a broad brushstroke of where you've played and your evolution?
I haven't had the most spectacular past. In 2015-2016 I was a part of Athletico, a team that started as a really low Open team in Australia that nobody had really heard of, and we sort of just built ourselves up along the way over a couple of years. In mid-2016 we established ourselves as the #1 team in Australia up against Chiefs, right after Winterfox went over to NA.
That lasted for a while, until January of 2017, when we signed to Tainted Minds. Straight after signing we played the IEM Sydney 2017 qualifier. At the time we were the undisputed #1 team, winning everything, but we got upset by Chiefs twice in that qualifier, in the upper bracket and the grand final, which was pretty shattering for us and made us go through a bunch of roster changes. Nothing really ever felt the same, then in December I left Tainted Minds and made a new team with emagine, wizard, Hatz, and Sicko, which was Kings.
That team went up through the ranks, and for a few months, we were considered the best team in Australia, especially after we first signed for ORDER in January of this year. We won the WESG APAC qualifier, which was a big moment for us. From then on I stayed with ORDER, but I think the hunger left us and it started tapering off, so we made some roster changes. Since mid-2018 Greyhound has been the best team in Australia.
How about your own personal growth?
Earlier on, when I was starting out in Athletico and Tainted Minds, I was sort of the "Xyp9x" of the team. I didn't get the roles that everyone would want, but I enjoyed those roles and flourished in them. At the time, no one else in Australia really wanted to do those things. Everyone wanted to stand out, everyone wanted to be the star player, so I think me having a lot of space in doing what I wanted to do really made me stand out as a player at the beginning.
As time went on and my teams changed, it evolved into me becoming a more dynamic player, a rotator, where I was the star of the team. It especially turned into that with ORDER, but coming back onto Renegades, I'm picking up the gaps and filling in the roles that USTILO left, and he really didn't have the best roles in the team, so I've somewhat gone back to the old roles that I played, although to a different extent. There's a big learning curve for me and I think I'm sort of getting the hang of it, but it's definitely going to take time.
You put out a tweet stating that you weren't really feeling it, but at the same time it's just been a week or so since you joined the team, so you can't really expect to get rolling the same way you were before. How are you dealing with it?
I have really high expectations for myself, especially coming off of Order. Being the player that was put in all of these positions to frag and do everything for the team and make plays rubbed off on me, so I expect myself to be doing that every single game, and even when I'm playing these roles I still expect myself to be performing at that level. I think it just upsets me to not be able to put up the same numbers as I did, I feel like I'm letting the team down, in a way, but at the same time, I just have to accept that there's going to be a learning curve.
Playing on a team that while still Australian has a core that has been making the rounds for a while, including kassad as the coach, is it very different than what you're used to?
Yes and no. I think a lot of people in Australia undervalue how much work is put in. I can only really speak for myself, but in Order, Elmapuddy, my old coach, and emagine, they put in a lot of work ahead of all of our matches and made sure they had a plan going into all of our games. Coming into Renegades it feels sort of the same, although kassad has a bit more of an input than Elma. kassad is a very holistic coach, he takes in every aspect of the game, emotionally, strategically, everything. I'd say there are a lot of similarities, although Renegades is perhaps a little bit more full on.
You said you have very high expectations of yourself, coming into this event, did you have some goals? Be it results-wise or personally.
I think individually I have a feel for when I'm doing the right thing and performing the way I should be, especially in the roles that I'm in, but as a team I think all of our goals are pretty much finals if not top 4. I think top 4 is very achievable at this tournament. We're sort of coming into a sweet spot in which we don't have any pressure on us, so I wouldn't be surprised if we could even make finals.
That was coming into the tournament, but after the first match which was a tough loss against CyberZen, did that shake anything?
I think it shook me a little bit, but the whole team was still very confident going into the next match the day after. It was a bit rough, but we all know that it's a process. We had a lot of small mistakes during that game that we probably wouldn't make again. It's just stuff that happens when you're new as a team. We all understand that it's easy to fix, so we didn't take it too badly although obviously it still hurt.