We caught up with Keith "NAF" Markovic, whose Liquid will today play fnatic for a spot in the semi-finals to hear his thoughts on the matches played in Chicago as well as other topics concerning his team.
Liquid are off to a great start at IEM Chicago, where they won their best-of-one opener against Luminosity and followed it up with a best-of-three victory over mousesports to secure a spot in the playoffs. Today, they go up against fnatic at 02:10 for a spot in the semi-finals.
During his interview with HLTV.org, NAF touched upon several topics of conversation, including the importance of winning pistol rounds, beating mousesports, the mood in the team, what Liquid needs to win an event, and the upcoming match against fnatic.
You made it through the second day. You won against Luminosity on day one, then against mousesports. Did you guys feel any particular way about playing mousesports?
For me, personally, I always see mousesports as the hardest team to play. I feel like they're a kind of kryptonite, almost. Every time I go up against them I have trouble finding a way to play them, although luckily today I was able to do it fairly well. Other than that, nothing special, everyone doing their best, just another day.
During the match itself, were there any key moments for you?
The biggest thing was pistols, I think we won both pistols on Nuke and Inferno. We're a team that thrives off of momentum, so getting pistols is really the best thing for us, it gets us starting strong and we can go on to snowball a win.
You won both pistols against Luminosity yesterday, as well. What's the secret?
I have no idea, but it's definitely a good sign that pistols are working, it's a big part of the game. It's a bit different with the economy changes and it's not as impactful as before, but it's still huge. Well, huge for us, at least.
You're playing fnatic for a spot in the semis. It's a pretty good match-up, you didn't get a big team.
Yeah, I think the last time we played fnatic was at like ECS Season 5, so it's been a while. They have two new players, so I think it'll be a fun one. I'm excited to play against Brollan. I think he's a very good young talent and I'm happy fnatic gave him a shot. Shoutout to the rest of the guys on the team for that. I think it'll be a fun match, I haven't played them in a while and I'm looking forward to it!
After the wins here, I'm guessing you're pretty stress-free and in a good mood?
Yeah, we're winning, so everything seems to be okay right now. Everyone is just being their normal selves. Just another LAN, work hard, keep getting those pistols, you know... yeah... I don't know, everything's fine. Hopefully we can keep the momentum up and the spirits high so we can finally go on to win an event! (laughs)
So yeah, about winning events... You have to be the most consistent team other than Astralis. Na`Vi has more tournament-winning potential, but then they also flop out sometimes. You're always top 4 or you make the finals, you can just never win. How much added pressure does that put on the team to actually win it all?
I think we're inconsistent, mentally, about how we go into games. We'll feel really good going into some games and then others we won't. It usually starts to happen during the bracket stage, and I'm not sure why. It's just who we are, I guess. We just need to keep working on fixing it, but yeah, it sucks to keep getting second place all of the time. Unfortunately, in New York, and I don't want to come up with excuses, but I was feeling really sick and I was so depressed after that final. It really sucked. Hopefully, here, we can make it happen.
What do you think it is you need, that X factor that will finally let you win?
We just need to make sure that everyone is feeling good. We have the firepower, we just need everyone to be on the same page. That's usually what happens, like for example against FaZe at EPICENTER, when we got to the bracket stage it felt nothing like it did during the group stage. It's just something we need to work on. Making it so when we go into the bracket stage it's just like any other game. Just go with it, don't feel different, don't do anything different, just play our game, play our style...
What do you think it is that actually makes you change? Is it the extra pressure added?
I don't know. I'm not sure, maybe it's just that we're kind of a young team? I guess I can say that.
Well, you are one of the youngest teams at this level. That's a fact.
Yeah, Twistzz is 18, I'm 20, EliGE is 21... so yeah, we're just a young team. Also, nitr0 wasn't a real AWPer, and he wasn't an IGL, so everyone is just trying to chip in whatever way they can and pull out a bunch of stuff. So yeah, we have an interesting team.
You said you were really depressed after the New York final, is that something that carried afterward, or were you able to reset and move on?
A loss like that may sit in you for a little bit, but I'm pretty sure we all said, "OK, it sucks, let's move on." At the end of the day, in Counter-Strike, there are so many tournaments... It's not like you're playing League of Legends where you have one split and you have to wait and whatever. There are always LANs, there's always time for redemption.
Time for redemption, I love that! Do you think you learn much from a loss like that?
Well, we know what we could do now. Like, for example, when we were playing Dust2, mousesports kept hitting Cat during the comeback and I kept going B instead of us saying something, like, "OK, let's play 4 A at the start and TACO go B," or whatever. If we watch everything, we know what to fix, but as I said, it's the mental part. That's the biggest issue. Maybe it's that we're young, maybe it's just how we are as humans... I don't know, but it's the biggest thing we need to tackle.
Yesterday was just a group stage match, and it didn't matter that much because you could still go through the lower bracket and so on, but did it feel good to beat mouz?
Yeah, it feels good. At least for me because I always suck against them. I played decently and we got the win, so yeah, it feels good. It kind of gives us a little extra motivation and it's a little confidence booster, I guess I could say.
Other than that, how are you doing online?
Oh, man, we're like the North American Virtus.pro, we're terrible. In ESL Pro League we're doing OK, I think we're set to qualify, but ECS... we now rely on other teams winning for us because we messed up. I hate online CS, it should cease to exist.
And there's so much of it, too...
Yeah, since we're forced to constantly play online matches we can't really fix anything, so it comes down to whoever is feeling good and playing well that day or that week and they'll win. If there were more time to study and practice it would be really different, and I'm sure we could top any leaderboard, but it's all just so rushed.
That's all on my end...
(NAF smiles coyly)
Why are you smiling, anything you want to add?
Nah, nothing more. Hopefully we can win a tournament (laughs). Please send your prayers, send your wishes so we can win, we need all the energy we can get! (laughs)