NAF: "This is a LAN to build chemistry and get to know everyone"
The first day of iBUYPOWER Masters was one filled with mishaps, which caused the tournament to get delayed by several hours. Finally, however, it kicked off, and Liquid were able to beat Luminosity in their Group B opener at the Avalon.
In the interview, the Canadian player talks about bringing on Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and Eric "adreN" Hoag to the roster, the preparation since the beginning of the year, as well as what the team is preparing to do ahead of the IEM Katowice Major, and what they want to get out of this weekend's iBUYPOWER Masters.
First things first, run me through the roster changes, getting Stewie2K and adreN on the roster.
After we finished at Odense, zews and TACO approached us to tell us that they wanted to go to MIBR. I respected it, it's their country's team and they can speak Portuguese. I'm kind of like the guy that just says, "do whatever makes you happy, if that's what makes you happy, go for it, I support you." So, since they wanted to go to MIBR, the logical solution would be to get Stewie or tarik, those were our two options, and we ended up with Stewie. I think he's a good player. He's a playmaker, he's aggressive, so in some senses similar to TACO, but obviously TACO has a lot of unique traits to himself that are different in the way he plays the game, as well as the rest of Brazilians...
What kind of traits? What are you trading in terms of playstyle?
TACO had a lot of knowledge, and I asked Stewie how they liked to play, MIBR, and yeah, the way they approach the game is just completely different. They are just slower and more methodical, they think about more things, and they wait for enemies to make mistakes, whereas in our team we just have five rifles rushing places and we peek everything, so it's just like a way different playstyle. Bringing on Stewie, he's a very aggressive player, but since he was in MIBR for a while he kind of adapted to their style, and he was telling us about it and all that.
How about the zews for adreN, the former being perhaps a bit more of a motivational coach, while adreN is a bit more quiet perhaps?
Honestly, I saw zews more as a mental coach. He also brought a lot of setups and strategies to exploit teams, so he did a bit of both, but he was mostly a mental coach, kept our head in it, telling us to not give up and so on, whereas Eric is laid back and chill, now he's trying to see our vibes and how we play, so he hasn't been super hands on about "you should do this, you should do that or you should say this, you shouldn't say that..." Right now I'm still trying to learn from him, and what he wants to bring to us, so it's still a learning experience.
Talking about learning. This was the event to do that. It's not going very well so far, but at least prior to coming, what was the goal, or what did you want to get out of this tournament?
We came here to win, of course, but also to gel with Stewie as much as possible. If I had a goal it's to reach the final and build chemistry on LAN. It's the best way to build chemistry and get to know someone, to figure out mistakes, what to do and what not to do...
How about before coming here, you had the player break and so on. Have you been getting into the groove, practicing and so on?
It's not bad. The Liquid training facility is like a thirty-minute drive from here. We've been bootcamping since the 5th, so we've been having practice, and it's like every time we scrim someone they have a new player, like compLexity has new players, MIBR got TACO and zews back, so everyone is going through the works. But we haven't had anything hard to deal with, we obviously have a new player, but Stewie is great, so there are no big hurdles, just a lot of practice and grinding.
Most teams seem to be taking this event as practice for the Major, getting the wheels rolling. Is that the most important thing for you, to get the machinery working?
Yeah, of course, as I said, LAN is the best way to figure out what peoples' problems are, what they like... Even for me, I think this is a LAN to build chemistry and get to know everyone, to make sure everything is comfortable. It's all practice for the Major, that's what we're all thinking about. We're going to bootcamp ahead of the Major starting February 6th, in Europe, two weeks before the Major, so we're using this as practice, and I'm seeing a lot of other teams are doing that as well.
As you said, a lot of teams have changed players, what are some of the strongest ones you've noticed so far?
So far, I think MIBR. It's good to see them back to all speaking Portuguese and bring back the possibility of doing what they did in the past bringing felps and TACO back, they were like the best team that year. It's kind of amazing to see them in scrims, just the way they play, they have that unique style of Brazilian Counter-Strike. So yeah, it's amazing, just as a fan of the MIBR style, I'm going to be a huge fan of them in 2019.
You had a rough end of the year, losing to Astralis one last time in Odense, have you been able to reset. New year, new goals...
So yeah, we have a new roster, a little bit, with Stewie. We were all a little down that we were never able to beat Astralis last year, but we know we can do it. We just need to keep working and not be discouraged. I'm fairly happy despite all we lost because we made so many finals consistently. A lot of teams don't consistently make finals, especially from North America, like no other team, so I think it's just an amazing accomplishment that we were able to achieve together throughout the entire year. Obviously, this year, I want to raise a tier 1 trophy again. I haven't raised one since ELEAGUE two years ago, so yeah, I really just want to win. This is the year to win, so we better do it!