NAF: "[The EPL Finals and ESL One Cologne] are going to determine who the real #1 is and who the top teams are"

We interviewed Keith "⁠NAF⁠" Markovic on day two of the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals after Liquid saw TYLOO off in a two map series.

NAF's Liquid had a hiccup on their first map of the ESL Pro League Season 9 FInals, falling 13-16 to North on Dust2. They started their lower-bracket run on day two with a victory over TYLOO in two maps, and will now go on to face HellRaisers for a spot in the LB final.

NAF believes there's no real #1 right now

We chatted with NAF about their first match against North, getting knocked down to the lower bracket, where he ranks the world's top teams, what it would mean to play the aforementioned Astralis in Montpellier, and whether Liquid can keep their momentum going to back-to-back tournaments.

You played North on Dust2 and lost 13-16, a close match, but you were favored to win. What happened?

We had played North previously, at DreamHack Masters, so we kind of knew what to expect, but going into that game it was clear that they did a little bit more homework and prep. We saw that they were giving up Long a lot, and I'm usually a passive Long player on T side, so they started playing three Short and doing a bunch of aggressive stuff on other parts of the map, so they did their research and played great. With valde as their captain, it's something I haven't really seen before from their previous leaders, and I think he's doing an amazing job so props to him and the team and their coach.

What is it you've seen that has changed?

The way they play, their style is a little bit different. I'm not entirely sure, but it seems like when we played them it was a bit different compared to every other North. Not sure about specifics, but it just feels different playing them.

The TYLOO match was pretty straightforward, did you expect to be so dominant, particularly on their pick, Mirage?

Losing to North was a wake-up call for us, and TYLOO is a team that can definitely upset teams that aren't playing their A-game and can catch them off-guard, so we knew that we needed to wake up and go into it firing on all cylinders and making sure we're not making any mistakes or yelling at each other [laughs]. So yeah, I just knew, I had never lost to TYLOO, so I was just like "Never lost to them, never losing to them, let's just 2-0 them, let's smash them, let's go!"

You're now going through the hard route, the lower bracket. Only one team has lifted the trophy after losing the first best-of-one with this format...

I guess we'll be the second! [laughs]

Is that what you think?

I mean, yeah... All right, I'm going to be completely honest. Right now I truly do not believe there's a #1 team in the world. Any team can beat any team, and obviously we're one of the better teams, but there honestly is no such thing as a #1 team in the world right now. Every team can beat anyone, so we just need to keep on going and treat every game like it's not going to be an easy one. Every game is going to be hard no matter who we play, we just have to battle through.

That being said, a few of the top teams are missing here, so it's a bit about Astralis and Liquid. If you meet them here, will it define something?

Of course, a lot of people were thinking that, so I'm honestly hoping we play them and that we can put on a good game for the fans and prove who the better team is right now. I'd be looking forward to it if we cross paths with Astralis and I think it'd be an amazing game, for sure.

If you beat them here in a best-of-three, would that make you #1? If you can finally get that big BO3 win against them in an important match.

Yeah, it'd lean more towards us being the real #1, but like I said, with any other team... like ENCE, I think ENCE could be #1 easily, even FaZe a little bit, although they have more things to work on. It's up in the air right now, this tournament is huge, especially with Cologne right around the corner... these two tournaments are going to determine who the real #1 is and who the top teams are.

You've been putting up good results and getting those tournament wins, do you think you can keep it up? Is it something you can keep doing or do you feel some fatigue?

Individually, I think going LAN to LAN is the best in terms of practice, you learn a lot more there than just playing scrims, so I have no issues going to back-to-back LANs. Some people may think that we need to take a break, some others may think that we have to go guns blazing to all the LANs, but we're a young team, we're motivated all of the time, constantly playing Counter-Strike even when we're not scrimming, so I don't see any issues with us going to back-to-back LANs.

Canada Keith 'NAF' Markovic
Keith 'NAF' Markovic
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Netherlands shawtyyy
NAF is good
2019-06-19 21:05
2 replies
He's Nasty AF
2019-06-19 21:09
1 reply
Nasty ass naf
2019-06-20 13:20
Spain elskio
Astralis you mean
2019-06-19 21:06
He’s right
2019-06-19 21:06
Brazil ProdigioGG
Owned by valde
2019-06-19 21:07
7 replies
Bulgaria LARRATT
fer budget rain
2019-06-19 21:06
6 replies
Brazil ProdigioGG
Rain budget fer.
2019-06-19 21:08
5 replies
Bulgaria LARRATT
coldzera budget NiKo
2019-06-19 21:34
4 replies
You forgot Fallen budget Guardian
2019-06-19 22:06
3 replies
brazil budget dumpster
2019-06-19 22:30
2 replies
+1 to the winner!
2019-06-19 22:32
dumster budget dump
2019-06-19 23:54
Seychelles kinley377
2019-06-19 21:06
> top1 team > Loses to North
2019-06-19 21:06
12 replies
Bo1 fluke
2019-06-19 21:06
9 replies
Dont let this distract u from the fact that m16r never won a t1 event, got 0-16 at major and 0-10 at blast pro
2019-06-19 21:08
8 replies
2019-06-19 21:11
you right
2019-06-19 21:18
0-15 they went 0-5 twice, 0-5 in the 1v1 and if you want to go even further, they had one more blast where they went 1-5, which results in 1-20
2019-06-19 21:35
Forsaken scene
2019-06-19 21:49
3 replies
Getting rekt scene
2019-06-19 22:14
forsaken > entire br scene
2019-06-19 23:55
1 reply
2 major xoxo
2019-06-22 05:26
Unfortunately true
2019-06-19 21:57
Astralis lost north 2 bo3 in the same tournament when they had an era
2019-06-19 22:35
1 reply
North ending eras 🤯
2019-06-20 09:08
Turkey Zeria_
Mouz you mean
2019-06-19 21:07
1 reply
No. Just No
2019-06-19 22:08
tarik | 
Canada ZHF
He still knows there's alot of work to do to become the true #1 team, respect
2019-06-19 21:07
+1 especially Cologne. Its so stacked
2019-06-19 21:08
4 replies
why it is not a major.. more quality than most majors
2019-06-19 21:09
3 replies
Yeah sadly ((
2019-06-19 21:11
Myanmar xdcc
if cologne was a major teams would be worse. only mvp pk will probably be a pushover
2019-06-19 23:03
1 reply
yeah that's the joke actually, cologne always is more competitive than the actual "major" tournaments
2019-06-19 23:04
Well this is the obvious statement of the day.
2019-06-19 21:09
Italy NotNew
Less delusional than Liquid fans, good for him
2019-06-19 21:09
rain | 
United Kingdom EKersh
"I guess we'll be the second" more like I guess we'll be second
2019-06-19 21:09
''I think ENCE could be #1 easily'' he knows what he's talking about
2019-06-19 21:10
2 replies
2019-06-19 21:20
2019-06-19 21:24
The hype is very much real!
2019-06-19 21:11
mentioning FaZe as a potential #1 team, nice joke NAF, you got me there for a second.
2019-06-19 21:13
1 reply
Probably since Liquid loses to them alot
2019-06-20 00:40
it will be funny, if they'll lose tomorrow
2019-06-19 21:14
Sweden Trkmag
Gained respect for NAF, speaking the truth here and being realistic unlike a lot of Liquid fans
2019-06-19 21:15
1 reply
Confident but grounded. That's basically NAF in a nutshell. There is a lot on the line both here and at Cologne (now that Liquid are confirmed for Cologne but I mean...their best opposition at GG.Bet Invitational was G2, so I didn't really doubt they were gonna make it)
2019-06-19 21:23
No they're not...
2019-06-19 21:27
yeah its astralis
2019-06-19 22:04
Love that guy. If i were anything but danish i would be a NAF/Liquid fanboy. He is so down to earth, honest and not a douche :)
2019-06-19 22:15
3 replies
Exactly, part of the reason why I love Liquid.
2019-06-19 22:47
2 replies
I understand. Many pros and hltv users could learn a thing or two from him and im not talking about aiming :)
2019-06-19 22:49
1 reply
True, 100% echo that statement.
2019-06-19 23:12
Philippines etalynx08
Deep inside he knew that Astralis are still the no. 1
2019-06-19 22:26
Turkey DebbSoray
It's Astralis
2019-06-19 22:48
we all already know whos top 1 and whos arent
2019-06-19 22:58
2 replies
That's the thing, no one knows who the TRUE #1 team is rn. That's why he said these next 2 tourneys may decide who it really is.
2019-06-19 23:39
1 reply
not a fan of them but only astralis can be top 1 surely rn
2019-06-20 00:45
NAF has been very humble lately.
2019-06-19 23:38
ez for astralis now thx for another trophy
2019-06-19 23:55
United States DiabIo
2019-06-20 00:07
1 reply
Pakistan LoOuU2
2019-06-20 13:29
Liquid has perfect team. But if the team falls apart and start loosing i think Nitro is first guy that they are gonna get rid of
2019-06-20 00:16
4 replies
unfortunately, I dont think he deserves to be kicked but he would be, hes a true team player, always doing and taking the roles that the team needs.
2019-06-20 01:07
1 reply
I know but i feel that is going to happen
2019-06-20 15:31
nitr0 ? really ? he is fucking awper + IGL and play shit roles and he is still better than trash stewie nitr0 its such an underrated player
2019-06-20 02:23
1 reply
Agree. Stewie is by far the worst player on Liquid. Even when he baits and hunt eco frags he is shit tbh. He doesnt fit in Liquid. More of a ego "navi-type" player.
2019-06-20 12:32
Don’t worry mibr era is close
2019-06-20 00:21
2 replies
closed* ... before it even started. xD
2019-06-20 06:35
1 reply
2019-06-20 13:41
Spain BlaNcoW
New NaVi ez Top 1
2019-06-20 01:10
China L1bramtaR
now i know why liquid always lose to Astralis in 2018,cuz naf keep telling himself "i never win against them,i never win against them"
2019-06-20 06:10
1 reply
2019-06-20 08:18
Astralis is the only real top team atm despite they're not in the best shape right now.
2019-06-20 06:34
JK | 
Asia flipflop
thinking if HR wins against Liquid :p
2019-06-20 06:53
1 reply
United Kingdom _xC4ctus
then its cologne for liquid to take then isnt it?
2019-06-20 10:31
2019-06-20 10:50
New Zealand rowdog
no ence, furia, vitality or navi so no it really wont
2019-06-20 11:38
Shout out to NAF, really humble guy with no media (which is excellent) and great player.
2019-06-20 11:57
what do they mean top teams are missing? except navi every team that belonged to the top 3 within the last year is there. They just had to overcome their struggles wich allowed other teams to go over their potential.
2019-06-20 11:58
1 reply
Vitality, Ence, Navi?
2019-06-20 13:46
Considering that even Liquid players agree that they are not real number one yet, it means that HLTV ranking system really needs some adjustments
2019-06-20 12:18
2019-06-20 20:10
nearly lost to Hellraiser #1
2019-06-21 01:33
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