EliGE: "After all of the hardships we went through, to finally start having the success we've had makes it all feel worthwhile"

We spoke with Jonathan "⁠EliGE⁠" Jablonowski following Liquid's historic achievement, winning ESL One Cologne 2019 and the Intel Grand Slam, and asked him about their main rival and goals for the future.

A 3-1 victory in the grand final saw the North Americans convincingly clinch the ESL One Cologne title, making it four back-to-back Big Events won for Liquid. Following the game, we managed to catch up with EliGE to hear more about it.

Liquid's next goal is the StarLadder Berlin Major

The 21-year-old, who was the highest-rated player on his team, spoke to us about the decision to skip ESL One Cologne, which forced them to go through a qualifier later, their grand final game against Vitality, and dealing with the likes of Aleksandr "⁠s1mple⁠" Kostyliev and Mathieu "⁠ZywOo⁠" Herbaut.

The original decision to skip Cologne must feel kind of silly right now?

It would obviously feel silly right now, but scheduling-wise it still wasn't a bad decision, we never decided not to go to Cologne because of any other reason, it was just that there were so many events that were back-to-back-to-back. But then we were thinking that we were really bad online so we were probably not going to make ECS, so then we wanted to reverse our decision.

It has been a long time since you have been working towards this in Liquid with nitr0, all of the changes... How big of an achievement is this, having such a dominant Intel Grand Slam and winning ESL One Cologne, which was more stacked than ever?

It is really an amazing feeling, it was even insane back when we were in Cologne in 2016, it was one of the best events that I've ever been to and obviously, now this tops it for sure. The crowd was going insane for every kill, they were so into the game and it made me feel amazing as soon as we were able to win it. After all of the years that I and Nick (nitr0) have been on this team, making all the changes, all of the hardships that we went through, to finally start having the success that we've had this year really makes it all feel worthwhile in the end.

During all of that, were there ever thoughts of just jumping ship and trying to find success somewhere else? Because after you change something so many times, there is a point where you feel like nothing can fix the issues.

I actually never had the thought of really wanting to jump ship, just for underperformance or anything like that, throughout my whole time in Liquid. I mean, of course, I had thoughts that I could maybe do better somewhere else, but I never really wanted to do that because Liquid has just given us so much, the infrastructure. And the team cores that we've had throughout the years, I don't think that there was anything better for me on any other team, so I'm really happy I've stuck it through the whole entire way.

Touching on the grand final a bit, it was pretty weird considering how many ecos you won. That is probably more down to them than to you, but still, how did that happen from your side?

We actually win a lot of ecos against a lot of teams, it is actually pretty normal for us, we lose the pistol round and then we win the force buy after. We just have a lot of individually skilled players that are able to make plays on any round, any of us can just pick up a Deagle and get insane kills with it, especially Russ (Twistzz). We have a lot of playmakers too, me or Jake (Stewie2k), we can just be setting something up that will get us a round, just a round that we shouldn't even win. And I think that happens a lot more for us than other teams.

Was there a breaking point in the grand final where you figured out "This is it, it is done now"? Or did you feel in control during the whole thing?

We felt in control pretty much the entire time. On Dust2 it really slipped through from our fingers, I think that we had a really good chance to win Dust2, but we lost to ourselves, mentally, we kind of lacked a little bit in that match. But for the next ones we reset really well, in between the games, we just talked really quick about what went wrong on Dust2 just to get the frustrations out there and just quickly moved on to the next, going on with our gameplan.

Even for the biggest deniers, now you are obviously the number one team in the world, and every best team usually has a rival. You were Astralis' last year, who do you think is going to be yours moving forward?

I think Vitality is probably going to be our rival. I think that they are the second best team in the world - hands down. They have a lot of really good players, ZywOo especially, obviously. I think that their teamwork is really good too, they are always doing stuff that is really together, that is the strongest thing in CS. Just when people are doing things together. Instead of trying to do super complicated things and having these in-depth strats, the best teams, when they are playing really well, are really simple. Even when Astralis was the best, we knew what they were doing every time, but they were just better than us. Same thing when fnatic was the best, same thing when SK was the best... So yeah, that is basically what I think.

The MVP award was stolen away by ZywOo, you were probably the next in line, but what is it like playing against him? And can you draw some parallels to playing against s1mple because there are many being drawn at the moment?

He is obviously a really insane player, he kind of plays really similar to how s1mple plays, they are both going to go for really crazy plays and just start winning rounds, I think that they have some things that they are more comfortable doing. Like on Inferno, ZywOo obviously has his plays where he runs up Banana and tries to just frag out. And we were super aware of that and we were making sure that we are aware of that every single round, making sure that things were in place that it doesn't happen. Because if we can just shut down the comfortable things that those star players have, then it makes it a lot harder for them to win. I think that is why we have been so good against Na`Vi for the past... year or however much time it has been, and I think that is how we are going to shut down ZywOo as well.

Moving forward, obviously you want to make more history, what is the next thing that you have in mind?

The next big thing for us is the Major, it is the next biggest tournament and I think it is the one thing that would solidify our era. For us to be able to win the Major would be a huge accomplishment, for the team, for me individually, I've always so wanted to win a Major. Even though we've won all of these tournaments so far, having that Major title would make it all the more sweeter.

So you want to take that away from Cloud9, the one thing they have over you?

[laughs] Yeah, we want to win it for that reason and we want to start on our two and three, for the Majors, just starting to have the best era and team for NA CS ever.

Is there anything you want to add or say now, since it is a big moment after all?

I just want to really thank Team Liquid, all of our supporting staff for being as awesome as they were, throughout all the years. We probably wouldn't be here without the support of our sports psychologist Jared Tendler, Victor, our CEO, has been doing amazing things with us. Mike, Steve, those guys have really made Liquid feel like a home and I don't think that any other team would feel as good as Liquid has, throughout the years. They really helped us develop our team.

United States Jonathan 'EliGE' Jablonowski
Jonathan 'EliGE' Jablonowski
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
France Mathieu 'ZywOo' Herbaut
Mathieu 'ZywOo' Herbaut
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Ukraine Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Wtf first time, THANKS MOM If they win the next major and keep the dominant over the rest of the year their era is officially open
2019-07-08 00:04
adreN | 
Switzerland 2022
2016 flashbacks xaxaxaxaxaxa
2019-07-08 00:03
Did they win any tourneys back then?
2019-07-08 01:43
adreN | 
Switzerland 2022
No, but they had hardships, and I imagine he was remembering 2016.
2019-07-08 01:49
Brazil hrp__
2019-07-08 00:06
2019-07-08 14:57
Poland Unluko
2019-07-08 00:06
nAf BeSt Na PlAyEr oMeGaLuL
2019-07-08 00:17
Poland Unluko
do you even watch their matches? he changed role and everything...
2019-07-08 00:17
do you even watch their matches? he changed role and everything...
2019-07-08 00:18
NAF is overrated
2019-07-13 15:18
Ez for #1 radiotherapy patient in the world. Jokes aside, good for him and I hope liquid get their own true era they deserve!
2019-07-08 01:31
I like how he said “had” when there is still more to come
2019-07-13 00:35
2019-07-13 12:05
God Elige
2019-07-08 00:02
Aug king
2019-07-08 00:02
adreN | 
Switzerland 2022
He didn't even use the AUG at all hltv.org/stats/players/weapon/8738/EliGE..
2019-07-08 00:04
Australia Irtiza
2019-07-08 01:50
2019-07-08 07:17
Singapore FallBlade
COD weapon***
2019-07-08 08:05
2019-07-08 08:24
2019-07-08 14:57
2019-07-08 00:02
I can't wait to see how they do at the major.
2019-07-08 00:03
United States Huxta
Elige better than S1mple confirmed
2019-07-08 00:03
2019-07-08 01:38
ok now win major to prove you are really top 1
2019-07-08 00:03
Denmark devnr1
2019-07-08 00:04
Brazil hrp__
2019-07-08 00:05
God DaddyJonathan
2019-07-08 00:05
United Kingdom VOSSKi
2019-07-08 00:06
i think Professeur is a liquid fan.....
2019-07-08 00:08
You got this Liquid, Elige gonna get MVP in Berlin, second NA major in the bag :)
2019-07-08 00:10
My boy <3
2019-07-08 00:12
United Kingdom _xC4ctus
2019-07-08 00:13
not with Apex
2019-07-08 00:17
Happy | 
France Waiit
Apex is their second best player he just had a rough match
2019-07-08 00:30
Ok so he gotta step up the game RPK played good for his potential
2019-07-08 00:36
Happy | 
France Waiit
RpK is the kind of player who Can step up when it matters like on D2 Plus he's playing where people doesn't Want
2019-07-08 00:38
Brazil 1_Flippy
You deserve it Jon, i'm very happy for all Team Liquid players, they all deserve it! tenacity is always the key to succeed
2019-07-08 00:28
United States vaz
2019-07-08 00:31
So funny too see all these salty people that want Liquid to fail
2019-07-08 00:33
The greatest NA line up ever! But You maybe won this battle but you didnt win the war! VIVE VITALITY
2019-07-08 00:43
United States fade4182
2019-07-08 00:59
only time will tell, but vitality is such a good team while liquid has 5 crazy aimers with advanced teamwork..the real challenge for vitality when ppls start to study their game
2019-07-08 01:06
Syria LONE_8122
well said... everyone gangsta until ur demos are studied. just look at Astralis on Nuke
2019-07-08 01:32
...and again no question bout adren :( when are you gonna ask them bout adren's input? what he does, what he's involved in and how exactly he helps the team? hm.......
2019-07-08 01:00
Australia Irtiza
Check what twistzz said after the win +nitro praises adreN everytimr they win something
2019-07-08 01:52
Ya, i saw all those, but thought interviewers would have asked a solid amount of specific questions related to adreN's role, input, etc cause praising him doesnt actually answer any of the questions, but its fine, we'll see some other time maybe...
2019-07-08 03:56
United States ScanDull
Even Adren doesn't talk too much about what he's been doing as far as input and his role. I mean, if you saw them talking to him after the game, he didn't have a lot to say, so either he keeps what he does very secret or he just can't think of much to say about it. But maybe a level of secrecy isn't the worst thing in the world so other coaches don't necessarily catch on to how he does things. I don't know if that's the reason or what, though, so it's hard to say.
2019-07-08 04:11
Australia Irtiza
It might be zonic used to do the same some coaches are very reserved inside and outside the game others are like ynk and zews
2019-07-08 04:52
I agree. The interviews done are not so deep in game specifics. Which does not clear or give us hint about the actual things. I did not saw their behavior/talking after the game. Any link to this scene?
2019-07-09 08:56
I'm always curious because during time outs adreN isn't talking. Or if he does he says one quick thing and it's not caught on camera but it always seems like he sits there during time outs and keeps quiet. I wonder how much he provides during bootcamps or practice, etc. Stoked for the success they're having though.
2019-07-08 16:42
Bla bla bla
2019-07-08 03:41
Brazil Fauchard
2019-07-08 04:23
vberg | 
North America Mang0
"finally start having the success".. yea because they were such failures at the game before this
2019-07-08 04:30
Australia Irtiza
They weren’t?? Mostly 2nd places losing to astralis and destroying every other team is a failure?
2019-07-08 04:54
United States ScanDull
He was being sarcastic. But while they weren't total failures, I feel like Elige is right in saying they weren't really having the success they needed. I mean, think of how many times they just fell short of 1st and choked against other teams, especially Astralis. To be able to consistently break that trend at 4 big events this year, four IGS events in a row at that (I mean they lost at cs-summit but like only 10 people care about who wins that anyway) is really the success they've needed for a long time now, because being stuck as "almost the winner" was never enough, and it never will be for any team, though Vitality might very well step into that role now.
2019-07-08 16:11
2019-07-08 05:30
Cloud9 1 Major Liquit 0 Major
2019-07-08 06:41
major is all that matters, no major no truly top 1
2019-07-08 07:10
Liquid will not win major so no top1 sry
2019-07-08 07:25
Well atleast Elige is likeable person. I rather have liquid era than astralis era. Astralis is too good and boring at the same time. Meanwhile liquid each one of them can create game and insane plays.
2019-07-08 07:34
Belgium Miiyata
Anyone except that bullied out kid stewie. Give me 1 tournament against him and hé is hanging on a fence lol
2019-07-08 07:50
Stewie is always making plays for them wtf u on?
2019-07-08 08:13
why so mad at a single person? gesus christ
2019-07-08 09:32
Better win the major to destroy other teams. Let's goooo!
2019-07-08 09:30
Finland superturbo
You success only cuz Astralis slump. You're never nothing but #2.
2019-07-08 13:22
Wp . Excellent player.
2019-07-08 14:12
Liquid era has already started I definitely didn't think that a team would start such a dominance right after Astralis's end
2019-07-08 14:40
I don't think they're that dominant.
2019-07-09 01:51
Brazil Zippods
But they are tho, they barely lose any map against any other team, and when they do, it's really close
2019-07-15 00:35
Elige is a god with his perfect teammates.
2019-07-08 23:45
2019-07-09 05:05
such an incredibly pathetic speech! considering the fact that self confidence is the crucial aspect to succeed, there’s something else needed to prosper, to solidify one’s achievements and prove everyone including your rivals that you’re the best out of all teams and players, and you are able to dominate the game and start your long playing (pun) era. I’m not underrating these guys , they really deserve to be the champions of this season, but having only won a couple of tournaments, big and significant indeed, don’t make them the top dog at once. Team Liquid worked hard all the last years, deservingly approved themselves to be among leaders, but Elige and co. still have to work much more and harder to prove that their invincibility is valid, and liquid era will last for a very long period.
2019-07-10 06:20
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