Stewie2K about LAN return: "I'm looking forward to the screaming and the shouting"
Liquid players spoke to members of the media during a pre-event press conference on Monday, with the main talking point being IEM Cologne's LAN aspect.
Jake "Stewie2K" Yip, who was reinstated as the in-game leader of the team in May, talked about what excites him about IEM Cologne, saying that he is "looking forward to the screaming and the shouting" in the tournament area.
"I think that is an aspect that we are bringing back here at this LAN, where we are going to be in the same room, we are on the same playing field, it is not on the internet, it is LAN," the 23-year-old, known for his animated reactions, explained.
Despite the event feeling "more like a group stage", Stewie2K is looking forward to "being able to talk trash to the other team, celebrating as a team in the same room, and having the same competitive environment".
Following up on his teammate's answer, Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski added that games at IEM Cologne will have a higher meaning than those that were played online over the course of the last year and a half. "When you think back in a year or two from now, you are not going to remember that you won an online tournament, but you are going to remember the one that you won on LAN," he says, reminiscing of Liquid's strong run in from a couple of years back.
"When you do well at a LAN — as we did in 2019 —, the wins we had, you remember everything. The days you had, what you were feeling, all these little things - you don't have any of that when you win online. That is what I'm looking forward to."
When asked what they expect from Gambit, the world's best team with whom they could cross paths early in the tournament, Liquid members were confident that Dmitry "sh1ro" Sokolov and co. would do well under the conditions at hand. EliGE explained that it might've been different if the tournament was held in an arena filled with a crowd, as that introduces "a lot of different dynamics".
"Some of the things Astralis used to do back in the day [on LAN], for example, you can't do a clutch the same way you can online," EliGE says, bringing up Casper "cadiaN" Møller's 1v4 in the grand final of ESL Pro League S13 as an example of something that would never happen at a LAN with the crowd, who would give away the surprise.
"And there are a lot of rounds like that, you can't play clutches the same way that you do online. Xyp9x was super aware of that, Astralis as a team was really aware of that, they are throwing flashes just to see if the stage makes noise. They are in a 4v1, throw a flash at one side of the map, the whole stage rumbles, you figure out where he is. There is a lot of different things you have to adjust to and recognize in your gameplay." The 23-year-old concluded that it is going to take that kind of an event to see if Gambit can adjust, but a studio tournament such as IEM Cologne shouldn't be an issue for the Russians.
Quizzed by the press, the North American team revealed they did a "little pre-bootcamp" before IEM Cologne, spending about 10 days in total preparing on European soil, but don't feel a lot of pressure or see themselves as the favorites for the title.
"If we are coming into this expecting to win, I think that is kinda crazy, we don't have the resume in the past couple of months to have that type of an expectation. Gambit and NAVI should be coming here expecting to win," EliGE said when asked whether Liquid feel like they have to finish the season with a strong result.
"Any other team that isn't top-5 shouldn't have the expectations that they are going to win unless they just want to blow up after the tournament," the rifler expanded, adding that despite modest expectations, Liquid have the desire to do "super well".
Even if the worst happens and Liquid bow out early, EliGE is confident in the roster and doesn't expect changes in the offseason. "I think we have the best pieces we can get right now for our team and I think it can have long-term success."
Liquid, currently ranked No. 15 in the world, start the tournament on Thursday at 13:30 , when they will face fifth-ranked Ninjas in Pyjamas who stormed through the Play-In earlier in the week. Depending on the results of the initial matches, Stewie2K and co. will face either MOUZ or Gambit in their second game at IEM Cologne.