EliGE: "We actually scrapped everything that we had from before [IEM Cologne]"
Liquid went into 2022 with a new-look roster and hopes of a return to pre-pandemic form, but a tough start to the year has already resulted in a roster move in the form of Eric "adreN" Hoag and Richard "shox" Papillon's departure. At IEM Cologne, though, the majority-American squad recorded their best result of the season so far, defeating Cloud9, FURIA, and 00NATION in groups before falling at the hands of the charging Movistar Riders in the LANXESS arena.
And, with Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis keen on making his stand-in situation permanent, EliGE was full of praise for the Latvian and his impact on Liquid both inside-and-out of the game. He also commented on Liquid's season generally, speaking about Josh "oSee" Ohm's development, Nick "nitr0" Cannella's comfort levels with the CS:GO meta, as well as his thoughts on returning to less aggressive roles in the wake of YEKINDAR's arrival.
Just to start, how was the first half of the season for you? Are you generally happy going into the break after peaking at Cologne?
Yeah, I think that we've had very good progress, especially in the last month. I think that ending the season here [with a playoff run] is definitely on a really good note. I think that we've advanced very quickly in this last month and a half so I'm very happy with that. Especially going from the Dallas results to this result is obviously super good and with so little time that we've had to practise and get the structure we wanted. I think that it looks very good for us coming in after this player break.
How true was YEKINDAR's 150-hour comment?
We were definitely playing a lot, like at minimum we were playing about 10 or 11 hours a day and then very early Nick [nitr0], YEKINDAR and daps would stay after and help get the structure ready for an extra, an additional three hours a day on average after that already like 10-11 hour day for about the 10 days that we are practising. So we were putting in a ton of time to make sure that we had everything that we could come into it all, the different tools that we needed to have a successful event.
One thing about nitr0's calling because obviously he had quite a long time out of the meta — do you feel like this season he's progressed in a way where he's sort of back into it now for the second half of the year?
Yeah, I think that it's been a lot to learn especially for everyone really because it's been very difficult for us in the latter parts of last year and there's been just a ton of learning and especially YEKINDAR has helped a lot with that by helping us with the reads of different types of teams. I think that he's very well versed in how they like to structure their rounds that we weren't able to see as well, and I think that it's just been able to help a lot to get our macro back on the same page.
Is it the same for oSee? Do you think he's showing a steady progression and adapting well to tier one?
I think that it was just a matter of time for oSee, he plays a super good event, this one. People were just thinking that it was just the hype for a teammate but the level that I've seen from him just consistently, over time in practise, in these tournaments, I just think that it's very obvious to me that he's a really good player and has a lot of potential and he had a lot of huge rounds and huge moments this tournament. So I'm happy for him.
n0rb3r7 recently said how difficult it was for them to adapt to Jame's style because it's so complicated. What's that been like for YEKINDAR sort of doing the opposite, coming out of Jame's system after so long?
Well, he's definitely mentioned that there's a lot of structure on the Outsiders part of it and from our side we actually scrapped everything that we had before from the struggles that we had and I think that there's been a lot of positives and they have a lot of good reads from Outsiders that YEKINDAR's been able to bring over to our team, all the little micro details that you have in how you want to take map control, how you want to structure, the rounds, how you want to end them? How you're going to know, what type of late-round options that you'll have?
And, you know, that sounds... It's just very detailed, the way that is because it's obvious that you're gonna have those things, but just the way that you get them from the rounds, it just has a lot of detail to it and it's been a lot for everyone to learn and remember for sure that's why we started having printouts of all the calls, all the strategies, that we've had and it's been actually really nice if anyone needs to look at something real quick that they can and it's just been good for everyone, there's been a lot to learn from everyone's side.
Finally, one thing on your own role. For the start of this year, obviously you were much more aggressive compared to past years when you have someone like Stewie2k or TACO so do you think that even if it's not YEKINDAR long-term are you going to look for someone who's a bit more aggressive than shox to free you back into those old roles?
Yeah, I think that having an aggressive rifler definitely frees me up a lot on the T side of things, CT side as well, but I haven't really changed that many spots [on CT]. YEKINDAR pretty much slotted into every single spot that we needed on our CT side. But on T side it's definitely a weight lifted knowing that I don't have to make something happen every time. And YEKINDAR has a lot of good reads for what the defence of the CTs are and exactly what he wants and what needs to happen in those rounds. So having that voice especially helps a lot, not just being an aggressive rifler but having those reads that helps free up everyone. Mentally he's been a huge help.