YEKINDAR on helping with strategy: "I have to do it because I want to win"

The Latvian rifler reflected on the IEM Rio Major ahead of his team's appearance at BLAST Premier Fall Final.

Liquid did not live up to expectations at the IEM Rio Major, considering they had gone into tournament as one of the favorites. A Legends Stage exit was not what was promised for a team that had just finished second at ESL Pro League, although they did post a competitive 2-3 record and suffered close best-of-three losses against Heroic and Spirit to crash out.

The BLAST Premier Fall Final is a chance for Liquid to get back on track and find the upward trajectory that they were on following the arrival of Mareks "⁠YEKINDAR⁠" Gaļinskis. Considering the wavering form of some of the other top teams in attendance, a win in Copenhagen is not out of the question.

YEKINDAR's addition revitalized Liquid, but the side disappointed at the Major in Brazil

With Liquid's opening game just around the corner, YEKINDAR sat down with HLTV to reflect on the North American squad's performance at the Major, his quest to find the right way to balance his roles within the squad, and how he felt about watching his former teammates lift the trophy in Rio de Janeiro.

First things first, what was the Major like from your perspective? Probably not the result you wanted?

We expected a higher placing, especially because of the form that we had before the tournament. We had a really good bootcamp, with good results and a good feeling. This tournament was one of the most competitive tournaments in the past couple of years because every team could have beaten every team. There was no clear favorite, everything came down to who's gonna have the better day or who is not gonna have the better day.

I think the most important match that we actually lost was the MOUZ one at the start, we weren't ready to play that day and we needed to change up our schedule before that match. It's whatever, we learned a lot from the Major, and the most important thing was the mental fortitude throughout the tournament. We were playing in the venue all of our games, the games against Heroic, NAVI and Spirit specifically were really… They gave me a really good understanding of what we need to work on and what's the good part about the team.

I saw that nobody forfeited, and everybody believed until the end. Even against Spirit, when we were losing that Ancient third map. On the T-side you could see that there was so much resilience from us. Even though we lost this tournament, we understand that it's a never-ending cycle, and we're going to have our chances later on. We're together since June, so it's not that long of a time and we know what to work on, that's the most important thing.

You said in an interview at Pro League that you don't like the favorites tag, which you had been given heading into the Americas RMR. For the Major. Considering your great form, you were put in that group of favorites alongside FaZe and NAVI. Do you think that had any impact on the team's performance? Like you say, you came in slow against MOUZ.

I'll rephrase what I said at Pro League: I don't like being called favorites at that time, after one second place finish in EPL. We got first in BLAST Groups, even though we lost to NAVI there. We got second place in EPL, but the teams that we won against were fnatic and MOUZ, right? And in Cologne, we got to quarters only, so putting us as favorites was not reasonable at that point. That's why I don't like the tag favorites. If you are calling someone favorites you have to have…

The evidence?

Yeah, exactly. Time will tell who are favorites and who are not favorites, who was favorite and who is gonna be the favorite, that was the main thing for me. I don't think it necessarily bothered me that people were considering us favorites, maybe someone else was overthinking it, but not me for sure. I don't think anyone from the team was thinking about that either.

YEKINDAR signed autographs for fans at the IEM Rio group stage in Riocentro

IEM Rio seemed like something of an off-event for you, personally. You went from a 1.16 average rating with Liquid before the Major to a 1.00 rating at the Major. Did it feel like a bad event to you?

Yeah, I actually wrote on Twitter after we went out of the tournament that I could have played better. I know I can play better. Personally, it's really hard to find the balance between investing into the macro of the team while focusing on your individual part of the team. I can't necessarily go full-macro because my individual skill will suffer. I'm trying to find the balance, the best that can work for the team.

Maybe I had the 1.00 rating, but I believe I gave my all to give my team the most chances to win, so I don't necessarily think I was playing that poorly. At the same time, I know I can play better.

You say that you're trying to find the balance between adding to the macro and then focusing on your own game. Are you vocal, then, in the game? Do you see yourself as a secondary caller?

Yeah, I used to be a secondary caller all the time throughout the last three years, so that's just something I do. Specifically, also here in Liquid, we got to a point where Nick [nitr0], me and daps work more on the macro, and when you work a lot on the macro you also have more opportunities to help the team during the game. That’s something that I am evolving into now, and as I said, it's just hard to find balance and hard to understand the strength and the capability that you have, and how to use it properly.

Does it add any pressure on you? I know a lot has been said publicly. daps said you were helping teach the team a lot and you said that you helped update the team on the meta when you first joined.

No, not really. daps or someone is not saying it to praise me, we're trying to be as open as the team wants to be to all of the fans. There's not specific pressure because I'm involved in the macro, it's more understanding that I have to do it because I want to win and I'm ambitious. I'm trying to give my all, and the whole team is trying to give it all to win. When you are trying to give it all, there is nothing that can break that confidence and break that belief in the team or in your personal self.

What are the plans moving forward? You've had some time to settle in Liquid and have played a few events, have you set goals and targets?

Until the end of the year we're just playing. This discussion will come for sure at the start of the next year, after the vacation. For the first six months we had our discussions about goals before, but the first six months are soon to end and we need to set new things. That's the plan.

Liquid will reassess their goals in the new year, according to YEKINDAR

For this tournament, specifically, do you have any goals or expectations?

We want to qualify for Abu Dhabi, obviously, I'm not sure how the points system is now but we will do our best to get the highest placing possible and if we qualify, we qualify. If we don't, it's gonna be the end of the year for us.

There's been a lot said about the lack of a clear No. 1 team right now. You said it yourself that the Major was incredibly competitive. Why do you think that is?

I think it's a matter of form basically, at the Major most of the favorites had different problems they were facing at similar times. FaZe came into a problem of how do they improve when everyone knows how they are playing, and how do they continue their domination. NAVI can't really find their game, right, all the talks about sdy leaving and whatever. Vitality is just a young team.

So all these favorites have different problems they are facing, while the so-called underdogs, like Outsiders, MOUZ, fnatic, Spirit, FURIA, they come into the tournament from the Challengers Stage and they have less invites. They don't have invites for BLAST, they don't have these tournaments in-between. They specifically train and practice for the Major, and they understand what they need to achieve and what they need to do, while all the favorites are facing a problem of going from tournament to tournament, then having to deal with problems in-between, and having less time to deal with them.

Obviously, I think it's totally deserved by all the underdog teams that were playing well there. Spirit, MOUZ, Outsiders, Heroic were performing really good. Time will show if the teams are ready to go onto the next step. For example, if Outsiders are ready to actually dominate. The main problem I feel like is that the end of the year is soon. It's gonna go into a vacation and they're gonna lose this momentum, that's the only problem, but I really believe in them and I'm super happy about them winning the Major because I know how much they work and I know how much they dreamed about it and how much they talked about the game. It's just super motivational.

Just to add a little extra question based on that point, were there any mixed feelings about seeing Outsiders win the Major? That used to be your team, and in a different world you might still be with them.

Obviously, at the very start, there were mixed feelings in a way because I thought that maybe I was the problem, but at the same time I was so happy for them. I sat down and I started thinking to myself, and then I came to the conclusion that it's not necessarily like that, if I wouldn't leave the team maybe they wouldn't win the tournament, I can't know specifically all the things that would or not happen. The only thing I can actually do is find motivation from their win and be happy for my friends for winning the tournament.

Latvia Mareks 'YEKINDAR' Gaļinskis
Mareks 'YEKINDAR' Gaļinskis
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Other Piano
great read
2022-11-22 15:29
10 replies
Agreed good article. Liquid WILL win Also wanted to add +shox and shit strats +yekindar (taught by Jame) and good strats CIS > EU ?
2022-11-22 15:31
7 replies
what if not? i aint confidient like i used to, chief
2022-11-22 15:32
but Outsiders won Major without his strat
2022-11-22 15:32
1 reply
Nice reading comprehension, my friend. Doubt that flag now.
2022-11-22 16:51
Holy cope
2022-11-22 15:34
CIS has been the best and strongest region for well over a year at this point.
2022-11-22 15:59
1 reply
Latvia Ke]R[4u
pretty much since covid started
2022-11-22 16:30
another alt zzz
2022-11-22 16:00
Epic | 
Europe _EpiC_
lmfao why leave outsiders then!!
2022-11-22 15:33
1 reply
He even said “i was the problem”
2022-11-22 15:35
want to win with Liquid kekw
2022-11-22 15:29
2 replies
cant even blame liquid, he played like a bot in major
2022-11-22 15:34
1 reply
Did you even read the article? Also, the team has choked every chance liquid had to win. Including EPL on vertigo
2022-11-22 15:42
Bulgaria vladimiroff
2022-11-22 15:29
2022-11-22 15:29
2 replies
nah he's good
2022-11-22 15:30
1 reply
good bot
2022-11-22 15:31
Finland Cucumber))
Maybe time for -nitr0 then
2022-11-22 15:29
Turkey bizonSX
-oSee + woxic and then TL win 1 billion Major thropies consecutively
2022-11-22 15:32
2 replies
sure, as soon as toxic woxic learns how to be a good teammate
2022-11-22 15:34
hades | 
North America minte
i would rather have Farlig than woxic
2022-11-22 16:54
He lost my respect after saying that he is smarter than everyone
2022-11-22 15:33
9 replies
where did he say this
2022-11-22 15:35
3 replies
1 reply
"I like to think"
2022-11-23 02:00
hopefully failing at Rio humbled him.
2022-11-22 15:35
Asia BzeeL
2022-11-22 15:41
Lmao the delusion is skyrocketing -All he does is press W -Smartest player
2022-11-22 16:11
Denmark ay4ka
He’s the smartest on his team for sure
2022-11-22 16:40
ropz | 
Slovakia nvrn06
2022-11-22 17:00
YEKINDAR: "I like to think I'm smarter than any other player in the world"
2022-11-22 15:35
2022-11-22 15:38
Liquid need to reach semis to surpass ence in rankings and qualify for world finals, fingers crossed they make it, praying on nip downfall also
2022-11-22 15:39
United States zovint
Water is wet unless paycheck stealer
2022-11-22 15:39
NA team cannot win and yekindar himself knows it best
2022-11-22 15:42
Croatia Leeibe
I like Yekindar and I'm glad he's on a team that more involved in content on the English side. Would like to have Elige step up more in the macro and give yekindar more freedom. I think its time for Elige to evolve a bit.
2022-11-22 15:42
Pakistan LoOuU2
Well he says that being the second caller and focusing on the team aspect affects his individuality , that tells us more about how much nitro as an IGL is less effective in the lineup. Still , what's the excuse for Elige's underperformance if he isn't even second calling and even has someone like Yekindar to bait now ?
2022-11-22 15:51
Want to win but join LUL quid and ditch JAME TO LOSE A CHANCE TO WIN A MAJOR. LOL XD
2022-11-22 15:59
3 replies
Want to win but join og and ditch his chance to make to the playoffs again. Lol. This team help with my individually, he said. But yekindar it is worse right ? 2-3 at legends vs 2-3 at challengers. Good career decision.
2022-11-22 16:39
2 replies
Denmark ay4ka
2022-11-22 16:46
1 reply
hades | 
North America minte
2022-11-22 16:55
yekindar is liquids core
2022-11-22 16:22
implying that nitro calls can't win games lmao
2022-11-22 16:40
In other words, they are awful like we all know they are so he has to pitch in to have the slightest of chances against EU teams
2022-11-22 16:48
8 replies
Basically implying they know jack shyte
2022-11-22 17:02
2 replies
Yeah lol
2022-11-22 18:49
1 reply
Official translation : " NA CS LUL "
2022-11-24 12:04
This isn't how that reads at all. Maybe English i sn't your strong suit I have no idea.
2022-11-22 18:43
4 replies
Well if he feels like he needs to give calls and recommend strats that means their system is flawed
2022-11-22 18:49
3 replies
I mean he says he's felt that way his entire career including within Jame's system?
2022-11-22 18:50
2 replies
Idk man that's what it sounds like to me. He knows more so he has to teach them
2022-11-22 18:56
1 reply
So him saying he's conducting himself the same way he's conducted himself in every team previous says to you there's something unique going on in this team? I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion. " I used to be a secondary caller all the time throughout the last three years, so that's just something I do. Specifically, also here in Liquid, we got to a point where Nick [nitr0], me and daps work more on the macro "
2022-11-22 18:58
hades | 
North America minte
we love YEKINDAR
2022-11-22 16:53
Wonder if they will -nitr0 and have one of the vets for yeki call for them
2022-11-22 16:54
Can't exactly say that modesty is his strong suit
2022-11-22 17:01
If he wanted to win he'd aim for a better team.
2022-11-22 17:09
5 replies
hades | 
North America minte
literally had nowhere else to go lmfao, and Liquid is not that bad, you people just have regional superiority delusions. -nitr0 and Liquid will win way more
2022-11-22 17:15
4 replies
goat2k is solution
2022-11-22 17:30
1 reply
hades | 
North America minte
i would rather have reltuC come back and igl than stewie
2022-11-22 17:42
The sad thing js you guys still thinking NA is relevant in any way. Is not "regional superiority delusions", you just suck
2022-11-22 19:43
1 reply
hades | 
North America minte
2/8 made me reply
2022-11-22 20:20
-nitr0, +jeorgesnorts Elige gets his big boy pants on to be fragging IGL (he's so smart?). oSee needs to play more aggro. Problem solved, pay me later
2022-11-22 18:00
ur just bad thats all
2022-11-22 18:03
so what's nitr0 doing in Liquid aftr all
2022-11-22 18:04
mhL | 
United States KadamJ
It's wild that so many people hate Yekindar now that he's on an NA team. Still a big fan and hope to see the team pull all the pieces together.
2022-11-22 18:46
1 reply
if that's your take you should probably read some more comments lol
2022-11-22 22:57
Sometimes looks like yekindar thinks that he is playing with some bots. Elige naf nitr0 they were one of the most dominant team in 2019 and team that won grand slam within 65 days. The only one who has less experience and game sens in comparison with yekindar is Osee but the other 3 is pretty experienced and skilled players, so yekindar should put his ego a bit down.
2022-11-22 19:37
1 reply
This dude is unbearable.
2022-11-22 23:28
You are on NA. Dont be like that and say you just wanna steal paychecks as everyone expects. No one goes to NA "cause I wanna win"
2022-11-22 19:41
NAF | 
United States Grimly
maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, liquid will win
2022-11-22 23:23
This guy has so much ego for a mediocre rifler.
2022-11-22 23:28
YEKINDAR doesn't do any of the stuff anymore that made him such beast in VP/Outsiders maybe it was all Jame...
2022-11-23 10:14
1 reply
He is still a beast, but yeah context is different. That said YEKINDAR himself confessed Jame is the most knowledgeable CS player he ever seen, especially when it comes to theory crafting etc. He said he leared tremendously from his time in VP thanks to this so...
2022-11-24 12:05
Egocentric and crybaby player, I don't know what was the reason for his leaving outsiders but he even paid to leave LOL, and he wants to win titles in 3 months? Only outsiders have made it xdd
2022-11-23 15:54
Official translation : " NA CS LUL "
2022-11-24 12:04
Yekindar Rules
2022-11-24 19:11
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