YEKINDAR: "People are going to notice a different style that we're going to play"
HLTV was able to catch up with the Latvian entry fragger the day before the BLAST.tv Paris Major begins.
The North American roster were the favorites to take home the lone Legends Stage spot up for grabs at the Americas RMR in Mexico, but faltered in their mission to bypass the inaugural phase of play after a 1-2 defeat to FURIA in the 2-0 pool.
Liquid have had just under a month's worth of time to prepare for CS:GO's last-ever Major, even opting to skip IEM Rio in a bid to be in tip-top shape for what will likely be the most important event in Counter-Strike's 2023 calendar.
|BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023 Challengers Stage|
HLTV managed to sit down with Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis before the $1,250,000 tournament in France begins. The Latvian spoke about Liquid's rigorous preparation heading into the event, how the team's mentality is currently after a relatively lackluster start to the year, and how they fancy their chances against Apeks in the opening round.
We're here at the start of the BLAST Major on media day. Can you walk me through getting here and how the team is feeling after a bit of a break since the RMR?
Obviously, we had some disappointing results starting from Pro League, the BLAST qualifier for Washington, then the RMR we lost to FURIA for the match to possibly get into the Legends spot later.
We finally had a great two week bootcamp in Amsterdam before this event, and we all feel pretty confident because this was our first complete bootcamp where we could work on maps and get ready both with comfort in our game and also do the needed changes for the problems that we experienced during EPL, the BLAST qualifier, and the RMR. We feel really good before this tournament, but obviously this is a Major, this is a different environment than a usual tournament would be. I think it's going to be a great event for us, but at the same time, you never know.
Can you tell me more about that practice? NAF had mentioned that you only had one bootcamp in Katowice for a week at the start of the year, so this is the first time you've had a good extensive bootcamp in Europe in quite a while. Ahead of the Major, what was the work like there?
First of all we had to look through all the maps, completely remove things that we don't need or that didn't work, and add new things and a new style to our game. I think people are going to notice a different style that we're going to play.
I can even tell you the schedule, it was two hours theory, six scrims, and afterward review and also some theory time after. So it was a pretty tough bootcamp I would say, with a lot of mistake-fixing, and a lot of encounters of new experiences and new roles. I personally think that it was a really great experience and really good preparation for this tournament, and I think it's going to show.
Talking about the inconsistent form that Liquid has had recently, does that come down to the lack of practice in Europe? NAF said the mood in the team has been good, so what had gone on with that from your end?
Personally I think we made some wrong decisions with how much we wanted to play separately, Europe plus NA, how little time we had at an actual European bootcamp. Obviously there were reasons for that, but as you can see it showcased in different other tournaments. In BLAST Showdown we played from home, which was something that also didn't work out, so we understand that the main problem was probably bootcamps.
If we compare for example from last year, before big tournaments, we had one-and-a-half or two-week bootcamps, and I think that is the main thing that allowed us to get high placings and good results. So we're in a good mood after a great bootcamp, and let's see if that was the problem.
Is the plan then to have more bootcamps going into the second half of the year?
Not necessarily more bootcamps. There were reasons for not having bootcamps, and now since some of the problems are resolved and some of the things are resolved, I think we're going to be in the same rhythm that we were in the last year.
If we look back to the last Major, it didn't go that well for Liquid, just considering you didn't make the playoffs. Coming in here, what's the mentality like? I'm sure the goal is to win it in the end, but what's the approach you're taking?
We're going step by step. Last Major there were things to think about, some role clashes and some calling clashes and whatever. The Major was four or five months in after me and daps joining, so it was a time where you're already kinda out of the honeymoon phase. The old game is not necessarily working cause people now know how you're playing and then you have to adapt, you have to change the game, and the adaptation process is never easy. I think now when we're already almost maybe a year together, practicing for nine or ten months, we finally came to some form of consistency, which is something that allows us to be more confident in ourselves, more confident in our individual skill, and more confident in our teamwork and our gameplay.
This bootcamp actually showcased with some good results in it, but we have an inside joke that usually our worst bootcamps are the ones where we go really good, and this bootcamp was... it was good, it could be promising, but at the same time it could be like oh okay, we just didn't encounter problems that we could face in this tournament.
You touched on a lot of theory work you did at the bootcamp, how much importance do you place in being able to spend a lot more time on that? In a VLOG with Jame you talked about needing to bring the team up to speed on some stuff when you joined, so what has the emphasis on that been like for you?
I mean, I'm ready to work, obviously I want to win and all my teammates want to win. We're just trying our best and we're spending the necessary time on theory, cause in the end scrims don't necessarily matter that much. It's more for trying things out and keeping your individual form up, but theory is where everything is born, everything is created. We could've stayed until 1 or 2 AM during the bootcamp and talked about maps to afterward present them to the other players and to talk about them, right? It's a long process of work, but at the same time nothing can be better than seeing that work helped you and that you actually play better.
Just going back one second, you said you had this joke about your worst bootcamp being the best practice or something along those lines. You also said that this was a good bootcamp this time around, so what would the difference be between those for you, do you mean in terms of the level you were playing at or what?
It's more do people remember their roles, are people confident individually, are we good in clutches in scrims? I think that is really an important way to see how good you are. In this case, yes there were some... because there are new things, there are new roles and whatever, it was kind of sketchy sometimes. But at the same time, I would not say this was a super good bootcamp. We had a super good bootcamp before Rio, and we played bad, but here we had truly tons of work, but at the same time everybody was performing and playing their own strengths and level, and that was what made the bootcamp good.
Heading into your first match, you're playing against Apeks. How do you feel about that matchup being your first one at the Major?
If Apeks is here, they're a good team obviously. I feel like at Majors, there are always upsets, RMRs, Majors, best-of-ones and everything. So we will be ready for them, and we're going to be ready to play the maps that come through. We obviously respect every team in this tournament and we're just going to try to play out best and win against them.