Let’s start with the Rio Major. The team is moving forward with the same lineup after Rio. What was the team’s reasoning for sticking together?
Developing a really good team with the right fundamentals and the right system takes a good amount of time. What we had at the beginning of the year and last year wasn’t enough to build on. That's why we had to scrap most things and completely remake the system from the ground up, and we’ve done pretty well considering how much we’ve had to change in such a short amount of time.
I was feeling that we were well-prepared for the Major. We played really well in the bootcamp leading up to it. We felt like we had everything on the maps that we needed. We were a little weaker on some of the maps, but that's only natural. You’re not going to be feeling 100% on every map going into tournaments, and I think that we fluffed it under the pressure.
The performance of in-game leader nitr0 has drawn criticism since rejoining the lineup. How has he developed since returning, and what do you say to his critics?
Nick has been putting in a ton of work this year. The game changes at such a fast pace at the highest level. Even if you’re gone for a couple of months, let alone a year or two, you can feel really behind the meta. I think he’s done a good job of getting back to speed with it, and I think that being the in-game leader is going to make it harder to do really well on an individual basis. Overall, I think it's just about him getting more comfortable in the game.
After Rio, are there any doubts that this lineup can still win a big event together? Do you feel TL can still be as good as 2019 Liquid?
Yes, we are still a really good team. I feel that we’ve had good reads against most teams coming into the second half of the year. I think YEKINDAR has helped a lot with structure, but is also helping with individual skills. He has definitely given me more confidence because I feel like I lost my way a little bit at the end of the second half of last year up to the first half of this year. I felt like I was losing my identity as a player, like what my strengths are and weren't.
Through the work of my sports psychologist Jared Tendler and Mareks [YEKINDAR] as well, there's been a lot of things I’ve had to work on to get back to my previous confidence of how I used to do things. Especially with having Mareks, he's such a good influence on me because he works in a similar way I do. So, I think there are so many positives to this team that just need to be shown more. We just keep working harder, and we’ve been working so hard this second half of the year.
Given the gravity of the event, was it easy to separate yourself from the losses like in other events?
There have definitely been worse losses that I’ve had and felt worse about. I obviously took it very hard because I want to win, and I did everything that I could to win. But after everything was done, I knew that we were still on the right path. We are doing everything that is necessary. If you don’t trust the process, then it can feel like the world is shattering around you. I know that the process and the future path we are on is the right one, and I think we are doing the things necessary. For the future, I am feeling more positive coming off this loss compared to other ones in my career.
They say if you learn a lesson in defeat, then you have not lost. Were there any lessons from Rio that you can carry on?
I would say the biggest lesson from Rio is that we should do our best to come into it as hot as possible. The days prior to the match against MOUZ weren’t as optimal as they could have been. That was a big lesson to be learned, that the way you enter a tournament is important, and of course, you can come back from it, but that one could have helped us not feel like we were on the back foot for the entire Major.
Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to the EliGE and Liquid supporters out there during these trying times?
It definitely isn’t the end of the world. We of course didn't get the results we wanted at the Major, but the trajectory of the roster is up. I think we’ve been playing good CS, we have good structure, and our process is good, so everyone keep calm and trust the process. Thanks to everyone for supporting us, and for watching our games.
It’s all building up to this moment. Can Liquid learn from their past defeats and reach the top of the CS World? Tune into the BLAST World Final on Twitch or YouTube, starting December 14th.