adreN: "Do you know how some players have an ego? It's just not the case with oSee"
With the start of the PGL Antwerp Major upon us, Dust2.us' Ryan Friend managed to sit down with Liquid's coach Eric "adreN" Hoag. The two spoke about the issues within the North American Counter-Strike scene, how Josh "oSee" Ohm has been settling into this new iteration of Liquid, and how the team prepares for these big games.
So, we're at the Major, you're back with Liquid, there was that time where you were apart. How, and what, have you felt different in that time period while you were away and how have you grown and adapted?
Yeah, when I came back on Liquid, we still had some of the old problems we had while I was previously there. Some internal issues, team atmosphere issues, and with some players it was hard to work together, you feel like there are so many problems together and there are some things that you just don't agree on maybe. So, I think the biggest thing that went into this new roster was a better environment, a better atmosphere for the team because it plays such an important part in CS, you know? The ability to talk about your problems together. In terms of the environment and the culture within the team, we just wanted to have a more positive and more collaborative environment.
With the previous roster, it felt like you had too many individual stars, so with this new one were you looking to get not be the best individually skilled player but the best for the team overall?
Not specifically. I never felt like that with the old roster. I think for a period of time, we worked super well together, right? And I think we just hit a breaking point where we just needed something to change. Something needed to change to bring some hope and life into the team and we made the moves that we made for that reason.
How has Josh [oSee] settled into the team? What does he need to work on and do better or what is he already good at that you're surprised by?
He's a super-good communicator, his comms in-game are super impressive and how much he's talking and wanting to bring to the table. He's super hard-working, he has a great mind for the game so it's really nice when your AWPer has such an impact that he is able to pick his decisions and kind of dictate the pace. And we've been helping him with that as well, we don't want him to be a supportive AWPer all the time. We want to be like, "Where can we find impact for you?" and sometimes when I'm brainstorming ideas, I'll be like "Hey, we want you to think about T-side Mirage, where can you have impact in the middle of the round? Don't always think about how you're supporting us because it's the AWP and we need you to find impact and we want you to feel like you can have as much room as you want and we'll build you into the team that way". But yeah, he's been really good, super-nice, I couldn't ask for a better person to be honest.
This is obviously his biggest event ever, do you think that he feels any pressure since the rest of you are all veterans here?
He's always feeling calm, like from the outside, he's definitely always feeling calm, he's a beast. And he's very open to criticism too, and feedback, he always wants feedback. Do you know how some players have an ego? It's just not the case with oSee.
Your first game against G2, kind of a rough seeding...
Yeah we got screwed with the seeding going into the RMR. They put us 6th or something going into the RMR, and they put Party [Astronauts] in front of us. And they got knocked out in the first qualifier, that doesn't make any sense to me. It is what it is, we gotta win three matches so regardless, you've got to play whoever is in front of you.
What are you guys thinking heading into this one? What's the strategy, specifically, against G2? Are you trying to do a team-specific one or looking overall at yourself?
No, you always have to take into account what the other team is doing, their playstyle, there are some extremely different teams out there so you definitely have to adjust the way you play depending on who you're playing, right? Between, like, Cloud9 and other teams, there could be a drastic difference that you need to make sure you're doing. With G2, there weren't that many demos to review since they haven't been playing too much recently so there wasn't that much anti-stratting that we were trying to do because we're like "Hey, if they're continuing to play like this, these are the weaknesses that we see and we can call around that." Besides that, it's just the foundation we've been working on, you know? Making sure we have reactions and ideas flowing, going around, and we talk about those ideas. It's not like we're just thinking on the fly, it's things we've already drilled out.
So, I'm curious, when you're looking at these individual teams, we all see stats from HLTV, but in recent years, all these advanced metrics and programs that have been popping up, have you guys been using that? What do you think of those kinds of things?
I've been using Noesis which is basically like Shadow I guess, a cheaper version. I've started using it way more than I used to back in, like, 2020 or 2019, when I used to just use Rewind exclusively. And that tool is still amazing, I think it's the best tool out there still, but then Noesis has been letting me dive into grenades and stuff and seeing if I can find reads and stuff and that program is fast, for being able to find reads. So that's what I've been using.
So do you try and see any of the other matchups that people do and try to figure out their playstyles that way?
Yeah, we definitely look at that. That's more basic so I won't use that specific program for that. That's more of a generic thing like "Oh, they're smoking half-wall at Banana, what's the reaction? Do they test it? What are their solutions to their problems." So, yeah, we definitely look at that, but that's usually via Rewind usually. The deep-stats, I'm mostly looking at grenades, I'll glance over the positioning, the heatmaps and stuff, but you can usually get a quick feel on where someone likes to rotate.
I'm just curious about the advanced stats because there are so many advanced stats nerds that exist in NBA, MLB, and NFL, like do you see any utility in that or do you just look at HLTV and go "This is good enough"?
I don't actually look deep into just number stats, I don't, if someone wants to hit me up? I can see what you bring to the table. I don't even know what stats there are, maybe what bomb site they favor or I don't know.
You guys are one of the more favorite teams to come in here, the expectation at this stage is to advance, what do you realistically see as the best ending for this team at the Major?
I think we'd be super-happy with playoffs. To play at the arena is the goal, and it'd be a great stepping-stone for us. To expect anything more is a bit hard, we'd just be saying it to say it. We haven't even talked about this, honestly, we're just grinding, nobody even talks about "We're going to lift the trophy", we don't say that. We just work day-in, day-out. So yeah, from my perspective, the playoffs and playing on the stage.
So it's more of a long-term goal? You're grinding more together, you're getting more familiar and really establishing yourselves?
Yeah, we need the second round of this. The second Major. We just need a little consistency. The matches are feedback on how well we've been practicing so we just need to make sure that the things we've been doing make sense and then we can start building. It sucks to have one good event and then you drop off, then you can't work without that. So that's it, just building consistency is important.
And finally, a lot of talks have been had about saving North American CS, a lot of people have been calling out teams for trolling in scrims, for not taking the practice seriously. As a coach of a team that is expected to achieve such feats, how do you personally feel about it?
I think it's so many different things compounding. Like, we're not in NA to even scrim that often so they aren't able to scrim versus us and Complexity that often. We barely scrim those teams to be honest. So, the amount of chances they have to play against us or the better competition is rare, so they're playing against other teams that aren't that serious, or maybe scrims definitely get out of hand, someone's making "those peeks" because it's just practice so the discipline is hard to find. It's really hard to find very disciplined players and without the monetary backing, it's just a foundation of problems. It's tough to make a super-disciplined team with zero salaries playing against other, non-disciplined teams. They should try to be better though, if you want to be the best you gotta be the best. You have to do that stuff. A lack of age and experience, too, but how do you build that?
Liquid's start to the Major wasn't one to write home about, seeing the side fall 16-6 at the hands of G2. With one of the heavyweights behind them, Liquid will be feeling hopeful that they can still make it to the next stage of the tournament as they look forward to their second game.