Liquid face off against MIBR in an elimination match

EliGE: "I feel a lot of pressure, especially since the Major"

The Liquid veteran discussed the teams mentally around the uncertainty of the roster.

Following their win over Imperial during day two of IEM Dallas, Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore had a chance to speak with Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski. The two spoke about beating Imperial, EliGE's efforts to rebuild his confidence, and the team's efforts to continue improving in the leadup to Cologne, among other topics.

To start, how did it feel to take down Imperial in a pretty one-sided fashion? Did it take a weight off to shoulder to beat them after the loss at the Major?

It definitely feels good, getting any win under our belt gets us a lot of confidence. Since they beat Cloud9, but we just lost to Cloud9 I'm not really sure who's better. Maybe we're better than Cloud9 because we 2-0'd Imperial and they beat Cloud9 2-1. Usually, results have that transitive thing that this team beats this team beats this. So I don't know, but it feels good.

As you continue your run towards the main stage in Dallas, adreN told us at the Major that burnout was a big issue for Liquid and that it was affecting the team's performance and mental game. Liquid did do a lot of travel in the leadup to the Major with the bootcamp in the Netherlands, the RMR, and the Major. Has it been good to return home and decamp in NA?

It feels good I guess, I actually haven't felt much burnout at all this year. Last year kind of sucked because you didn't know when it was going to end and they said the schedule would be better this year. Pretty much it has been the same schedule or arguably worse but overall I haven't felt too much burnout personally but I know other people have felt a little more burnout. I know shox has been traveling pretty much nonstop for the entire year so it's been hitting him a little bit harder. It probably felt good for him.

Has the travel been a big struggle for shox with him having his family back in France?

It is definitely really hard and we actually planned for him to move to NA because the schedule that the TOs provided was a lot more NA based and then that completely changed and we ended up staying in Europe the whole time. Where that kind of screws with us is when we had to come back home and play the NA qualifiers for the RMR, since he's not moved so he doesn't have any time to decompress in between events. So, when we played the Dallas qualifiers and the BLAST Showdown, he had to still travel away from home to NA to play those. For shox it's pretty much nonstop.

Playing open qualifiers, and qualifiers in general, is a pretty big change for you especially as Liquid was previously consistently invited to all events. Was that a bit annoying to have to do all this extra travel to play these qualifiers?

I guess so but not really. The only thing was the Major, having to go through that circuit again, but everyone had to do that. That was the only thing that felt kind of weird but I mean we've done qualifiers in the past. In 2019, when we weren't going to go to Cologne and then we were like "oh let's go to Cologne", and we had to play the qualifier.

Another point adreN brought up in relation to this event that I found interesting, was that he described the team as needing to "go back to the drawing board" following the 0-3 exit from the Major Legends Stage. With this event coming right after the Major, was the team able to make any significant changes to try and improve the overall performance?

Honestly, not really. We haven't got too much through it since the Major was so close to Dallas. There wasn't that much time and I think most people have been taking the time to decompress. I've been personally trying to play as much as I can and get back to feeling more confident in myself. I've been talking to our old sports psychologist that we had in the past that I felt really comfortable with and got a lot of work done with. I've been trying to do as much as I can individually.

Did the 0-3 result in the Legends Stage shake the team's confidence, especially you as an individual player as your performance was uncharacteristically poor?

It's definitely been difficult. Coming off of last year was really difficult and it takes a lot of time to be able to get back to the level of confidence and mental toughness that I've had in the past. It was really tough because in Antwerp I didn't have a lot of confidence and I have a big responsibility to be the super aggro guy if I'm not feeling it.

The mental game has historically been a struggle for Liquid throughout history. Is having the classic trio of nitr0, you, and adreN helped with your confidence after 2021?

It definitely helps, I think nitr0 is a really good people person and he helps a lot. But, with the mental game, things are always changing like the reasons why certain things happen now compared to back then and you have to address them in different ways. That's why I felt like I wanted more help in my circle and to work with a sports psychologist and what more we can do there.

In Bucharest you said the team was still in a building phase. Do you think that is still true post-Major and when is the team going to reach its potential?

Honestly I'm not really sure how to answer this question.

Would you say it's still a work in progress?

Yeah I would say it's a work in progress, things aren't just going to light switch and everything is going to work. Whatever the case is, there are going to be things that we have to work on and get our confidence back where we have confidence in the scrims and have a good bootcamp before Cologne. We need to get some good rounds under our belt so we know what we're going to be doing in-game.

Is there any unique pressure you feel as Liquid's star and more tenured player to deliver results especially as the last few roster moves haven't been massive successes?

I feel a lot of pressure, especially since the Major... well not since the Major but also even before. I feel like I have a lot of pressure and responsibility and it's been really tough. That's something that I'm going to keep working on and see what more we can do overall to alleviate that.

As you progress through the tournament, your next opponents will be BIG/MIBR and then Cloud9/NIP. BIG is still a relatively new squad while NIP has ztr standing in for hampus. Do you think you have the toolbox to beat BIG and NIP, should that be the final barrier to playoffs?

I think anything can happen. If we come out like we did today against Imperial. Imperial had better results than us at the Major and beat Cloud9 which is a pretty big feat. We just got owned by C9 so I mean that is a big confidence booster because Imperial took down C9 and we took down Imperial. If it ends up being NIP, they have a stand-in and hampus is obviously a really integral piece to the roster. For BIG, I've always felt pretty confident stylistically playing against them and that I do whatever I can to feel confident going into those matches and in the plays I make against them.

While, there are a lot of teams here with stand-ins or who were invited last minute, pundits, in general, have said this is an era of uncertainty outside of FaZe due to a lot of teams having issues or deficiencies. Do you agree with this sentiment that the top tier of teams is really fluid?

It's hard to say because any time there's not a definitive era of one team winning all the tournaments, (pundits) are going to call any of those times uncertainty eras. So you have to wait and see whoever wins a couple of tournaments in a row. It's similar to Astralis in 2018 where Astralis is the clear top dog and everyone is trying to figure out what they can do and switch it up to beat them. I would consider that the same like before NAVI, FaZe pretty much did that, and now FaZe is clearly ahead and the best team, everyone is going to be doing the same thing for FaZe.

Do you think this FaZe lineup to be untouchable in the same way your old rivals Astralis were in 2018?

I definitely think that they are the best team right now, but I don't think they are at that point, they need to win more tournaments in a row and have it be a bit longer. The way that they play is a lot scrappier than Astralis when it was more passive back in the day where FaZe is not afraid to get into scrappy fights, duels, and to trade rounds back and forth to test people's confidence and stuff like that. I think we're going to have to wait to see what FaZe can do.

Liquid will fight for their place in Dallas today at 12:00PM against MIBR who been a hard opponent to beat despite having their coach stand-in.

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