Lucid: "I'm getting paid at Liquid about what [Orgless] were asking for"
In an interview at Fragadelphia 17: Chicago, Dust2.us' Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore met up with Liquid analyst Hunter "Lucid" Tucker to touch on a wide range of issues. The two discussed Lucid's time on both FPX and Liquid, his trial with Evil Geniuses, and his relationship with veteran IGL Damian "daps" Steele among many other topics.
To start, can you tell me a bit about how you linked up with FPX in mid-2021, and what it was like working with emi, STYKO, and Devilwalk?
So, the best way to approach getting analyst work in general, and the best approach that worked for me was starting with content. Being good friends with NartOutHere, the channel that everyone should go watch and subscribe to, really stepped me forward in actually being to showcase the things that I knew. From there I was able to get into contact with Devilwalk, we chatted, talked about the philosophy of our games, and we kind of aligned in what we saw, and from there I was able to start doing some trials with them for EPL Season 15, I believe it was. After the trial everything went smooth, and I was able to join on board with FPX. Devilwalk, emi, and STYKO are some of the smartest people I've met in CS, to be completely honest, and the things that I was able to learn while working with an overseas team, was pretty incredible, especially from some of the top teams like Astralis and Heroic, they would always bring some innovative stuff to practice and that was great to see.
FPX has now come to be revealed as a team rife with problems from the managerial side. Did you ever experience some of the more rough sides of working with that organization?
I wouldn't say I really experienced too much that was dramatically rough, but I definitely did have a pretty heavy workload while at FPX, and someone working from NA having to keep charts of data and provide reports to the management each week and stuff like that was a bit taxing, I will say. But, as far as having engagement with the management, I didn't have any serious problems. As soon as I left, obviously, I'd known about the issues from talking with Devilwalk and our general manager peca, I knew some of the restrictions that we were under, but I didn't expect after everything to fold like a house of cards the way it did, to be honest.
What were those restrictions or issues with the FPX management that you were aware of?
Well, one of the biggest challenges that we consistently had was just working from all different sorts of timezones. For me, I'm in the US, the headquarters for FPX are in China, and then the team is in Europe, so there's a dramatic time difference between one point to the next point to the next point. That always created some confusion with how things were going.The other problem when I was on FPX, it was obviously during the COVID era of CS, so there with challenges with, okay we're in Europe and we need a bootcamp, but there's problems with that, and then we have to communicate that with the Asian company, and then how does that involve me as the US, am I able to go, am I not able to go. I also had personal passport issues during the COVID times, so I wasn't really able to attend too many of the European events that I would have liked to, and it was just challenging due to the circumstances that were going on at the time.
Post-FPX, you ended up being the coach of daps' Orgless project. How did you get in contact with daps and then how did you guys build the roster out from there?
So, I actually trialed with EG when they got 0-3'd at the Stockholm Major, and that's when I ended up meeting daps. We built a really good relationship, again saw the game the same way. From there, we just became friends in all honesty, and we're still friends to this day even after I had left, daps is a great guy. From there, we kinda, I'll be honest got a little bit scummed by EG, and obviously, there's all the stories that come out with EG and the situations there and the management there, and I would say that's probably a bigger issue than FPX. But, essentially, we didn't see eye-to-eye with the management at EG, and they didn't really like the vision that we saw for EG, so we both went our separate ways. We were starting out with RUSH, if those remember that was the original report that we were starting out with RUSH, and that's because daps and RUSH had a good relationship and I had a good relationship with both of them. So we started as a trio with us three, and then built from there the original Orgless lineup, with Swisher, Minus, and Infinite.
Discussing those issues with Evil Geniuses, it sounds like at one point you were gonna be tapped for a permanent position with Evil Geniuses. Was that ever in the cards to have something built around daps that you would have been a part of?
Yeah, it was actually, but not for a very dramatic role. daps did actually want me to be the head coach at one brief point during those talks. Obviously, with my inexperience, which I know I still need to gain, I understand that I'm young, I'm only 21, so I have a lot of time left to learn and develop my own coaching style, so I wasn't too heartbroken about that, but it was in consideration at one point. The main thing was that they were really hellbent on getting Stewie2K, and for us, we wanted Stewie2K, but we didn't want him in an IGL capacity, and we didn't want the price that we knew would come with Stewie2K. It was just a difference of the direction they wanted to go, based off the direction that we wanted to go, and it's just business you know, it's a business at the end of the day.
Knowing daps vision for the team, do you think they made a mistake going with the Stewie2K squad?
I think it's hard to say that they made a mistake going with the Stewie2K squad because there's so many circumstances that I don't know that happened in EG. There's obviously the dirty laundry they've aired out between EVY, and I know EVY and Stewie2K, and I think some of it is overblown from both ends, to be honest, it's usually in the middle, the median of where the conflict is. Considering the lineup that we proposed, I think we would have definitely had a better chance of having more firepower and just a better overall system than what ended up happening at the end of the day.
Orgless only existed for around three months before folding, and one of the reasons daps mentioned was that he wasn't able to find the level of support from organizations that he was expecting. Do you think that the team's expectations were too high relative to reality?
It's hard to say that we were asking for too much, especially with the expertise of having daps in your project, right. Someone that's famed for building rosters and always proving his track record of getting success out of it. I'll be honest, we talked a lot about numbers and what we expected, and we weren't asking for anything ridiculous, like I'm getting paid at Liquid about what we were asking for, right now. That's as an analyst, not even as a player, and obviously, players get paid more, so for me, I think the major issue is that there's just not enough marketability for the rosters to really warrant any sort of price currently. I think that's where the first steps really need to come, is each team needs to become more marketable themselves, the leagues they play need to become more marketable, and once you start building up the marketability and orgs can see "Hey this is something that is actually promotional for us", instead of just something that's kind of off to the side, you'll start to see more teams signed for bigger and bigger contracts again.
At the time, you posted a TwitLonger saying that there was a good chance you'd be leaving CS:GO esports at least for the time being due to college and work and money and all those real-life factors. What brought you back into esports and to join up with Liquid?
Luckily enough for me, I didn't have to wait too long. I was planning out how I'm gonna leave and what I need to do as far as getting my college finished and getting a job, and really stabilizing myself, and luckily for me, I had good contacts with Liquid because I knew oSee. Because of that I was able to get in contact with adreN pretty early on, and then ironically enough I trialed with Liquid at EPL Season 16 and everything just clicked. I was able to bounce back much faster than I imagined I would be able to, and because of that, I was able to put everything in real life on hold again, partially. I'm still taking care of some stuff, I'm working on moving and figuring out where to move actually, but because of the financial stability I'm getting from Liquid, it will let me focus on that again.
What is your appraisal of Liquid's issues as a lineup, and what do you think needs to click to make them reach their potential?
So, I think it's no secret that Liquid has the firepower to be a top team. The main issue and the main thing that's always plagued Liquid has been the mentality, and there's talks about how we're gonna address that and the approach to that. I've been reading myself, trying to learn more about the issues that are there and how we can work on it as well. But if we're able to get the mentality fixed more, and be able to stabilize your emotions a bit better, all it will take then is a little bit of momentum. Some of the maps that we have I don't think are as bad as our stats show. In reality, if we were able to get a couple big wins on them, like that Dust2 against Vitality at the Major would've been nice, would've been nice to beat them on Mirage as well, if we're able to get a couple of those key wins and really start building on what we already have, I think you'll start to see a much more dominant and powerhouse Liquid.
Circling back a little bit to what we were talking about earlier with Evil Geniuses, a big part of the overall scandal that was emerging with that team is how Hepa and EVY both found out they were fired over Twitter. Do you think that's par for the course for Evil Geniuses' management, and what do you think led to such a sudden cut-off for those two?
I wouldn't say it's par for the course for the management, because I would never base my judgment of an org based off of one situation. Obviously, the situation wasn't pretty, and as an employer you should definitely let your employees know ahead of time instead of a public statement, I thought that was wrong. I'm friends with their general manager, and I let him know that I thought that was wrong for the future, because I have to keep my options open obviously, EG is a great organization and a place that would be fine to go to in the future, so being friends there and keeping connections strong is important. In all honesty, the thing that really messed with me with that is the information that came out after the fact, and then realizing that they let the coaching staff go instead of biting the bullet and saying "Our star player wasn't the star that we imagined he would be", was the biggest concern to me.
Looking towards the NA scene as a whole, all three major NA teams, EG, Complexity, and Liquid, have largely struck out with their new rosters. Is there some connective tissue you see between the three teams about why all three are failing to break out and find success?
Well, first of all, we do have restrictions on our end, where we have to practice in NA for a certain amount of time. Obviously, we all have families in North America that we want to come home to. It's not like Europe where you get to stay there 365 days a year, and if you just think about the level of competition and practice that Europeans will get to play against consistently. Like, the tenth-best team in the world is European, right, the 20th-best team in the world is probably European. As you go down the line you have maybe 30-35 teams that are good quality practice every single day, compared to NA where it's far and few between. Even then, when the NA teams do come home, we're not that focused on practice. We're home to spend time with our families and recuperate a little bit because we just spent three months in Europe grinding it out and trying to improve. While we are still practicing and working as hard as we can to get better, it's a little harder to come from that environment working as hard as we can, finally getting home and getting to see our family, and on top of that deal with some of the issues that you'll see in North American practice.
So for the last question, we've seen that two really big issues for North American teams as they've been trying to build successful lineups is the lack of IGLs and the lack of AWPers. Which one do you think is more critical that we need to address for NA's future?
Lack of IGLs, because an IGL would be able to develop a poor AWPer into a becoming a better AWPer. If we have a bunch of talented AWPers, there's not enough space on top teams to fill them all. If we have a bunch of talented IGLs, they can increase the amount of competitive teams that we have in North America, so if you just look at it from that standpoint, logically if we increase the IGL pool, and increase the amount of teams that are practicing good CS, not only will it increase the top, because we have more of an area to float once we're here. It'll also increase the bottom and bring more teams into the competitive sphere, that will be able to go international and be able to compete. We're starting to see it, with stamina in Strife, and teams like that, it's being built, and it's a slow process, and COVID definitely didn't help, and there's all sorts of factors that have limited NA for the past couple years, but the health is growing and we're improving in the region, and that's the only thing that really matters.
Shortly after this interview was conducted, Liquid announced the benching of Richard "shox" Papillon and coach Eric "adreN" Hoag before announcing the hiring of Damian "daps" Steele as coach the next day. Lucid and daps will be working hard over the next few weeks to get the team ready for IEM Cologne, which begins on July 7th.