EliGE says the team feels confident heading into their match versus NAVI

EliGE: "Expectations for tournament results only set you up to fail"

After a slow start to the year, Liquid are looking to return to the top of their game.

Following a performance in the BLAST Premier Spring Groups that could only be described as disappointing, Liquid headed into IEM Katowice 2023 looking to prove that the result was merely a hiccup. An opening win over Mongolian side IHC has certainly eased things, but Liquid will face their first true test of the event tomorrow versus Ukrainian powerhouse NAVI.

After Liquid's win over IHC, Dust2.us' Liam "Slevo" Slevin caught Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski to discuss the match, how Liquid are approaching IEM Katowice, and how the team feels ahead of their match versus NAVI.

After a scary start to Inferno, you pulled through against IHC. What surprised you about their gameplan?

I didn't really feel surprised at all. We were really well prepped for them but I think we were failing individually in a lot of moments at the beginning of that and they were running away with the whole half. Luckily we were able to pull it together, we had a lot of tac pauses that I think had a lot of big impact. We were able to pull together and have a really strong start on our T-side and took it away.

It's been a bit of a slow start for you guys at Liquid coming out of BLAST Spring Groups. Tell me a bit about what has been going wrong.

It was pretty much just us starting a little too late into the season and adding a map that all of us have been permabanning for years so because of that, we have to put more focus onto that map. That means our stronger maps lost a little bit of flair, we didn't have as much practice on them. So that's kind of what happened that overall we were just lacking in a lot of our maps and our strengths got a lot less scary. In between BLAST and here, we were really focussing on our strengths in order to make sure we are winning our map pick and it's been turning out well.

You guys had a bit of a luxury, coming straight into groups rather than the Play-In like some of the other teams here. Do you think that benefitted you guys not having to jump straight into the Play-In?

I think that it benefitted us. I think that we really needed those couple of days. It wasn't a crazy amount of days, only three days of practice that we were able to do between the travel days so it was definitely helpful. If we did play the Play-In, we still would have gotten valuable match time, but I think it was really helpful for us not to have to do that.

oSee has been on the team for some time now. Some people in the community have questioned his form and level as an AWPer for the top tier. For you personally, what do you think is missing from his game at the moment to get him to that next level?

I would say confidence. I think him being confident, not just on his shots because he has really good aim but I think he is just overthinking things sometimes and he's not really confident even if he knows exactly what he should be doing when he has a good read on them, he is just doubting himself. I think that's been the one thing that has been plaguing him a little bit, but I think he has the potential. He has super good aim. I have seen Josh play a tonne, he has super nice flicks, he shoots well and he knows what he's doing. He just has to get that confidence back himself and just know that he knows what he is doing.

We've had a couple of interviews with you and you've mentioned about when YEKINDAR came into the team that you were moved from some spots on T-side. There didn't seem to be any struggles against IHC on the T-side so have there been some adjustments for you in those positions or are you just feeling more comfortable now?

We have changed a little bit since we started on the team, like Overpass I think we changed two spots, so I am playing A on Overpass which I am really comfortable playing that position. He has played more of a floating role which obviously has been really good for him because he gets to move around the map, he is really good at macro, and he is going everywhere. I think we found a good mix of where we want the roles to be on that map, and it kind of goes map by map with what's more comfortable. I think we changed to be more comfortable, and I think our T-sides have gotten better and now since the A one, it has been completely broken. It's been feeling a lot better.

For yourself and NAF, this year was one of the first years in a while that you guys missed out on the HLTV Top 20. I believe you were 22nd and NAF was 23rd. Do you think now that you have had YEKINDAR for a while, a bit more time to settle and get used to the team at the moment, do you think that this year you are going to be straight back in there?

I think so, yeah. When Mareks joined the team if that was January instead of July or August, then we probably would've gotten it. When you are so far behind the meta, just getting owned, just nothing going right, it's really hard and there are confidence issues that go along with that, and making sure we all get back to top form. I would expect us to be getting there, I think that we have those standards set for ourselves, and Keith and I have the ability because you specifically asked, but anyone on the team, we are all really capable of getting there.

You guys are going to have NaVi on the next match-up. Stylistically, tell me how you are feeling ahead of that game.

I feel good about it. Historically we have been playing really well against NaVi, in the past couple of months. They are turning up a little bit more for this tournament, and I think it was really impressive that they dominated Cloud 9 in the way they did, because I thought C9 would be doing a lot better. I think that it should be a good match-up for us, it's only a little scary for me because we didn't come out swinging super hard on Inferno and NaVi has made Inferno their home map this year. It's just going to have to be can we all get our stuff ready in time for their obvious map pick that's going to be coming unless they want to do something crazy, I mean, feel free, they can pick another map if they want but that's what's on us, we have to figure it out and show that we are ready in time for this match.

Since adding YEKINDAR, you have two final appearances. Here at IEM Katowice, what is the minimum bar that you have set as an expectation?

Honestly, we talked about expectations at the beginning of the year, but expectations for tournament results only set you up to fail, either you fall short of them and everyone is really upset or you pass forward and it doesn't really change anything because you already passed your expectations, it's not like you are going to be re-evaluating. I think the best thing is just to be living in the moment, and take things as it is, whatever happens, happens, and we are just going to keep learning, if it goes really well, it goes really well. We are just going to be taking each map however it goes.

Liquid will continue their IEM Katowice campaign today, with their match against NAVI scheduled for 01:30PM.

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