NAF on individual awards: "In terms of top 20 and all that s*** [...] it's whatever to me"
After battling Spirit in an incredibly tough series, North America's top team has the honor of playing against FaZe. The vicory against the Russian side puts Liquid in prime position to make it into the Spodek Arena at IEM Katowice. Keith "NAF" Markovic spoke with Dust2.us' Liam "Slevo" Slevin late after midnight to discuss the match, his individual accomplishments, and the rest of North American CS.
Long day at the office with the last series of the day. Tell me about that Spirit series and how it went from your perspective.
Our first game was Nuke, which was their pick of course. We were expecting that their pick would be Nuke, or that one of the picks would be Nuke so they landed on it. We started off pretty strong, and I think that the big reason we were able to actually come up with a win in the end was the clutches. I think I was able to win two clutch rounds and that hero molotov on the very last round. I think there were some other key rounds, like with oSee getting two kills in heaven, and we were able to bring it back. There were a lot of clutch rounds out of everybody on Nuke which was a big reason why we were able to win. We closed out Nuke with the win so that made us pretty confident going into Overpass.
Going into Overpass we were feeling pretty strong, we started 8-7 and Overpass is a very CT-sided map in my opinion, so we were pretty confident going into the second half. During the second half we actually had a lot of the reads on them with the plays that they were actually doing. We just fumbled it and in the very end they were able to squeak the rounds out, and they were able to come back and win. I think, honestly, on Overpass, we just lost to ourselves and a lot of it was unlucky, I guess. We felt like we were reading them so well and we were losing, so it didn't make too much sense. I have to give them props on Overpass with the comeback. Anubis has been a hit-or-miss map for us a little bit from playing it. At the start it was a little shaky - we just needed to find a way to get some rounds. I picked up the double AWP, I was able to have a huge impact in one round and we were able to string a few rounds together. I think Anubis is a little more T-sided and going onto the T-side we were very confident in our gameplan. I think when we were playing we saw that they were making a lot of individual mistakes so they weren't really comfortable in my opinion and as I was playing I felt they were very uncomfortable. I think we were able to snowball it and have the right reads, and they were uncomfortable so they didn't really have any answers so in the end we were able to win it.
Anubis was the closer today and Anubis was the closer yesterday against NAVI. Losing that close game to NAVI and coming back in knowing it's do or die at this point, what was the mood like in the team after losing that game?
I remember we started off on the first map of Inferno against NAVI, and there were a lot of individual teamplay mistakes. I remember some rounds I was peeking too much when they were too passive, then I started playing passive and they were peeking too much, especially on the A bombsite. A lot of us weren't on the same page and Inferno felt like a blur to us, it just didn't go our way at all. On Anubis, I can't really recall too many of the rounds too much but yeah it was a close game. I remember YEKINDAR had an insane 1v3 ace clutch. I think Anubis was another game that we should've won, but you know NAVI they are playing well, they are starting to get a grip on things playing with npl and all that so you have to give props to NAVI played really well during that time so hopefully, we can go deeper and maybe find some revenge.
You're going to be taking on your former teammate Twistzz for that last spot in the arena. Tell me, is there a lot of pressure on that game, knowing what they are fighting for with the Intel Grand Slam and what's at stake?
Yeah I think the pressure is on FaZe. I think this is their opportunity to claim the Grand Slam. Of course, they have other opportunities but I think winning it in Katowice would feel great for them. It's hard to maintain form and consistency being on the top most of the time even though they are not maybe top 1 right now, but they are a top 3 team in my opinion. For them, they've been doing this for a long time, they've been a top 3 team for like, forever now. I think they're going to have to be able to come up and show their A game, because I am sure that soon enough it's going to slow down for them because like I said, they've had a lot of longevity in the top 3, top 1. We will just have to wait and see. I get to go and play Twistzz, my fellow Canadian. It's a sad way to kick one of us out, I wish we could both go through so yeah we will just have to wait and see I guess and yeah, we will see how it goes.
Another former teammate of yours is Grim on Complexity. At the moment they've been performing pretty well and at the moment they are still alive here. What are your thoughts on the progress that Complexity has made, keeping up the NA level at this time with you guys?
Honestly huge props and respect to Complexity. I think they are starting to turn a new page in their team in how they play and all that. I think they're playing well and that they were just unfortunate at BLAST. I feel like they actually should have qualified when they were up versus NAVI on the last map where they should have maybe had that spot going into the Washington event. The Major unfortunately, the Major qualifier, the RMR they slipped up even though it was really close games - it was really unfortunate. At the end of the day, I think they are playing great and I know that they are doing well. They're putting a lot of work in so I hope Complexity and Jason Lake trust the process with Complexity and keep supporting them because you know in North America it's tough for all of us to be spending most of our lives in Europe. At the end of the day I see them working hard. I talk a lot with Grim and a lot of their players about what they are doing so I hope they keep grinding and Complexity is always there to support them. I think they are capable of almost becoming a top 10 team at the very least and who knows where they can go from there.
For yourself and EliGE, I mentioned it to him in our interview the other day that you were 23rd on the HLTV top 20 and he was 22nd just missing it out. Is that the goal and expectation that you guys will be back into that top 20 at the end of the year with your personal form?
I'm always going to try my best and give it my all, but I feel like I am very limited in what I can do compared to back in the day when I was a top 20 player in like 2019 and all that and in 2021. I felt like there was a lot more freedom for me individually to do a lot more things, whereas with this one I am more following a code and following a way which the team wants to play, with how nitr0 wants to play, how YEKINDAR wants to play. I don't really have any individual plays for myself, but I want my way of thinking to be the same way as YEKINDAR's and nitr0's. I want to be on their page to play the game and as long as we're all on the same page, that's how we're going to win it as a team. At the end of the day, I am going to do my job lurking and anchoring bombsites, just doing my thing and getting the kills I need to do. In terms of top 20 and all that shit, to be honest it's whatever to me. I'm just here to win, I want trophies and it's been too long since I've had a trophy so I'm just going to do whatever I can to win. I am just going to do everything I can and we will just have to wait and see what happens.
So you don't really care about the personal stuff, but as you said you want to get on the same page as the team. Is the goal that trophy now that you've had the two finals appearances back at BLAST and at EPL?
Yeah of course we've been so close at times, especially like the EPL final, we definitely should have won that on Overpass. We just choked it in the end unfortunately and at BLAST G2 was playing phenomenally so they just outplayed us so we can't really give anything there. I'm just going to keep doing my thing and hopefully get some trophies. That's the only thing that I am going to remember and people are going to remember is the trophies. Those are the most important things, not individual awards. At the end of the day it's nice to remind yourself how good you're playing with HLTV or whatever awards they want to give out to remind you how good of a player you are. At the end of the day, I know what kind of a player I am and I don't really give a shit if an award tells me that.
NAF and the rest of Liquid are currently facing off against FaZe in hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinals of IEM Katowice.