NAF: "The first game knocked us on our ass"
Liquid won their rematch against Rare Atom in the last chance bracket, meaning they sit just one match away from clinching a playoff berth. Despite losing to Rare Atom in their opening series of the tournament, the team seems to have rebounded, making their way through the lower brackets. After the successful rematch, Keith "NAF" Markovic and Josh "oSee" Ohm sat down with Janko "YNk" Paunović, Freya "Freya" Spiers, and Harry "JustHarry" Russell to talk the game, the tournament, and irrational fears.
You faced Rare Atom before, we saw what happened, did you face any pressure coming into this series?
NAF: Yes. I think coming in our previous game, we didn't have a good matchup versus them. I think their fatal mistake this time was not picking Inferno. It seems to be their comfort zone. They played NAVI the previous day and they got smashed by them on Nuke, so I'm not sure what that pick was for. Maybe they weren't that confident in themselves so they tried to pick something sneaky on us.
oSee: They definitely went for a punish pick instead of their comfort.
We saw in a Liquid content piece that you can smile. Can you also get angry? Because you guys played like you were pissed off this game.
NAF: Of course, I wanted to come back and smash [them] and not lose again. I think when we lost to them, that was actually the first time I've ever lost to an Asian team in a series.
What do you think the largest change was for Liquid throughout the course of this group?
NAF: Coming into this event, we were really slow. Our team play clearly wasn't there. Now the roles completely reversed so where they were smashing us, now we're smashing them. We got better with each match, building more confidence, calling our mistakes, and seeing what's wrong. It's gradually getting better and hopefully its enough to beat Spirit or Astralis tomorrow.
YEKINDAR said that he felt like you guys wasted a lot of your practice time over the last month. Do you feel the same way?
oSee: I don't feel like it was a complete waste of time. I think we still added a few things we were missing. It was a lot more theory, but the scrims weren't as productive with the high ping. The practice there isn't too good right now. Complexity and FURIA were in Europe at the moment, so we had no teams to really practice against. We just didn't learn too much from scrims in the past month.
You guys clearly were affected by the opening loss to Rare Atom. But what's the vibe like right now? Are you believing in this lower bracket run?
NAF: The first game knocked us on our ass a little bit. It made us feel like we were at rock bottom. We're watching our VODs, calling every mistake, we're not easy on anyone. Everyone's hard on themselves, especially me, I don't like underperforming. At this event, I think I've been underperforming at times. I'm starting to feel more confident throughout the event.
Who do you guys think you're going to face, either Spirit or Astralis?
NAF: I was watching the ATK game and Astralis looked shaky. Who knows, maybe they'll bounce back, but my money is on Spirit.
Because you guys played them a lot, especially at big tournaments, Rio, Cologne, and Kato before that, what makes it difficult for you guys to play them?
NAF: They're a super dark horse team. They do a lot more random, individual timings to catch teams off guard. They throw all these fakes, it's just that CIS style. It reminds me of YEKINDAR's previous team, Outsiders. They also have these strong individual players. w0nderful can be popping off, he was popping off against us. They have really good players and their playstyle is very loose in a way that we're not too comfortable playing against.
Team Liquid survived Rare Atom the second time around, and now sit just one match away from playoff contention. They will face the winner between Astralis and Spirit for the final playoff berth.