EliGE: "we are playing a lot better than we have in a very long time."

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We sat down with Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski following his team's heartbreaking and close-fought Quarter-final defeat to Movistar at IEM Cologne 2022.

Q: First of all, heartbreaking loss; there were two very close maps in the series. On Inferno, you came out on top, but on Vertigo, you fell short. Let’s start by talking about the first map, Ancient. It was your pick; you had a rough T Side; why couldn’t you guys string more rounds together on the T Side? Why do you think that was?

EliGE: I just think that Ancient is a very forgivable map in the last fifty seconds. Therefore, depending on what type of team you are playing against, they can give you a lot of map control in the beginning. That means that late rounds will be a little bit more difficult. I think that for us personally, we play better against teams that like to fight a bit more. So, I thought it was going to be a little bit more difficult, but overall, it is a really CT-sided map. So, it can be really hard to keep the momentum up on that map.

Q: How do you look back at the season with Shox and now the last run with YEKINDAR, and what is coming up for the second half of the season? How do you manage to contain and continue this current form you are now having?

EliGE: Yeah, the first half of the year was pretty difficult. It was really hard for us to get to the level that we wanted to. I think we had a lot of good steps that we put forward, and we didn’t have the best start of the year that we wanted to. But I think that in the last month, we have shown a lot of progress, and the results speak for themselves. It’s not like we have done anything insane yet or anything. We just got to Quarters, but you know, considering how things were going before that, it is definitely a lot better!

And it is just the manner in which we are either winning or losing the games; you can clearly see there is so much potential - we are playing a lot better than we have in a very long time. We have a really good foundation now. Now it is just going to come down to ironing out the details because there is only so much we could have done in the time that we had. And I am really looking forward to the next half of the year!

Q: What is the difference between the previous months and now? Is it only the YEKINDAR addition, or is it more?

EliGE: Well, I definitely think that YEKINDAR brought a lot to the team. He’s bringing a lot of the structure he got from Outsiders, a lot of things he liked we brought over. We are just now making sure we understand the game as quickly as possible and making sure that we had all the tools we needed and that we could use them whenever it obviously came up in the game. So, I think that is the number one thing for us, just macro-wise. You know, having that so cemented in our head of like what our options are and how we are going to deal with certain situations.

Obviously, we have just been playing a tonne, like in the last two or three weeks…no, about three weeks now [that] we have been playing so much Counter-Strike. Like, doing about ten to twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours a day, every day, without breaks. It’s been very tiring, but obviously, the results are showing. And like we are all looking very good individually, we had a really good tournament. We had a lot of close maps in the ones that we lost. So yeah, overall, it speaks for itself.

Q: It seems like oSee is finally establishing himself as a top-tier AWPer with impactful performances and impactful rounds. Is he finally getting used to the level of competition? Or is it just the current Liquid system, where he is currently flourishing?

EliGE: I would say it is a little bit of both. I definitely think that the system that we have right now is more structured, way more structured than we have had in the past. And, I do think that Josh (oSee) overall is just feeling a lot more comfortable in the game. He does have really good mechanics; he has good game sense, he is a good student of the game, and it just comes down to time. You can’t just expect someone to instantly start owning everybody unless they are some prodigy that just has it. I don’t know.

You know, I think that his development has been very straightforward up. And I have seen a lot, obviously from practices and stuff that people don’t see, the matches obviously, and he’s getting so good so fast, and I am super happy for him.

Q: Many fans believe that YEKINDAR’s stint at IEM Cologne enabled you even more because he is another aggressive and potent rifler. Now with YEKINDAR’s stand-in adventure coming to an end, what’s the verdict? Is there any discussion about keeping him for good?

EliGE: I cannot really comment too much on it, but he was standing in for this event, and we will have to see what happens after it.

Q: Team Liquid is so far the only hope for North America. Does this mount extra pressure on you guys? And, do you think the pandemic set the region a few steps back, with big organizations pulling out, investing in VALORANT, and many North American talents going to VALORANT instead and pursuing a career there?

EliGE: To answer your first question, I don’t think that it adds any extra pressure there to us. I think that it is nice that it is in our hands to show everyone in North America that this is still a game that you can play; we are still good. So, it’s kind of a little bit more on us to show that to everybody. Because I do think that there is a part of it that comes from the top down, going into the pandemic part of it.

When the new talents that are upcoming see that their best option is a different game, that is a trickle-down effect that affects everybody at all levels. So if organizations are pulling out of the North American scene, our upcoming talent is going to a different game. Then players are considering what game they want to play or what’s more fun. If they actually have the skill, they are just going to pick the game that is easier to have a job in because you do need to make money at the end of the day.

So, I do think that it definitely hurt us a lot. Not just like with the players, because people are going to insult the players that like went over. But it hurts everybody, even the players who haven’t even started playing yet. When they are making that decision on what they want to play, they are going to see what more people are playing, what their friends are playing, and what most competitive players are doing, and they are going to go to that.

So, I do think that it hurts. So, we just kind of have to do everything that we can. From our side, the best thing we can do is play as good Counter-Strike as we can as a North American representative, and that does help scenes. We have seen it happen with LG/SK guys when they started being super good; that got a lot of Brazilians into Counter-Strike, got more people watching, and caused more eyes on Counter-Strike. And, that helps a lot, I think, you know, if we start winning tournaments, showing deep runs, good games, more North American fans will be like: “Liquid, that’s our team, that’s our North American team.” They are going to start playing because of that, so that’s kind of our goal for us for now.

Q: Would you say it kind of makes sense for big North American organizations like Cloud9 to invest in a non-American team? Or for you, is it sad for you to see them not investing in the North American scene? For example, Evil Geniuses have an immense fifteen-man roster, but Cloud9 didn’t go for another North American team due to their previous failures with North American sides. Does Cloud9 picking up the non-American Gambit core hurt the scene?

EliGE: I mean, sure, it definitely sucks, but organizations, they have to make money, and they have to see the potential return on investment for themselves. And right now, there are not a lot of players in North America that are marketable, and that is an obvious ship for the big organizations to jump to. So, for now, I think that it is going to have to just develop kind of slowly, and I think just for these organizations to be in Counter-Strike, in general, is still good. For Cloud9 to be here is still good overall.

And, who knows? Maybe, if we keep on having more tournaments in America, they will start bringing the team to North America more often to have boot camps or whatever. If there are more tournaments in North America, then people do want to get used to the jet lag earlier, and they want to do those things if there are enough good teams there. So, I think that there are things that could happen from the tournament organizer's side and from the team's side that can bring more teams over time to help strengthen the region. I think more tournaments is one of those things. But yeah, we will have to see. I don't think it's bad.

Q: Last question, now nitr0 came back from VALORANT. Is he a different player from your time with him before to now? Because he learnt a different game, a different type of competition, a different style of game, and now he is coming back to CS:GO with a different meta along with lots of other changes. Do you think nitr0 is a different player, a different leader?

EliGE: Erm, personality-wise, he is definitely the same. The thing about swapping to VALORANT and then coming back is that, as we kept on progressing and we saw the meta shift and all this new information, that’s stuff he had to catch up on. So, it’s pretty much been a learning process for him, in getting used to the meta and what’s new, all these new players.

There have been a lot of new players that have popped up and like came to the top of Counter-Strike, and he has to learn their styles and how they play, that type of stuff. In terms of transferable things from like VALORANT the game, it is such a different game that there is nothing transferable. There are so many things in Counter-Strike that are about timing, of how you want to structure out rounds, to get the most out of time because time is so important now in a game like Counter-Strike. But, in VALORANT, it’s pretty much a strat in a hat! At least, that is how it has been described to me. Obviously, I am not a professional player there, but there haven’t been a lot of transferable skills, and it is more like a catch-up phase for him. And that is pretty much what the first few months of this year have been for him.

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CS Virtual Trade Ltd, reg. no. HE 389299 Registered address and the principal place of business: 705, Spyrou Araouzou & Koumantarias, Fayza House, 3036, Limassol, Cyprus
Copyright © 2024 BLIX.GG. All rights reserved.