Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: Congratulations on the win over your North American brothers in Complexity. I want to start by talking about Anubis. Were you guys a little bit disappointed that you weren't able to get that 16-0 and let them have two rounds?
Keith “NAF” Markovic: I mean, I got some friends on Complexity there, you know, with grim and all that. So, I don't wanna 16-0. I wouldn't want to do it to them like that. I'm happy they got some rounds, but we're confident and I don't want to 16-0 my friends.
BLIX: Do you feel like the gap has widened between you guys and the rest of the tier 1 teams from NA in EG and Complexity?
NAF: Yeah, I believe just, like, with Liquid, they're one of the best esports orgs, if not the best. And we have just, like, a lot of support in our organization. We obviously have an amazing facility, of course, that we have a chef. Everybody is there to help us and give us everything that we need.
And I know that might be more of a struggle in terms of, like, EG and Complexity because I know they don't really have a lot of housing structure and support in the European area. So, I think for them, it's a little bit harder compared to us. So yes. Again, I'm super grateful and thankful for Liquid. And yeah, I appreciate Liquid.
BLIX: You guys got daps as a coach last year. You both being Canadians, do you have that Canadian synergy within the team?
NAF: Obviously, with Damian(daps), he's been someone that I came into the pro scene with, so I've known him for a long time now. I don't even know. It's been, like, nine years. I don't know.
Damian “daps” Steele: It's been ten years.
NAF: Yeah, it's been ten years. It's been a long time. But I know with Damian, I was always a fan of, like, how he played and how he called, especially with the NRG team that he brought up that became Evil Geniuses. I believe that he had a lot of ideas and different ways of playing the game because back in the day, they were able to take down Astralis in games... he definitely had a different view, and I think bringing him into the team was a good idea to kind of have a different mentality, different ways of thinking about things, and yeah, I think that's a big reason why I wanted to bring him in.
BLIX: Has he brought in some of the ideas and strategies that they used to have in NRG? The meta has changed since then but the same principles, kind of.
NAF: Yeah, of course. Damian is definitely more unique than any other coach, but I just think, like, the way he handles things within the team and how people should be doing things, I think he just, like he connects really well. I think when you have a coach that connects with players really well, it can change their mood and how they think about things, and it might make them perform even better.
And I think Damian is really good at doing that. And so far with this team, I think he's been doing his job to perfection, in my opinion. So, yeah, I think he's doing great.
BLIX: You've been in Liquid now for a very long time and when people think of Liquid and they think of you and EliGE pretty much. What is the reason that makes you want to stay for that long except for them being the best organization?
NAF: Yeah, it's just like how I mentioned before and how you just said right now, it's just like there's just so much support within Liquid, and for us to do this job, not a lot of North Americans get the chance, the opportunity. And I think with Liquid, it's just very easy to just have everything go your way. Of course, at the end of the day, it's tough for North Americans to just spend so much time in Europe, constantly being there.
You don't really get to be at home at all, and you kind of just need to adjust to a new life and a completely different new culture. But again, like I said, I've been on Liquid for a long time, so I've been used to the traveling, spending a lot of time in Europe. So, yeah, like I said, at the end of the day, it's just Liquid makes it easy. So, I always appreciate our organization and everything they do for us.
BLIX: Do you feel like the facilities definitely helped you guys up your game and become better?
NAF: Yeah, I think it just relieves, like, a lot of stress on people and thinking about what they have to do. They don't have to worry about where they're going to get their next meal, like food somewhere. Liquid has that all covered. In terms of the chef, the facility is in an amazing area just next to the station in Utrecht. So, there's plenty of things around to do. So mentally, if you want to go out and do something and not think about Counter-Strike, you have that opportunity. And when it comes to counterstrike, we have all the things we need.
There are computers, people there working for us to help us and get us everything that we need and to make sure that we're all happy, and yeah, obviously, like I said, moving away from North America and being in Europe, it's nice to have people there to be on your side, to help you in anything that you need. And I think with Liquid in their structure, they do it really well.
Thoughts on the update
BLIX: Do you think that Valve for once did what was needed to make the game better and more fun to play by changing the silencer?
NAF: Yeah, as you see right now, I'm actually kind of surprised. You do see a lot of people still using the A1, but I guess it's more personal preference, so they kind of have the right balance. Right now, I see like, FaZe, they have plenty of A1's still in their team. I'm using the A4. Sometimes I think about using the A1, but in terms of my roles and positions with the anchor spot, I feel like you want more bullets, but if you're like a rotator taking different fights, I think maybe A1 might be more viable.
So, yeah, obviously it's all personal preference, but it's nice to see some people using A1, some using A4, instead of just all using the A4, all using the A1. So, it's nice. I think Valve did the right move with it.
BLIX: How about your personal preference? Has that changed now after the update?
NAF: Yeah. Before I was using the A1. Now I'm using the A4. But like I mentioned before, with kind of like my role as, like, the anchor, I think anchors would prefer more bullets because I think a lot of people on FaZe use the A1, but ropz is still using the A4 because I think he plays more of those anchor spots... I'm sure he prefers the more bullet advantage. And also, the A4 shoots faster. So, it's more about I think the A1 just does more damage at close range, but I think more bullets are more viable when there's more people just running into your site.
BLIX: Has it changed your playstyle or approach to the game now?
NAF: No, not too much. There's nothing really too crazy about it. Just like using A4. I know I have extra bullets, so I won't have to worry about running out of bullets if there's a bunch of ecos running my way and like, oh shit, I only got 20 bullets. I got to conserve it a bit. But luckily, yeah, just like I said, with my role, I just tend to use the A4.
BLIX: You seem to like Anubis. You were the top fragger on your team in that game. Has it been easy to get into it?
NAF: Yeah, I mean, so far, I seem to individually, like, seem to be pretty well on the map. I feel pretty comfortable playing it. The way the map is shaped, I feel like there's some changes that need to be made, especially at the B bombsite where I play it's just, like, really hard. So, like, they could just throw in a flash, and the next thing you know, they're instantly in the site, and you and who knows, YEKINDAR could be just getting shot in the back before I'm even shooting anybody. I think there's some things that might need to be changed about it, but I think Anubis is a good step in the direction that we need in Counter-Strike when it comes to the map pool.
BLIX: Valve recently came up with a new ranking system for the RMR. Keeping in mind what happened at Rio, do you think that it was a good thing from Valve, or did they kind of rush into it?
NAF: I mean, obviously it's interesting to see it. It's not something I really pay too much attention to right now. I'm still kind of focusing just like on the HLTV one, but I guess it's cool for them to kind of show that they kind of care a little bit more. It's always nice to see signs of Valve care and updating the game or doing something. So, I think it's pretty cool that they have their own ranking system. I'm not too sure how it works or what it's based off of, so at the end of the day, I hope it's just like a fair and really, well-understood ranking system. I guess it's too early to tell right now, but it's nice to see signs of Valve kind of stepping in and doing something.
Expectations for BLAST
BLIX: Just a few games left now here at BLAST. Do you guys have any expectations here or do you just want to avoid showdown?
NAF: Yeah, of course. You always want to avoid showdown, especially going into North American online. Playing online games is always a pain in the ass, especially for me because I'm up in the West Coast, up in Vancouver there, so my ping to a lot of servers isn't so great. I remember during the online season; it was such it was brutal to play with. So, who knows, I might have to fly somewhere else and play in Texas or something.
But, you know, obviously, I want to avoid playing any online in a showdown. I would just prefer to, you know, just make it to the spring final and be there and get to play in the BLAST final.
BLIX: You were second after Perfecto in the anchor of the year category at the HLTV awards. Has that kind of elevated your personal goals for this year and trying to overcome him and grab that first spot?
NAF: Yeah, I felt that I somewhat deserved it last year. But then again, Perfecto played amazing. He had a lot of good games. Towards the start of the year, Navi was making Cologne final. They won BLAST Lisbon and all that. So, they played a lot more high, intense pressure and important, crucial games where I never really had that opportunity too much, maybe towards the end of the year with BLAST final and Pro League final.
But of course, it's always like, you want to claim the awards and all that, but at the end of the day, I'm still just looking for trophies. It's been a long time since I got in the trophy, so top 20 or any awards, that's just a bonus. Right now, I'm just looking for that trophy.
Feature Image: Copyright BLAST | [@jakhoward]