With impressive victories over teams such as FaZe and Vitality, Liquid may have been hopeful that IEM Katowice 2023 was their time to finally bring a trophy home. Unfortunately for them, they would have to face the unstoppable force of G2 in their semi-final, and their time in Poland was cut short.
After the match, we had the chance to sit down with their AWPer, Joshua “oSee” Ohm, to discuss the gap between the two teams and his progress towards reaching his comfort zone on Counter-Strike’s biggest stages.
Sam “AN1MO” McKenzie, BLIX.GG: You've made the top four here at Katowice, are you happy, or were you expecting a little more than that?
Josh “oSee” Ohm: "I think we're pretty happy about it considering the form we had at the last tournament at BLAST; even our practice wasn't the best practice we've ever had. Coming in, our expectations were still to do our best and make the Playoffs, but yeah, especially with our group and the teams that we faced and beat, we're pretty happy and on an upward trend right now."
BLIX: Comparing the teams you beat to losing to G2 last night, what's the thing separating you from G2 right now?
oSee: "G2 right now is just radiating confidence. They move around the map really well, the rotations are good and they caught us off guard a lot with the mid-round pushes. I think they have a really good game plan for every map they come into and the players are popping off individually really well right now, so it's a good mix for them. Obviously, when you have players like NiKo, m0NESY, and even jks right now popping off it's like nothing can really stop them."
BLIX: For you guys to improve, is it that you need to play in that more proactive way on CT, or is it generally that you need to play better individually?
oSee: "I would say it's a mix of both. We feel like we have a pretty good macro understanding of the game, but individually we've definitely shown better form. We can still do better, and we all know this. It's all about just how much time we're all gonna put in individually to get to that top level where we're performing consistently, and once we get to that level, which I think we will, it's gonna be really good for us."
BLIX: We spoke to nitr0 the other day, and he said you guys expect you can be on top this year. How long do you think that will actually take you guys to get to G2 and Heroic?
oSee: I can't say for sure, but our goal is to peak at the Major, so hopefully in a couple of months, although you never really know with how Counter-Strike is nowadays since the meta is constantly evolving. There's no dominant era anymore for teams, you had FaZe last year but then there are also other teams picking up a lot of tournament wins as well. It's not like the Astralis era anymore or when Liquid was making the Grand Slam run, there are a lot of competitive teams now, so it's tough to say, but hopefully, in the next couple of months, we can get there.
BLIX: What do you think your part to play is in getting there, getting to the top?
oSee: I have a very important role in the team as an AWPer, and I know I wasn't stepping up individually in the last couple of months. In this tournament, I showed better form, but I can still do a lot better. I'm going to put more time into my individual game, and if I do that, my confidence will get better as well, which I think I struggled with.
BLIX: What would you say are the issues in your game? Is it a confidence thing? Or perhaps an experience issue?
oSee: I would say so; I think I'm one of those players where when I start performing badly consistently, I'll start to get down on myself. It's just an endless cycle where I play badly, lose confidence, and keep playing badly, then lose even more confidence. I think I've finally found a way to dig myself out of that hole. It's tough to say, there are a lot of things to implement into your own game to be a really good player, but that was one of my issues, and I'm working on it.
BLIX: What do you think will be key to breaking that inconsistency cycle?
oSee: Honestly, just more experience. I have played on a couple of stages now, and in this tournament especially, I felt very comfortable on the stage; a couple of months ago, I probably couldn't say that. It's all about the experience, constantly learning, and absorbing the information my teammates are teaching me.
BLIX: Would you say you feel completely comfortable, or do you still have that element of sometimes feeling uncomfortable on stage?
oSee: I would say there's still a little sense of unease, but it definitely feels like a mix of adrenaline and being excited to be there. I can't say for sure what the feeling is because before, I felt very panicky on stage, my comms might have been hectic and stuff, but now I feel like I'm playing my own game even on stage. I don't even think about the crowd anymore.
BLIX: You've become quite a clutch player for the team now. Whether it's a whole performance over a half, like against Vitality, or just in important rounds, what's been the biggest factor for you to step into that position?
oSee: As I said, I've been focusing a lot on my play individually. I had an issue with not playing the game enough and spending too much trying to watch and learn, which is also good for developing your game, but you need that balance. I learned over the past couple of months it's all about nurturing your individual form while studying the game.
BLIX: When you're in a clutch situation, what's the difference in feeling between being sat in a bedroom or office to being on LAN in a Group Stage or on a stage? Does the heart rate go up even more?
oSee: I would say so. The goal is obviously to make sure it doesn't get to that point, although I think everybody still feels that it's all about controlling it. The feeling is amazing when you pull off a clutch on stage compared to how it is if you're sitting in your bedroom; it's a completely different environment and feeling. It's just amazing to have those moments where it finally works out for you and to hear the crowd cheer for you; definitely a different feeling from being back home.
BLIX: What is the key to containing that feeling of adrenaline and the heart racing?
oSee: Just experience, being on that stage. As I said a couple of months ago, I was very nervous on stage and very panicky. Now I feel a lot more comfortable, so it's just experience.