Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: YEKINDAR, you've been with Liquid for about half a season now. How would you summarize these first six months with the team?
Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis: I think overall the first six months were great. We definitely had a honeymoon phase where we were playing well until EPL, I would say... that was when people didn't know how we played because there was a lot of work done and there was fast growth and it was easier to play than after you show your things already, you show what you have. So, the second period of the year was also nice, but we lost to Heroic at the BLAST Fall Finals and to G2 in the finals of the BLAST World Finals. And those two losses showed us a lot about where and in which direction we need to head in order to improve.
Now we have got to a point of a bit of stagnation in a way because like six months is a lot and we had different ideas on how to implement and what to implement before BLAST Spring Groups and we treated this tournament as a great point for exercising on those things. And even though we went 1-3, it doesn't matter, we played a map that people hadn't played for two years, I didn't play personally for four years. So, there's a lot of work still ahead. Now, I believe this is the hardest point to overcome.
BLIX: Did it take you a long time to adapt to the cultural differences and to the team?
YEKINDAR: No, not really. Well, I mean, their resolving of conflicts is a bit different. In CIS, you usually say what you like and actually think, and you don't need to have some necessary talks. Here, I believe, it's more diplomatic in a way where you have to have these meetings where everybody explains who thinks what and where they see problems, where they feel uncomfortable.
So, that's not a big deal for me, not a problem at all and I understand that they are needed but other than that, everything else is pretty much the same.
BLIX: I want to continue a little bit around that theme. What would you say are the differences between Outsiders and Liquid in terms of the organizations?
YEKINDAR: I believe Liquid has more opportunities and for example, different facilities around the world in LA and Utrecht and the Netherlands. Just the overall feeling of the organization. North American organizations, in terms of Liquid, just have a different philosophy of working and different structures. So, there are a lot of different things. I wouldn't say that everything is better but both of them are good in a way, but I like Liquid more.
The HLTV Awards
BLIX: You came 15th in HLTV top 20 and runner-up in the opener of the year at the HLTV awards, just like your teammate NAF did in the anchor category. Are you a bit disappointed that you didn’t win and has it made your personal expectations coming into this year a little bit higher?
YEKINDAR: Well, I knew first off, from the HLTV rating, I knew that I had a bad first half of the year. So, 15th is super reasonable and maybe the second part of the year was good but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's the only half. There are two halves, so the first half was pretty bad for me individually because a lot of things were happening. The war started and I was trying to get out of Virtus.Pro for a long time and because of that, you lose focus, you lose motivation in a way, and we were basically a dead team at one point.
But in terms of the opener runner-up, I respect NiKo, I think NiKo is a great player, I watched him a lot lately. He is in really insane form, and I understand why he won. I wouldn't say that I expected to win but I wanted to win, obviously but I understand why NiKo won.
BLIX: I saw an article by HLTV talking about whether the entry fragger role is dead or not. Is it dead or has it just become a bit broader and deeper of a role than maybe what we saw back in the day?
YEKINDAR: I don't think it's dead. I think it has different meanings now in a way. There are roles where you take map control and there are roles where you run into sites, into executes. And if we take our team for example, then it's usually nitr0 running in first and not necessarily me, always. And for example, in G2, it's a lot of the time HooXi running and NiKo going second in trading. So, usually, you have your best players taking space because they can take space the best because of their individual level and then they usually have those players as people running in second and not necessarily first always.
So, I believe it's just different terms and different brackets in a way where entry fragging is divided into different brackets. So, like space creating, like map control, right? And then entry fragging into a site and then they are going into a pack, right? Like moving in a pack as a team... 1-3-1, for example, you move in for us first. You're the one taking space. So, it's basically space creating. So, usually, like those two things that it is.
BLIX: You mentioned G2 a little bit. You guys played against them at the BLAST World Finals. Why did the final not go your way?
YEKINDAR: They were playing really well. We were just the worse team. I feel like at that moment, we had started stalling in a way and they were on the rise and they're still performing really well. You can see at this tournament and individually they are all in really good shape. So, these were all the factors that just didn't allow us to win.
Opinions on Anubis
BLIX: Coming into this BLAST and the last BLAST, the World finals, you guys have played Anubis a few times. Have you been able to form an opinion on the map yet?
YEKINDAR: I think the map is fine in a way. I just don't like that you can explode onto the B site as the T-side at any moment. So, you either delay cheetah, it's the small room and you use your smoke or utility. But even if you use your utility, people can still take control of it by using their utility. And therefore, you are forced to play three towards B a lot and if they go A, then you have to play A retake.
So, it's kind of one-dimensional in a way. When they, like everybody, need the round, they usually come into B splits and the B pops into whatever and that gives some kind of one-dimensionality in a way because there's going to be like two or three times that people are going to do that round with any numbers. Three cheetah, two cheetah or one cheetah and four B long or whatever but other than that, the map is great. I like it. It's a breath of fresh air into the map pool.
I just don't like that there's Vertigo in the pool. I think the map is garbage, honestly. Just feels so... If I called Anubis one-dimensional, then Vertigo is even more one-dimensional because everything is around the A ramp. You either win ramp or you lose ramp and depending on who wins that decides who loses a round and if they cannot take ramp, they're going to lose the game, probably.
BLIX: Do you feel like it has good potential for riflers?
YEKINDAR: I feel that Anubis is a super strong double AWP map. In certain parts of the map, you can be really good with a rifle but in certain parts, you need to have utility and flashes to get those double AWPs away because double AWPing is super strong on the CT side. And, I would say there are maps that are safer and better for riflers than Anubis.
BLIX: When I talked to you back in November at the BLAST Fall Finals you said that the silencer nerf might affect your gameplay in certain positions and maps. Can you tell me more about that and how it has affected you so far?
YEKINDAR: I don't necessarily feel the changes, I think the silencer is still strong. I understand if people play M4A4 more but I prefer the silencer personally because you feel more comfortable with no tracers and a better spray pattern than the M4A4. But I think they really made it even in a way. It's just multi-kills with the silencer that are worse but it's cheaper. So, the price difference, if the M4A4 was 2.9k, then everybody would play with M4A4. So, now it's kind of balanced in a way, I think.