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Looking at Liquid’s Deep Run In IEM Cologne & Future Plans? - EliGE & YEKINDAR CS:GO Interview

Interviews with EliGE & YEKINDAR

Topic: CS:GO Interviews with EliGE & YEKINDAR

Back in the Cathedral of Counter-Strike, Tom ‘SneakyBeaky’ Taylor got a chance to talk to YEKINDAR and EliGE of Team Liquid after their exit from the tournament in the quarter-finals. Here, Tom digs a little deeper into the team’s thoughts on their run in Cologne, YEKINDAR, and what both parties’ plans are for the future as the NA organization looks to repeat their 2019 form and the latter is caught in a tough web of international complications.

by @Tom ‘SneakyBeaky’ Taylor
TN by: @Andy; TN Source: PGL | Joao Ferreira



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Table of Content

EliGE – Integrating YEKINDAR, a Personal and Team Resurgence in Form & Brighter Horizons for Liquid


Topic 1 - Integrating YEKINDAR

Question: "Starting off, what was it like integrating YEKINDAR into the Liquid system?"


"Well, it’s definitely been a lot of fun, there’s been a lot to learn from him. We pretty much completely changed our style, our structure. Where before we were a lot more free-flowing, we wouldn’t have every single step of the round planned out… that’s just a stylistic thing, like, I know a lot of teams approach how they want to call in different ways. YEKINDAR is more used to having a lot of structure where every single step of the round is planned for and thought out. It’s really helpful to have that."

"There’s been a lot of work that we’ve been doing with it and, we’ve pretty much done every single thing we can do to make him as comfortable as possible on T-side and he has CT-side as well. Yeah, we were just accommodating as much as we could so that he can play his best."

"We’ve pretty much done every single thing we can do to make [YEKINDAR] as comfortable as possible"

– EliGE on YEKINDAR

EliGE Yekindar Interview
Source: IEM | Adela Sznajder

Topic 2 - Aggressive rifler

Question: "I heard that you wanted an aggressive rifler to join the team, and who better than the ‘Space Creator’ himself? So how did having YEKINDAR affect your own performance? Did it give you more confidence and how did it help out the team as a whole?"


"Individually, on T-side is the main place where I swapped a lot of my positions, that’s where I’ve had to get used to playing a more passive role, a lot more of a patient role. I’ve been trying to just approach it as a different muscle that you’re trying to grow and, like, you have to just get used to it really. I’ve been playing the same roles my whole career of being the aggressive, pack rifler and it is definitely something new for me and something I’ll have to get used to."

"I’m honestly still not very comfortable with it, but in terms of late-round stuff, it is nice having a really aggressive player because I do think that is what was lacking before. YEKINDAR has been playing very well in the roles and he helps a lot with the macro of knowing how a different team is going to be playing. If he recognizes something, he’s plugging it in very quickly and it’s something that Stewie2k was really good at too in 2019 especially, and I think that’s really helped."

"It’s especially mentally freeing having someone that’s really smart at the game who’s going to just say ‘We’re going to be doing this, this and that’ and I don’t have to really think about it because I have someone who’s in that role who’s figuring it out and that just gives me a lot more confidence that my teammates know [what’s going on]. It’s a lot of confidence for me to have someone who’s figuring it out that quickly."

Topic 3 - YEKINDAR bringing fresh air

Question: "So, is YEKINDAR the breath of fresh air that Liquid needed to break back into playoffs stages?"


"I mean, I think so! Obviously this is the best tournament that we’ve had in a while and I really like him. I think that he has a really good personality, he’s very chill, he’s always likely to crack jokes, he’s outgoing, and obviously he’s very smart at the game. He also has a very similar learning style to me of, like, how he likes to be very methodical about everything, and watching someone play the roles that I just played. Also how he’s swapping it up and making different things happen is a good learning experience for me as well."

Topic 4 - Is YEKINDAR joining Team Liquid?

Question: "Is there a possibility of YEKINDAR being able to join Liquid? I know there are international complications and he’s already mentioned that he’s not going to be practicing with you after this event but obviously, he would be a good addition to Liquid. Are you going to keep trying to get him on board?"


"I mean I would love to play with him, of course. He’s an awesome player and he’s definitely everything we’re looking for and that we need. Just playing as a stand-in for this event and only playing together for ten days, you see how good that we played. This is the best that we’ve played in a very long time, and even our losses still looked good. Obviously, we were losing some kinda crazy rounds, but I just chalk that up to us not having everything ironed out, especially when it comes to losing all those anti-ecos that we lost. We just didn’t have enough time to go over all the different options that we have in those rounds and stuff, and, yeah, see how good that we did now? That’s exactly what we want."

Topic 5 - oSee

Question: "Now looking at oSee, how has he elevated your game being on the AWP, bringing a different style to what nitr0 did back when you were on your Grand Slam run? Also is he a more confident player when it comes to the sniper rifle?"


"Well, it’s definitely very different because when nitr0 was AWPing, he was also the IGL and nitr0 just in general is a very supportive player. He’s very for the team in every sense of the way, which actually lined up very well because AWPers end up doing that a lot in different executes or defaults because AWPers aren’t always going for picks at the beginning of the round."

"Of course, they’re going to have their moves and their plays in order to get picks, but, like, probably 60-70% of the time, they’re going to just be doing their default and they’re going to be supportive. So in that sense of the way they’re very similar on the T-side with how they’re playing on CT. But Josh (oSee) definitely brings that different level to it, because he’s super good mechanically and he’s always hitting such sick shots. I‘m super happy that he’s showing that, especially in this tournament. He’s had a lot of great plays and a lot of great clutches!"

EliGE Yekindar Interview
Source: IEM | Helena Kristiansson

Topic 6 - How does the future look like for Liquid?

Question: "I mean, even on the rifle, the 1v3 on A-short on Inferno, that clutch was crispy beautiful, and it allowed you to catapult your way into that third map. Unfortunately, you weren’t quite able to clinch it but some of the plays there allowed glimmers of the old Liquid come through and I’d love to be able to see more of that. But back to you, if you can’t get YEKINDAR for Liquid, where do you look for a replacement and if you can, where would you like to be in the rankings after the player break?"


"Well, I haven’t even thought of another option really, because YEKINDAR is such, like, a glue-fit for me. You know, our first tournament with him, we just got quarter-finals and we can definitely do so much more. I feel it, the 2019 vibes! I feel the confidence flowing through all of us, there’s crazy stuff happening, the rounds we’re able to bring back, it’s just that type of vibe. We’re playing very well, and going forward, I think we should definitely be a top 5 team, contending for titles relatively shortly."

"I feel it, the 2019 vibes! I feel the confidence flowing through all of us, there’s crazy stuff happening"

– EliGE on Liquid’s resurgence

Topic 7 - EU-playstyle

Question: "And how has the EU-playstyle impacted the NA-basis of your team?"


"Well, I don’t really think there’s, like, an EU playstyle, I think there’s different playstyles between teams and… I think that the CIS teams actually, I know what I just said, but CIS specifically play very methodical."

EliGE Yekindar Interview
Source: BLAST | Stephanie Lindgren

Topic 8 - Jame

Follow up on Topic 7: "I mean Jame is the perfect example..."


"Yeah, like, Outsiders play so different to all of these different teams, and getting Jame’s perspective and learning all the things that they learned over time like how they structured their team, and how they make it easier for everyone has definitely been very nice. I’ve always been used to a really free-flow type of style, but having a bit of structure as well is also very helpful; it’s definitely a give-or-take of how you want to balance things because super-structured isn’t good as well. You want to have players' individuality showing inside rounds and that’s what we’re looking to be like in the future."

Topic 9 - shox

Question: "What did shox have missing in terms of the Liquid formula?"


"Aside from all of the out-of-game stuff, because obviously it was a very hard situation, in terms of in-game, as we kept playing throughout the year I kept feeling more and more that we needed someone else who was aggressive and could help out in certain situations. I feel like stylistically you’re going to need to have two or three players in that aggressive role, that are not afraid to make space or take chances in these rounds, opening them up."

"That’s obviously why we went for YEKINDAR to stand-in for this event. We looked at other options for if we weren’t able to get YEKINDAR and we were looking for aggressive players that could help out in these types of rounds and situations."

Topic 10 - Favorite Glove/Knife Combo

Question: "What’s your dream glove-knife combo?"


"Well, I’ve always been a fan of the blue knives, the Sapphire ones. I would probably have to go with a Karambit Sapphire and any of the purple gloves, for example, the Pandora’s Box ones."

EliGE Yekindar Interview
Source: Broskins

YEKINDAR – Success in CIS to a Tough Global Climate and Fitting in at Liquid


Topic 11 - YEKINDAR on getting signed by Virtus.Pro

Question: "Starting off, I want to take you back to your PRO100 days. Whilst you were playing on this team, when was it that you got the call from Virtus.Pro saying they wanted you on their roster?"


"It was in January two years ago that I knew they were interested in me. There were talks about [me joining], but it was the May RMR where we actually beat Virtus.Pro 2-0 and that’s when I knew it was going to happen, and about half a month from that, I joined VP. After a long journey with PRO100 where we won some Tier 2 championships and I was playing really good individually from my point of view, I think VP noticed that, especially because I was playing a lot of FPL. I actually won FPL in April and they noticed that and were like, ‘hey, let’s test him out’."

Topic 12 - YEKINDAR on recent times with VP

Question: "Coming into 2022 with VP, you as a squad were looking fairly decent. But I wanted to ask: How have current affairs personally affected you and affected your relationship with the organization?"


"I mean, after the war started, I was thinking about leaving, obviously, because of a lot of things. After that, we were playing under Outsiders as I didn’t want to leave before the Major. If I were to leave beforehand, it would have been bad for my teammates, and they understood that when the event finished that I didn’t want to play anymore. Virtus.Pro then allowed me to stand-in for Team Liquid."

EliGE Yekindar Interview
Source: EsportFire

Topic 13 - Personal relationship

Question: "So, what was your personal relationship like with your teammates when you had to leave the roster?"


"They understood my decision, and they support me even now. Qikert wrote to me after our loss in the quarter-finals that he’s proud of me and that everything is going to be good etc. Fl1t is always supportive as well. I’m good with all of them, they all understand the situation and I think it will be good for our development; mine personally, and theirs as a team."

Topic 14 - Aggressive rifler

Question: "It was said the EliGE was looking for a more aggressive rifler, and as the ‘Space Creator’, you fit that description perfectly, but what was it that got you in contact with Liquid in the first place?"


"Well, there was this rumor about shox leaving, and I had the right connections. From there, I just got in touch with them somehow and then asked VP if I could stand in. [As a side-note, YEKINDAR has been with his new agent since the end of the Antwerp Major]"

Topic 15 - Short preparation time

Question: "Coming into this event, I heard you had about four days of practice on this new Liquid Squad?"


"Nine days. Nine full days but with media in-between, so nine days and 15 hours basically."

Topic 16 - Great Cologne run

Question: "Well with that in mind, what was it like for you getting straight to playoffs of a high-caliber event with a team immediately after joining, and was it a relieving feeling?"


"Well, obviously there was some pressure on me being a top-8 player last year, leaving Outsiders. A lot of people were thinking that my game style won’t work outside of a Jame-system. I wanted to come and stand in to help Liquid, you know, to win, and I’m really glad that all of this happened. Logically I wanted to perform and I wanted to show [the best version of] myself – we worked our asses off during these nine days."

"We knew that we deserved better, but these nine days weren’t enough against Movistar in the end on Vertigo. A lot of crucial, small mistakes are what led us to lose it, we could have done more but it is what it is."

"We knew that we deserved better, but these nine days weren’t enough"

– YEKINDAR on Liquid’s quarter-final exit after a tough series versus Movistar Riders

Topic 17 - Personal performance

Question: "Your own personal performance fluctuated a little more than normal, with you having some fantastic games, a one-kill T-half on Overpass. Did that affect your mentality going into the following map or were you able to reset?"


"I don’t care about stats or anything like that. I was sick. In the Cloud9 game, I felt good, but for the first couple of days, before the tournament started, I got sick and had a fever so I had to play with it. It was a bit harsh but I battled through it and again, I don’t care about stats or if I played bad. I know my impact on the team and I know what I’m capable of doing even when my game isn’t working individually."

Topic 18 - nitr0 as IGL and North American team

Question: "How different is it playing under nitr0 than it is playing under Jame, a very unique IGL, and now playing with North American teammates?"


"Well, obviously, the first difference is that Jame is an AWPer and nitr0 is a rifler. Nitr0 sees a lot more in macro [gameplay] because he’s in the center of action and the center of impact, usually meaning his mid-round calls are more specific throughout than Jame. On the other hand, Jame’s calling was a little bit more structured because he can’t see everything and he tries to play mind games against his enemies. All in all nitr0’s calling is a bit looser and more fluid than Jame’s."

EliGE Yekindar Interview
Source: IEM | Helena Kristiansson

Topic 19 - Preferred system

Question: "What system do you prefer playing under?"


"I don’t care. If we’re winning, I’m willing to play any system. I like having a mix as both are good."

Topic 20 - Adapting to a new calling system

Question: "Is it difficult to adapt to the new calling system and playstyles, and do you get the opportunity to call much yourself?"


"Yeah, I mid-round call a lot, and I second call as it’s not hard to adapt. At one point, if you’ve watched a lot of games and understand macro, it’s easy peasy for you to adapt, especially if you understand the purpose of those calls."

Topic 21 - Losing to Movistar Riders

Question: "Was it a tough loss to Movistar or did you accept the fact that you’re a very new team and still made it to the quarter-finals?"


"Honestly, it’s never easy to take a loss. I lost in Katowice, I lost at the Major, and I didn't want to lose again but we did against Movistar. Nevertheless, I’m happy about Movistar and I’m happy for the Spanish region and them having a team making such a deep run. I hope this will continue after the player-break because player-breaks can break a team’s rhythm a bit. But, I’m happy that new faces are showing up and I’m happy for new teams. Yeah, I’m sad that we lost, but this is only the first tournament."

EliGE Yekindar Interview
Source: EsportFire

Topic 22 - YEKINDAR on Liquid

Question: "I mean Liquid has a bit of a rough history with player-breaks, but going into it, are you going to keep practicing with them, or are there other factors at play?"


"No, I’m not going to practice with them, but Liquid is a possible home for me later on, maybe… I don’t know."

Topic 23 - Uncertain future

Question: "So it’s an uncertain future?"


"Yeah."

What does the future hold for Liquid?

With EliGE being in high spirits throughout the interview and putting up one of the highest ratings of the tournament and his year so far, the sincerity in his confidence for personal improvement and the future of Liquid with YEKINDAR in it is clear. The gelling of this new five has evidently gone well, with all parties enjoying spending time with the Latvian both in and out of the server.

In a brief word with oSee, we also spoke about how good it felt hearing the roar of a crowd as they walked out to play on his first big stage, something he looks forward to witnessing again, and how it was a great experience playing with YEKINDAR, a sentiment echoed by nitr0 who enjoyed having a talented second-caller to take weight off of his shoulders. But despite seemingly being the perfect fit, whether or not their new fifth will be able to continue playing under the North American organisation is yet to be seen.

YEKINDAR seemed less enthusiastic when committing to talking about a future with Liquid, admitting he would not be practicing with the team after Cologne. He was also much less enthusiastic about their top-eight placement than a beaming EliGE, but the fate and immediate success of Liquid might depend on YEKINDAR’s signing as there’s clearly no other candidates currently even being considered for the role. We’ve also seen what a player-break and a roster shuffle can do to a successful Liquid lineup before, so the sooner they can get a permanent, practicing fifth, the better.


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