Liquid’s veteran got down to talk about their online play, their hectic routine, and THAT game versus Heroic.
Nobody wants to be on the losing end of a highlight, certainly one that has the potential to sway the fate of a crucial match. It wouldn’t be any worse than Gambit losing a one-on-four match to cadiaN and Heroic, the Danish team who won the ESL Pro League season 13. However, Liquid’s one-vs-five defeat to Heroic in the quarterfinals of season 14 is a strong contender.
Liquid pulled off an epic comeback on the CT side after trailing 12-3 at halftime on Inferno, map three of a playoff series. They won 12 of the following 14 rounds to take a 15-14 lead entering the final regulation round. Stewie and FalleN’s AWP pair had defeated four Heroic players in that round, leaving only Ismail “refrezh” Ali alive. Then there was mayhem.
In overtime, Heroic prevailed thanks to a refrezh one-vs-five clutch. Liquid, who had spent so much energy battling back in the second half, suffered a crushing defeat. But Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski of Liquid isn’t worried that it will happen again anytime soon.
“In terms of discussing that stuff [happening] in the future, it’s so unusual that we probably won’t be in a scenario like that for another couple of years,” he told Dot Esports. “It feels like everything that could have gone wrong did.”
The refrezh play reminded EliGE of a similar clutch from current Team Vitality member Richard “shox” Papillon versus Luminosity in 2016. This was a one-vs-four match with the CT/T sides flipped, but it was also at the same location on Inferno and at a key round late in the series in an important ESL Pro League event—the season three grand finals.
Shox dropped four players from that renowned LG roster to get the defuse and keep G2 alive in overtime on map five, with no grenades and no time to spare. Liquid lost their round in a remarkably same manner five years later. And, like LG, they saw what else could have been done if only they had the gift of hindsight.
“We didn’t double-peek on him, but it’s difficult because there’s a very real potential that refrezh is sitting in the pit,” EliGE told Dot. “And if they double-peeked, he could have isolated the guy at triple and killed him, and then it’s another one-vs-one insight, and he knows [Stewie] is in emo mode (dark). My error is much easier to learn from; I might have simply been more patient instead of sprinting for the smoke.”
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong is a fair assessment of Liquid’s online era over the last two years. Following a sluggish start in 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak brought all of CS:GO online. And, other than winning the NA division of the ESL Pro League Season 11, Liquid added no new trophies from a half-year of solely regional competition.
The crew will next begin traveling to Europe in October 2020 to play in more prominent international events. Traveling back and forth between Europe and North America, according to EliGE, has been emotionally exhausting, made worse by some less-than-stellar results and the constant requirement to play online—something the Liquid veteran claims the team has never been adept at.
“I think that’s just incredibly difficult for our team in especially since we’ve never been particularly strong at playing online,” he explained. “Even in 2019, when we were winning a lot, we won two [offline] tournaments in a row, got crushed in an ECS qualification online, and then won another tournament the following week. It’s been difficult for us to maintain high levels of intensity when we’re online. That is the source of the majority of our problems.”
EliGE stated that if Liquid does not advance from this group, it will be “one of the worst events of the year” for them. But he’s not worried about putting on a strong performance just a month or so before the PGL Stockholm Major. He simply wishes to lighten the Liquid’s travel arrangements.
If they finish first and second in their group, they advance to the BLAST Fall Finals in late November. However, Liquid must return to North America following group play to compete in the IEM Fall NA RMR event. If they do not place first or second in their BLAST group, they must return to Europe for the BLAST Fall Showdown, which begins just two days after IEM Fall NA concludes.
To prevent that circumstance, which EliGE believes would be a “big mental knock” on the team, they must start strong against Vitality, perhaps the hardest side in their group. This match will take played on September 16 at 12 p.m. CT.
While Liquid is still finalizing their trip arrangements and honing their online game, they don’t lack in something that could be crucial to deep runs at BLAST, IEM, and the Major: intensity.
“We’ve all been together in person since we started traveling in October, flying to Europe for month-long periods to compete in the online tournaments,” EliGE explained. “The intensity has definitely returned.”