In a rare interview with Cybersport.com, Liquid GH spoke about winning the grand finals of EPICENTER: Moscow for a second time for Team Liquid, the solid drafting and preparation versus the second-place finishers: Evil Geniuses.
In the group stage, your current state was unsure, finnicky and 50/50 but for the playoffs, I don’t want to say it looked easy, but you guys made it appear like a smooth win over everything. Did something change between the two stages of the tournament?
Well, something happened, of course. When we lost in group stage, we were rattled so we didn’t know what was happening. We just figured that we weren’t doing what we practiced in our boot-camp. We thought about what we practiced and adding the new stuff that we learned from the group stage and put it to work in the playoffs and that’s what happened. We had a good run. We played [against] some great teams: VP gave us a hard, a very hard time, EG gave us a hard time as well, and LGD.FY was kind of shaky because in the group stage they were much better. But I guess overall we found the rhythm in the group stage.
Were there any strategy changes in terms of picks or drafts from the group stage of things that didn’t work out? Did you ever say “Okay, we have to stop picking this or we have to really reconsider how we go about the game” in regards to drafting?
Every tournament is different because during it you start feeling the heroes and you start feeling strategy you already practiced. So I guess we got inspired in the group stage for some new heroes, some new role switches and lane switches for the heroes. We just took a lot from the group stage.
I know what was really surprising for a lot of teams was Lone Druid. It was interesting that no one was taking it seriously, but then when people finally thought how annoying Lone Druid was, they started to respectfully ban it. Was that also something that you had prepared ahead of time or was it sort of a dark horse pick?
We like the hero because we have one of the best Lone Druids in the world. It’s a comfort pick for us and it gave us a room to breathe. It’s easy to play around Lone Druid somewhat. You can roam around wherever you want so that gave us ability to pick our comfort heroes and play the game.
Tell me if I’m a bit wrong here, but Lone Druid feels sort of like you can play each phase of the game differently. Early game is comfortable harassment and last hitting capabilities, in the mid game the bear is so annoying, always getting these clutch roots and for the late game you got Radiance going and being able to take towers down incredibly well. Is that also one of the reasons you guys picked him or you just picked an all-around utility, useful hero?
Basically, yeah. You can start team-fighting with Lone Druid from minute 5 or 6 because his level 5 bear is pretty strong. Plus he can beat down your towers, which offers a lot of pushing and through the mid-late game he becomes a beast, so it’s good for us.
Speaking of beasts, Bristleback has been the MVP in these matches - just absolutely insane. Seen almost every game or commonly banned. Do you think he’s just a little too strong? I know you haven’t seen 7.06d but he’s been nerfed a little bit in the early game.
I wouldn’t say that there is a hero that is too strong for the game. Every single hero requires a strategy to be played. So if you play a certain strategy versus Bristleback, he’s going to not have the same impact he has in most games.
Speaking of other strong heroes, EG once commented about Puck and how no one was taking it seriously as well, similar to Lone Druid. However, I noticed you guys started banning Puck, especially in Game 1. Was that comment or interview a decider or did you guys go into this game already saying "we don't want Puck". You didn't ban Puck and IO in Game 5 and it didn't really affect your game/strategy. You still played completely solid.
So, to start off, we have one of the best captains in the world, so he knew what’s up. He knew and predicted what was going to happen. He knew that they were going to pick the Wisp and Puck and he drafted in a way that they wouldn’t have the influence that they required to have to win the game. We kind of knew what was coming, but we decided to play it.
Drafts are one thing, but during the game, it felt like you were super aggressive early game and EG didn’t know how to cope with it in which you would then take that advantage of and end the game or at least set a huge advantage around the 20-minute/30-minute time [for instance in the first match of the Grand Finals series].
The Io puts a lot of aggression early game because of his spells that he can offer to his partner, so we kind of used that strength to our advantage and played it in a way that was hard to deal with for EG. They didn’t react super well, they didn’t pressure us, so we just got control of the whole game after the early game, getting Rosh, getting a farmed Sven, and getting the Dark Seer Mek. We just felt confident going high ground, ending the game. They didn’t have supports who could deal with our pressure early game, so their Storm wasn’t farmed, and he had a bad game. He couldn’t come back into the game, and he couldn’t kill anyone. Even when he wanted to farm, he died in the neutral camps and when he wanted to defend the towers, we just brute-forced him down and he couldn't do anything.
All right, some final questions as we’re wrapping up here. Game 2, can you give an insight on what happened there? It seemed like you guys went for a different strategy that didn’t quite pan out.
They had the Queen of Pain, Oracle and Treant duo support destroying us. That’s what happened. We couldn’t lock down a target enough for us to kill it, and we only had one stun, the Slardar. If we don’t get the perfect kill with the Slardar stun, they use their heal from Treant, they pop Solar Crest and they have Oracle's ultimate as well as Eul’s from Queen of Pain.
They just had so many ways of getting out of the situation.
They had so many ways to come back into the game if we don’t burst some guy. So we kind of pressured just to kill one guy, and when you don’t kill him and he gets Oracle-ultied, we just lose the fight.
All right, well, that pretty much wraps it. Thanks for your time, man.