NAF: "We actually had an idea of me primary AWPing before, but I didn’t really want to change all my spots and learn AWP rotations."
Photo by: StarLadder

NAF: "We actually had an idea of me primary AWPing before, but I didn’t really want to change all my spots and learn AWP rotations."

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At the FACEIT Major London, we spoke with Team Liquid star Keith "NAF" Markovic on his secondary-AWPing proclivities, the growth of the NA scene and their ongoing rivalry with Astralis.

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I personally associate Liquid with a very level-minded, calculative roster. But in the series against Astralis, in OT you threw the gloves off, even going for an "impulsive" AWP. Was that a “calculated chaos” sort of thing?
Usually, when stuff isn’t really working, I just buy an AWP just to see if it will work. I think it did, it kind of got them scared to start coming B since I started AWPing, so it obviously threw them off a bit. I think that the AWP was a huge factor in causing an overtime, also everyone kind of caught on to their random strategies that they were pulling off. In the end, everybody just pulled through and it worked out.

Do you see yourself taking on a more permanent AWPing role at any point in the future?
nitr0 is always going to be the primary AWPer. We actually had an idea of me primary AWPing before, but I didn’t really want to change all my spots to AWPing ones and learn AWP rotations, so I’m a lot more comfortable just being a secondary AWPer and not having that pressure. I’m always going to be secondary while nitr0 will be the main.

Usually, when stuff isn’t really working, I just buy an AWP just to see if it will work.

Earlier today, I sat down with Moses. Something we discussed is the rise of NA teams. This has been explored over the past year or so: you guys have been the shining star of NA. In our discussion, we spoke about the addition of TACO and zews and how that affected the culture of the team, having people who've previously won a Major.

Outside of the addition of TACO and zews, how do you feel your mentality within the team has changed?
I’m not sure how much it changed when zews joined the team, since I joined way after he did. With the addition of TACO plus zews, they always say you just need to work hard and need to do this and need to do that if you want to be the best. I think everyone has the respect for zews and TACO, where if they tell us stuff, we’re going to listen to it. We use what they say and try our best with it.

Any tangible changes in your day-to-day?
Nothing really. It’s the same as with my previous teams: we get up an hour or two before our actual scheduled scrims and we’d go over maps, talk about what our goals are for the scrim and what we need to fix. Nothing special.

Photo by: StarLadder
Photo by: StarLadder Flickr.com

Returning to the NA narrative, something that was discussed a lot — especially when we had the whole partition when EU teams were considered to be dominant and NA were lackluster, for a lack of a better word — was the quality of practice in NA being an ongoing issue. At the time, your and Cloud9's ascension to the top at the time was kind of a disproval of this — it was more down to individual teams and whether or not they wanted to change themselves from within, instead of blaming it on the region. 

Do you feel this was genuinely the case: that you had inferior surroundings in terms of practice, or was it an internal issues for the team?
The scene was really young back then, at least in 2013-2014, EU was really dominant. Players were young, even nowadays. I’m 20, Twistzz is 18, Stewie2k is 20. Back in the day, everyone was a lot younger, people didn’t really know how to play proper CS.

Nowadays, you can’t have a massive ego, you need to be able to play in a team environment.

On top of that, practice schedules in NA weren’t the best, people were messing around a lot and we couldn’t necessarily play against the best. We were a little bit stuck. Once a lot of support came around between organizations and they put a lot more money into the game, we were able to go to Europe LAN events and bootcamp. NA is a lot stronger now, we’re bringing a lot more invites and a lot more people are paying attention to us, so we get the fans and all the support to help us out. I think that nowadays we just have more things that we can use to help us compared to back in the day, when it was little to nothing. Right now, it’s an even playing ground between Europe and North America.

What are the differences between the two regions at the time, in terms of in-game stuff?
Back in the day and even nowadays, the way you make it to the top is just showing how good you are individually. You’re only taught how to shoot heads; nowadays you need more than just being an insane individual player. That’s how a lot of players played back then. Nowadays, you can’t have a massive ego, you need to be able to play in a team environment. Make sure to keep doing what you’re doing with shooting heads and all that, but you also need to know how to be a really good teammate. Nowadays, it’s a lot different: people have grown a lot more in the NA scene.

How 2018 validated Team Liquid — and North American CS:GO in general
How 2018 validated Team Liquid — and North American CS:GO in general
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Hypothetically, you and Astralis go through and get paired once again. I believe there was a statistic were the two of you paired off the most over the course of 2018. Talk to us about that pairing, surely it can’t be easy?
Yeah, just because we beat them in the group stage doesn’t give us the sense of, "Oh, we can finally beat them now!". I don’t think that’s the case at all.

In previous events: at EPL they 3:1’d us, at ELEAGUE they 2:0’d us, at ECSA they 2:0’d us. Yes, some of the matches were close, but overall it was still pretty much a blow-out. Going into Astralis — if we get there — is going to be just another very tough match. It’s the kind of match that everyone, even myself, would consider a grand final if it gets there. I’m not going to go into that match feeling that we’re going to win. I’m going to go there feeling confident, but definitely can’t underestimate them — it’s Astralis. Just because they showed a little weakness doesn’t mean they can’t return to their form. We had a few days break to set up and play on stage, so anything can happen. We just have to see who shows up on the game day and who doesn’t.

More FACEIT Major coverage

New Champions interviews

—  Analysis with Xyp9x: Astralis' semifinal vs. Team Liquid
—  dev1ce: "[Oversaturation is] a huge problem that we have to work together in the community to fix."
—  fer: "We needed someone to open space for us."
—  Stewie2k: "Without YNk, we wouldn't be progressing that fast."
—  dupreeh: "I'm proud of the way we've approached the tournament."
—  GuardiaN: "[After the 0:2], we came to a conclusion to put NiKo as an IGL for now."
—  Edward: "We were well prepared for [BIG]. We knew the full arsenal of their rounds."
—  ANDROID: "I think we can go further."
—  electronic: "You never know if you're ready to win the Major. [...] It's all about the moment."

New Legends interviews

—  Analysis with Deadfox: HR's Legends decider game vs. Fnatic
— Analysis with Nitr0: Liquid's OT win vs. Astralis at FACEIT Major
—  Zeus: "We're deservedly a top 2 team in the world."
—  NiKo: "I think strategy is what [G2 Esports] lacked the most."
—  dephh: "It would be nice to play smooya again."
—  gla1ve: "I don't think we have played this good since before the break."
—  Golden: "Autimatic is a very smart player and I let him do whatever he wants."

New Challengers interviews

—  Gob b: "The next stage would be to win tournaments, but we're not there yet."
—  JR: "Psychologically, it's a lot easier for us. We have nothing to lose."
—  snatchie: "We were the least prepared team of all."
—  stanislaw: "The T side really just confused the hell out of me, honestly."
—  AdreN: "We recognise that it is absolutely crucial for us to be a more structured team."
—  dupreeh: "We maybe prepared a little bit too much [vs. Rogue]."
—  Bondik: "The main goal is to proceed into the next stage, the rest is irrelevant."
—  NEO: "I've been nothing but happy and surprised how good snatchie is."
—  Dosia: "B1ad3 is rearranging our in-game approach entirely, on all maps."
—  Lekr0: "We can't underestimate VP even though they had a bad streak."
—  Magisk: "I don't think that any team should be guaranteed a spot at the Major for being top 8."

 Features

Reap what you sow: Comparing NiP and Fnatic in the wake of FACEIT Major ousting
New Legends Stage: Pick'ems predictions
How can FaZe avoid another Boston?
Three lessons we learned from DH Stockholm 
Why FACEIT Major's system is so damn good
— Which CS:GO players could repeat a Major title — and what are their chances?
— The top 10 players for MVP contention at the FACEIT Major
— The five CS:GO Major series you should watch before the FACEIT Major

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