We spoke with Liquid’s Keith “NAF” Markovic on the eve of their Semi Final clash against MIBR.
How does it feel coming into IEM Sydney as a favorite compared to recent events in the year where you’ve been overshadowed by Astralis?
NAF: Yeah we’ve been in this situation before and there’s some events previously like there’s no Astralis here or there might be no Faze or something like that it’s just like…”Right, who’s gonna win it? Liquid’s gonna win it for sure.” Obviously issues keep arising but we’re are feeling confident.
We’ve been in the situation plenty of times if we reach the final… we’ve talked about it a lot and especially after the (Blast Pro Series) Miami lost we put a lot of thought into it. I think this will give us a different outcome.
So going back to the Major, you guys were knocked out on the championship stage and couldn’t fight for your spot in the grand final. Does that put you under more pressure to win here in Sydney or does that give you a bit more determination to take out the tournament?
NAF: In the finals in Poland (Katowice), I think we’re kind of underestimated ENCE a little bit but yeah, I don’t know it feels like every other tournament to us like you know? Like, we want to go in and we know we were capable of winning, let’s just play our best give it our best see what happens.
Ultimately you still can fail, although second place isn’t that bad . But yes, we are feeling a lot more conscious about it.
The atmosphere in the arena is electric!
We take to the stage at IEM Sydney looking to lock up our spot in the grand finals. #LetsGoLiquid
— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) May 4, 2019
You’ve been with Liquid for a little bit longer than your first stint, how is it different now compared to your time in 2015?
NAF (chuckling): Oh, it’s a lot different, I’m a lot older now. I think I was like 17 when I was on Liquid. So yeah, I was really young and obviously I’ve matured a lot more now. I’m 21 now so it’s been a long time but obviously the game was a lot different back then even for the NA support with the organization, that’s when the Liquid originally jumped into CS and now we’re here.
But obviously the game in general is a lot different. The practice for the teams are a lot different. The world of esports is a lot more different and it’s a lot more beneficial for us in CS.
Looking forward to tomorrow, MIBR and Mousesports are playing as we speak. Do you think any of those two teams could cause massive threat to you guys not making it to the grand final on Sunday?
NAF: Oh yeah for sure. MIBR are a very good team. I’m a fan of the style for sure. They’ve been very mixed up style of CS and it worked a lot in the past and now they’re trying to find their own way back with their new lineup. Even Mousesports… I haven’t seen them play or anything about their new roster but they’re this deep in the tourney for a reason.
So yeah could be scary either way. So we just have to not underestimate anyone, make sure we’re feeling good for tomorrow and come out swinging.
This roster has been around for the past few months with Stewie joining late last year, how has he changed up the roster and how does it feel becoming the bannermen of American Counter Strike?
NAF: Stewie coming in, like he’s very vocal with the issues that we had, (if he saw something) he would call it; no time wasted. He would just call it out instantly and just tell you
“This is wrong you should try playing it like this”. And obviously he learned a lot from MIBR because he’s given us a lot of the MIBR way of playing and he introduced it to us. So a lot of us respect that since he kind of came from the best, where MIBR was the best.
So yes we all share in both our worlds because MIBR is a passive team whereas our team is very aggressive. So we’re kind of mixing both the formulas together and we’re going to make it super fun.
You can watch today’s thrilling Semi Final between NAF’s Liquid and MIBR today from 3PM AEST live on twitch.tv/esl_csgo.
Tickets to IEM Sydney 2019 are still available on the official website or ticketek.com.au.
Photo credit: ESL | Adela Sznajder