• Alex Mauisnake Ellenberg

adreN on Liquid's New York Struggles

Photo Credit: ESL

I caught up with former MDL adversary, now current professional coach of Team Liquid, adreN at ESL One New York. adreN was kind enough to provide an interview following the team’s disappointing loss to Astralis. It was the second tournament in a row that they were bounced by the Danish squad. Betting odds and fans alike had Liquid as the favorites for both of these matchups.

The mental edge has never been in favor of Liquid. They’re an organization plagued by a history riddled with some of the worst choking incidents CS:GO has seen and is likely to ever see. However, this underwhelming 3rd place tournament finish did not necessarily feel like a lack of mental strength according to adreN and he was sure to make that clear, “I think for Vertigo it was definitely tactical-based. We did not have an answer for [our] T-side.” In two halves on the offensive side spanning back to the StarLadder Major in August, Liquid has net a total of 1 round against Astralis. He says that “it all came down to the A ramp...the way they’re pressuring it, it’s different every time. We thought we came up with new ideas from the last time we took the loss so we thought we were going to be better strategically this time. We almost thought it was a fluke because of the way they were pushing us - they did it again, props to them.”

Without the A ramp on Vertigo, you will never be able to throw a proper grenade execute on the more favored bombsite. Without grenades, without space, there’s no hope for an effective offense.

In terms of other maps, Liquid succeed on Dust2, “I think we played strategically. We reset - we came into Dust2 really good.” Overpass was a closer match that eventually ended with a series victory for Astralis, though. Liquid’s previous dominance on the map may have come back to bite them, notes the coach, “teams studied the shit out of us on that map.” He says that this prepwork from other teams may be seeping into the team’s mindset as well, “if we don’t have an answer strategically it kinda bleeds into your mindset like ‘oh we’ve been having this problem every single time now’ it just kinda gets someone down.”

The rest of their tournament went rather well as they breezed through the group stage, only dropping a single map to G2 in an overtime loss on Inferno. G2 were playing with kioShiMa as a stand-in for shox and adreN said regarding their temporary squad, “I felt like it was the same team, honestly. They felt close to the same - probably not as strong as with shox to be honest.” G2 has since found permanent replacements for kioShiMa, shox, and Lucky in former Cr4zy players, nexa- and huNter-.

The other team that Liquid faced in the group stage was EUnited who were unable to secure a spot in the playoffs at the Barclays Center. Similarly, EUnited went through a roster shift just prior to this tournament, replacing stand-out lurker, moose with Freakazoid. This change reunited Abadir brothers, Cooper and Ryan. adreN mentioned that the lack of familiarity with the big LAN scene may have hindered the opposing North American squad, “they don’t have too much experience on LAN, to be honest. If that match were online it probably would have been really tight [laughs.]” adreN mentioned that time and experience will aid some of the less experienced players the most, but he was quick to give props to Freakazoid, a North American veteran, “Freakazoid has a lot of LAN experience and he actually played well just sliding right into the team I think, but a lot of these guys like vanity and food they’re all pretty new to the big LAN scene so it’ll take some time. I think their roster could be good in a couple months, maybe a year.”

When I asked adreN about what he thought the North American pecking order looked like after Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses, adreN didn’t have any conclusive picks for 3rd or 4th best teams. “They [Envy, Complexity, and EUnited] seem all balled up in the same group of roster changes. I don’t know, they’re all in the same group for me.”

However, he was willing to give props to one up and coming South American squad, Sharks Esports, “they beat us they just seemed so confident and they just knew what they were doing, good conviction.” Liquid played Sharks in ECS North America Week 1 and lost 0:2 in two, close matches. He was willing to give some very specific praise to one player, “leo_drunky I think he was their AWPer...he was slaying us.”

adreN had some opinions regarding the Brazilian squads that have become familiar adversaries. Furia, the younger squad that has been making a name for themselves internationally may have been studied, similar to Liquid on Overpass, says adreN, “once they became known. I think their style, you can figure out their style pretty easily and they were like ‘no, we can keep doing these aggressive things over and over again.’ But like, I think they really need to go in more depth on their T-sides and their overall strategy.”

As for the more prominent Brazilian team, MiBR, “I haven’t been able to watch them so I don’t have any feedback really...but it’s weird not seeing Fallen AWPing, I don’t like it.” adreN wanted to make it clear he hasn’t been able to study either team for too much time at the time of this interview.

Before parting, I asked what adreN thought some of his most impactful contributions were to this team. When he first joined, they went on an unprecedented winning streak, taking down the Intel Grand Slam with four consecutive S-Tier tournament championships. He says some of his greatest work was when he first joined, “I took like 15 days before we started practice - I did a lot of research on the demos and just figuring out how they’re playing.” He says that he “came in with a fresh pair of eyes for Liquid because from my perspective I could see a lot of gaps in their strategies, just a lot of holes in their overall setup or overall ideas about how they should be playing their CT-sides or T-sides. So from an outsider perspective it was very easy to analyze what they were missing.”

Following this interview, Evil Geniuses took down Astralis to become champions of ESL One New York. adreN said before EG’s victory that if they won, “it would be convincing, it’s a best of five. It’s not a fluke.”