Team Liquid is currently the team to beat in CSGO. At ESL One Cologne 2019, they have once more qualified themselves for the semi-finals, giving them a shot to take home yet another title. If they do, they’d even secure the Intel Grand Slam, a with that an immense 1 million US-Dollar prize pool. For Team Liquid, this win wouldn’t just mean that they’d solidify their spot as the number one team in CSGO.
During the quarterfinals this Friday, Team Liquid had a day off with no matches to be played, so we sat down with Team Liquid’s Russel ‘Twistzz’ Van Dulken (19) to discuss the development of Team Liquid, his own personal growth and his expectations for the remainder of ESL One Cologne 2019.
“Overall, I felt like the group stage went pretty well for us. It was clean”, says the young Canadian, “Against Na’Vi, we felt like they were an easier opponent than MVP. At least of the first map.”
Twistzz joined Team Liquid just over two years ago, at the age of just 17. “That’s probably been the best-case scenario for every young player. Being brought into a team that helps you grow as a player, becoming a better person – and that at the same time.”
Throughout the years, Team Liquid stuck to their roster and focused on improvement, rather than rotating players in and out. “We didn’t make all too many changes during that time. Of course, we are still friends with the Brazilians, but there was some kind of division within the team. Then actually last year, zwes and TACO wanted to leave the team. We brought adreN and Stewie2K and I think that that was the best change the team has ever made. Since then we’ve been closer than ever and on the rise.”
With the eyes back on ESL One Cologne 2019, Twistzz stated that “everything below the finals would be a disappointment”, which is understandable, granted the team’s recent results. “We can beat any team, but when we have a bad day and teams capitalize on it. Every remaining team in the tournament can beat us as well. Our last group stage match against NRG actually didn’t feel like a victory, it felt like a defeat. We didn’t win because we really played well, but because of raw skill. It’s not a bad way to win, but teamwork would be the ideal way. But all of that is just shows how competitive CSGO is now. Within maybe the top 15, everyone can possibly beat each other.”
“Lately, we have been showing some signs of weakness. Before this event, I thought we were a decent amount ahead of Astralis. Now, every other team has fallen behind Astralis again. It’s kind of weird how competitive CSGO is right now.” Throughout the group phase of ESL One Cologne 2019, Astralis showed a strong performance, not losing a single map to BIG, Fnatic, or Ninjas in Pyjamas.
“It was obvious that Astralis would fall off after taking a break from competitions for so long. Some of them were even going on vacation. But it was just as obvious as that they’d come back. When you don’t play for so long, you lose touch. Not only on your individual skill but also on how you work with your teammates. That’s why it is so important to stay in touch, always communicate and do as much together with your team as you can – inside and outside of the game.”
To end things off, we asked Twistzz a general question about the overall esports scene in the West.
How come so little top-tier talent is coming out of North America compared to Europe – not only in Counter-Strike but also other games such as League of Legends?
“Good question. Not every player should try to stand out all the time. The thing that teams in NA should do is to play as a team and grow together as a whole. There is no point in wanting to stand out with stats when you’re not successful. Just don’t try to outshine each other. If you don’t help your teammates to improve and by that improve the level of the team as a whole, you’re not really going to improve either”, Twistzz advises his fellow North Americans. “However, without having fun, you’re not delivering your best performance. When everyone improves, has fun, and the vibes are up, everyone is laughing and happy to play the game, you’re at your best. When you just take everything serious it subconsciously stresses you out. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing group stage or in the finals, you should have fun and make jokes. Don’t think about what’s on the other side of the victory.”