NA’s superstar rifler, EliGE discusses M4A1-S nerf, Anubis update and BLAST Premier World Finals in this exclusive interview.
Ever since the addition of Latvian star Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis, Team Liquid has returned to the top of CS. Carrying the hopes of North America, the team has consistently made top-4s at every event except the Major. Before the final event of the year, BLAST Premier World Finals, we sat down with EliGE to discuss the year so far and their expectations for the event.
Arnav “xL” Shukla: Let’s first talk about the year as a whole. The first didn’t quite work out with the Shox lineup. But with YEKINDAR coming in, the team has looked great despite the major result. Are you excited about 2023 and sticking to this roster going forward?
EliGE: Yeah, 100%. I’m really excited for 2023. I think that, especially in the last couple of months, there has been a really good focus on exactly what to work on. Especially for me individually, I know exactly what I need to work on to like get back to the next level.
I know exactly what needs to be done. It’s just that there needs to be some time now to be able to get to it. A lot of work needs to happen to get to the level that most people expect. And I think that it’s a pretty straightforward line of what to do, it’s just about getting it done, and I’m really excited for that.
xL: So, you’ll obviously have more time in the player break now. Do you think this team can be at a Championship level?
EliGE: I think so, yeah. I think we’re already close to it. We were top 5-10 for the second half of the year, so we can beat any team for sure. There’s no team we’re really scared of playing, like where we get them in a matchup, and we’re like, oh god, what are we gonna do?
Obviously, some teams are gonna match up better map pool-wise, but we don’t feel like we’re incapable of winning. So it’s a pretty high level of confidence going into these games, but we know there’s a lot of work to be done to be a championship team.
xL: There have been a bunch of moves this year where a single player change has made a big impact on the team. Do you think it’s just because of firepower upgrades or other factors like role balance?
EliGE: I think, in general, there are so many reasons why adding a single player can have such a big difference. One of them is team chemistry. Just being able to elevate that and put everyone into comfortable positions. Even like the social aspect, if that guy is very charismatic and is able to lead things in the team in a way that can benefit everyone and can make people more comfortable.
The most obvious is roles. If you pick up someone that fits your role and is a good player, then you’re gonna see a huge difference from that one addition.
xL: Could you give some thoughts on oSee’s growth this year?
EliGE: I’d say Josh [oSee] has had pretty linear growth. He first started getting into tier 1 this year. Obviously, he was playing in Extra Salt and Cloud9 before, where he’d play against top teams here and there. But when you’re playing against them consistently, that’s when you’re gonna see the real growth.
Cause you need to play against the top teams consistently and refine your process and improve your understanding of game knowledge and game sense. And I think all the experience has helped him a lot and shed light on what he has to work on. It’s been really good for his development, and I’ve seen a lot of that this year.
xL: So far in the second half, we’ve seen consistent top 4s from the roster except for the major. So coming into this event, are those the expectations for the event?
EliGE: We don’t really set expectations for the results. It’s more about making sure we’re playing as well as we can. It’s more about expectations within maps, what we’ve worked on, what we’re familiar with and executing those things properly. Personally, I’d definitely say I want to make it out of groups. This is a big event. It’d be a really nice send-off after not doing as well at the major, so 100% that’s my personal goal, but it’s not something we’ve discussed as a team.
We have high expectations for the team. We came to Cologne with Yekindar and had good results. We wanted to keep building on that and going higher and higher. It’s obviously not as realistic for us to be instantly jumping up to that form, so now we do have elevated expectations because of that and because of how our results have been.
xL: Talking about your map pool now, what are your thoughts on Anubis and how’s practice been going?
EliGE: I think Anubis is really fun, and I think it’s way better than ancient and vertigo when they came out. I’m really enjoying it. It’s been super fun. Of course, I hope Valve make sure that they keep updating it. Cause I feel like they kinda forgot about Ancient for a while, only making little bug changes. Obviously, the temple changed, and A site and mid, but I hope that with Anubis, they keep refining and fixing things, especially things like problems with clipping. I think it’s definitely way more complete than vertigo was when it got added.
xL: You’re famous for having great control of the spray, so now that the M4A4 is back in the meta, have you switched over already?
EliGE: Yeah, I thought I was gonna be playing the A1-s still, but I put on the A4 and immediately I felt like, dude, this is so much better. You can make so many plays happen with the A4. It’s actually crazy. I think that as soon as people see the type of stuff that you can do with the A4, like the spray transfers. Of course, you can spray transfer with the A1, but the time-to-kill is so much higher.
Especially if you’re over 500 units, it’s so much higher, and most fights, especially for me, are over 500 units. So I’ve been enjoying it so much. I’ve had so many easy kills and spray transfers. It’s really clean. I have been having a lot more fun with this update. Obviously, I could have played the M4A4 before, but I’m gonna obviously play whichever’s optimal.
xL: For this event, do you have a particular opponent that will be tough to beat?
EliGE: I don’t really think that there’s a particular opponent that’s way harder than the others. Of course, we’re playing outsiders, who just won the major, so they should be the hardest team. But every single team here is really, really good, and there’s not like one team that’s dominating everyone. Anyone that’s at this event is a really top-tier team, so I’d just say everyone’s gonna be a hard opponent here.
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