Interview With Liquid’s NAF, Ahead of ESL Pro League S19

Ahead of ESL Pro League S19, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keith “NAF” Markovic from Team Liquid. Here’s... Radu M. | 30. April 2024

Ahead of ESL Pro League S19, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keith “NAF” Markovic from Team Liquid. Here’s what we talked about.

1. You’ve been a professional player for more than 12 years and spent the last six years playing for Liquid. What do you think are the biggest challenges to overcome for the current roster?

I think that our biggest challenge at the moment is getting everyone on the same page.

CadiaN came from HEROIC, who were consistently one of the best teams in the world. Even though they didn’t win that many trophies, they were always ranked high.

Then you have Twistzz from FaZe Clan, who was pretty much winning everything and learning things from karrigan. Stuff like what the best vision and best way of playing the game is.

YEKINDAR came from Virtus.pro, where he used to play with Jame and formed his style and philosophy based on that experience.

So it’s a bit challenging now to get everyone on the same page and to believe in the same philosophy. We’ve been getting better at it and just have to keep going.

2. Was it mentally challenging to recover from failing in the RMRs for the Copenhagen Major?

It was. When our team was finally built, on paper we had a lot of great players and a high chance of success. So people had high expectations from us and we had high expectations from ourselves. So to fail at that point, right at the start, was difficult to deal with. It was also a new thing for a lot of us.

For cadiaN, for instance, as well as Twistzz, it was tough because they were used to winning big trophies and having a lot of success with their previous teams. For them to be in this position, where there is no success and things are just going wrong is probably a challenge.

3. Do you guys train harder or feel unmotivated after a big defeat?

Right after a defeat it’s pretty tough. There’s a sense of discouragement. But after a few days, things come back to normal. I think that all of us are trying to train hard and improve. At the end of the day, we are professionals and need to keep working until we get it right.

4. What are your expectations at this event? Can Liquid finish in the top 16?

Yes, for sure. It’s a big goal for us at the moment to have some sort of result here. In recent months, our results have been mediocre. At IEM Chengdu, we finished in the top six. Losing to FaZe Clan was unpleasant but we were pretty close to beating them.

Because of that, when we left Chengdu we were pretty happy with our results. Of course, we wished had gone a little bit further but it is what it is.

ESL Pro League is a tournament in which we want to succeed and get a good result. If we don’t get at least a top four or at least top eight, it would be somewhat of a disappointment for us. We also need a good result at this point because we need to accumulate points and earn invites to big events like ESL Cologne.

I think we’ve had our fair share of disappointment this year, so we’re all eager to perform well.

5. What do you think about the MR12 format and the rewards offered to each team after the pistol round? Would you tweak the current rules in any way or are you happy with them?

This is something I haven’t thought too much about. But they could probably change the economy a bit. I like the MR12 format because MR15 is super long and you get tired after playing intensely for a certain number of hours. The new format might have some issues that could be addressed. But I personally don’t have any issues with it.

6. Isn’t it stressful to lose a pistol round?

Of course it is, because they are way more important now. Many teams are putting more time into training for pistol rounds and force-buys.

7. Who do you think will be the toughest team to beat in your group?

I think our group is a bit underwhelming, so the fans probably expect us to advance to the playoffs and would be very upset if we didn’t. The group has some top names, but a lot of the teams have been dealing with roster changes.

Our first match is against FURIA and they recently replaced their IGL, arT. When I look at our group, the only team that seems rock-solid is MOUZ. We lost to them in China. They’re a good, young team with a stable roster. So they are the favorites to win the group.

Every team is a threat. Even though FURIA made a roster change, FalleN is a great player and IGL. I played with him, so I know what he’s capable of. You can’t underestimate him.

8. What do you think about the triple-elimination format? Does it give you any comfort?

Yes, it’s always nice to have more chances and best-of-three matches.

Alright. Thank you for the interview, and good luck at the tournament!

Header: Team Liquid