Team Liquid have started off the fall season with a bang, earning two back-to-back second place finishes at ESG Tour Mykonos 2017 and ESL One: New York 2017 respectively.
Ahead of their group stage games at the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017, theScore esports spoke with Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz to talk about stepping back from the in-game leader role, their competition in the ELEAGUE Premier group stage and his reaction to the "snakeislaw" meme.
If New York was any indication, you guys have finally figured out something that works for the team. Can you talk a bit more about the team’s apparent breakthrough and how was that achieved?
I think that the main thing that made us click recently is just finding out everyone's best roles in the team.
So everyone knows that I used to be the in-game leader of the team, but we recently changed that to nitr0 and I think that's kind of allowed me to play my best role, which is a lurker. And then we've also shifted Twistzz into more of an entry... kind of like he just goes with the pack.
So everyone's kind of more comfortable in their roles and I think everyone's more suited for their roles now as well, so that one small change, or few small changes have just had a big effect.
Why nitr0 as IGL? When?
It was always going to be between either myself or him.
When I was first brought onto the team, that was the main reason they brought me on because I was known for being an IGL. So after our player break, we weren't having the success that we wanted, so we just kind of sat and brainstormed.
Kind of like: what could we do here, maybe some people are not in their best roles. nitr0 kind of stepped up and said 'OK, I can take over the in-game leader role if that puts you in a better position and also puts Twistzz in a better position.' It was kind of his suggestion, and it was really awesome for him to do that because the in-game leader role is not really that appealing.
You have to make a lot of sacrifices. But I think everyone knows it's for the best and so far it's working out.
How would you describe him as a leader?
You can honestly say we're polar opposites.
Mine was a lot more free and people can kind of do what they wanted, whereas he likes to micromanage more and we have a bit more structure to what we're doing and a bit more depth I'd say.
It's a lot newer for us because my style, which I did for a few months and it kind of got stale I guess. With his new micromanaging style it's kind of given us a new motivation to learn a lot of new, little things and we like having the new direction.
Do you feel more or less pressure now that you’re not IGL?
For me it's weird now that I've been an IGL a year and a half or more. Shifting into this new role is exciting but kind of challenging because I have to learn a lot of new things now and just do things that I haven't had to do in well over a year.
It's definitely motivating and exciting because I need to find out new things to do and make sure I know what my team expects of me and learn all these little new things. So it's just created a new motivation for me.
Pressure for me has never really existed too much, it's just been the same that it's always been. I wouldn't use the word pressure too much, I would say... it's more of a comfort thing for me. I just want to be comfortable in my role and make sure that I'm just doing my job for the team.
What are your responsibilities to the team now, are you assisting with mid-round calling?
With nitr0's calling, he usually has an idea from the start of the round. Then if we do end up defaulting or just doing something basic, where we all need to be staying alive, my role is just to probably mid-round call because I'm on a map by myself usually. And my job is to gather information and make mid-round calls based off of that.
That being said, he's more towards the start of the round and I'm more mid-round. But if he has an idea or I have an idea, or that goes for everyone actually because Jon, Russell and Josh have a lot of good ideas that they like to share. It's basically just him at the start of the round, with me at the mid-round and if anyone else has anything to chip in then we're open to that as well.
What's the difference in communication styles between you and nitr0?
I don't think it's been like this for awhile because my old style was kind of me directing everything.
I always also had an idea with nitr0 at the start of the round, but a lot of the time it was just kind of like, everyone can kind of just do what they want or I would give suggestions as to what they should do. Now, it's shifted towards him giving the suggestions for what people should do specifically and also our team stepping up and saying what they want to do individually.
So let's say [Josh "jdm64" Marzano] wants to do something specific with his AWP. He's going to say that and then we base either a strat off that or a few more people will go and support him. It's just a bit more structure, I'd say, because mine was just more free like 'OK, you go work this side of the map.' His is more specific and how to actually do it.
When you first came into Liquid you spoke about the needs of a CS:GO team and that OpTic wasn’t adapting from how they ran their CoD team. Can you expand on that? What does a CS:GO team need in order to perform and how does Liquid provide that?
I think CS:GO teams' needs are pretty basic I'd say.
Every team needs a boot camp, I feel. That's just a good opportunity before a big tournament to get together and really have productive practice days face-to-face. You can solve a lot of problems that way rather than online.
Things that Liquid can provide that a lot of other orgs can't is, a good example I can give is a sports psychologist. So we've been working with our psychologist for a few weeks now. We've actually had him for a few months but we haven't taken full advantage.
We've had weekly meetings, but now, before our three week trip just now, we were in the Netherlands for a week and he was actually there with us in the Netherlands facilities. And that was really incredible because any problems we had we could just go immediately, have a one-on-one with them and find the root causes of those problems.
I think CS:GO is equally a mental game just as it is a tactical game. I think tactics wise, most teams can find solutions. It's pretty simple if you just brainstorm enough. But the whole mental aspect of the game is a lot more analytical, and it's really beneficial for Liquid to provide us with a psychologist because we can just iron out these mental issues. Once we find out the root causes of them, it just creates a really deeper foundation for us to stay in games mentally and to always have the right mindset.
You’ve come under fire from the community as a result of your roster move, which birthed the meme “snakeislaw.” This type of meme is nothing new from the community, such kio is the problem, yo les noobs and SmithZz and even going further back with pig JW.
What are your thoughts on this reaction from the community? Have you reached out to the other players in the scene who have dealt with this kind of thing before? It seems like most recently you’ve embraced it.
The way I feel about the community reacting to my roster move from OpTic to Liquid is... I just felt like their reaction was fair because I didn't really provide an explanation at the right time I guess. I kind of waited until everything was finalized before I released my public statement on the Team Liquid website when it was already done.
It just came as a big shock because although we were doing so well on OpTic, we won ELEAGUE and moving on the next tournament we came second I believe. Although we were having success internationally, people can't really understand what was going on inside of the team because obviously they're not in the team. I obviously made a decision that is best for me and I have my reasons for that.
Without me revealing too much obviously, I think the reaction was fair because they didn't know the whole story. But I wouldn't have made the move if it wasn't what was best for me, and looking back on it now I still think I made the right decision.
I think everyone's kind of moved on from that one month or two month period where OpTic was considered the best NA team, and now it's kind of up in the air. I think it's fair to say that it's either between us or C9, but I think we've been showing more promising results than C9 lately.
In hindsight, I'm still confident I made the right decision.
What do you think of the CS:GO community after all this?
Honestly, I love the CS:GO community.
I think the support they give the scene itself is just incredible and I think one day if we can have an International type thing the crowd will really get behind that.
In terms of reacting to these memes as you're saying or anything else, for the most part it's pretty good to have a source like Reddit where some people can have in depth discussions and you can have reasonable people. But you're always going to get, in an industry like this in online esports, where some people just jump to conclusions pretty quickly.
For instance my move from OpTic to Liquid, some people just jumped right away and said that I had did the whole snake thing or whatever. And then also like "kio was a problem", that whole scenario. People don't understand what goes on behind the scenes.
I think the only thing I'd say is for the community to not jump to conclusions too quickly, but for the most part it's awesome to have the community that we have because they give us so much support. They just give us incredible support and motivation to keep playing. I'm happy with the way this community is right now.
Going into the ELEAGUE Premier, your group has SK and Astralis, both of whom were defeated by you in NY in best-of-three series. Do you feel you have a firm grasp of those teams now?
I'd say if you asked me this two months ago, I'd be pretty scared of our group. But the way we've been playing lately, I'm pretty confident actually because we showed that we can play incredible CS and if we're playing at our best I don't think there's many teams that can beat us other than a superstar FaZe roster.
Our group now, SK and Astralis, we've beaten both teams, we've been beating SK a lot recently, we've beaten Astralis. And Heroic is another team that we kind of have to look out for, but I think our main targets are obviously SK/Astralis.
Our goal for that ELEAGUE group is to just 100 percent to just get out of that group as best we can, whether it's first or second, we just have to be as organized as we have been and hopefully we'll get out of the group.
How do you feel being able to say that?
It's just really satisfying. All of the hard work we've been putting in is finally paying off.
We're still chasing that one title. Although it's satisfying to finish second at two tournaments in a row, we're still chasing that title. We don't want to be finishing second, we want to be finishing first always. You can just say we're heading in the right direction.
When I first joined the team we didn't have any notable results, we maybe had one top four finish, otherwise it's been pretty underwhelming. But now that we're starting to build a consistent foundation, making top fours, making top twos, it's just really satisfying to know our hard work is paying off.
Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.
Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking
Discipline Priest Pharah a silenced Cavity 9mm Ryu Bounty Hunter. You can follow him on Twitter.