I was brought into Team Liquid to bring success with my leadership capabilities, but I leave the team in a disappointing manner after playing some of the worst CS I have ever played throughout the past few months. From the minute I joined I knew that it would not be an easy task. After attending our first lan at CS Summit, it was a huge eye opener that problems on this team ran deep. With no notable results and constantly wondering about how to fix our issues, it was not until the player break where changes were made to give it one last go with the roster we had. When I was the IGL, I tried everything I could, from trying a fully structured style which was heavy execute based, as well as the loose style that I liked most from Optic. However, coupled with the attitude issues and certain playstyles on the team, I couldn't make it work anymore. So after the player break, Nitro, being the selfless teammate that he is, opted to become the IGL and allowed me to lurk, which was one of my better roles. Even though it was a small change, it had big effects. It allowed Twistz to get into more central positions and unlock his skill on other teams. Right away, we could tell that the dynamic felt better, but I also think that we were in a new state of the so called "honeymoon" period where since people had certain spots and roles changed, new motivations arose and everyone played better because of it. At the start of the new changes, I was still calling about 40% of the time, but Nitro was improving at a quick rate and becoming more confident as time went on. However, after ESL NY, we started to become stale. Once we started losing again, attitude issues from the past resurfaced and new issues also arose.
Throughout my whole time on Liquid, I felt like I was really the only one who disagreed with Zews on his ideas and the way he wanted to run things. During the ESL tournament in Dallas, he told us that he believes the only way we are going to improve is that if we all move into the gaming house. He then gave us an ultimatum and told us that if we do not all move in, then he would leave the team. This resulted in an odd atmosphere for a few weeks and he later revealed he never intended to leave in the first place.
As time went on, we constantly did demo reviews that were used to point out everyone’s little mistakes. I brought up several times that we should stop focusing on every little thing and focus more on the big picture - innovating new things and perfecting our fundamentals. Instead, we focused on the little things too much and it started to affect the way certain players played, including myself. The player break discussions about the changes we made to the roles included Elige taking a step back and helping the team more; and credit to him for improving in that regard. However, we are players that rely on initiative and playmaking, with Elige’s style being related to entrying and mine being related to lurking, timings and calls. With the constant dwelling on little mistakes and always having these little talks, it started making me second guess myself and I started to change the way I played.
After ESL NY, we lost an EPL match 16-13 on Cbble to Complexity, and Zews pointed out that Nitro and myself failed to adapt and communicate. I pointed out that we were communicating and trying new things, but the setups themselves were wrong, we weren’t hitting our shots, and it wasn’t the fact that we didn’t adapt or communicate. The back and forth went on for a while but the conversation turned for the worse when he told me how I am unable to take criticism and how I am always negative. This did not sit well with me because one of my strong traits is the ability to always improve and take criticism.
We attempted to iron out our issues 1 on 1 but we just kept going back and forth and the conversations spun in circles. I was angry for the next fews days and I let if affect my gameplay and attitude, but then I spoke to my teammates about what was going on and tried to forget about it.
Then came Epicenter, where we had practice computers available 24/7 at the hotel and I played as much CS as I possibly could to try to get back into form and build some confidence again. I honestly felt like my confidence was improving again and I was starting to feel like myself. During the tournament, they allowed for coaches to speak during freeze time and he overcalled Nitr0 and myself for the entire event. After the event however, Zews pointed out things that I disagreed with again and it left me confused and angry.
Next, came the minor, which was a continuation of what I attempted to do at Epicenter in Russia; get back to my old self and regain confidence. Zews could not attend the minor with us because he had to sort out his Visa issues and I felt that it would be a good chance for me to reconnect with myself and the team. Things went well at the Minor; I was happy with how things went and felt like I got back on the right path.
My final event with Liquid was when we attended IBuyPower and something just felt off from the start. I think that the decision was already made prior to this event.
Overall, I feel that I was setup to fail from the very start. I was brought into Team Liquid to be a leader but I believe that they already had a leader in Zews. I truly believe Zews' intentions are good, and he is a coach with great passion, but at the end of the day we are just fundamentally two different types of leaders. I want this to be very clear, none of this is an excuse, I am completely deserving of being replaced. For the past month I've been absolutely miserable and I've allowed it to affect my gameplay and my teammates, and I want to apologize to them for that, especially Nick and Russ, I'll miss playing with the both of you. I should have worked things out with Zews before they got this bad, but I allowed it to continue and ruin the atmosphere in the team. I'm disappointed to be leaving but I am also happy to be able to start fresh and move on.
I want to thank everyone at Liquid for the opportunity, especially Joka, Victor, and Steve, as it was a blessing to have the chance to play for such a great organization.