By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
We had the chance to speak with Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski at ESL One Cologne where his team is currently competing in a best-of-five finals against Vitality.
The star player discusses the teams performance, in-game leader changes, his history as a CS:GO and Starcraft player, and the era of Liquid.
VPEsports: You showed good performance on T-side of Nuke against NRG which was their pick. Have you found the key good T-rounds on Nuke?
EliGE: Nuke is one of the maps that we have developed a lot recently. Since Vertigo came into the map pool a lot of teams had to shift their map pool and it’s just happened to be Nuke where a lot of teams got stronger and it was our weaker map, even now it is one of our weakest maps.
VPEsports: On your map pick, Inferno, you showed a weaker performance initially but closed the game in overtime. What do you think the problems were initially?
EliGE: We actually started pretty well Inferno’s T-side, but later in the half we started messing up a lot of afterplants. CT side was going well until we got eco’d after which our money got broken and we had a lot of unwinnable situations on CT-side. But I think that overall we just did more individual mistakes than tactical mistakes.
VPEsports: In the past two month teams such as yours and Vitality got into the top-3 of the world. Something I noticed is both of you are very strong T-side teams. Do you think a strong T-side has become a bigger necessity to be a top team?
EliGE: I think that a lot of maps have turned T-side recently. Now they are gonna be super T-sided, but there are a lot more rounds than it’s used to be. On Inferno, for example, you used to be super CT-sided map when people got banana control basically with two nades sets and now on T-side there are a lot more different options.
For Nuke as well I think there a lot of different strategies that people using this meta comparing to the old one where it’s made a lot harder to string together a lot of rounds. And also the economy change didn’t help much either, because CT’s could just break the money of the T’s.
VPEsports: You’ve played through several in-game leader changes on Liquid. How did your own approach change during these adjustments?
EliGE: We had a lot of different in-game leaders but i think a lot of them took after adreN. When nitr0 initially changed to IGL, a long time ago, he basically called similar to how adreN would call and when Hiko was the IGL he would call very similar to how adreN would call or just like a default into something midround.
When Stan came into the team, he was an IGL that called a lot of things from spawn, like very structured things. After nitr0 changed back to IGL after stan, we got the best of both worlds. We got a lot of stylistic things that we liked from adreN’s style of leading and stan’s style of leading and I think that it’s helped us a lot.
VPEsports: You’re on week five of being the top team in the world. What does that feel like?
EliGE: It feels great. We’ve been working at this for many years. nitr0 and I have been on Team Liquid for four years and we’ve been through a lot together and for us to finally make it to the top with this team just makes it all the more better. Going through all the lineup changes and the struggles and everything and finally being able to make it to the top.
VPEsports: Have you felt relieved?
EliGE: I mean, not really too much relief. I always thought we’d be able to make it. Last year was just really tough because Astralis was so good and we just weren’t able to close it out against them. But we’ve been really good players for a long time so to finally have some success for that is really awesome.
VPEsports: On a totally unrelated note…I stumbled upon the fact that you competed in Starcraft 2. Can you kind of tell me what your experience was in it?
EliGE: Starcraft is just one of those really competitive 1v1 games and I think it’s changed me a lot as a person. If I didn’t have Starcraft 2 in my life at all I don’t think I’d be where I am right now today because it’s taught me a lot on how to work individually on yourself and so many little things that have helped me as a person.
VPEsports: Were you playing tournaments or what?
EliGE: I mean I played in tournaments but I was never any good. I played in the MLG opens and the WCS qualifiers but that was the extent of it.
VPEsports: Do you follow Starcraft now?
EliGE: No I don’t follow it anymore.
VPEsports: So I did some research and found your first ever LAN tournament – Fragadelphia 3. Do you remember this? How was it?
EliGE: I mean I thought it was pretty fun. It was my first LAN for CS:GO that I ever went to. I had like a 2 hour car drive down to Philly cause I lived kind of close. Brought my computer, my whole setup cause it was like an old school kind of LAN so it was really fun. Really fun experience.
VPEsports: That means you’ve been in the competitive scene for around 5 years. So what fuels you? What still motivates you?
EliGE: For me, I’ve just always wanted to be the best at something. To be on the very best team, to be winning all the tournaments. So right now, it’s the most important part of my life because we are at the very top of the scene right now and I want to try and maintain that and make the best of it.
VPEsports: You’re already at the top so what’s next?
EliGE: Next is to keep it. To win as many tournaments as possible, win the Major, win multiple Majors, and try to have the best era ever.
VPEsports: Did anything change when you guys made it to the top?
EliGE: There have been no changes so far. When you’re number 2 and you’re working towards being the best you’re putting like everything you’ve got into it trying to work so hard and soon as you get to number 1 you can’t let off of the gas pedal at all. You gotta keep trying as hard as possible and that’s what I’ve been trying to do is make sure I don’t ever stop.
VPEsports: How do you keep yourself from becoming arrogant being 21-years-old and making this kind of money and being a top competitor?
EliGE: In terms of money, anything that any player has made so far is nothing that you’re gonna live off of. You need to still make sure you’ve living within your means and that you’re still trying as hard as you can to keep up the form because it could all be gone. There have been players who have been at the top of the pro scene and then they take a nose dive.
You can just never let off the gas pedal. As soon as you get somewhere, you can’t start taking it easy and get complacent.
VPEsports: I spoke with gla1ve before and he had told me that Astralis worked very hard to win the first Intel Grand Slam. Do you feel any pressure to win the Intel Grand Slam?
EliGE: So far there’s been no pressure. We’ve won 3 tournaments so far and we have 7 more chances so there’s no pressure for us to get it down right now. We have so many chances, even if we don’t make it this tournament I think we have a really good chance to take it.
VPEsports: With the era of Astralis ended, is it now the era of Liquid?
EliGE: We’re really tryna make it that one. If we’re able to win this tournament and win the Major after I think we’d definitely be in contention for that.
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