By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
After Team Liquid’s ESL One Cologne victory over Team Vitality, we caught up with the teams coach Eric “adreN” Hoag.
The victorious coach talked about the teams run of success, what stewie and Twistzz bring to the team, strategy, and more.
VPEsports: Did you expect so much success so quickly when you joined Team Liquid?
adreN: I mean we’ve had like insane, insane success. I didn’t think we would be this successful as we are now, we’ve made every single final except for the major this year. So it’s been really incredible.
The team even before me was already playing at such a high level, getting second place the entire year. I think that 2018 was such a valuable experience and what they gained from that was really what made them so great this year. But yeah, I mean this year has been like over the top.
VPEsports: What changes or maybe additions did you make to the team when you joined?
adreN: I think I was just reviewing all the strategy. I was creating like a scrapbook just to figure out what kinds of things they do and just get a book. So that we know what our options are if we play this map. Why are we playing good, why are we playing bad? And just trying to kind of analyze it from there.
VPEsports: Obviously the Intel Grand Slam victory was somewhat of a target here in Cologne for your team. Do you worry that your team could be burnt out after all these events, especially when the Major is so close?
adreN: It’s definitely dangerous because there’s actually just so many events. Like at first we didn’t even want to come to Cologne because we didn’t want to be on the road for two months. The Counter-Strike schedule, even without us winning was so insane that it’s so taxing and you really get burnt out quite fast. But the major is after the player break and we’re obviously gonna keep focus going in, but it’ll be a nice refresher to give the guys a break from Counter-Strike. But four of the guys on the team have never won a major still. So I think that fire is still there and it won’t be any issue.
VPEsports: The era of Astralis went on for around a year and it took most of 2018 to win the Intel Grand Slam. You did it extremely fast, how do you think the era of Liquid is gonna do?
adreN: I mean it just started right? Four in a row. I dunno man. I think we’re really consistent in our results. So as long as we keep practicing, keep going at it, I think we have a good chance of starting an era.
VPEsports: In your early days in Liquid as a coach, what state was the team after zews coached them?
adreN: The team has been working very well together. zews probably put in a lot of work in terms of getting the guys mentally just prepared, resetting after every round, not letting frustrations build up within the team cause I know that it was a big thing, even when I was on the team, way back in the day. It’s just keeping everyone… you got to keep a happy family to put out results.
VPEsports: Back in 2015-2016 when you were in team Liquid, it wasn’t an era…
adreN:No, we were not very good.
VPEsports: Now you see the team on the top of the world, what does that mean to you? Did you expect this back then, that it would take four years to make this happen?
adreN: It’s pretty insane. Even back then, the guys on the team had so much talent. I knew the talent was there. They needed experience and that’s what they’ve been doing, literally collecting experience for years. They’ve been attending every single event, grinding for four years. They had the talent and they just kept working hard.
VPEsports: Can you describe your first impression of the players when you joined the team?
adreN: John and Nick, I kind of knew already from when I previously played on them so I wasn’t really sure. And Keith actually, I was on the team with them for just a short while. So those guys I kind of already knew but Russell, I didn’t. Russell is a super kind guy, very like… how can I put it? He’s a very caring person and it’s nice to have that within a team and Jake is very… a very vocal person, which is really helping us in terms of decision making and making sure the team has direction. Jake is like the biggest, I don’t know if you want to say motivator, but he’s got such a presence that it really helps the team get into it.
VPEsports: You joined the team at the same time as Stewie did. Did this make you any closer to him compared to the other guys?
adreN: No, because I knew the other guys for much longer beforehand, so he was the guy I really didn’t know.
VPEsports: How have the players you were already familiar with changed since 2015/16?
adreN: Not talking just Counter-Strike experience. They’ve definitely matured a lot as well. Some of the problems, some of the out of game things previously that would make a team work well together. They’ve really worked on throughout the past couple of years in terms of shutting down, in terms of not communicating.
They’re much better at resetting and just focusing on the future instead of letting something get to them. They’ve definitely matured a lot throughout the years. I don’t know. I don’t want to specifically point something out, but kind of generically.
VPEsports: After several big tournament wins in a short time period, you still said during the press conference that there is room for improvement?
adreN: Oh yeah. Every single day that we scrim and practice…
VPEsports: Anything in particular that you feel needs work?
adreN: Pistols, we fucking suck at pistols man. We’ve got to analyze why we’re bad. I think we’re getting really close to figuring it out, but pistol rounds man, we can’t win them. That’s the number one thing that we’ve been trying to focus on a little bit, but everything else was very map specific.
VPEsports: You guys have looked really good on your T-sides and it seems a strong T-side is setting top teams apart from the rest. Could you provide any details on how you guys like to play them?
adreN: For example our Na’Vi T-side, we just had a game plan of starting off slow and making them make the mistake because last time they were playing a lot of gamble stacks, rotating quickly. We were kind of just holding the map and just letting them make the mistakes and they were trying to get a little bit disrespectful.
In terms of end game, picking stuff they shouldn’t and trying to get away with stuff like that. Our game plan was just to hold the map and punish them.
VPEsports: Any last words?
adreN:No, just thanks to all the fans supporting us. That means a lot.
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