The ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018 is currently taking place, with Team Liquid finding themselves in the semifinals of the event alongside Astralis , Natus Vincere G2A , and mousesports . Before the North American side shapes up against Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostylev and co. in a bid to reach the grand finals, Epitácio "TACO" de Melo took some time out to speak to Dot Esports about his expectations, as well as his thoughts on Astralis and his legacy with SK Gaming .
On playing against Natus Vincere
Na'Vi is a team we respect a lot, but it's also a team we're not afraid of playing against because, as you said, the last time we played in Dallas we beat them, and it was 2-0. I'm pretty sure they're a strong team. They just won in Cologne. They're doing really well this year [and] this tournament. They're being really consistent, but we also think that we're a strong team and we also think that we can just beat them like we did last time. Individually, my record against Na'Vi has always been good, so Na'Vi is not a team I'm afraid of playing even though I respect them a lot. I think s1mple and electronic are playing really well and are really difficult to play against.
On why his team struggles against Astralis
Personally, I feel we lack preparation when we play against them. I feel like it takes something else, like a different playstyle, to beat them—something more loose, because every time we play them, and I think I answered this in the ELEAGUE pre-match interview. We kind of play the same way they do, but they have practiced and have had their playstyle for much longer than we've practiced ours. I don't know, we always get so close. I feel like we're getting closer every time. I definitely feel like this event we can beat them.
On no team being able to replicate SK Gaming's legacy
I think at that time CS:GO was our life. We lived to play CS, we traveled to play CS, we would do everything and anything to play CS. We were really hard working. We also had really good players. We had a really good in-game leader, we had the best player in the world, I was a good support as well. So I think we improved really fast, [and] we had the chemistry in our team, as well. Everything meshed. We were happy playing CS. I think it takes a lot of hard work, a good mentality, and we never had a mental coach or whatever.
Now, I also think that the competition is getting harder now. I feel like teams are getting more money to invest, we have professionals behind us, a performance coach. We have a lot of people that help us just focus on the game. Every top team now, if you look at the top eight teams in the world, they all have really good support from their organizations. A good salary, people behind them helping them focus only on playing CS:GO. Also, the tournaments are providing really good quality as well with practice rooms at the hotel, which makes a big difference for every team I’m pretty sure. So now players are most likely only focused on playing CS and that's it. When we come to a tournament it's to play CS, not to sleep at the hotel or go to a bar or whatever. So I think the level of competition is higher now.