Liquid cemented itself as one of the best teams in the world in 2018 but there was always something keeping them back. Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella talked about the importance of psychologist in overcoming that hurdle.

In 2018 Team Liquid played in 19 major international events, in which they came out victorious only twice — in cs_summit 2 in February and in SuperNova Malta in December. More impressively, they finished second in the seven of those events. That’s consistency.

While in a lot of their Grand Finals Liquid faced Astralis — easily the best team in the world — some of their losses came at the hand of the likes of NRG esports and mousesports. It became apparent that there was a problem that needed fixing.

According to the team captain Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella fixing this kind of issue is a difficult task, especially when you don’t know what the root of the problem might be.

In CS: GO, American teams, look much better than in 1.6. What caused the growth of their game?

It seems to me that the European bootcamps contributed to this. This was partly due to the increase in wages. Previously, there wasn’t that kind of money. Along with their increase, the players had a desire to train harder, to progress. The teams began to pay more attention to the team play rather than their personal statistics. But the same can be said about any team. Just the level of CS as a whole has grown in the world.

What did you feel when Cloud9 won the Major?

I will not lie, I envied them, but at the same time I was very proud that my friends had become Major champions. Their victory greatly boosted our morality, they gave us hope.

After the Major you have started a serious rise, how did you manage to achieve this?

In February, we signed NAF, which was a breath of fresh air for us. We changed roles in the team, and he brought a lot of his own to our game. With his arrival, the desire to win has increased significantly. The victory at cs_summit greatly raised the morale of the team. After all, it was our first tournament with NAF and we immediately won against the Major champions SK and C9. We realized that we can win.

Despite the fact that you are now the top 2 in the world, you are always a little struggling to win one tournament or another. What goes wrong?

Yes, God knows. We are constantly being asked about this, but I have no answer. I try to understand this, I read a lot of books about psychology, I talk to our sports psychologist. I really want to understand what the main problem is so that it can be fixed.

What books?

Now I am reading the book of Michael Jordan “Ruthless”. It’s about him and his coaches, how he became a champion. There is also another good book, “From Good to Great”.

Let’s talk about your psychologist. How useful and really necessary is it for the team?

If you play at a serious level, then a psychologist is, of course, necessary. As it seems to me, it will help to reach a new level. If you are good, then he will help you become better. For example, our psychologist makes us do our best in every match, even against tier-2 and tier-3 teams. The logic in this is simple: as you train, you have to play as you would in a tournament.

If you can’t do your best in practice, then you won’t be able to do it the final of the Major either.

Does he work with everyone separately or together?

Both.

Can you tell us about the process of working with your psychologist?

We tell him our problem, then we start working on it. It is very important to be able to understand exactly what you are squandering so that you can work on fixing it. I remember how he helped me cope with my instability. We analyzed the situation at hand: what happens in the team, when I show the best result, what I did that day, etc. It was necessary so that we could understand what helps me and what does not, so that I can use it in the future. For this one time in each tournament, we filled out a small questionnaire with the whole team.

When you are in the game and something goes wrong, how do you get out of the situation and take the team out of it?

It is important to just be able to reboot. CS is a game where at any moment, in any round, something can go wrong. You can win 15 rounds in a row when you were losing 14:1. Not sure if it happened, but it’s definitely possible. You need to be able to disconnect from everything and leave your old mistakes in previous rounds, so that they do not affect the next. This is especially important for young players.

How to achieve this tranquility in the game?

You just need to learn it. Maybe come up with something that will help you reboot. For example, come up with a word that will help you understand that you need to reboot morally. Suppose you can take the “stress” as soon as it appeared in your head, you will understand that you need to exhale and throw everything out of your head. This is one of the techniques I have learned that helps to get rid of toxicity or to collect thoughts.

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