Ahead of the matches today, we managed to grab Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken for a short conversation about his time in Liquid and TSM, playing under Zews as a Coach, family back home and Liquid’s form. The following interview has been edited for readability but I refrain from censoring as much as possible:
Joe: How are you feeling with Liquid right now, are you fitting in well?
Russell: I enjoy Liquid a lot. The chemistry is good, all the teammates are good. It feels like a family.
Joe: So Liquid for the longest time had some kind of internal turmoil, according to Hiko’s video anyways. But would you happy to announce to the community in general that you guys are a more solid unit now, a cohesive group rather than 5 guys thrown in a team?
Russell: Yeah, we definitely feel like a family. Every argument is easily productive rather and that’s the way it should be. An argument shouldn’t be counter productive.
Joe: Would you say Zews is one of the biggest inspirations behind that?
Russell: He’s very good. He doesn’t really have a mellow style of coaching, he has a really strict style of coaching. I think all teams need that kind of style for a coach.
Joe: So Stanislaw is still a fairly new in-game leader, how difficult is it to play against teams like SK who have years of experience on someone like Stan?
Russell: I don’t think it adds any extra pressure because you just have to follow the leader you have. We have Stan and he knows how to read all other IGL’s and teams perfectly. We practice against SK a lot and he has really good reads.
Joe: I’ve been watching the Vlog’s that Liquid have been posting recently and one thing that was heavily apparent while watching them was Zews’ position, he very much seems like a father figure. Would you agree?
Russell: Oh definitely, I live with him and he plays a big part of my life right now.
Joe: When you were playing with TSM, were you living with your parents at the time or in a gaming house?
Russell: Well we lived in a gaming house, but it was pretty awful. TSM gave us a pretty trash house and they didn’t really care about us at all. We had cold water a lot, the hot water had broke in the first house. But in the second house at first, we had an ant problem and then a moth problem that was pretty disgusting.
Joe: Did they not send out an exterminator?
Russell: No, they didn’t care at all.
Joe: So you just seemed to have sprung out of nowhere, you were always a standout performer in TSM but from NA we always seem to get these up and coming prodigies all the time. Do you sometimes fear that the community pressure might affect your performance?
Russell: No, I don’t worry about that at all. The people that do fail under pressure of the community, it’s their fault pretty much. They have to learn to stay away from social media and Reddit comments. It’s easy to do, but there’s also a reason why they’re getting all that slack. People notice that they don’t seem motivated and look like they don’t enjoy playing the game.
Joe: You stated recently that the Liquid guys aren’t playing Rank S anymore. Is that still true?
Russell: Nitro still plays it, but that’s just because he wants to play more. It’s not productive or counter-productive.
Joe: You’re not the only player to come out and say this either. Why do you think that is? What has Rank S deteriorated into?
Russell: It mostly comes down to YouTubers and streamers trying to make content by doing stupid plays and trying to be funny. I can’t even call in a professional setting anymore because there aren’t 10 professionals in the server. It’s like 4 professionals and 6 pugs with you.
Joe: I mean a lot of streamers I’ve seen are consistently looking away from the screen.
Russell: Yeah because they’re always in chat.
Joe: So what would you change? How would you fix the issue?
Russell: The way they should have it, is to remove all players who aren’t in the pro-league. More pro’s would be more motivated to play if they were playing with more pros. I don’t play because it frustrates me that I won’t have pros on my team.
Joe: So what do you play instead outside of team prac?
Russell: We play a lot of scrims. But other than that I just DM, play retakes and executes.
Joe: So you’re 17. What do your parents think about your position in Esports?
Russell: My mum is highly supportive, she wishes she could come to all events and I speak to her every day. But my Dad, I don’t really hear from him that much.
Joe: So how prepared are Liquid for the event in general?
Russell: Oh we’re very prepared.
Joseph Roach: Do you think you can take the trophy?
Russell: We definitely have a chance to win this tournament, we can beat every team here. It’s a strong statement and we may fail, but I know we can beat everyone here. It’s our goal to get out of groups but we can definitely win.
Joe: Do you think that particular mentality is important going into a stacked tournament like this?
Russell: Oh yeah definitely, I think Cloud 9 and Optic have that mentality. It’s not that you need to think you can win the tournament but it’s more that you can beat every team here. That’s all that matters. You can play every team here in a best of one and can still win.
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