YEKINDAR: Liquid, Entry-Fragging, Own Talk Show, Latvian Esports & Style

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It looks like Liquid finally found their game with YEKINDAR’s addition. Since July, when Mareks joined the team as a stand-in, not so much the results but the pattern of Liquid’s game has improved. Before the start of BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022, Liquid spent six days of bootcamp, with a total of “about twenty” after the recent tournament in Cologne. The team’s progress is evident, and the contribution of the Latvian entry-fragger played a special role.

In an exclusive interview for the CS.MONEY Blog, Mareks “YEKINDAR” Galinskis spoke about his adaptation in Team Liquid, explained the difference between entry-fragger and space creator, shared his dream of starting his own talk show, talked about the style and importance of working with media, named three favorite skins and much more!

It is not easy to prepare for an interview with Mareks. During Cologne alone, he spoke four times to major media and participated in short videos after matches several times. In addition, he is an avid guest at press conferences and the HLTV Confirmed show. Not to mention dozens of short comments and other communicational stuff. As YEKINDAR himself admits, he just loves to work with cameras.

This dialogue is divided into three large blocks: adaptation in Team Liquid, working with the media & being stylish, and esports in Latvia. Each contains many interesting thoughts and funny stories.

Settling In Team Liquid & NA derbies

We started the chat on an easy note. BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022 is YEKINDAR’s third tournament with Team Liquid, so asking how things are going with the new team was inevitable. It’s important to note that he’s currently just a stand-in, though Liquid’s CEO confirms that the organization is doing its best to sign him. 

Arseny, the interviewer: Mareks, how are you feeling? How’s the team doing? 

YEKINDAR: We had six days of bootcamp before BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022. Overall, we had like 20 days if we count that in. And this time of practice, we changed a lot of things, and we’re feeling pretty confident. Obviously, it’s not going so easy because of our limited time, but I’m feeling good. The team feels good. And we know that there’s only way up from here. So we’re just taking all the chances that we have.

Can you tell me about the process of your integrating into Team Liquid? 

Already before Cologne, when I came in, I saw that, in my eyes, the way they were playing was a bit outdated. There were a lot of breaks and uncertainties on how to play, and they didn’t really practice that much. So it was pretty easy to integrate my stuff, especially because they really respect me as a player and changed the system to a better way. And we already saw it in Cologne, and now I’m glad it’s working and better and better. So in terms of in-game stuff and the system, I think, me, nitr0 and Daps are working really well as a trio to integrate all the styles that we want in our game and play the meta CS now.

And in terms of outside of the game, it was pretty easy. I’m a super extrovert guy and can always take self-criticism. And the thing that I like the most about Liquid players is that I can always criticize them, and they will understand that it’s for a reason. We have this environment, if somebody does a bad thing, we can always explain why it’s bad. And we have arguments to an argument, and there’s always players or a coach behind us who can help to resolve the argument by saying, “Yeah, I think this is right.” If I have an argument with anyone, usually the players understand that they’re wrong, or if I’m wrong, I will understand that I’m wrong. This is a really healthy environment for fast improvement. And I think that really matters in today’s CS.

Being a player for an NA team requires you to be emotional about other NA teams, for example, Complexity or EG. We saw your energy during this stage of BLAST after a comeback. Do you feel the rivalry? 

I’m just always like that. Even after the game against G2, when we won against them on Mirage, I was screaming, “what’s up, what’s up.” It’s just content, friendly banter. I don’t really care who we play, I’m always gonna scream. Maybe if we lose, I’m not gonna scream, obviously, but I’m always gonna scream and try to banter a bit. I think it’s super fun. And it’s part of the game. 

Rivalry against NA [teams]… Not really. The only difference is that the NA teams… When we played against Complexity, my teammates were typing something, Complexity were typing something before the game, right? Joking around. Complexity were like, “we’re gonna beat you” or whatever. For me, it’s a bit unorthodox because VP weren’t really friends with anyone before. And we would never type anything before the game. So I don’t necessarily care. Maybe it relaxes my team a bit, maybe it relaxes their team a bit. But there’s no such thing as a rivalry. At least I don’t feel it. Maybe if I was an actual American, maybe yes. Maybe EliGE, nitr0, or oSee feel that but not me.

Media & Fans

Do you know how hard it is to prepare for an interview with you so it would have unique questions and topics? You speak a lot, you are a frequent desk visitor, HLTV Confirmed guest, all the stuff, man. Why do you do that?

I just love the camera. One of my dreams is to have a Late Night Show with CS players. When I retire, I’m gonna be having one <laughs>. “So our today’s guest is EliGe. Hey EliGE, how does it feel to be the second-best player in NA?” <laughs> Something like that, you know? Bantering and joking around. That’s my dream. 

I love cameras, I love people, and I’m a super extrovert. I like joking around, and I love comedy, so I’m always down to do interviews. 

Extrovert, like you said. How important is this part for CS:GO players? I mean communicating with the media nowadays. Because years ago, people didn’t want to. Well, let’s be fair, even nowadays, some players don’t want to communicate at all. 

I think for transparency players-to-fans, it’s super important. I think transparency allows the industry to grow. When you know how a player is in real life and his character, you can always find your similarities with him as a fan. And that motivates and energizes you to become better. Like, “He’s like me.” And that energizes and helps you develop, helps you to be more fan of the game. I think it’s super important for the development of the game and for the development of the fan base and for the development of the audience.

And I understand that there are introverts, people who just don’t like talking. But there’s always four other players in the team that can save him from all the interviews.

So, do you think a player should be a good example for everyone? 

I always try to be transparent as possible to fans and I always try to answer them when they’re writing me in DMs. Obviously, there’s a lot and it’s physically impossible to answer all of them. But when you’re a professional player, and I noticed this a lot during the Stockholm Major, you can make a day for someone, a week or a month, just by saying “Hi” or taking a picture with them, signing something. And that just values so much more than anything else. When I do that, when somebody asks me for a picture, I will never say no, because this picture can change their lives. For me, it’s casual, not that important, right? But for the person, it can be so important. You can save someone’s life even to that degree. So when you understand that you have this power in your hands, you have to be thankful for it. Because fans are the ones that are making you succeed.

Powerful speech. I also noticed that you have a lot of Brazilian fans. 

My playstyle in VP was super aggressive, and a lot of people compare me to arT. I think that’s how people noticed me. I’m good friends with BTOTV and Liminhag0d, I see them a lot in tournaments. When they’re streaming during the tournament, I always come up and say “Salve Brazil” or whatever. And I always try to update myself to them. Maybe I’m cute as well and the girls like me. <laughs>

We’ll get back to that, just wait.

So I think it’s just the power of streamers that helps me to develop the fan base there.

Cutie, isn’t he?

YEKINDAR’s Tips On Entry-Fragging & Space Creating

People compare you to Andrei “arT” Piovezan, a fellow entry-fragger and rifler. You’re obviously good at what you do, so can you give the three best pieces of advice on becoming a good entry fragger?

People need to understand the differences between an Entry-Fragger and a Space Creator. Space Creator is basically the person who is taking zones, so they have the first duels while doing it, right? Entry-fragging means you’re actually committing and executing and going into a site already to finish up the round. So that’s two different things. If you understand that in your head it’ll be easier for you to develop different habits for each thing. For EF, everybody thinks just, “Oh, I just need to go and die and I’m gonna get traded.” No. If you kill one, that’s your goal. You just need to kill one. And if you kill one, it’s gonna make so much easier to run for the team. So try your best to kill one

And the second thing is to always have your teammates throw the necessary utility for you to kill one. Because entry-fragging is not you just running in and using your aim to kill someone. It’s also support from your team that allows you to be super confident in your entry abilities. 

And the third thing is that obviously you need to practice your aim. It’s super important to have fast reflexes and just overall good aim. 

For space creating, on the other hand, it’s a lot harder because you need to understand macro of the enemy team. For example, on Dust 2, they’re taking three long as CTs and you’re playing lower tunnel on T side. There’s no chance that somebody’s gonna be short and that they’re gonna be pressuring you from short. And you can just run faster and you can take the zone a lot faster. When you take the necessary zone a lot faster, you put pressure on the enemies faster, and you allow your captain to think about what we wanna do as a team faster. Those are the two main things, understand macro and take zones as soon as possible because of the macro that you understand. 

Understanding macro is something that comes from experience, right? Or could it be just acknowledged by watching streams and pro plays?

Understanding the meta, watching demos, and experience. But it doesn’t come instantly. You need to play a lot and see the similarities in rounds to remember what kind of information gives away the macro of the enemy team. And you always need to understand if they smoke this, they probably are stacking towards the other side because they’re afraid. Small things. 

Turtlenecks and Drip

Let’s drop the CS part and get back to your style. I can’t help myself but notice that your outfits outside the game are wholesome, you wear classics, like coats, turtlenecks, jackets, and stuff. Rarely hoodies and simple things.

I wear hoodies. <laugh> It depends if it’s cold or where I’m going. 

My favorite part is obviously a turtleneck. Because you can wear it anywhere: to the restaurant, to do an interview. Turtlenecks look really cool. But you can’t wear them in summer, so you buy a t-shirt. It all depends. Nah, not gonna go on my stylish road…

Please, continue.

<Laugh> Basically, I don’t know. I just like how it looks on me, it’s in my own style, and I know how I want to look. 

Were your parents to raise you that way, or did it just come from inside, as you learned it yourself?

My father is a super, super, super stylish guy. So I think maybe it’s from him. But overall, I like girls, you know. And I just need to look good for the girls, you know. <laugh>

Simple as it could be

Can you tell me who is, in your opinion, the most stylish people of CS:GO?

First one Audric “JACKZ” Jug. [This answer was immediate, like a lightning strike] <Laugh> JACKZ is super stylish. I like his style a lot. The second one probably would be Nikola “NiKo” Kovač. And the third one, the third one is hard. Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken. So those are the most stylish people, I think.

No Brazilians.

Well, actually… <laugh> Yuri “yuurih” Boian and Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato, they’re stylish. They’re super stylish. So I mean, Lincoln “fnx” Lau is also super stylish. 

There are people that you notice that they think about their outfits, you know? The most important thing, they know their style. And when people know their style, it’s already half of the success. If you know your style, you know what to buy. That’s the second thing of success. And if you know your style and you already bought all the clothes you need, then you’re gonna be stylish. 

How to find your style?

You need to think of what looks good and what is comfortable. Cross these two things. You don’t want to look good, but be uncomfortable, you know? You always wanna be comfortable, but at the same time, the things that are comfortable, if they look good for you, that’s the most important thing. You wear them, not anyone else. You’re wearing them for yourself. So first prior to is obviously comfort.

Esports in Latvia & Broky’s Impact

One of the last things I wanted to ask is about your relationships with the Latvian players. For example, Broky. Are you like friends, or it’s just like professional stuff, and you don’t really talk to each other?

We’re friends. We’re just not talking that much because of the tournaments. We didn’t have the time, and we didn’t cross each other that much during events. When we meet, we chat, and talk in Latvian a bit. We’re not strangers, but I wouldn’t say that we’re super close friends. We’re just friends.

Can you tell me a little about the Latvian esports scene? Is it on the rise with you two being the best players in the country’s history and creating an impact? 

I think overall, Broky’s success is helping a lot and showing people in Latvia that everything is possible. He doesn’t really do that much Latvian media, but I’m trying to do as much as possible to improve the scene and show people that everything is possible. There are improvements already. 

For example, the Wolsung team which got sponsored by Spēlēt.lv Gaming. You know, it’s an organization that actually exists in Latvia. So it’s good. And GOEXANIMO obviously is doing a really good job of developing, for example, they stream BLAST in the Latvian language. It’s a basic thing to have, but so, so good. This is slowly starting and becoming better and better. New computer clubs are opening in Riga, and it all slowly developing. And I hope at one point we’re gonna say, okay, this is a really good scene.

CS:GO Skins 

The last part is obviously about skins. I noticed that you don’t have lots of them in your inventory. 

I have them for the tournament because people give them to me, but I don’t like to buy skins. I have this Slaughter Butterfly and M9 Crimson Web that I lent to nitr0. Those are my knives. But all other skins are not mine. 

There’s just this power that I have, asking people to play with their skins because I’m a professional player. <laugh> So why do I need to buy skins if I can always lend them? So that’s the power. And sometimes, between tournaments, I just don’t have skins because I give them back, obviously. There are a lot of good people who are willing to help you and support you in any way. 

Can you name three favorite skins from your inventory?

I got this my dream M4A1-S Dark Water StatTrak with 2014 KAT stickers, iBUYPOWER, and Titan. Super good, I like that for the most. The second one is AK-47 Fire Serpent, I really like it. And I actually have my favorite AWP Graphite. I’m more of a minimalistic guy.

M4A1-S Dark Water StatTrak
AWP Graphite
AK-47 Fire Serpent

If you wanna add anything, please feel free.

I just want to thank you for supporting Liquid, understanding, and giving Liquid a chance during Cologne. And now, during BLAST, I think a lot of people noticed that we’re playing better and better, and the support is the thing that will keep us floating in even in tough times. So just my main reminder is to be friendly to each other. And everybody’s gonna be friendly to you as well then.

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