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Nitr0 discusses Liquid's rise and growth he's seen in Twistzz

Nitr0 says Twistzz is a top 10 player in the world
Nitr0 (Nick Cannella) had high praise for Russel "Twistzz" an Dulken. Photo by Helena Kristiansson/ESL.

Slingshot’s Jarek “DeKay” Lewis caught up with Team Liquid’s Nick “nitr0” Cannella at ESL One New York to talk about his team’s run to the finals and the growth of Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken.

Jarek “DeKay” Lewis: I know you guys are pumped about your semifinal win today but leading up to ESG Mykonos, would you say the specific reason for your newfound success was you switching to in-game leader?

Nick “nitr0” Cannella: I think it’s definitely a build up. I wouldn’t say it’s solely because of my in-game leading ability. It’s definitely a team effort. Everyone is putting in their two cents when the round starts.

JL: I know you tried in-game leading in the past and it didn’t work out too well. What would you say is different this time around other than being more of a team effort?

NC: The reason for our success compared to before is because we have a lot more firepower with Twistzz and Stanislaw. So, whenever I do call, I don’t have to frag as hard as whenever I’m not calling. It’s very hard for me to frag and micromanage everyone at the same time, which is why I struggle individually sometimes.

JL: When I think about Zews, I think of him as a tremendously important coach. What has his role been for your team during this run of finals appearances?

NC: He acts like the leader. He keeps us together and tries to get the best out of all of us. He actually did a lot of prep for us today against SK, even though he has coached them before. During the game he was a lot of help. On our pauses he would give us ideas for the next few rounds. Also, he is a very good motivator and speaker.

JL: You’ve been around for a little while now as a player even though you’re still young. What has it been like watching Twistzz grow up and do what you once did?

NC: (laughs) It’s definitely an amazing feeling. He used to look up to me and now in my eyes he is the best player, probably top 10 in the world. He’s so good mechanically. He does need to work on a few teamwork fundamentals, but he is definitely one of the best out there. On the big stage, he is hyped all the time.

(Duncan “Thorin” Shields interrupts)

DS: Did you see the stats for that semifinal? No one player was above all the others. All the stars were perfectly aligned and even the role players were looking pretty good. It’s perfect. (To Lewis) Were you recording something?

JL: I was but I don’t mind. We’ll add it in. (nitr0 laughs)

JL: When you played Astralis in the group stage, were you surprised when they picked Cache against you?

NC: We took a gamble because we actually had been vetoing Cache at this event. Playing VP on Nuke and losing definitely affected our confidence on it, so we decided to ban that instead. We are going to have to go over that map entirely again in practice. We almost won Cache against Astralis. We should have won it.

JL: How comfortable are you on Overpass? Can you guys play it at a high level?

NC: We have been working on our Overpass a lot online, especially at our boot camp in the Netherlands. We are definitely good on it. We just need to fix a few things and iron them out. After that, I think we can be Tier 1 on it.

JL: If you clean up Overpass, how many maps would you guys be able to play confidently at a high level? Teams like Astralis say they “want to play seven maps but play five of them confidently.” Do you think your team can play five maps confidently?

NC: This goes back to practicing online in North America. No one plays Nuke. It’s super hard to get good practice on Nuke, and the teams that do practice it are not that good on it. Our goal heading into the boot camp was to try to improve on all seven maps, and we decided Cache would be our permaban for this event specifically. It’s going well so far.

JL: How much better is it to play against teams in Europe while bootcamping compared to practice back home?

NC: Obviously the quality of teams is higher and the times the practice are more efficient. If we want, we can play at 11 a.m. or noon. It might not be a Tier 1 team, but it will be a decent team that we can run all our strats against. We actually didn’t play against a lot of Tier 1 teams at all during our boot camp, but we definitely got our practice in.

JL: How would you compare the way those teams in Europe practice to their Tier 1 counterparts? Is it different?

NC: I’ve noticed in the past that the best teams in Europe start off by wanting to see how you play the map for future tournaments. The lower level teams are always trying their hardest every single round because we are better than them. They want to improve and play at the top of their game, which is definitely good practice for everyone.