Mareks “YEKINDAR” Katowice talks the CT rifle meta, new map Anubis, and the differences between NA and CIS in our exclusive interview from IEM Katowice 2023.
Team Liquid is out of Katowice in third place following a loss to G2 Esports in the semi-finals. This earned the team $80,000, sharing the third-fourth place with Natus Vincere. Fan-favorite rifler YEKINDAR put on a great performance in the podium run, with 78.9 DPR and a 1,18 HLTV impact score. WIN.gg was lucky to sit down with YEKINDAR at Katowice, where he talked about his origins and future as a CSGO star.
YEKINDAR interview after IEM Katowice 2023 playoffs
WIN.gg: Now that you’ve had a few months on the squad, how does it feel to perform well with Team Liquid? Biggest difference from Virtus.pro?
YEKINDAR: Obviously, I feel good now. I felt good from the start, also. When I first joined the team I understood that these people are willing to succeed and willing to work and willing to improve as players and individuals, and that was something that was really important to me. We were showing great results, but we had some specific problems. Sometimes it was mental problems, sometimes it was more in-game problems. But I’m really happy for the progress of the team. This tournament showed that we’re on the right path.
I really enjoyed that, in this tournament, we showed our individual form the best out of all the tournament that we’ve had. This tournament, everybody was shining, everybody had aces, everybody had clutches, everybody was performing good, except me, personally. That showed me a lot about our character and our skill.
I believe the biggest difference for me was a little bit of a cultural difference. How do you fix mistakes? And how do you talk to each other? For example, when I played on VP with CIS people, I could have said everything that I think. I can say completely honestly as well. But here, you need to be a bit calmer when you criticize them, when you talk about problems and whatever. I got used to it, and overall, this is a good tournament for us.
FaZe was a favorite going into this event, but you knocked them out early in the group stage. What were the emotions like during those last few rounds on Mirage?
We started Mirage really good, we won 10-5 on T side. We started losing on CT side. We understood what we were lacking in those situations and those rounds that we were losing and I’m really happy about the mental fortitude of our team. Even though we lost those seven rounds in a row, I’m really happy that we managed, in such a stressful situation for qualifying to playoffs, to find a solution for FaZe. And FaZe is a really great team, it’s obviously not easy to find solution to their game. But I’m really happy that we stepped up and showcased. At the end, I even screamed “We’re not bitches!” (laughs)
Because if you lose a 10-5 half on CT side, that would be really bad for our confidence. But I’m glad we closed it out and helped us further, and I believe that it helped us against Vitality, for example, in that Overpass match. I’m really happy for our team’s mental.
Speaking of that match, your 2-1 victory over Team Vitality was thrilling. What were the team’s emotions during that 2-13 comeback?
It obviously gives us confidence and gives us more belief in future games that we can come back from any score and from any situation. Everything is in your head, and if we’re doing the right thing and have individual strong performances, we can win any game and we can come back in any game. We even had that against G2. Some more mistakes happened there, but in that game against Vitality, specifically on Overpass, I think something clicked in our heads. That’s a really good characteristic in my eyes.
Is there a sense of excitement about playing in the capital of CSGO, Katowice?
Playing in the capital is always one of the greatest tournaments for me. It’s my third year here specifically, and if we count online then it’s my fourth Katowice. For me personally, this is a nice event because of the city. The city is super small, so you always have the same surroundings. You remember it as if you were here yesterday, right? Each year, same restaurants, same waiters, for example. I think it’s a historical event and a really important one as well. Maybe it gives a little bit of comfort for everybody. I feel like the level of the game here in Katowice is the highest.
Any thoughts on the current split between M4A4 and M4A1-S?
I tried switching back to the A4, but I believe the spray pattern on the A4 is just harder. You need to practice with it a lot to actually succeed and play perfectly on it. It also depends on your type of aim and shooting style. So for me, I prefer A1-S more, and I played with A1-S even when everyone was playing A4. I’m probably going to stick with the A1-S, for example (Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski) is playing A4. I think it’s a really good 50/50 now, and I think they managed to get a really good balance between those two guns.
How do you feel about Anubis now that you’ve had some time to explore the map?
I like the map. I think its something fresh in the map pool, but B site is a bit uncomfortable because at any moment you can get split really fast, and that’s why it’s not that easy to play CT side. I believe Anubis is the most T-sided map at the moment in the map pool. I would say it’s a great map, but it needs some work, or maybe the meta will shift in some way or another.
I believe we’re the team that played the most maps on Anubis, and we learned a lot. We’ve played eight Anubis already, and throughout those eight Anubises, you improve each map. In each game, you improve, and you add something new. You think about “Oh yeah, this is wrong. This is right.” Because it’s a new map, maybe it’s a bit inconsistent. But it’s going in the right direction. I feel that, for example, it’s better than Vertigo.
How did you start playing CSGO?
My uncle, when I was six, gifted me a CS 1.6 CD. And my dad had a computer, so I started playing 1.6 a bit. It went from 1.6 to CSGO coming out, and I didn’t want to play CSGO because 1.6 was the biggest thing ever. Then I started playing CSGO and that’s how it happened. I used to play a lot of games, different games, but CS was always in my heart.
What was the moment when you thought that CSGO might be what you do for a living?
Probably when I was 15. I went to local tournaments. I was winning local 1v1s, 2v2s, and 5v5 tournaments, and already at 16, I had my first contract. When you have your first contract, you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to pursue that, I’m going to try to improve and try to be the best in the world.”
Is there a story behind your nickname?
I was creating an account in League of Legends, and I closed my eyes and randomly typed on the keyboard, and my nickname happened.
Do you play any other games outside of CSGO?
I personally play Dota 2 and Heroes of Might and Magic 3. I believe Heroes is a classic, and it’s a really good mind warm-up game. It’s a really good strategy, I just played it throughout my whole childhood and I still really enjoy it.Dota 2 is more relaxed. When I’m tired about thinking of CS I just go and play some Dota ranked games. I think its really helpful because it opens some diversity. Because Dota’s macro is kind of similar, you can see the parallels between CS and Dota. Some of the ideas that I’ve actually taken into (CSGO) were from Dota games. Specifically Dota International games and whatever mentality. It’s a really good parallel between CSGO and Dota 2.