Interview with Liberty coach Ricardo "rik" Furquim
Carriço: Hi guys, my name is Francisco and I'm a journalist for Absolute Legends, and today I have the pleasure to be joined by Liberty coach Ricardo. Hi Ricardo, how are you?
Rik: I'm fine
Carriço: Thank you for agreeing to do the interview. My first question is, how did you get into the Esports world?
Rik: I got into Esports as most children do, I liked to play video games a lot, and that's the first step for you to enter the Esports world, loving video games and competition.
Little by little I started discovering more games. I discovered Counter-Strike and since then it was just loving the competition, loving video games, and chasing a dream that was being a part of the Esports world.
Carriço: Why did you choose to become a Valorant Coach? Were you already very analytical as a player and was it something that then transferred into being a coach? How was your passion for being a coach born?
Rik: It was something natural for me. I'm going to be 27 years old this year and I still want to continue being a part of the Esports world. So it was something natural. I was playing against the best players in Brazil, and I still wanted to be one of the best in Brazil. When I had the opportunity to join Liberty in 2021 I just took it and tried my best.
Carriço: How is your day-to-day as a coach? There are a lot of people that don't know what is the role of a coach in an Esports team, can you describe a little what your day looks like?
Rik: We start training at 8 AM every day here in Liberty. We have a workout with our fitness coach. Then we have one hour to take a bath, relax a bit, and then we get back to the office.
After 10 AM we have our tactical training, where we do a review of the previous day or the league games. We discuss with the players about a map where there are some things we need to change or improve. This is the first tactical practice of the day, it lasts 2 hours, from 10 AM to 12 AM.
Then from 12 AM to 2 PM, we have one hour of lunch break, and one hour for the players to relax and also work on their individual skills. Training their individual skills consists in playing deathmatch, Aim Lab, or anything else they use to train.
This is mainly for them to warm up. Then we start another tactical session. After that, we do scrims and review the scrims afterward.
My and Hiromi's job is to organize the tactical training with the help of our Capitan shion. We figure out how we want the team to play, where we are committing mistakes. We try to solve some individual mistakes of the players.
A big part of our work is focused on fixing mistakes because that is how we build our fundamentals. We want a team that has very strong fundamentals, and we believe that lies in fixing the mistakes we do. Then we do something that may be needed that day or for that week, such as a new execution on a map.
We analyze little things like: How useful is Killjoy in this map? What is Cypher good for, or any other Agent. We build around those types of things. The more important for us are the fundamentals, and we built the tactical, new strategies for a specific map, around that.
For example, this year we started to build our Fracture playbook from the ground because we hadn't trained Fracture in 2021. So we had to build our Fracture from zero. Everything from constructing our playbook for the map and fixing the mistakes is my and Hiromi's job.
Carriço: How do you prepare for different opponents? I know Hiromi helps you, but how is the preparation for teams with different playstyles?
Rik: We prepare for all the opponents in the same way. We anti-strat and study our opponents. We do an analysis of how they play, the pace at which they like to play. What they like to do on the map, and what they don't like.
If they like to play for catching the ultimate orb or not. We have a broad analysis of our opponents. On game day, when we arrive five hours earlier than the match, we can finish that analysis. So we leave the analysis semi-ready, and when we get to the office 5 hours earlier we finish it.
Focusing on how the opponents react to our way of playing the game. If it's an opponent team that adapts a lot on the fly, we find the best way to approach the game.
Let's approach it this way, and play in a certain way, that will maybe lead the opponents to fall into a fake we do. Or that we already know how they are going to act in certain situations and are ready for it, and get an easy kill.
We always prepare the same way, the only thing that changes is the final briefing, where we do the final touches.
Since now we are playing in the VCT we have the whole week to prepare for our opponents. For example, last week we thought about how to play against LOUD. Basically, every training session was about seeing what would work against LOUD, and what wouldn't. This is how we prepare daily when we already know who we are going to face off against.
Carriço: What are the intangibles every player brings to the team, and that is very important in order for Liberty to find success in the long term?
Rik: Every one of them is individually very skilled.
We have liazzi who dictates the pace of the team. When he is on his “A” day he kills everyone, he plays in a very aggressive way, he calls for plays and accelerates the pace of the game. He is a player that makes the difference, can play any role, and will be able to perform really well independent of the role he is in. He is one of the foundations of the team.
We have shion who is an example of a professional. He is the guy that when you look to your side you feel safe because you know he is going to do his job. He never gives up. There isn't a lost round for him.
We saw a lot of times where the round looked lost and he was able to win it. It can be with a good call or killing five opponents, whatever is needed to win he will do.
krain is a very calm player, a very relaxed guy. He clutches the rounds when needed. He is one of the best Sova players in Brazil. Inside such a flexible team having a player who is great at playing Sova is very important.
myssen is also a very calm player, but he is so calm that sometimes it even bothers us. He is super relaxed, he is the guy that boosts the morale of the team. He is very trustable. If we need him to do something we know he will do it. If we want to change his role today and put him in a role that he has never played before, he will study the role and is going to be able to perform. He watches a lot of VODS, he goes after the things he wants, it's very gratifying to have him as a player.
glym is the youngest one, we arrived not long ago. He brought to the team what pleets had. pleets was a very group person, he made the others laugh and boosted the team mood. glym came and we didn't expect that from him, because we didn't know that part of his personality. But when we meet him he fitted in the team has a glove, and he brought what we liked a lot about pleets also being a funny guy and always happy. He accepts everything we say to him. If we ask him to play Jett he plays Jett, if we ask him to play Astra he will do it, Omen the same thing. He is very proactive.
Carriço: Before the season you guys weren't considered a big team like LOUD, Furia, and Vivo Keyd, did you feel you were underestimated by the fans, casters, and the public in general?
Rik: I think that they saw what we showed in Berlin, which was a listless team, and since we kept the core of the team and only brought in glym maybe they weren't expecting that much from us. But I think they underestimated how good we are.
We always were in the four best teams last year, since March/April of last year we always were a top-four team in the region. I think they underestimated our work, they didn't underestimate us since our showing at Master's Berlin wasn't the best. But they underestimated our work, and how strong we could be coming into this 2022 season.
Carriço: How do you compare playstyle-wise to the other teams in Group A, and in general with all the teams of VCT Brazil?
Rik: I think we have a unique playing style. We like to run three initiators, we also have other different compositions. The fact we have flexible players helps us a lot in being able to have a unique style. Our play style can be a little more unpredictable than that of the other teams.
Today I think the Brazilian scene is a little bit closer to the other international scenes. Like the EMEA and North American scene, but also the other regions which are really strong as well. So we have a play-style similar to the ones they have.
There are still some fundamentals we need to improve in the Brazilian scene. But our play-style, if you look very carefully, and take out the name tags of one game, and ask what are the teams on that map, no one will know if they are Brazilian or European teams.
We have this culture of looking at how the game is being played internationally and bringing that to our scene. So the play-style is the same, we just stay a little bit behind the other scenes. But what makes Liberty different is that we innovate and try to create our own style, which is also strong and works here in Brazil.
Carriço: A while ago you said the Brazilian scene is close to the international scenes. The EMEA scene and the North American scene. A lot of people from the EMEA region, and the North American region, think the Brazilian scene is not as good as theirs and is a little behind the international scenes. Do you agree with that? Or is that something that was created after the Brazilian teams didn't have the good international campaigns many were hoping and waiting for?
Rik: I think that we are indeed behind, no doubts about that. Especially because we lost games we should have won internationally. But there is a way for us to perform much better internationally, and show that we are much better than what we showed last year.
Team Vikings almost did that, they almost defeated Gambit Esports. Which were the Master's Berlin champions. Vivo also almost won. If it wasn't for the camera bug maybe we would have won, and maybe it would have been Vivo Keyd in the final versus Gambit Esports in the place of Acend.
A lot of things could have happened, obviously, we don't know, but the "what if" is always there. So we are behind, yes, but just a little. It's a minimal difference, and the difference is so minimal we can win 3-0 the same way we can lose 0-3.
Carriço: What do you think can be done in order to improve the Brazilian scene?
Rik: The teams need to take the fundamentals seriously. The creation of executions. Instead of just being "wow I saw Gambit Esports doing this and it works so I'm going to copy it because it seems to be good and work.” It needs to be something that fits the way your team plays.
We here at Liberty have this way of thinking. But it isn't enough just for us to think this way other teams need to do that as well. Sometimes there is another team that has five great young players that are just destroying the competition, for example, Vivo Keyd.
It would be nice to see if they start thinking in a different way. I really love their roster and their coach Koy. So I know they should be doing a great job, but I still want to see something out of the box. So we can take that next step.
So I think teams lack a little bit of that, and we also need to look at the fundamentals as the most important thing. The fundamentals need to be at 100%. We can't lose so many rounds in 2v1, 5v2 situations. These basic rounds we can't lose. We can't die without a trade. All of that is very important, these are the fundamentals of the game, and this needs to be at 100% here in Brazil in order for us to reach the same level as the international teams.
Carriço: What are the main goals for Liberty in 2022? You said reaching the playoffs of the VCT Brazil 1 stage was the main goal now, but what are the other ones? You said reaching the playoffs of the VCT Brazil 1 stage was the main goal now, but what are the other ones?
Rik: We have a list of goals. The first is to make the playoffs. Then win the Brazilian championship. Our last goal is to win an international event. We have engraved in our heads that we can do that.
We just need to train a lot. Some people may look at our goals and say they are not realistic. But for us, they are just our goals. We need to work a lot to get there, and if we do everything right, we are going to make it work. We just need to try hard.
If you want to know everything that was talked about in this interview watch the full video.