Welcome Mad_Ruski - TL's new Apex Legends coach

November 16 2019

We are pleased to announce that Mad_Ruski will be joining Team Liquid as our new Apex Legends coach for Liquid Blue.

I'm really excited to have Mad_Ruski join Liquid Blue. After joining us in Poland, I was impressed to see the amount of support that he could give and bring to the team first hand. With both of our Apex Legends teams now fully fleshed out with staff to support them, the sky is the limit. With Mad_Ruski's help Liquid Blue will definitely be a top contender in the scene. - Nicholas Cleope, Apex Legends Team Manager

Ruski has an incredible resume that spans across several different Battle Royale games. Be it in PUBG, Fortnite, or Apex Legends, he has proven himself to be one of the best in the world. After speaking with Mad_Ruski we have very high expectations for this team and we can't wait to see both Mad_Ruski and Liquid Blue meet and exceed those expectations. Perhaps Mad_Ruski says it best himself — "Our goal is to be the best team in the world."

Get To Know Mad_Ruski

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So, how did you get started in the esports scene in general?

Well basically, I’ve been a hardcore gamer my whole life, and I had the typical pathway through life. Finished High school, went to college, got a full time job. Then about two years ago I suffered a knee injury and was out on leave. That was right around the time that PUBG came out, and I was playing the game a lot. From my DayZ experience I was on a much higher level than most people, because for most people, this was one of their first experiences with a very hardcore shooter.

I happened to end up playing squads with Summit and Minikerr, and back in those days people were always grinding for the leaderboards. And when I was playing squads with them... before Ninja was Ninja, he was still a pretty popular figure in the BR scene and he was still big on Twitch but he just wasn’t the “mainstream” Ninja… he asked Summit to play and all four of us played squads together. I think we won five out of six of our games.

I was usually grinding solos or duos leaderboards and then a week later I saw Ninja playing and I was in his chat and saw him having a hard time in solos. So I said “Hey, you wanna play some games? We played like a week ago with Summit.”

And he was like, “Sure!”

So we started playing together and we played seven games, and I think we won six out of those seven games and at the end of that he was like… “That was the most aware I’ve ever been in a battle royale game. What are you doing tomorrow?”

And that was my start with streaming.

Really? So it wasn’t planned for you, then?

It was mostly for fun, because like I said I was always a hardcore gamer and the reason I started streaming was because it was something I enjoyed and something I could use to show off my plays. I never thought it would be something that I could transition into full time or make a career out of it.

And then what made you transition to coaching?

Well… over the years I had success in multiple BR games; PUBG, Realm Royale, Fortnite, and there have been a lot of people that have been trying to perfect the genre. It’s relatively new in esports, and these past few years I usually had the role of IGL, which is “in-game leader”, the person giving all the callouts for the team. And that person usually has to have a very strong strategic mindset to put the team in the best possible position.

I ended up crossing paths with Flanker and Casper during the Blackout days, and we had great chemistry, so it was the perfect fit to take my skills as an IGL and use it on a larger scale for coaching.

And through meeting those two, that’s how you ended up connecting to Team Liquid?


How did you end up playing Apex Legends in particular?

Well I played Fortnite [after PUBG] but as an FPS gamer, I enjoyed Fortnite but it didn't entice me competitively. Blackout was the only triple-A title BR game that had the FPS elements that I enjoyed, being a Counter Strike player for the majority of my life that was something that really enticed me. Unfortunately though, it didn't really have a lot of competitive support so at the time when Blackout was starting to die off, Apex Legends had a surprise launch.

So a lot of people transitioned from Blackout to Apex and it had very good fundamentals; great shooting mechanics, great fluid movement in the game, and they introduced a unique character system, that no other battle royale really had. It allowed for a bunch of different playstyles, so it makes the game very enjoyable, very fun, and I think it has great potential to be a top tier esport.

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And we’ve definitely seen the developers at least open to communication from pros and taking suggestions; like a lot of how the new class works, some of the nerfs they made to certain weapons, certain buffs…

I’ll just say it's very clear that other game developers do not always listen to what their competitive players want the same way we've seen in Apex.

Yeah… I don’t want to rag on other games but Realm Royale for example was one of the BR games that really struggled because they didn't listen to their community. So the counter example to that is Apex Legends, which I think in my experience, in the past two years in BRs, they are the most open… the developers and the people at EA and Respawn, they’re the most open to community feedback that I have seen from any battle royale game. Maybe almost any game in general in the past couple of years. They’re very open to suggestions, and they’ll take pro feedback.

And that’s obviously very promising for longevity.

Absolutely. I think realistically, pretty much the biggest game in the world is Fortnite but there hasn’t really been any game that has figured out how to make Battle Royale’s into a serious esport. I think Apex has very similar elements to one of the greatest esports of all time which is Counter Strike, it’s a game you can follow pretty easily without having a lot of understanding about the game. It has a pretty likeable spectator system where you can see what the person is doing and transfer between people right away. In Fortnite you get an overhead and there’s a lot of people playing and it can be very difficult to follow along with. The alternative to that would be PUBG but it also doesn’t have the best spectator system but they’ve been working on that somewhat.

So there is a bit of a negative aspect to spectating for Battle Royales. PUBG was one of the biggest games at the time but they didn’t know how to develop the spectating into making it something larger and something that a large audience can consume and I think Apex has that potential.

What challenges have you faced going from an IGL role to a coaching role? Was everything what you expected or were there any hurdles you didn’t expect?

So as an IGL you pretty much make the hard decisions and there has to be a certain level of trust between you and your teammates when you are making your calls so that you’re all working together fluidly. The difference between that and coaching is that you’re pretty much going in from the back end, you’re behind the scenes. They are the ones playing the game and you can’t be there with them while they play so there has to be a certain level of trust between them and you have to take your expertise on calling and strategy and look at it from multiple perspectives and see how you can improve each person individually.

Is it more stressful for you having to watch the games rather than play them?

I think so. As someone who is the coach, I can’t be there to tell them what to do so I have to just expect them to make the best possible decisions and work together. I’m on the sidelines pretty much cheering them on and making sure they’re playing to the best of their ability from our training.

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Do you have any hobbies outside of gaming? Do you watch any other sports or anything like that?

Absolutely not. No sports for me, no hobbies, gaming is my life. *laughs*

Do you have any ideas for how they could make it better?

I feel like they should make it so if you loot let's say slums or any small city size or name size place on the map you should be able to come out of it with a good amount of meds, armor, stuff like that. You shouldn’t have to loot half the map and come out of it with one blue armor, two whites, and practically no meds because you’ve been fighting the whole time because the map is also slightly small with how many people are on the map. There are a lot of adjustments that need to be made, it’s not really just the loot which is what makes it so difficult to change.

So what’s that like for you then? Because gaming used to be your hobby and then it turned into your career.

Yeah exactly, it’s strange. It’s something that very few people go for. It’s something where my passion is now what I’m doing for my living. So mostly before, gaming was my hobby and now I think most of my time is spent streaming. It takes a lot out of you and from your personal life. Pretty much what I’ve been doing the last few years is full time streaming and the way that streaming works is pretty much any time you don’t spend streaming is kind of a hindrance to the stream so you want to grind and put as many hours into streaming as possible. Outside of that I try to get some family time in, I try to spend one day every week hanging out with them, the dog, try to go to the movies, or try to travel as much as I can with them. As far as following sports teams go I used to follow the Jets in high school but they are the same bad team as they were back then.

We’ve seen quite a few changes recently in Apex with both the map and the weapons, what challenges did those changes pose for you?

It pretty much forced a complete restructuring and forced a different thought process for the game. On the previous map, King’s Canyon, there was a certain mindset to the way the game was played, a certain style to the game. There was an established way you would rotate around the map and what weapons you would be using.

The introduction of World’s Edge… it’s a completely different map, it’s much larger and there’s a lot of new possibilities. The meta of the game has changed with the weapons as well. There are two things that lead to that. With the larger map, long range and medium range weapons are much more viable. Compared to Kings Canyon where you didn’t see many people using weapons like the Scout, it’s now one of the most used weapons in the game. It got a double tap attachment where it fires twice so now people can use it at long range and be deadly but it’s still good at medium or close range because of that as well. The open size of the map allows for a different meta in terms of which guns are usable and because you can’t close the distance so rapidly you can take much more isolated fights.

In King’s Canyon as soon as you took a fight you would risk the possibility of any team 3rd partying you from multiple directions. Here, there’s now a good possibility of taking isolated fights which you would never find before. Also with the map being larger if the zone shifts in a certain way you have to figure out a more effective way to rotate around the map.

So have you noticed the old meta of trying to figure out where the end circle is going to be and going and camping a house is shifting to something else?

There are some similarities but on the old map and what we saw in Poland was the meta where Watson held houses with the fences and her ultimate, the Wraith [was used] for portaling which is almost a necessity in competitive, and Pathfinder was basically a god-send for any team because of the amount of vertical play available on the old map. You almost had to have his Grapple and Zipline. His passive ability to see the next circle, as you said, would allow teams to predict the final circle and take a house and pretty much hold for the rest of the game.

On the new map this is still a possibility but it’s not seen as much. Pathfinder isn’t as useful, they nerfed his Grapple slightly, but also because the map is so large and teams need to make much longer rotations. This means teams have to go into pretty much two different playstyles. Teams need to make much more aggressive rotations to go into the circle so teams who were previously much more passive are slightly weaker as a whole and teams that are both good at fighting and good at rotating across much longer distances are going to be much better.

To be completely honest though Watson is still extremely strong and I think they need to nerf her in some way. The economy in Apex is basically how much health and healing you have so her ultimate ability which has an unlimited recharge on shields and blocks grenades is incredibly valuable. Crypto was supposed to be a counter to her but because he doesn’t get rid of her ult it’s almost insignificant.

So would you rather see something closer to League and Dota where certain characters are stronger counters to others? Ultimately it would still come down to who can aim better in most cases.

Yeah who can aim better, who has better positioning, those are big things in BR’s even before taking abilities into account. Gibraltar for example we’re seeing a resurgence of him, or well just a straight surgent from him. He wasn’t really used on the old map but here with the buff on him with the bubble, it now lasts for 20 seconds and with the huge space you sometimes have to rotate around you can use that shield to get through tight corners and keep yourself safe. Unless of course a team just jumps into you but that’s not really very likely. And then his ultimate does a massive amount of damage, can hold teams off, and is great in final circle situations.

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You touched on this earlier but when did you first try to get involved in esports?

Yeah, so like I was saying, I’ve been a hardcore gamer my entire life. I think I went over to my friends house when I was around 11 or 12 years old and he had a computer and was playing a game on it and I was like, “Oh, what's this?” and it was Counter Strike. I’m pretty sure it was CS Iceworld which is one of the most iconic maps. I played it pretty much the entire time I was there. On my next birthday I got a computer and since then, since I was about 12 years old, I’ve been playing CS and continued for years.

When I actually learned about and got into esports and saw it as something that could be done professionally… I think The International 1 was my first real introduction. It was the first tournament I watched where I was really rooting for teams and was really invested. I think the reason is because I’m in love with the competition and The International introduced the biggest prize pool in gaming, in esports history, and so all of that in collaboration with each other is what got me really excited about esports. And yeah even though I’m an FPS gamer I think Dota is one of my favourite games of all time.

Oh really? Did you play a lot of WarCraft 3 and get introduced to it there?

That’s the thing, I never played WarCraft. I played League for like a month and I wasn’t really getting into it. One of my friends who wanted me to play League with them, the Dota 2 beta came out and we played together and I just got addicted to it, I was having so much fun with it.

I’m pretty sure I streamed PUBG for pretty much 9 months straight, so like 10-11 hours a day for close to a year and I still have more hours in Dota than I do in PUBG. Obviously I was playing it for years but still.

So would you say that competitive aspect, is that something you apply outside of gaming, are you a very competitive person or is it something you really focus into Apex and BR’s?

That’s definitely a personality trait of mine. I am very competitive but I think it’s mostly seen in gaming because I never really played any traditional sports and gaming was my outlet. I loved to win. I think one of the greatest quotes is something like “I hate losing more than I love winning”. I think there’s a lot of competitive people like that. I love winning and winning is great, that feeling of accomplishment that you outplayed somebody. I think that’s the heart of competitive esports. You as a team or you as an individual outplayed another player and you are one of the best in the game. That type of competitive nature, that feeling of accomplishment that all this time you’re spending and you’re seeing progress. It’s a great feeling.

What are your goals for the Liquid Apex team?

Being the number 1 team in the world.

Great! Well, welcome to Team Liquid. Do you have any message you want to share with anyone reading this?

Go sub to me for free with twitch prime on twitch.tv/mad_ruski !

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