Community Features: Zach and Erin

August 15 2021

Part 1: It Was Fate

Good news, this fan feature is going to be super cool!

Really? What makes you think that?

It’s not just one person - it’s two. It’s a fan couple!

You mean...a couple of fans?

No -_- I mean that they’re in a relationship.

Oh! That actually is pretty cool :D

Let’s get it done 👍.

You got it!

Two Hours Earlier...

Hey Zach! Glad you could make it. Are you and Erin ready?

Yep, let me invite Erin into the chat.

Of course!

Hello! Happy to be here.

Great to see you too, Erin!

Now that both of you are here, I think we can start the interview. Let's start by having you both talk about how you got into Team Liquid.

I remember being so excited when they started season 1 of LCS. When the LCS first formed, Curse started at around 8 - 0; they were destroying everyone. I really loved that I chose the right team because we were winning and it felt great to cheer for them. Unfortunately, they ended up losing that season,but I was so invested into the team that I still considered them my favorite team.

Eventually, they acquired Piglet, who was my favorite player in the world. They then transitioned into Team Liquid, so I just naturally became a Team Liquid fan. In 2013 - 2014, I started getting into Counter-Strike and it soon became one of my favorite games to play.

I would still play League, but I probably played Counter-Strike more. In that world, Hiko and n0thing were my favorite players. I wasn’t sure which team n0thing was on, but Hiko was on Complexity, which became my favorite team in CS:GO. Complexity eventually got picked up by Team Liquid. This meant that my favorite player from League of Legends led me to Team Liquid from Curse, and one of my favorite players from CS:GO led me to Team Liquid again. At that point, it was meant to be. I had been brought to Team Liquid twice by two different players from two different games.

I had a favorite football team when I was five, and I come from a background of traditional sports and loyalty in that sense. Everybody I knew had their favorite teams and I never really understood it until I started watching Team Liquid. It made more sense as I started rooting for them more. I had become a Team Liquid fan for life, just because...they’re my team.

When we first met, he introduced me to the game League of Legends. It took a long time to finally understand the game - half of the time I was just there to be there watching it with him. That’s when he finally talked me into watching a Team Liquid game and brought me to LCS.

I came from a family that was all about the traditional sports, but I never really got into it myself. We did have a Nintendo Wii growing up - that was pretty much our only game system. Because of that, I was into games like Mario and Harry Potter Lego game since I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. When I met Zac, that’s what brought me into Team Liquid. Before that, I never really knew about any PC games and stuff like that, so with that he introduced me to Team Liquid, who I became after finally understanding League. Since then, I’ve just been a big fan as well.

So not only are you a super passionate fan, Zach, but you’ve also been a fan for a really long time! Erin, I really love that you’re just as much of a fan as well. Do you both feel like being such big fans of Team Liquid has been worth it?

Unequivocally, of course. *laughs*

It’s all been a blur, especially the past couple of years. I know that some people think that the [2019] MSI run didn’t end well, but I feel like anyone who’s been a fan of Curse or Team Liquid has seen everything they’ve gone through and will understand that [2019]’s MSI run was the best thing that’s ever happened.

I feel so bad for some of the new fans that are upset about the MSI run and don’t look back at it in a positive light. I mean, Team Liquid were the finalists at an international event with some of the best teams in the world - that has never happened before. Three years ago, we were fighting to stay as the 10th place team in the North American league, and now we reached a new milestone of being 2nd place at MSI 2019. That’s such a huge meteoric rise.

As far as whether it’s been worth it to be a Team Liquid fan, it absolutely is. I basically grew up with Team Liquid. When they were in the relegation promos in the 2017 Spring and Summer Split, I was more nervous about those games than I was about the TL vs. G2 finals at MSI 2019. When you’re at Relegations, you risk losing everything. When your favorite team loses, that’s a really shitty feeling, but when there’s a risk of losing the team, that’s even worse.

Watching the relegation matches and being scared the whole time made me realize that there might not be a Team Liquid team the following year. It had me thinking, “well, what would I do then?” Having those moments of the team winning and seeing the heart and love that they put in really builds a bond with everyone that was there.

I can’t imagine myself being a fan of any other team. I don’t know what other fanbases have where they can say something like, “Oh well, at least my team did this”. Team Liquid was the first org to ever import a player into the LCS - they opened that gate, even brought in Edward from Moscow Five. They’ve always been the first for a lot of things. They were the first to break down the work/life balance by not having the players live in a gaming house. They were the first to build an office that eventually became the training facilities. They were the first team to have huge sponsorships like Honda - who are now sponsoring the LCS!

And Marvel!

And the groundbreaking partnership with Marvel, which is every nerd’s dream ever.

At that point it's like, who else are you going to be a fan of? What has anyone else done that even comes close to any of those accomplishments? Not only did us fans have pre-2017 and the heartbreaks before, but we also have this bond in the community where everyone who was there could look in each other’s eyes and say “We've been through some shit”. All of that makes the wins we’re getting now so much sweeter.

When TSM was winning all the splits, I don’t think their fans felt as good about it as Team Liquid fans did. TSM has always been on top - they were never a bad team. Going through the times of being a bad team and being the worst team in the league for two splits in a row and then coming on top is almost euphoric. All the hard work Steve put in, all the tears, everything - it all paid off.

When I first started learning about the team, I did learn about the “unlucky 4” - how we always got 4th place, and how that changed after we started doing better. The team going to MSI in 2018 was really exciting because that never happened - it was always fourth place for them. Even though they didn’t do so well, seeing them go to MSI and Worlds was amazing since they got the opportunity to go. During the TSM rematch with the glacial comp, you could barely hear the chants clearly because everyone was just really excited.

There are so many teams who compete in LoL, CS:GO, and other esports titles - teams like TSM and Complexity that you’ve both mentioned previously. And yet, you’ve both stayed committed to being fans of Team Liquid. What’s the reason behind that?

In regards to LCS, Team Liquid is the only team that’s out there every weekend for the tailgates. Most teams come out around three times a split and even though they have these great events that are fun, they’re not out there like Team Liquid is. If I was living out of state, for example, and I was coming to visit the LCS studio one time and my team wasn’t there tailgating, that would be heartbreaking to me. That’s why I really love that Team Liquid gives that experience to people.

We meet people all the time who are at LCS for the first time and they’re so excited to be there. Some of them are Team Liquid fans, and when they see the tent, they get excited and go “OMG Team Liquid’s here! Are we going to meet the players?”. That level of excitement is so fun to see and I feel so bad that other people don’t get that for their teams. It goes back to how I couldn’t be a fan of anyone else. It’s Team Liquid for life.

As we previously said, both of us come from families that are super into traditional sports. The main difference is that I’m still into traditional sports. I was somewhat raised in Boston when I was younger, so I’m a huge Patriots fan, a huge Celtics fan - I’m basically a fan of all Boston sports. When football’s going on, Sundays are taken and I’m watching the Patriots.

The difference between traditional sports and esports is (and it took me a while to realize this) that even though I’ve been a Curse/Team Liquid since 2012, I haven’t really been involved with the community until about a year ago. The reason behind that is because with traditional sports, your fandom is very much a friends and family ordeal - you don’t really get involved with the team at all. That’s where I was for the first five years with my fandom for esports.

Afterwards, something kinda clicked and I realized that with Team Liquid, it’s much more than that. Esports is so much bigger than that because you actually do have community. It’s not just you being a loyal fan of the team and cheering for them. Esports is unique in the sense that you can actually become a part of the community. A year ago, Erin and I knew people like Ken and Marco in passing - we saw them at LCS and we would say hi, but they always seemed off-limits to me because of my ideas behind traditional sports. With traditional sports, you’d never go up to the coach and talk to them. But something about esports culture means that something like this can happen. Now, we’re great friends with Ken and Marco.

Not only do you have this lifetime loyalty that you see with being a traditional sports fan, you have the family and relationships that get built with the community, which is unique specifically to esports. You’re not just a fan of the team anymore - you’re chatting with the owner after the games, you’re helping with the tailgates, and so much more. We’re just as much of the family as everyone else in the org is.

In the beginning of the split during the first day of week one, the majority of the teams were out there. But when day two rolled around, it was just us and two other teams. Most of the time during the game day weekends, it was just us. During the end of the split, we saw a couple that had never been to LCS before. They watched LCS at home, but never thought it would be great to come to the studio in person. After they hung out at the Team Liquid tailgate, they became fans and have since then came back.

Telling my mom about Team Liquid partnering with Marvel is amazing, since she’s also a big Marvel fan. We’ve watched the whole series in order before, so it was something exciting to share - even though she doesn’t understand esports. All in all, it’s still worth being a TL fan.

When Team Liquid was at Comic-Con, there was still a booth at LCS. That’s dedication. The staff in general is just so welcoming - they don’t hate on you if you like another team. When we help with the tailgate, there are still friendly conversations with other fans who wear jerseys from the other teams when they participate in our activities. It’s just about having a good time and being part of a community that’s so welcoming. We brought Zach’s mom a few times to LCS and every time she visits, there’s always something we do with TL. She’s enjoying it and she’s starting to understand the game, so she’s following along. At the tailgate booth, it’s just all welcoming to people, and that’s why I stay. When we go to LCS, a lot of people recognize us from Riot too, which is really nice.

It’s really nice to see a team like Team Liquid accomplish so much on a competitive level and be able to give back to the fans. You both probably have some favorite moments, right?

Watching us play against TSM with the full glacial comp and still winning was fun, even though it was very clear that they were trolling. At some points, the Team Liquid chants were louder than the TSM chants. I think that was just amazing to see - even further on in the split, there’s still a lot of people cheering for Team Liquid. It was amazing to be a part of the audience - It’s completely different than just streaming it at home. I always feel like I can watch it so much better when I’m there in person than online.

I think my favorite moments from Team Liquid would have to be Piglet getting signed on to the team - someone that I idolized at the time as the perfect ADC player. My joke name on everything was “Curse Piglet'' because I always thought “this will never happen, but this is my favorite player with my favorite team”, so when it happened, I was shell shocked. Also, winning the first split in Miami was the pinnacle of happiness for me.

The CS:GO team finally winning in Sydney was an incredible feat and finishing the Grand Slam in 63 days was unreal, as was the whole IEM Chicago experience. The team reached a whole new level - no one ever thought the Grand Slam would be possible, let alone doing it without losing an event, and doing it back to back within 63 days. They’ve reached a whole new level and redefined what winning is in CS:GO. I was so excited for the team because they deserved it and they put in so much work. They would always lose in the finals to Astralis or NaVi or FNATIC and everyone else - now, they’re winning. They deserve it so much and they deserve all the praise they’re getting.

I think my number one favorite TL moment isn’t really related to a game. Erin mentioned before, but my mom came down a few times to see the teams play. She has always been supportive of me. When I was a kid, I was playing video games often since we moved a lot as a family. I would leave friends behind and would have to start over at school every year, so she understood that video games would be where I would go to keep up with friends and not feel so alone. She’s always been supportive, but she never understood why I cared about esports. She’s always known that I was a Patriots fan and she can understand football, but she never really understood why I cared about esports until the Netflix Documentary “7 Days Out” came out, which featured Doublelift. When she watched it, her heart melted, and at that moment she understood why I cared.

After that happened, my mom drove from Arizona to California to go to LCS. She met Doublelift and watched the games and gave him a hug afterwards. He was super happy to have someone there and he was super welcoming to her. Ken, Marco, and all of the other players were really excited to have a mom there and they were telling her what was going on, and she started to really get it. She actually came back for Rift Rivals and Doublelift recognized her, so he ran up to her and gave her a hug. She got to meet Rick Fox as well and just died in the moment because she knew him. Ken invited us to go to the Rift Rivals afterparty at AWTF and she got to go and see all the pros.

That’s what I love about Team Liquid - the way that they, as an org, as players, as staff, as everything, have been so accommodating and helped my mom finally understand and care about what my life is now. She understands and gets excited when Team Liquid wins. She’ll text me “GO TL!” without me saying anything. She’ll even follow the LCS results and will send me thumbs up gifs when they win. She’s been so excited for the team and it’s been a really cool moment in my life to have someone who’s supported me all my whole life to finally get it.

I think it’s very clear that your mom really likes Doublelift, and probably sees him as her favorite player. Do you both have a favorite player or players who have been or are currently under Team Liquid?

I think right now, I really like the current LCS roster. I don’t know if I have an order specifically, but I’d have to say CoreJJ would be my top favorite - he’s just a really amazing player. After that would be Doublelift. He seems so humble and will stop to have conversations, take pictures, or sign autographs with fans. I feel like there are some players out there who aren’t as welcoming, so that’s pretty cool.

I tried to reduce my list as best I could, but I didn’t want to remove any players for the sake of making the list shorter. That being said, my favorite players are Cop, Saintvicious, Quas, Fenix, Piglet, Dardoch, Xpecial, Olleh, Impact, Jensen, Xmithie, Doublelift, CoreJJ, Adren, Nitr0, Elige, S1mple, Hiko, NAFFLY, and Stewie.

Let’s now move on to the random questions that I ask everyone who gets interviewed by me. I know that both of you are very passionate dog lovers, so I want to ask you: if you could imagine Steve and Victor as dogs, what breeds would they be?

I think for Steve, it would have to be a golden retriever, similar to Doug from Up. For Victor, it would probably be a German Shepard, since they’re very loyal, loving, and can have really high energy when they need to, but can also be calm.

I also agree that Steve kinda resembles Doug from Up, so a golden retriever. For Victor, a German Shepard fits him nicely because they have this tough exterior look, but are also friendly and are basically your best friend.

Now, here’s the final (and most fun) question of the interview series: what is something that you do with food that people might think is unconventional?

One thing that strikes a big conversation is pineapple on pizza - I’m personally a fan of it. I also have to have ranch most of the time with my pizza. Zach always strikes up a conversation about it because he hates both.

A few other food quirks I have include putting mayo on my hot dogs. eating cottage cheese with a variety of different condiments and foods (with ketchup, with pineapple, or with potato chips), and enjoying peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches. My family does dill pickles, but I don’t like them, so I use the sweet pickles. They have that sour tangy taste to it, which makes them so addicting - I could eat them every day. I’m also a big ketchup person and can eat it on its own or with pretty much anything.

For me, most of the stuff I eat is kinda boring and bland. The only thing I do that people might think is weird is having a bowl filled with cheez-its and saltine crackers combined. If you’re going to sit down and play video games for eight hours straight, you might as well enjoy food that way. They’re both really good, so you don’t need two different bowls - just put them into one! Something else that I do is put peanut butter and jelly on bagels. I wanted a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich a while ago, but I didn’t have sliced bread at the time. *laughs*

I’ll also just buy packages of ham and just eat the slices on their own.

Thanks so much for sharing! Erin, I am totally down to get some pineapple pizza whenever we get the chance.

I’m up for that!

Awesome! Is there anything else you both wanted to say before we close off the interview?

I really appreciate how the TL staff is so friendly and welcoming in general. Being able to do this interview was pretty amazing and being recognized for being superfans is both amazing and exciting. Going to LCS does get tiring every weekend because it takes up the whole day for us, but being a Team Liquid fan makes it worth going every weekend because of the community staff being able to hang out with us. Last weekend, we got invited back to the AWTF and we got to play TFT with Tina and Marco on the computers there. It was amazing. Who does that? I don’t feel like any other teams are gonna be like, “Hey! We see you here so often, you wanna stop by and play some games with us?” No one else does that, so it’s pretty amazing for them to be so welcoming.

Thank you so much. I know you didn’t have to do this interview, yet you reached out to us. When I was telling you that I really love the articles, I wasn’t thinking “Oh maybe she’ll have US for the article!”. I was still thinking that everything was off limits and they would never choose us because we aren’t that special. I really appreciate everything that you’ve done to make us feel welcome and I want to thank the TL staff for everything they've done to really make us feel welcome and make us feel like we’re part of the family. It’s been a really fun experience and fun journey - we’re very thankful for everything you guys do and we recognize all of the hard work you guys put in.

It’s the least we can do! If anything, I want to thank YOU both for being so awesome and supporting Team Liquid for so long. Talk to you later!

See you later!


The Night Before Publishing...

Good job on the article, Viv. This is such a cool interview!

Thanks! I really enjoyed talking to Zach and Erin.

I hope they enjoy reading this when it gets published.

I think they will. They’re both huge Team Liquid fans - something tells me that we’ll be seeing them again...

A Final Editor's Note

Talk about seeing Zach and Erin again! Since this interview, Zach has become an even more important part of our community by co-hosting Team Liquid's Tailgate Stream. Catch up with Zach today an hour and a half before our game against TSM (2:30 PM EDT/11:30 AM PDT). Zach's mom likes to pop into chat too, so be sure to say hello to the whole superfan family.

Writer // Vivian Nguyen

Graphic Designer // Zack Kiesewetter

Editors // Austin Ryan
and Indu Reddy

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