GuardiaN: "Facing Titan will be hard"
Our first pre-interview prior to ESL One Cologne, kicking off on August 20th, is with Natus Vincere's star AWPer, Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács.
As usual, we're preparing pre-interviews with teams attending the next major, ESL One Cologne, which runs between August 20-23, to get a good understanding of their preparation, expectations and much more.
The first player answering our questions, both general and team-specific, was Na`Vi's superstar AWPer Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács:
How have you prepared for ESL One Cologne? Are you going to or did you bootcamp beforehand or have you only been preparing online? Have you focused on anything in particular? (e.g. teams, specific problems at recent events)
We have started our bootcamp approximately five days ago and I would say we have done pretty good work on certain maps at the start of our bootcamp. About our practice plan - we are starting with watching demos, fixing our mistakes and talking about them for few hours before we play practice games. Our focus is more on the maps that we are not playing that good and then on maps where we miss some fresh elements in-game. Like some smokes, flashes, boosts etc.
GuardiaN's Na`Vi aim for a top four finish at least
Is there anyone who you think is underrated and could surprise in Cologne?
Well, nowadays it is hard to say who is underrated and who is the best, since there is always some upset at LAN events. Even two or three lower tier teams can beat the best team, so I would say it's about dedication and preparation of teams. But my top3 teams that can surprise in cologne are Kinguin, Renegades and Luminosity Gaming. The Brasilian team is pretty good and getting even better day by day!
What are your team's goals and expectations for the event? Where do you draw the line of what you'd be satisfied or happy with?
For us top4 is the minimum we want to reach. Everything better will be just the good result of our preparation and dedication for the game. Not reaching the playoffs would be devastating for all of us, that's something we cannot think of and just see our common goal as team!
The level of teams has been evening out recently, a number of different names have been in the grand final at events in the recent months (EnVyUs, TSM, fnatic, Na`Vi, Virtus.pro, Cloud9), who are the favourites to make it to top four in your mind?
I think it will not be all about fnatic getting easily to the grand finals, but they probably are still on the highest level of the game and will be there, but not so easily. The next grand finalist can be any team from top eight teams in general. From my point of view it will be Fnatic, Virtus.pro, EnVyUs and Na`Vi.
What do you make of the change in the group stage format? Is it better to have a chance to play against more than three set teams before the playoffs? Is it going to be harder to prepare for such groups?
It is interesting and something new to deal with. If it will be harder or easier, it's hard to say at the moment, because you can get good opponents that you are comfortable against and it doesn't have to be the same for the opposite team.
Train has been in the pool for quite some time, but ESL One Cologne will be the first major to feature it, how has it developed over the recent months? Was it figured out in terms of playstyle, strategy, etc.? Is the current map pool diverse enough?
We like the map pool, removing our worst map and adding one of our best maps from the past is good for us. But we are still struggling in finding our game on CT side, how to retake sites and how to hold site against rushes. We still have some time to focus on this so we will see what the result will be.
What are your thoughts on your group? Can you go through each match-up and say how it is likely to play out?
Facing the new Titan in the first game will be very, very hard. Going into the game knowing nothing about their new lineup and their game style is scary. But of course we will be ready and confident to beat them. If we win then we will probably play against Fnatic which will be the hardest game in the tournament I think. Playing against such an agressive team is very uncomfortable and hard even game-wise and mentally. Next team is eBette, who came from the qualifier as winners against Titan, so we cannot underestimate them because they can surprise any time. But yeah, they are pretty unknown for us, we haven't played them yet, so it's hard to rate them at the moment.
Natus Vincere are in a group with Titan, fnatic and eBettle
Yet again this major has not seen a prizepool change, even though the sticker money is likely to get bigger, would you like to see it get increased?
We are fighting for the Championship title and the trophy, not the stickers!
With the proliferation of both online and offline events, and having had at least one big event every weekend or every other weekend for the past few months, and with many teams travelling around Europe and North America—or both—, how do you think it will affect teams' performances?
I think having so many events is only good. You can improve your game better than in practice games and fix mistakes from game to game. So I don't think it will affect teams in any way. It can only help. We have attended around eight or nine lans in the past three months, then we took some break before the bootcamp and from my point of view it did not affect us at all. I think it is the same for all teams.
Lately the outrage against certain weapons has decreased (e.g. CZ-75 at the beginning of the year, Tec-9 during the second quarter of 2015), are you satisfied with the way Valve balanced them out? Are there any weapons you'd like to see nerfed or buffed?
Of course the Scout has to be nerfed!
Do you think the new anti-doping measures being taken by the ESL are going to change anything from past events, has this been blown out of proportion since Semphis' statements, or is it necessary?
I would say it's a step forward by ESL and I am fine with it. Using some drugs, medicines or whatever can of course affect your body and maybe even improve your game. So it probably will change something.
While always around the top of CSGO it seems you have been able to find a little bit more consistency than usual, winning ESWC 2015, reaching the semi-finals at FACEIT League 2015 Stage 2 Finals, and finishing runners up at CEVO S7 to Virtus.pro in Columbus. Could ESL One Cologne be the time to claim your seat at the top?
Yes it feels great to reach semifinals so many times in a row, I don't remember that kind of results from us in CS:GO. But I hope it will be our time to shine and we will show something new that nobody has seen yet!
Ever since the addition of flamie, the pressure on yourself to always perform decreased, but you also somewhat rely on seized’s lurking as when he’s in shape, it can be game-changing. Who is going to have to be the biggest X factor in your team to reach your goals?
I think it will be about our balance in game. If everybody will do what he has to do and will get his kill, then we will be fine.
We will try to condunt similar interviews with all teams attending ESL One Cologne and continue releasing them before the event begins.