valens: "Excited to play on the stage, but I don't think we are where we should be"
Soham "valens" Chowdhury talked us through Cloud9's up-and-down journey through IEM Katowice groups, where the Americans just clinched third place to secure a spot in the quarter-finals with a narrow win over SK.
Cloud9 have had trouble on Inferno throughout this tournament, barely winning against TYLOO before losing two in a row in series with Liquid and Renegades. That was the decider between the American squad and SK in Group B's lower bracket final, where Cloud9 came back from a 4-11 deficit on Inferno, conceding only two rounds on the Terrorist side.
We then grabbed the coach, Soham "valens" Chowdhury, to talk about Cloud9's shakiness, not only on Inferno but overall since the Major, and found out how he's feeling about the team heading into the playoffs.
Let's go back to your Liquid series at first, losing two relatively close maps there, what went wrong?
I think right now Liquid has a couple of different things that they're doing that are specifically difficult for us to get map control on T side. They use nades really well early round - I'm not talking about just smokes and mollies, but actually their HE grenades. They kind of stop our aggressive way of getting map control early.
And then when we have to go a little bit slower, we're not super comfortable doing that on every single map right now, especially because to go slower on T side your comms have to be on point, the timings have to be on point. I think we're getting a little bit lazy on that front, so it's not that we don't know how to do it, it's just right now we aren't doing it that well and Liquid's game style on CT side is abusing that. That was mostly the reason I think our T side has kinda struggled against them.
The Renegades match was overall quite comfortable on the two maps you won, but Inferno didn't go your way, the second time in a row...
I think when we won their map pick we were a little bit confident going into Inferno and that's our map pick, obviously. They don't play it that much but I know that they're pretty decent on it just from practicing against them. So we didn't take it lightly but at the same time I think they got to a really hot start and we're not that great when our utility usage just can't compensate for the way we play CT side.
That's the main reason, they kept our money low and they did a good job mixing it up, the setups we tried to use to counter what they just did, they mixed it up the next round and countered our counter. They just played well, yeah.
Going over to the SK series, given how Inferno has been up and down for you lately, how did you feel going into that map as the decider and especially starting the way you did, with only three rounds in the first half?
It's funny, but I think Inferno for both SK and us right now is kind of a map that we both play a lot, we practice it a lot, we've tried to get better on it, but we're pretty inconsistent on it for some reason. And it mostly stems from CT sides for both teams, we obviously had a bad CT side here, but we knew if we just made less mistakes than they did, then we could bring it back and obviously a huge round was when Tim won the eco on T side. We almost lost that and he was hiding the smoke, ran out and USPd them.
If he didn't win that round, we would obviously not have been able to keep their money low and make the comeback, so honestly it's just a game of T sides against them. Our CT sides have a lot of room for improvement and so do theirs, it's just a hard meta right now, it's hard to play CT side Inferno.
Given that you have been looking shaky in general, not only in Inferno, how are you feeling on the back of this result going into the playoffs?
It's nice to be able to make playoffs here at Katowice, we haven't done that before. So I think first of all we're excited to play on the stage here, but I don't think our team is still where it should be at. We won the Major and that's amazing, there's a lot of positive emotions there, but I remember saying this in a different interview that we were just the better team at the Major, we weren't making no mistakes, it's not like we played perfectly, and those imperfections are being abused.
More people have seen how we played, we haven't mixed it up too much. We're trying different things, it's not that we're not, but we're not in the same comfort level with each other in-game as we were at the Major. We're trying to get back there, there's a lot of room for improvement, we're happy we've made it to the playoffs, but I don't think the team is exactly where it should be.
Does it also come down to a lack of practice between the events, considering you have been on the road for the majority of time since Atlanta?
Yeah, this is something that I hope tournament organizers pay more attention to, having practice areas that we can actually utilize 24/7 with good wifi or good internet is super important, because when we have these many events, like we do this year, we literally can't innovate unless we do it at the events.
And if for example we can do it, maybe transportation between the venue or where the practice area might be is not great, then really a 24/7 practice area doesn't mean much. So we need to be able to practice at the venue outside of just the matches that we play and if we can't do that, I think all teams, not just us, will stop innovating, they're just going to get stuck.