Following the grand final, we managed to talk with the tournament MVP Ladislav "Guardian" Kovács, who led his team to the trophy with a master-class performance.
The Slovakian Sniper was impressive throughout the tournament, only recording one under-average rated map, and elevated his game for the grand final, finishing the game against Astralis with a +25 K-D and a 1.28 rating.
In our post-match interview, we talked about their record on Cache, dueling Nicolai "device" Reedtz and the clutch and comeback on Train.
You continue your undefeated run on Cache on LAN with Xizt, he had the legendary quote about Cache [while he was in NiP], so how did it work for you here, to get the win against Astralis?
I think we started pretty good on Cache, on the T side we got 10 rounds so that's pretty comfortable to go on the CT side with. On the CT side we lost pistol even though they gave me a chance to win the round, but I didn't win it. Then they started winning some rounds, but I think we felt pretty comfortable on the CT side, even though it was 13-12 for them. We figured out what was going wrong on the CT side for us and we knew if we won one round we would break their money. We only needed one round. I think we had the full control on the CT side.
About Xizt, he is pretty good with leading on the CT side of Cache. If he wants some flash, he know when to call for the flash, I think he feels it very well and it works pretty well with NiKo on the A site. They combined for some key rounds on Cache, not only against Astralis, I think it's pretty good.
When you say he is good at leading, you mean calling for he needs, not caling the whole game?
He also gives calls like "Now they have an eco, let's do this" or stuff like that, sometimes NiKo calls, it's like 50-50 between them. He is also good at calling stuff for himself, flashes, and he gets those kills. I think that is helping a lot.
You move to Overpass and that is obviously a strong map for Astralis. So going into it, are you in a mental state that you don't have to win the map, that you are just playing freely, seeing that you have at least three more coming after?
Overpass is the map that is probably the most uncomfortable for our team lately. I don't know why, probably because with olofmeister we had much, much more teamplay on that map. I actually have no idea. NiKo feels uncomfortable, I feel uncomfortable, somehow even calling for karrigan wasn't the way he wanted it.
So going into Overpass we were like: "We will play with no pressure, we already won the first map".When we were losing rounds were were thinking "we will win the next one, probably", we were taking the game easy. I'm happy we won it. They made a lot of mistakes on that map, if they wouldn't have made mistakes like that, pushing and dying unnecessarily, I think they would win the map. I think the reason we won Overpass is because they made much much more mistakes than we did.
Do you have an idea how that happened? Especially in those clutches it seemed like they overplayed their hand, pushed smokes and stuff like that, allowing you guys to clutch and come back into the game?
I think they were underestimating the situation, even though they are 5v2 they feel like they should push something. I think they underestimated many situations, for example we exploded out monster, we had the site and suddenly gla1ve pushes the smoke. So I think he underestimated the situation or misunderstood what was happening and gave us free kills. Those are small mistakes but in the final you do those mistakes, and you get punished.
On that map, and over all the maps, they were running these double or triple nade setups. They got you with it one time, I guess it's irritating to play against that and just die without even seeing anyone?
In the overtime, I was waiting for them to start nading mid, but I caught the wrong timing. (laughs) I mean, these setups are really good, they got a free kill, and everytime they got the nade kill they won the round, I think.
It's interesting from them and I'm sure that a lot of teams will start using that. It's a good idea and I have to respect them for that. They always come up with something new. I think that they are winning tournaments because of that, when they are practicing for a long time they come up with something new and that's why they have an advantage over the other teams.
Train was a different kind of a map comparing to the first two because you started 10-0 down, gla1ve was having a great game. At that point you win the 1v3 and you turn it around. Did it feel like there was a lot of pressure to win that round?
When you are down 10-0 and two players on their team have abouve 15 frags, you feel like "Hey, something is going wrong". You don't know what to do, everything simply goes wrong. We did B goes, we did A goes, we did three ivy pushes, we did everything and it didn't work, so in that scenario you are just thinking that we have to start playing with objectives, taking popdog, taking brown halls, taking ivy and then we can split them and stuff like this.
When you end up in a 1v3 and you know exactly where they are, you have a big chance to win. And I hit the shots, they didn't, that's the reason I won the round and that round probably gave us some life. We won four rounds in the row. Everything worked for them until that point, I think losing 1v3 and breaking their economy after that [really helped]. If you are 0-10 and nothing is working, you run out of ideas. You keep doing something you've done and you have to wait for their mistake. I think someone made a mistake and that's why they gave us a chance to come back.
Over the series, you got 15 AWP kills on device while he got 5 on you. Even though the statistic isn't only AWP vs AWP, do you feel like you had the upper hand in the AWP duel in the series here?
When I noticed that device was on 0-5 and the others were fragging pretty good, I just decided "Hey, he is not having his game, let me fight him". And they let me fight him on Cache, when I went to mid I killed him without giving him a chance. I felt like his game was not going well, they let me face him and I think that was the key point, he died many times and gave us the advantage in the rounds. You cannot blame him, he is a top tier player, a very good sniper but this time I think he made too many peeks and mistakes that he shouldn't.
You got the tournament win, obviously, the first win since ECS S4, first MVP for you since Counter Pit S2, first Intel Grand Slam since ESL One New York. So how does it feel and what does it mean going forward?
Wining a tournament is obviously very good, especially when it's a Grand Slam. I think that the Grand Slam tournaments have the highest value for us aside the Majors. It has been some time since we won a tournament, we lost some finals... It feels so nice. I won't lie, I will be humble, but it feels so nice to beat Astralis 3-0 in the final, especially when they beat us in DreamHack Marseille. But it's been a hard day and a hard game. It feels very good, I cannot describe it differently than that it feels perfect.