zonic: "We want to be 100% prepared for every tournament we attend"
As it was expected from them, Astralis cruised through group A at ESL One Cologne, winning five out of five maps, to go straight into the semi-finals of the event which will be played on Saturday.
To hear about the preparation Astralis had while other teams were playing ESL One Belo Horizonte or the CS:GO Asia Championship, we talked with the team's coach zonic. The 31-year-old also spoke about the current state of the CS:GO scene, playing against teams with stand-ins and more.
In the past couple of months you skipped a couple of events and you mostly won the ones you played. So coming into Cologne, how do you guys feel, are you on your 100% for his event?
Yeah, definitely, at least that's what we felt like before going here, and so far it has been proven to go fairly well for us, so we are not complaining. But for us, it's about preparation, we want to be 100% prepared for every tournament we attend. Obviously, the schedule is a bit hectic and stressful so we have to, also because of device's health condition, skip some tournaments. But the main reason is also for the guys to be fully prepared and for us to go into the tournament knowing that we couldn't have done anything else to be more prepared.
What was the focus of your preparation since ECS?
We haven't been playing that much Train and Overpass and we've been doing very well on Inferno and Nuke. It's not that we haven't practiced Train and Overpass, we practice all seven maps but I think it was good for us to start looking at those maps because people will eventually try to pick them against us. We are notorious for being very good on Train and Overpass, but it's a new lineup and it's been a long time since we've played those two maps on a regular basis. So we have to put a focus on these two maps to be even better than we are right now.
At the moment, the scene is kind of up and down, a lot of teams making changes, using stand-ins, stuff like that. Coming into the tournament, who did you see as your main opponents?
I think it's hard to avoid naming FaZe, and Na`Vi. Those two teams are doing very well and even FaZe who are with a new stand-in at almost every event, which is kind of impressive. And then we can take MIBR but I think that they still need some time. I heard when they announced the team that it was a long-term project, so I kind of understood from that that they still need a bit more time to integrate Stewie and overcome the new language barrier. I would have to go with FaZe and Na`Vi to be our toughest opponents here.
As you mentioned FaZe, they've been playing with cromen for the third event. He is obviously a stand-in, but a stand-in that played a lot, so you have a lot of things to go on. Did you get a good look at how they play? I would presume that you are very prepared for how they play with cromen?
If you ask me now, we take one match at a time. We've been focusing on our own group since it was announced, but yeah, we will, whenever, wherever we face karrigan and the players, we will be 100% prepared for them. We would've studied them, even if they would've played with a new stand-in we can still see some patterns that we can exploit. So yeah, no matter who we play, we spend a lot of hours preparing.
What are your thoughts on all of these changes teams have been going through these couple of months? It seems like we are coming into a phase where we should have stable rosters going into the Major, but it's not really happening. In a way it suits you since you are stable for so long, how does it feel for you as the coach here?
It's kind of both ways because I do believe we are the best team in the world right now but there is always this factor about "yeah, but we haven't seen them play against FaZe with olofmeister and MIBR is not on their A-game right now". But it's always nice, especially for a guy like me who is particularly very nervous before our games, to play against teams who are struggling against us. So I don't mind them spending a little bit more time figuring out how to play as a team. I think that you will see FaZe and MIBR and Cloud9 and all these teams being 100% ready for the Major. I'm pretty sure they will be.
Seeing that in Sydney you lost to FaZe with Xizt, did you go back after that and see what you did wrong playing against a team with a stand-in, or with a new player? Did you think about the different dynamic of playing against a team with a full lineup versus playing against a team with a stand-in?
I think that it was very difficult to get a grasp of how they were playing back then when they had a stand-in. I knew that karrigan likes to do all the mind games, when he plays against us he wants to come up with new stuff. So it was very difficult for us to feel prepared for that game. I think that after that it was a lot about us relying on our own strengths and not looking that much into them, but taking some of the things that we absolutely knew that they were going to do. Focus on how they played as CT because, individually, you don't change that much as CT, even though you have a stand-in, but you might change a little bit more as T. That has been the focus after Sydney.
All in all, I also think that we had a relatively bad day that day. If I remember correctly it was also very close, so they also had the luck on their side and they were playing extremely well. That can happen and you always know that if you have a bad game individually you won't win against a team like FaZe. That hasn't happened since then, so we are satisfied with it and hope to continues.
Lastly, are you happy with how the group stage went here, ending with this match against G2?
I must admit that before going into the tournament we've also practiced a bit against G2, I didn't expect them to be this good, they were actually playing quite well. I'm pretty amazed by how the guys in G2 have managed to be so good with their new team, Ex6TenZ and kennyS were especially really good against us, but also Ex6TenZ coming in as the in-game leader, having to prove himself again, that must be a tough job, but they impressed me quite a lot.
But also ENCE, we had a good game against them, but the scoreboard didn't show the real result. They were a lot tougher, we were actually kind of struggling to decide what we should veto against them. They were actually looking good on a few maps, so it was quite difficult to figure out what to play against them. All in all, very satisfied with our group and how we performed so far.