s1mple: "Our map pool could be a lot better"
Thus far in Atlanta, the Ukrainian side has topped Group B after back-to-back three-map series over fnatic and mousesports, with s1mple paving the way in both matches (1.22 rating against fnatic, and 1.29 rating over mouz).
We spoke with Natus Vincere's 20-year-old superstar after their 2-1 series win over mouz to talk about the team's atmosphere after their big win in Cologne, look back at their performance at the beginning of the year, their Atlanta matches thus far, and discuss the team vision's ahead of the Major.
You come from a big win in Cologne and have had a pretty successful season. How’s the atmosphere in the team coming into this last event of the season?
Everything is great because after that tournament was over, our minimum goal was reaching the semi-finals, so here we are, in the semi-finals once again. We put a lot of work into this game together, and we try to delay our off days so we can prepare more. Before every big tournament, we have a good bootcamp and everyone just follows our team goal.
At the beginning of the season there were all the rumors regarding you and flamie leaving and so on, and the team wasn’t really working. Looking back, do you think at the beginning of the season you would have such good results?
I mean, of course, because, before our main decision I talked with our CEO and my father. After the discussion with them, I told flamie that we couldn't leave at the time because we have a big goal to play together as a team, and I decided that we should stay. I'll always believe in our results, but they sometimes depend [on certain factors], you know?
We won DreamHack Open Winter, but after that was Boston. Everyone knew we needed more time and we lost to FaZe in the semi-finals, which was a pretty easy game for them because we played really poorly. After that, we just started to practice more, and more, and more until we became stronger.
Do you think you’re going to be able to transfer this confidence into next season, when teams are going to work hard to study you ahead of the Major?
I mean we are going to still practice like we usually do and bootcamp. After this tournament we will have a vacation; then, we will have a bootcamp for DreamHack Masters Stockholm and the Major as well. I know teams are going to watch us and of course, they are going to change stuff, but we will still have a lot to practice...like our map pool could be a lot better.
You guys had trouble early on in both halves on Mirage against fnatic, but were able to bring it back. What adjustments did you make to eventually bring it back and take the map?
We decided for this group stage to practice Inferno, that’s why we have picked it twice now, against fnatic and mouz. At the bootcamp, we practiced other maps and we think that we have lost our LAN experience on this map, so we just decided to play it twice, because it did not matter if we lost to fnatic or mouz - all of us believe we can go through the groups and play Astralis or whoever.
So, the first game against fnatic was pretty tough, we felt really shaky and maybe a bit nervous because we didn’t know what to expect against them. After they lost at ESL One Cologne, they practiced a lot, so we didn’t know what they were going to do. We just played our game and managed to get through to the semifinals.
fnatic looked good early on Train, posting 7 rounds on the T side. Were you afraid, going into the second half or were you confident in your T-side?
We were pretty confident. Our T-side is looking much better because for us it's easy to communicate on all maps and especially when you have the AK-47 (laughs). It has really good firepower to win rounds.
This was a rematch from Cologne, where you won 2-0. This time it looked like fnatic were stronger this time around, why do you think that was?
They put in a lot of time to practice, and I’m pretty sure they changed a lot because they had a lot of time to set up everything perfectly. They still need a bit more time - they’ll become stronger.
It looks like you are a bit tense during some rounds when things do not work out. Were there some heated moments during the match?
I wasn’t tilted but I didn’t like that we lost easy rounds, like, the 5v2 on Mirage and then losing the eco. There were a lot of rounds that we usually don't lose like we do in really important games. Like I said, our first games are always shaky, so I don’t know - we just always try to find our form and confidence through every game of the tournament.
We always try to become better with every game we play on LAN. We can easily fix our mistakes on the fly. We just go into our rooms and say to each other we can play much better and to not let it happen again. But against them on this map, we were a little bit nervous like I said, we don’t usually make those mistakes.
You guys then went head-to-head against mouz and started it off on your map pick, Inferno. The first half was a bit slow going on your T side, but when the sides switched your CT side seemed to have a hard time as well. What was going on with your run on Inferno that allowed mouz to seal the map?
I don’t know, we lost the second round on Inferno, which was a really important one. We were 4-8 because of that, then, they just rushed B...I don’t know, they just won crucial rounds, especially one with their B execute where they molly dark, because I was already low health after oskar had wallbanged me randomly, and then I got naded after the molotov. We tried to save our weapons but they destroyed our economy, so we weren’t able to play like we usually do.
Train has been a map you have had a hard time winning over mouz, but this time around it was a different story. What was different this time around?
I have actually always told my teammates that they are one of the best on Train, but sometimes people are scared. I don’t remember a time when mouz lost Train, but it’s like the same for us on Mirage. We knew we had a good Train and we could easily do this. They weren’t doing anything special on their T-side. We saw they tried to set up for B executions in the important rounds, so we knew how to play against them.
Going into the last map, Mirage. Were you guys just carrying over the momentum from Train over into this map?
Yeah. We were really calm. We knew they would try to use the double-AWP setup like they had done on Train, so we just kept doing our A smokes, and after our trade kills we won a lot of rounds. Just great calls from Zeus and Kane, especially Kane - he calls our pistols rounds and everything. Everyone played really great and everyone put in a lot of work in preparation for this game. We didn't expect them to pick Train - we were anticipating Mirage or Dust2.
You tweeted about Kane a little while ago, saying he was very smart in the way he explains the game. Can you go in a bit more depth about that?
I don’t know how, but he just knows what the opposing team is going to do. It’s like wallhack, he’s reading the game really well and he’s always watching demos, like, five demos per day, so he knows what they are going to do every time. But he has one problem, sometimes he’s explaining things really poorly, so that’s why Zeus can only understand him sometimes (laughs). But yes, he teaches me a lot about the economic stuff and where I should move and where I shouldn’t stay. Kane just helps every player...You can just ask him and he can easily help you understand the game a lot better.