s1mple: "We want to break [Astralis' domination] and create our own era"
Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, Denis "electronic" Sharipov, and Natus Vincere's manager Yevgeniy "ugin" Yerofeyev sat down with press during a conference put together by ELEAGUE to talk about the team's recent run of good form, their play in Atlanta, and the upcoming Major.
Natus Vincere are on a streak, having won three tournaments in a row and going for the fourth in Atlanta before the player break officially kicks off. Having beaten mousesports and fnatic during the group stage, Natus Vincere will now face Liquid in the semi-finals to try and keep their streak alive.
During the press conference, the Natus Vincere trio formed by s1mple, electronic, and ugin talked about the team's good run, s1mple's form, playing Liquid for the first time since losing to them at ESL Pro League Finals in Dallas, the fight for the first place on the rankings, and the upcoming Major, among others.
s1mple, what does it mean to you to you to be part of one of the dominant runs in Counter-Strike history, with your recent form?
s1mple: It means a lot. First of all, we have won three tournaments in a row, which is a big achievement for any team. Now we have the chance to win a fourth title before the break. Everyone would be happy if we managed to do this.
The last time you faced Liquid was at the Pro League Finals, in Dallas, and you lost that match. What are your expectations going into this semi-final? Do you expect a different match?
s1mple: We all remember our defeat to them in Dallas. We had a worse map pool back then. Everyone knows that there are only strong teams left in this tournament and we are going to prepare for this match like we would if we had to face any other team. I do not think they are going to surprise, but it is going to be a good game.
Inferno is a map you’ve struggled on at this event, and Liquid also like playing Cache or Mirage. How do you expect the map veto to work out?
s1mple: I think it is going to be great for us. First of all, because we don’t play Cache, their strongest map, and of course we fixed our map pool after the Pro League Finals in Dallas and after ESL One Cologne. We got to practice our worst maps, so let's see what Liquid are going to pick. Either Dust2 again or maybe try Inferno because we lost it to mousesports and fnatic. We're going to go and look at what maps they've played the past three months.
Ugin: We have a team that's going to become the best team in the world, so we're now working on every map. We understand that someday we'll be able to play any map against any team, and right now we're trying to get ready for that moment.
electronic, did it take you a while to feel comfortable on Na`Vi and the spotlight that comes with it?
electronic: It took some time to understand what Na`Vi wants from me and what positions I should play. When I realized what style I should play and positions I should take, I started to practice and now I'm feeling great.
s1mple previously said that in order to become one of the top teams you had to win tournaments that FaZe and Astralis were attending. This has happened, so do you think it's important for the team to win this event to get the mental edge over Astralis heading into the player break and the Major?
s1mple: We just feel more confident after winning ESL One Cologne, a tournament which all the great teams attended. It gives us more confidence and now we know how to beat Astralis after their three-month domination. It's easier for us to play against them and other teams, now.
ugin: It's always easier to achieve the goal to become #1 than to stay #1 for a long time.
s1mple: It would be great if we beat Liquid and then get to face Astralis and win once again, because they're in really good form, in a domination era, right now, so we just want to break it and create our own era.
The confidence is there for you guys, so where do you see yourselves in the world standings compared to FaZe, Astralis, mousesports, and all of them?
s1mple: Everything is going to be clear after this tournament.
ugin: The strongest will survive.
s1mple: After this tournament, before the vacation and the Major, we're going to see the #1 team.
ugin: We will do our best to become #1 before the vacation, but as I said, the best will survive.
In the group stage you played fnatic and mousesports, both teams having recently undergone roster changes. Do you believe either team is stronger and that the teams were needed?
s1mple: I think FaZe is much stronger right now, they just need more time. They played really well before Olof took the break, they lost the Major final to Cloud9, and now they'll have time to practice before DreamHack Stockholm and the Major.
fnatic changed players and they just need more time. They had some time after ESL One Cologne and now you can see they're already playing much better together. Hopefully they will play better at the Major, because they're a very good team.
ugin: If any team makes changes, it's always a different team, and only time will show if the changes are good or bad for them. It all depends on them, now, and as s1mple says they need time to figure out what to do with these new rosters and how to move on.
s1mple: And they have that time, now.
ugin: Yes, they have the time now, but at the moment it's hard to say.
Going back to the Astralis-Na`Vi rivalry. Looking to the FACEIT Major, Astralis will have to play in the New Challenger Stage, while you're already in the Legends Stage. Do you think this will give you an advantage over the Danes, who will have to play some more matches and run the risk of being eliminated while you're already through?
s1mple: I think all of the Legends from the last tournament have an advantage because they can watch the Challengers’ games. I think all of the teams will show their cards in order to make it to the Legends Stage. I just remember last time, when we had to make it to Legends, we had to play two or three weeks in the US and it was pretty hard in the beginning because you always show something new when you play. When the Legends then come to the tournament you don't know what to expect from them and you've already shown your own game.
ugin: The other side of this is that they have a possibility to develop their game, to understand how to improve their game because they will play more matches. They will also have the advantage of seeing how they're progressing. They're developing during the tournament as they play more matches, and we're getting more knowledge about our opponent.
s1mple: And we get more time to practice.