Natus Vincere made it through to the playoffs of the FACEIT London Major, with three straight wins—over FaZe, NiP and fnatic—following an opening 16-14 loss to Astralis. So before they have a couple of days off, we sat down with s1mple to discuss how the tournament went, as well as some historic topics.
The 20-year-old Ukrainian superstar pointed out that Natus Vincere weren't ready for the last Major, whichthey played shortly after Denis "electronic" Sharipov joined, but even though he didn't say it directly, an aura of confidence about their chances in London could be felt. s1mple also mentioned that he didn't want to lose to fnatic to win in the last game and have draken "feel like the king of the world".
I'll start with the game against NiP that you had, which ended up being a pretty one-sided win looking at the score. Can you tell me a bit about that game and how it went so well for you in the end, especially the T side?
We knew we had to play against them, we discussed that a lot. In the beginning, for me, it was a bit unlucky because when I went to the A site they went B, and then after that I went to B two times and they went A. After that, when we had the economy and the double AWP, we managed to come back into the game. And we had a really good plan on the T side, everything worked, especially when flamie went to A and did three or four headshots, he killed the double-AWP and that was it.
Moving on to the last game against fnatic, the start was very good for them actually, they had a 7-3 at one point, but then you just rolled back and got the win. Tell me about breaking their momentum and getting the momentum back for yourself.
We told ourselves that they were lucky, even during the game, when the score was 5-3, flamie said something like "oh what a headshot by Xizt", he died two times while flanking... We knew that we could come back, they are not as strong as FaZe or Astralis, we know how to play against them. They play more individually, so we should just play default, get the double AWP... and we did a timeout, kane told us the same, and everything worked.
Are you pretty happy to get the win and go into the playoffs?
Yeah, when we played the last Major with electronic, we weren't that ready as we are now. We can have Astralis/MIBR, BIG, or one team from the 3-2 pool because Liquid and compLexity will play two of those. We have four or five days to practice, we are going to practice every day, we are going to prepare ourselves for the quarter-final. It is one of the most important tournaments for any team and we are going to do everything to be prepared really well.
Through the interviews you had so far at the event you seem pretty modest, you are not really putting out high expectations regarding you winning this event, it feels like. How does the team feel in that regard? Are you ready to win this event?
I see every team saying that they are "100% ready to win this", I don't know, is every team ready to win the Major? I'm curious about that. As I said in interviews, we are going to take it step by step. Our first step was to go to the playoffs, now everything is going to be different. It is going to be harder because it is going to be BO3, all teams have a lot of time to prepare. We are going to Wembley, new hotel... It is going to depend on preparation.
Of course, all of us want to win this tournament, Edward and flamie had two chances to win the final, me, I lost with Liquid against SK, this is only electronic's second Major playoff, but now he has more confidence than last time. He told us after the first Major that he was a bit nervous because when you join a team and you go on the biggest stage, the Major, it is pretty hard. And Zeus, he will bring us experience for this tournament, together with kane.
You touched on it on the on-screen interview, that you didn't want to make a big thing about the whole draken situation, even though a lot of people were tweeting about it. But it was kind of fun that you tweeted the "ok" and then got fnatic in the draw, they ended up playing three CIS teams. So was there some extra fun in that for you?
I mean, I don't want people to hate him because of this, because of course, he was trolling after his second win, against Vega. I don't know, I saw a lot of comments by our CIS community that we need to beat them, and there was a little bit of pressure. We were just focused, we said let's just play against them and see what is going to happen because there was a small chance that fnatic goes through over us and then draken will be the king of the world...
And you didn't want to let your community down?
I just didn't want him to write more tweets, you know? If they would win against us he would maybe write some more stuff and he would get some more hate. But still, I'm pretty happy with our result and I wish them good luck, they will have more chance in BO3. BO1 is always random, the Swiss system at StarLadder with BO3, even if it was so long, it was really cool. Everyone played three maps, everyone prepared really well to play three maps. There is more preparation, you are spending more energy on the game, but still, the winner of the BO3 is the winner of the whole game.
Do you think that is an issue with this format? Some teams with a smaller map pool can still advance because they can be very good on a few maps, but later on, in the playoffs, that will be exposed?
I don't think it is a really bad format, it was our problem, FaZe's problem, mousesports' problem, that we lost our opening match. I think that the Legends teams had more practice, of course, but you can look at it two ways. The first one is that you have one more week to practice when everyone is playing the Qualifier, while teams that play the Qualifier get more experience, they are always changing their game, they are trying to make it perfect and they are prepared for every opponent. They see some small details, you know? When we are playing on bootcamp, we are just practicing, practicing, when we have some free time we watch some good game, but the teams here are watching every game, they are more focused, they have more energy, they are preparing better I guess. You can say that when you are playing on bootcamp you are trying to fix your style, but when you are playing on LAN you see your mistakes in official games and you can fix them faster.
For the last question, I want to touch on what you said before regarding the draken thing, that you just wanted to avoid having more drama, hating and stuff like that. It is interesting how much you changed from the s1mple of two, three years ago, when there was something new happening every month. Now you are a pretty calm person, positive, model professional. How do you see the change that happened in that regard? I think that some new fans that are coming in right now wouldn't even make the connection to the s1mple that was there two-three years ago.
For the past two or three years, especially when I played with Liquid, the Team Liquid organization, which is one of the best in the world, with the greatest people, and Natus Vincere as well, they taught me a lot. They taught me about fan stuff, sponsor stuff, everything. I was just getting experience every year and I understood that I don't want to be a bad guy, there is no point. I don't want people to say bad things about me. Even if they write bad comments, now I understand that I'm not doing anything bad. I accept the critique, the really good critique, but it is not like during the past two years when I read comments and would get something in my mind, I felt that they were saying something bad and I would answer to that. Everything changed.
The first one who taught me this is Steve Arhancet, Liquid112, the owner of Liquid. There was one situation when I was scamming for a knife, which was a long time ago. There was a long text from some people who said I scammed them. After Liquid helped me, I understood what I did, I gave everything back, and I want to say thank you to Liquid because they are doing great work. All teams should look up to them and work like them, Liquid and Natus Vincere are the best. With them it was different to HellRaisers and FlipSid3 because in big organizations you are always talking with someone and fixing your mistakes really fast, especially when you have bootcamps and all of this stuff.
More interviews from the New Legends stage:
tabseN: "I feel like we can 100% win this tournament"
NAF: "When we got to overtime I was so pissed off; I'm like 'F*** this, I'm going to buy an AWP"
dephh: "We proved we can't just play Inferno, we have other maps up our sleeves"
STYKO: "[My new role] feels like I'm going to school every day, trying to understand a new subject"
YNk: "This game was just so hard because mousesports saved so much"
Edward: "If you feel calm during the whole game, the comeback is real, always"
nitr0: "I'm hoping we get Astralis, we can definitely put up a good show and a good fight"
Xizt: "Every loss is going to take a toll on your confidence, we had to slowly build it up again"
LEGIJA: "Before the Major, we said 'We will not practice to make Legends, we're here to f****** win'"
JW: "We considered twist after the early StarLadder exit; he wasn’t really interested"
jmqa: "After the last Major, our practice wasn't great, we didn't have good conditions"
flamie: "We still want to play Dust2 because no one is playing it well"
SmithZz: "We aren't completely ready at the moment, but we are getting there"
RUSH: "Hopefully, after the Major, our ranking will reflect how we actually are as a team"