daps: "I didn't even want to play at this time last year [...] the speed at which we've gone from that point to now is pretty crazy"
NRG won their opener at the ESL Pro League Season 8 FInals against North, on Train, in a match that the Canadian in-game leader, daps, believes his team should have won more comfortably. The American side will now go on to face MIBR in a best-of-three in the Group B upper-bracket.
After beating the Danes of North, daps sat down to chat about several topics, including SuperNova CS:GO Malta, where his team played last week, going into the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals, their opening match against North, and how the team is doing since last year, when NRG broke out at the ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals here in Odense.
The first thing I want to ask is a follow-up from an interview you gave in Malta, in which you said the tournament there was a bit of a preparation for this event. So how did it go in Malta and on your trip here?
I may have phrased it in a way in which it sounded like we didn't do anything for Malta, obviously, there was a little bit of preparation. We just didn't do as much as we would normally do for an event. For this event, we had a clear game plan going into the match against North.
We knew we weren't going to play Cache even though it was a map they've floated as their permaban recently. It's just a map that we clearly don't match up well against them on. Even though Cache looks like one of our weaker maps I do feel like we're good on it against stronger teams or teams that are strong on that map. Not to say North is a bad team, I just don't think they're great on Cache.
It was the decider in your last best-of-three against them...
Yeah, we had to choose between Cache and Train, and the first time we played them on Cache it was also between those two maps, so I think we've learned our lesson with that. In practice, Cache goes very well for us, but I think playing North we'll probably just play Train because we're more comfortable on it against them than we are on Cache.
The last two Trains have been close, though, 16-14 and 16-13...
I feel like today should have been a little easier. I feel like we threw away a lot of rounds on the CT side. It's a CT-sided map, so I think we should have gotten 11 or 12 rounds, based on the rounds we lost. We're just happy to win an opening match, for once, so...
Talking about North, it seems like a bit of a rivalry, lately, perhaps? Just because of the number of matches you've played against them. Is there a bit of a psychological game going on?
I guess there is in the fact that we're becoming more comfortable playing them. I think the very first time we played them we beat them in a best-of-three, but their lineup was pretty much brand new. Then we played them in Chicago in a best-of-one, where they caught us off-guard with the Cache pick. Then we played them at ECS, where I feel like we should have won Nuke and closed it 2-0 but valde had the insane 1vs5, cadiaN won that 1vs3 in which he ran out of Door and killed me right when I almost finished defusing. So I feel like we should have won that one 2-0. Coming into this match, I think we definitely had more of a game plan against them and I feel like we're more used to playing them.
Going back to Malta for just a second. How did you feel about that final against Liquid. One map was close, the other a blowout. Did you feel like you could win at any point?
Our match-up with Liquid, and if you look at our overall history against them, the maps are pretty close in terms of being back-and-forth. Liquid are a team which if you catch them on the wrong day, they're just going to destroy you. They did a bunch of preparation and they countered us on Overpass. They told me they put in a ton of effort because obviously, they aren't going to want to lose Overpass four times in a row, but I think that individually we played really poorly and they played really well. On top of that, they were really prepared. I feel like we could have won Inferno, we got 11 rounds on the Terrorist side, but the trend of the CT-side failing us sort of came back to haunt us. In terms of strategy, Liquid just play good fundamental CS.
When we play Liquid, we're not getting caught off-guard by weird strategies and fakes, you know? It's generally just them playing good, standard CS, and they have the players to pull it off. When those players are at peak form, it's very hard to stop them unless we're playing at peak form. The Liquid match-up is a sort of on-the-day type of thing. If we're bad and they're good, we'll get destroyed. If we're both playing really good, it'll be a good match, and then if they're playing bad and we're good, then we'll probably win, so...
Odense was your big breakout event for NRG last year. If I remember correctly you beat North here, and the team got somewhat rolling after those ESL Pro League Finals.
Yeah, we beat North and NiP. If you look at the history of the current lineup and how things evolved after getting CeRq and Nahte... I mean, I didn't even want to play anymore at this time last year. I was that miserable. I was willing to coach or completely quit, so the speed at which we've gone from that point to now has been pretty crazy. But yeah, it was a breakout event and I even said it.
Before Odense last year, Brehze had never beaten a European team in any sort of form, be it best-of-one or best-of-three. Once they realized they can compete against the top players in the world, they got comfortable instantly, and that was a big thing for a lot of players I have played with in the past. Players like NAF and RUSH and all of those type of players, once they realized that they can compete, and once they get that confidence to say "we're just as good as them", that's a huge thing. Even though we just won two best-of-ones against NiP and North, we hadn't won any matches on LAN that year, so those two BO1s were massive in terms of gaining confidence and starting to create some structure, finally.
It's your last event of the season, looking back at how lost the team was at the beginning, at ESL One New York, where do you see yourself now?
I think we're definitely a lot more confident now, but I think we still lack individual consistency, and when I say that I'm not just talking about aim, I'm also talking about decision-making and communication. I think that's a big reason our CT sides can be so terrible sometimes. If we want to be a top 3 team in the world I also have to play better, individually, because there's only up to a certain point in which one player can be dropped off.
I feel like I was playing better at the start of the year, when we first started to go to LANs, and I've started to slump a bit, but top get into that top 3 or top 2 discussion, all players have to perform to a level. gla1ve has proved that, and he can even perform at a star-player level sometimes, so I think finding individual consistency is the next step. We're still trying to break into the top 5, but I think it's pretty much the same thing. I think we're going to have a bit more structure next year, we've been looking into getting a sports psychologist, which is a start, at least.
To close it out, it's your last event of the year. What do you want to get out of this Pro League Finals?
The ideal situation is we win the event, but I'm always a realist in interviews, and I think if we won here it would be a huge upset, a Cinderella story, because I don't think we're playing at maximum capacity right now. A lot of our players are burnt out from going to so many back-to-back LANs. I think the first goal is playoffs, and if we beat MIBR convincingly tomorrow then I think we do have a shot at making the finals, 100%. If we play, like, Astralis in the finals, then I just hope we can keep the form up. [laughs]