ImAPet: "The biggest problem for the teams upset by [ViCi and Winstrike] is map decision"
Following in the footsteps of Renegades, NRG made it to the New Legends Stage of the IEM Katowice Major with a flawless record, beating Winstrike, ViCi, and TYLOO in the first three rounds of play in Katowice.
After the North American squad made it through, we spoke to the coach, ImAPet, about various topics, such as NRG's mindset going into the Major and their approach as one of the favorites. The 22-year-old also discussed how his squad was able to beat some of the teams that other favorites struggled against and commented on the format in use, mainly the player-selected seeding.
You were touted as huge favorites at the Minor and a lot of the analysts were praising you for the mentality that you had coming into it and being able to breeze through the tournament - as opposed to the previous time. Was that mentality something you brought over to here? With what kind of mentality did you go into the tournament?
I think in the overall Major system, including the New Challengers Stage, we came with the mindset that we need to work harder and we need to fix our map pool because a lot of the stuff that we had, we used to get ecod a lot, we used to get entried a lot, we used to just be really sloppy. Even last year when we had some success, some of that was due to just individual skill and not as much teamwork. We focused a lot on teamwork and fixing our maps. I think our map pool is the strongest it's ever been. I think all the six maps we play really well, so I think in BO3s we can't be exploited anymore - people used to pick Cache versus us and now I think that's not even an option for them.
What was it like coming into this as one of the big favorites, the second seed, did that affect the way you approached the Major?
Us being the favorites didn't really affect us because as soon as we passed the Minor, I was like 'boys, anything past this is bonus points'. As soon as I said that, everyone just lost pressure I feel like, we just played loose in practice, there's literally no stress, we just practice, do the same thing in scrims and I think it's paying off right now.
You have played some of the upset teams here - basically everyone that you played, Winstrike, ViCi, and TYLOO - but you managed to overpower those. How come you were able to pass those first two without too many issues, while others struggled against them?
I think the biggest problem for the other teams that are getting upset by them is obviously the map decisions. ViCi played Inferno or Overpass against somebody, Winstrike played Train, I think those are very bad vetos for the teams that allowed that to happen. I think they tried to play too much to their weakness and not to their strengths. I just think they need to focus up more. In our case, we did more preparation, we made sure we watched like four to five demos per map, we had a lot of antistrats if we needed them in our back pocket. We didn't want to use them right away, though, because we just wanted to play our own game, first. Especially for ViCi, those guys are aimers, they're always going to peek you. Winstrike is very similar, Boombl4 was always going to peek you no matter what. Even if he has one kill or whatever. We're very aware of their position, we were always going to win, and I feel like other teams just didn't do their prep.
What about TYLOO, then? They are also quite an aggressive team, so is that something that just fits you, a playstyle that you're comfortable with playing against?
I think in general we're kind of good against Asian teams. I don't think we've lost to an Asian team yet, we're very familiar with how they play. They're very confident, very similar to Winstrike, they do one or two things that are really good and they always do it. Once you catch on and you know how to prepare for that, then you're pretty much golden for the series.
Were they not difficult to prepare against given that we hadn't seen them before this tournament with the new lineup?
We kind of figured that they had some stuff from HellRaisers, from Johnta. So we figured those strats from HellRaisers.
You actually watched HellRaisers to prepare for TYLOO?
Yeah, yeah. We watched a little bit of HellRaisers and then we figured out what they were doing, and we also beat HellRaisers a lot, so we're kind of comfortable playing against that style. And then we knew they were still going to be that BnTeT calling style, being a little scrimmy, maybe playing slow because they respect us more than other teams because they put us as the No. 1 seed, by the way. We put them as 16, my bad (laughs). But they respect us a lot, so I figured they would play a lot slower at first, and then once they started getting momentum versus us, I knew they'd start playing really aggressive, so then we start changing up the pace in our pauses.
Now that you mentioned the seeding and putting TYLOO as the 16th seed - you were the team that ESL revealed as the most off from the average, so give me your thoughts on this format and the seeding that is in place here.
Honestly, I don't think we placed TYLOO incorrectly. We had no data on them, we had nothing, no knowledge, no scrims, no nothing, no friend, no word of mouth. So, that's kind of not our fault. I feel like all the other teams trolled, like they put fnatic above us and, in my opinion, I think we're better than fnatic. And I think ENCE is the other better team in this tournament, even though they've been losing a little bit. I think they're a solid squad. I don't know, I think others were trolling in the player submission (laughs). I feel like people don't give a f*ck. Dude, we went over it like four or five times, redoing that seeding, so we put a lot of time and effort despite what people were saying about our picks and such.
So, with that in mind, do you think it is a good system given that some teams will obviously put more time into it than others?
I think it's a good system just because I like the reseeding portion, where you're always going to fight the lower-tier team and they have to prove themselves if they want to work their way up the tournament. But I don't like the fact that teams can manually select... for all I know, they could be putting in five minutes of prep into the submission sheet and that's it. And that screws over other people. In my opinion, Grayhound should have been last and I don't think they were...
Yeah, ViCi were last, Winstrike 15, Grayhound 14...
ViCi beat North twice, how can they be last? It just doesn't make sense. So I think maybe admins can sit teams down, now that we have time between each stage, they should put us in a room and really enforce like an hour just to figure it out.
Off to the next stage, how will you stack up the new tier of teams? Will you keep that same mindset of no pressure?
Yeah, for us, it's definitely still the bonus, I don't think anyone gives a f*ck if it's the next stage or what. Our preparation is going to be pretty much the same. I think the teams in this qualifier are a lot harder than the teams coming up - minus Astralis.
Because of data, or why is that?
I just think those teams are a lot more random and they don't respect you as much besides like TYLOO or something. The respect factor is just gone. We're going to be respecting those teams more and those teams play a style we're more familiar with. Astralis is going to play a slow style, maybe they will have a couple of fast strats, or Liquid, we know them very well and we have gone back and forth a lot.
So it's just familiarity.
Yeah, basically just knowing them. They're not going to make as dumb plays as other teams, so I definitely think that next stage is easier than this one.
How far do you think you can go here?
I think we could reach top eight, for sure. At minimum, we won't be at the next Minor. (laughs)