daps: "Some analysts said we lost because of the maps we picked, which I heavily disagree with"
Despite being favored to make it through to the playoffs, NRG were one of the two teams eliminated with a 0-3 record, falling back to the Minor system from where they came in this cycle following closely contested matches with NiP, AVANGAR, and Complexity.
On the day after their elimination, we sat down with the team's in-game leader, daps, to pick his brain on what went wrong in the second stage of the Major and to get his reaction on some of the criticism aimed at NRG for their vetoes.
Let's start off with your overall thoughts on your showing here, 0-3 was certainly not expected of you, so what went wrong here in the second stage?
I think every match was winnable, obviously. There were some analysts who said we lost because of the maps we picked potentially, which I heavily disagree with, I think if you actually watched the matches, it had nothing to do with the map choice. I don't think the maps were the problem. The biggest problem we had in this stage of the tournament was that we lost tons of man-advantage rounds. A lot of the time, I find, when we are up one or two people or get the entries, we rush into things for some reason instead of taking our time. It's not something that has really plagued us that much before, but it just weirdly happened in every match in this stage. I don't really know why.
As you say, this isn't very characteristic of you, so do you feel like it could be down to the team or individuals feeling the pressure of this stage?
I think in the first game versus NiP, it was a very winnable match. Obviously, we started off really slow, but we still got four rounds on the T side of Nuke, which is an average amount of rounds you get on T side Nuke, I would say, since Nuke and Train are the most CT-sided maps in the game. We had not a good T side, but we got enough rounds to win the match or come back. We lost both pistols in that match and we slowly grinded back and came back, we lost a 2v5 to REZ and f0rest, I think, at like 13-13, which completely just screwed us. And then we ended up losing the match. There were a lot of uncharacteristic rounds, I feel, which I guess you could chalk some of it up to pressure. I don't think it's the same pressure we felt when we lost the Minor for London, but I guess you could feel it a little bit.
You were talking about being criticized for your map picks and especially the pick of Nuke against compLexity was one of the most criticized. What was the thinking behind that?
We didn't necessarily underestimate compLexity, but we had a general gameplan that we were going to pick Nuke because we assumed they'd ban Overpass. They didn't ban Overpass and we didn't really have a gameplan for Overpass because we assumed they'd ban it, so we just wanted to stick to our gameplan on Nuke. Again, we didn't lose because it was Nuke. We got eight rounds on the T side, that's a good T side, and on the CT side, we got the pistol and then won the second round. So we were winning 10-7 on the CT side of Nuke, so it's not the map, it was nothing to do with the map, we just played terribly.
There was one round in which we let stanislaw sneak into heaven, we had no clue he was even there because we played it badly, so that's a round where he got into heaven for free and killed people, which is down to a lot of bad rotations and miscommunication that led to them finding cracks and winning rounds. We slowly came back near the end, we got it to OT, we had match point in OT, we were at 18-17 and I almost won the 1v2, but Rickeh had a nice shot on me with the AWP, it went into another OT and we lost. Again, it has nothing to do with the maps. Nuke is a map we have been very confident on in practice, we have been scrimming some of the best Nuke teams in the world and doing fine on it - I know it's just a scrim, but we know how to play Nuke. We just didn't play it how we normally do.
ImAPet said after that match that compLexity weren't playing their usual, were there things that surprised you in their game?
Yeah, we got surprised in a few rounds, but overall... for NiP and AVANGAR, we just legitimately lost those matches. It was 13-13 versus AVANGAR on Overpass and we did the round where we boosted short, something we had never done before, to peek into blue door and [one of AVANGAR's players] was looking at it, that has never happened, ever. That's just ridiculous. Good for him for being that aware to look for that, but against any normal team, I feel like we would have gotten that kill and won the match after. I don't even want to say that was unlucky, just good for him for being aware. And then versus compLexity we had match point on both maps, on Cache and Nuke, as well. Cache is one of our worst maps historically and I think it's the only map we lost to compLexity in scrims, so they were obviously going to pick it.
Did you play each other a lot in scrims?
A little bit, not too much. They were the last team we scrimmed before this stage started. We scrimmed them on Mirage and Cache or something, yeah. They definitely play differently in scrims, I don't know if they're purposely trolling in scrims to not show us anything, but compLexity played better than I thought they would and we didn't play to our peak at all.
Unless there's something unannounced, you have over a month before StarSeries in Shanghai comes. Have you talked about any plans at this point for what you are going to do in the next month, how you will reflect on this result?
The first goal was to make the Major and we did that and we ended up making top-16, which is okay, I guess, but obviously, that would have been a fine result at the start of last year when we hadn't had any success yet. But now, expectations of our team are actually high compared to what they used to be. People expect us to actually do well consistently now, whereas at the start of last year, people didn't expect us to do anything. We did fail here completely, our goal was top eight and we didn't reach that and we have to play the Minor again, which doesn't even... I'm more worried about how we lost the matches here than having to play the Minor again. It's not that big of deal. I don't know if we have anything specific planned, we just have to reflect on it and go from there.
Whenever teams disappoint this badly at Majors compared to the expectations they put on themselves, they often look to roster changes. Is that something you would consider at all or is it out of the picture at this point?
I don't have an answer for that. We haven't talked as a team, really, about anything specific, so I don't have an answer.