nexa: "We know Denial are capable of surprising us, so we'll do our homework and be ready for them"
The Serbian squad at this year's WESG World Finals, Valiance, one of the higher ranked teams at #20, come with two stand-ins, coach Luka "emi" Vuković and former AWPer Aleksa "Impulse" Stankić, who will be taking over the positions usually covered by the team's Lithuanian rifler, Rokas "EspiranTo" Milasauskas, and the Finnish AWPer, Otto "ottoNd" Sihvo.
In the interview, nexa reveals the team hasn't practiced with Impulse and emi as they were playing the United Master League, MDL Season 30 Europe, and ECS Pinnacle Cup all the way until traveling to China, and he talks about facing OpTic and Denial, where the team stands in Chongqing, and the real reason they're at the WESG 2018 World Finals.
I would say we're basically the same team because... I don't want to say we're robotic, but everyone knows what their role is and what they're supposed to do. We basically just recycle our strats so it doesn't matter if you have EspiranTo or emi on the team because they would be doing the same thing and playing the same positions on CT and T, so the only difference is just the individual level, the skill. That's where you could notice the impact because I think ottoNd and EspiranTo, and not to bash on my teammate or coach, but they are clearly just individually more skilled than emi and Impulse, and that's where you can notice the difference, but other than that I'd say we're pretty much the same team as with Espi and Otto in the lineup.
We're pretty confident that we can beat them. We've done it against OpTic a few times before and I personally have beaten them on LAN as well, so I'm feeling pretty confident going into it. I think we have a pretty good shot, although I don't even want to get started on WESG and the groups and how they manage to fuck it up every time, you know? Everyone's talking about it and I don't want to get into it. I feel pretty confident, I'm just afraid about what the playoff bracket is going to be like. It would be pretty stupid if we go through one of the hardest groups and then we have to play MIBR in the first round of playoffs. I really hope it doesn't go like that and that they actually have some seeds and make a proper bracket.
That's probably not going to happen...
I know, but a man can dream...
You said the team is pretty much the same as far as the way you play and so on, but how did you prepare? Did you do anything special? Did you actually prepare with Impulse and emi or are they just kind of jumping in last minute?
We didn't have to prepare because the same strats Valiance used before EspiranTo, ottoNd, and I joined are the same we use with ottoNd and EspiranTo, and they're the same we're going to use with emi and Impulse back. emi is our coach, right? So he makes most of the strats and comes up with new ideas and stuff like that, so him coming back doesn't mean we have to change our playstyle or anything because he basically knows all of the strats and the things he needs to do. The other guy we're replacing is the AWPer, and he really doesn't have to do much, just AWP and hit his shots, so it's pretty much the same thing.
Where do you think you sit right now, regarding this tournament?
I don't want to say we’re favorites, but I think we’re towards the top, one of the better teams here. I guess I would just rate the brand names before us. The G2s, the fnatics, MIBRs... I think those are the only teams that can beat us here, and if the playoff bracket is decent I say we can go pretty far.
Denial, they have a couple of new guys, have you been studying them at all?
Yeah, guys like them are the ones you have to be on the lookout for. You have to be really careful because you don't know what to expect from them. They had a pretty good run at the DreamHack they played and they proved they can surprise teams so you have to be very careful when you play against them. They are basically the same team that we had with Imperial, a good team when people aren't ready for you and don't expect much from you and you just surprise them. We know they're capable of surprising us, so we'll do our homework and be ready for them.
How do you feel about the best-of-two round robin format?
Considering we just played 52 maps in the UML with the same format, I think it's pretty good, it suits us. We know what maps we can play or not and I think it's better for us like this. Not just for us, but it gives more chances to teams that aren't as good to steal a map and maybe get through the groups.
It's an event with a big prize pool with teams from around the world, with a few big names, but some others pulled out last minute... How important is it for you guys?
It's not important, the only reason we're here is that we're hoping to score some HLTV points in the global ranking, you know? It's not prestigious. Everyone knows what happened at the last finals with the hotel and the stuff happening and whatever. I don't know why... the prize pool is very decent, I think people just don't like the location. So far, I haven't had any issues or any problems, but I feel like people are used to a set level of comfort provided by ESL or FACEIT and the other tournaments, and they just feel like it's not worth their while coming here to play the tournament just for money. I guess they just have higher standards. It could also be that it's just after the Major and teams are exhausted and want to focus or reshuffle and make changes, or maybe just practice in general, but it certainly isn't as prestigious as it should be considering the prizes. It isn't at all.
You played the ECS Pinnacle Cup just before coming here, how was that experience?
Us and forZe were first seed, and the first ECS matches are supposed to be played tomorrow, so I guess they will play the first round...
So you're coming in pretty good shape...
I think we're in pretty good shape in general, we have over 100 maps in the past month with like 90% win rate and I think our online performance has been insane and everyone has been stepping up individually. I just hope it transitions into LAN, at least as far as Nestor "LETN1" Tanić, Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač and I are concerned because I don't know what to expect from emi and Impulse. I know he can be a decent AWPer and hit some pretty sick shots, and emi is a coach, he doesn't really spend that time playing deathmatch and working on himself as he does coaching and preparing stuff for us. It's been a while since they played international LANs, so that's just the question mark.