NBK: "[The fnatic series] showed we're still just a top-ten team"
Vitality have joined the playoffs after they went 3-1 in the group stage, locking down their third victory in their second attempt following a crushing loss to fnatic on day three, coming out on top of a close series with Spirit in the fourth round.
You played somewhere around 30 maps online in a span of a few weeks last month, a lot of which were in MDL, whose current season doesn't hold any real value, especially after you withdrew from the playoffs. Is it frustrating to have wasted so much time on that?
I don't see it as a waste of time in the sense that it helped us do two things. First, we can test our map pool - we didn't play the maps we wanted to play against each and every team, we just vetoed so that we would play average maps for us and for them. And we also use those games as practice because as you said, this season is more or less meaningless, the implications are non-existent. Yeah, we just use it as practice and it's practice with some value, where you still want to win.
That's the bottom line in my team, I've always said that I don't want to lose to teams that are out of the top 30, for example, so those games really matter to me because I want us to be good no matter what, no matter against who, and have that hunger. So no, we take those games very seriously and we wanted to go to the end and win the whole thing, but we'll take first place in the league.
I saw you say on Twitter that yesterday against fnatic you didn't really show your usual level, so where did that series go wrong for you?
To be honest, I don't really know. First of all, fnatic are playing very very well, better than the standards they showed in the past tournaments, where all of their players are actually playing well at the same time. And their map pool is pretty good against us. On our side, it was just bad communication, getting outplayed, not having the skill present, nobody really showing up. A mix of all those things, where we still showed that we are just a top-ten team and not higher and that sometimes we still have those big weaknesses where we aren't showing up and nothing is happening. Teams like ENCE, Na`Vi, Astralis, Liquid, they always have a bottom line they don't go under and we don't have that yet. We need to fix that. We just played like a random top-15 team and that's definitely not good enough to win games like that.
Spirit are normally a team that no one knows too much about, but you have actually played quite a bit against them since you had to play a lot online early on, winning in the vast majority of cases. Was it a surprise to see them take you so far with their new lineup?
First of all, I think they had fairly good draws for them so far in the tournament, so that's why they are 2-1. But overall, they are a very tactical team. Nobody really had a lot of data on them and online they haven't been playing that well, I think. Yeah, I am very surprised by how well iDISBALANCE and chopper are biting into the system of S0tF1k, with a lot of executes and not really a lot of freedom. I think it's working well for them. They still lack some things like any top15-20 team, I think they are in that range of caliber.
Now they have two good individualities that joined them and they have now more and more experience behind them with the core that went to a lot of tournaments. They are rising more and more and getting more experience as time goes. Because they are that tactical, it's hard to play against them. If you let them play their game too much and can't really counter them in the mid rounds and stuff like that, then they're going to fairly easily take rounds off you because their executes are f*cking good. It's hard to counter them. So yes and no, we know how good they are and we know that we can also beat them fairly easily if we want to, if we manage to.
Well, it wasn't very easy today, particularly on Dust2 where you couldn't seem to get going at all and that is your best map, one where you have been quite consistent, what went wrong there?
I think it came down to not being able to counter the mid-rounds against them. Because we couldn't really bother them in mid-rounds, they could execute whatever they wanted. I think they have the best A execute in the world on Dust2 and they ran it like three, four, five times against us, I think. You can have five people in position and you won't be able to counter them if you are playing pretty passively. Yeah, we got caught by that 24/7 and I wasn't feeling very confident with the AWP so we couldn't really get the double AWP going, but even then they didn't really come B that many times.
I also - and that's my bad - I forgot one of the defenses that we had, which was probably one of the better counters to what they were doing, and I forgot to call it. So that probably cost us the whole game, maybe it would have been different, but they played a very solid game, tactically they were 1000 times better than us on that map.
Inferno ended up being really close and it took a couple of pretty big turnarounds, 3v5s and such...
Inferno is still quite a question mark for me in how to approach the map in general and for our team. We swapped things up before the tournament, with a little bit of practice on that map, like me going with the AWP and ZywOo focusing more on just rifling and us making room for him to just have to kill people. He destroyed them on CT side, but nobody could really help him, so that was pretty bad from our side. Then on the T side, I don't know, I feel like there is something in the meta right now that is weird in the sense that I feel like it's easy to call. If you take control of banana and people are playing passively, you just execute or contact B and you're getting the rounds. And that's like 90% of rounds we were winning between two days ago and today. It's a bit weird to me that it's that simple, I don't know if it's the real meta, and if that's it then it is a boring map.
Yeah, sure, the clutches really put us into a lot of confidence and we got the entries over the whole second half, I think, and that helps because you just have to swarm the bombsites and you win the rounds because it's Inferno. If you take the bombsites, you have to win the round 80% of the time, so that was pretty much our goal and everyone went big in the second half. Individually, we beat them there, not tactically.
You've been consistently rising in rankings, improving from tournament to tournament, at the Major you were close to playoffs, what's the goal here?
I think this tournament and the next one we're playing in Belgium are going to show if we have guts or not. We're coming into this tournament not having the best map pool, not having the best preparation, we had a lot of struggles with the visas just to come here, so we lacked a lot of days of practice. So it's only going to be about our guts. Inferno is a good example of that, I think, because we don't have that much practice on it, but yeah, we are playing fairly well and we're beating teams we have to beat on it. That's the main thing, play with all our hearts, show what we have. If we lose, we lose, if we win, we win, that's cool, but the goal is to raise the bar of that bottom line higher and higher every time. Be able to be more consistent, be a solid top-ten, top-eight, top-six team, etc.
We know that at our peak we can beat almost any team - we haven't faced Astralis and Liquid yet, but I'm pretty confident that we can make it if we're on a good day. Making top eight is a very good thing, in my opinion, a good start for our team, and then it's game by game, play more best-of-threes, fix our mistakes, our map pool. We're making some improvements on Mirage that we f*cked up the first two or three days... We have to do the same with every other map and that's the main goal. Try to get better, learn from mistakes, and then we'll see what the f*ck happens.