huNter: "Top 15 is not good enough; we will always want more"

We spoke to Valiance's Nemanja "huNter" Kovač ahead of the team's campaign at DreamHack Open Rio.

DreamHack Open Rio is set to start on Friday with the first portion of the group stage, which will see Valiance pitted against three Brazilian teams in Group B: their opening opponent W7M, Sharks, and Redemption POA.

We quizzed the team's in-game leader, huNter, ahead of Valiance's campaign in Rio de Janeiro to get his thoughts on reaching their highest-ever position as No. 15 in the ranking and their chances to go all the way in Brazil as the highest-ranked side.

Valiance are up against three Brazilian teams in Group B in Rio

We also found out whether the team is comfortable with Vertigo, which will see LAN play at a notable event for the first time, and asked the Serbian about various other topics not tied to the tournament, such as the rumors linking him with FaZe and mousesports earlier in the year.

Your last LAN event was the UML Finals, where you claimed the title. How have you practiced since then and what are your expectations heading into this event?

We didn't have that much time to practice after UML Finals, but we fixed some mistakes for every map and added something new, changed something, and I think it will be good for us.

Our expectations are always the greatest, that's the reason why we are constantly progressing from day to day, and I think it will be the same case at DreamHack in Rio. We'll try our best as always and I think we have a good chance to win this event.

You were invited to attend this event. Do you think that tournament organizers are starting to pay more attention to your team?

Yes, we were invited to this event and that's a great thing for us and for our team. I'm happy because of it and I hope we will get even more invitations for big events.

We are in the top 15 at the moment in the HLTV ranking and I think that's great for us and more people know us now. I hope we will get more invitations for big events and we will keep grinding to be on a top CS:GO level.

You travel to Rio as the highest-ranked team in attendance. Is that an extra source of pressure? How is the team dealing with that the fact that it has reached its highest-ever place in the rankings?

We have no pressure ever, really, everything we want is to prove ourselves and to become better every day. We are in the top 15 at the moment and that's the first time for all of us to be amongst top-15 teams in the world. That's a great success because we started in November from zero and that's good, but not good enough, as we will always want more.

Your team has found themselves in the finals against another up-and-coming side, Windigo, on numerous occasions. Would you say a rivalry has developed?

Yeah, the Windigo guys are a great bunch of guys that are really talented and hard working. We are all good outside of CS and we are helping each other sometimes. They won WESG, which is great for them, and they are No. 13 at the moment, so we have two Balkan teams in the top 15, which is great for our scene.

We've played against them a lot in the last few months. I really don't like to play against them because it's a derby. They know everything, like what we will pick, ban, what we will do on every map, and it's hard to play against a team who knows everything about you.

Valiance have often found themselves on the opposing side of Windigo this year

And from the other side, I think they also don't like to play against us because it's the same. We also know everything about what they are doing, what they will ban/pick, who is holding what, etc. Every time we play it goes to the third map and it's really draining for both of the teams, we barely have any energy after a match against Windigo.

Of course, these type of matches are great for viewers, but they are really hard for us because you always need to adjust and have 100% focus throughout the match. But that's one of the reasons why we love playing CS.

FaZe and mousesports were both rumored to be interested in you during the reconstruction of their squads. Was there any truth to it? What did it feel like to be linked with such household names?

It's true for mousesports, but for FaZe I didn't hear about it and NiKo didn't tell me anything, so that's not true. I had a few offers from other teams, EU and NA, but not from FaZe. For mousesports, I had a conversation with karrigan, but nothing official, we just talked about me being one of the options.

Sure, that's a great feeling when the best teams in CS:GO scene want you in their teams, a great feeling really. It's a difficult journey to get to the level where these teams are noticing you, but I've worked hard for this opportunity, spending countless hours working on myself and my game in order to get here, and that’s something I will continue doing in order to become the best version of myself I can be.

With Vertigo in the map pool at this tournament, how comfortable do you feel playing the map?

We didn't have too much time to practice and prepare it, but we played it and it works well for us. I like to play that map because it suits our playstyle and if we have a chance to play it we definitely will because I think we are good on Vertigo.

What is your opinion about your group opponents and what have you done to prepare for them?

We don't underestimate everyone, ever. We want to beat everyone, focus 100% against every team and to always be ready. We approach every opponent like they are the best team in the world and we are always trying to keep our focus at 100%.

Of course, first we are focused on our game, and then only on the game of the opponent, but no worries for us, we are ready to play against anyone.

You, just like your cousin NiKo, have been putting in great performances while leading the team. What is the secret behind that? Could you explain what made you take up this role?

I'm not the primary IGL like NiKo is at the moment, I just want to help the team because nobody really wants to take that role full time. When we are playing online matches, practices, emi (our coach) is trying to lead with our help. We watch our matches and opponents together, create a game plan, what we should focus on during practice matches, etc.

On most LAN events he can't talk all the time, only in timeouts and between the halves/maps. But the thing is, before every LAN match, we create a game plan together and I'm trying to remember everything and to call. If something goes wrong, we have timeouts to fix it and when we need to mid-call I'm trying to do this with nexa's help sometimes. Maybe that is not the best way to do things, but it works for us at the moment. However, this will probably change in the future as one of us will have to step up and take over the IGL role full-time.

Serbia Nemanja 'huNter' Kovač
Nemanja 'huNter' Kovač
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.15
Maps played:
852
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
#1
 | 
Europe Ru1n 
Ok
2019-04-19 13:29
Valiance will be TOP 5!!
2019-04-19 13:32
No you 😎
2019-04-19 13:44
#103
 | 
Morocco dest- 
xd😎😎😎😎😎😎
2019-04-19 17:06
#71
JW | 
Bulgaria Arsoyy 
You mean 55 in a while
2019-04-19 15:29
#93
f0rest | 
Brazil d4vid20 
+1
2019-04-19 16:31
#100
 | 
Russia Amzi 
Oh, ban
2019-04-19 16:54
They'd need NiKo instead of ottoN'd for that
2019-04-19 17:49
#19
 | 
Sweden Unluko 
F5
2019-04-19 13:35
NiKo BrOtHa😎😎😎😎😎😎
2019-04-19 13:53
#38
 | 
Germany TheyCallMeGod 
GJ IKEA
2019-04-19 13:55
#46
 | 
Australia Matyybro_ 
F5
2019-04-19 14:32
#2
 | 
Ukraine vladiik69 
2rd
2019-04-19 13:29
#3
 | 
United States Detached 
Unluko
2019-04-19 13:29
#4
 | 
Serbia markbb 
AJMO OCEEE
2019-04-19 13:29
#5
Skadoodle | 
Lithuania SiK_ 
sup
2019-04-19 13:30
xd
2019-04-19 13:30
#7
smooya | 
Finland tuspa 
lul
2019-04-19 13:30
fck police
2019-04-19 13:31
Coming straight from the underground
2019-04-19 13:53
a young (I don't want to get banned) got it bad cause i'm brown
2019-04-19 17:49
"A young nigga got it bad 'cause I'm brown" - Line 13 | Fuck Tha Police - N.W.A
2019-04-19 18:59
And not the other color so police think
2019-04-19 19:47
nt but avangar >>> valiance obviously top 16 maybe
2019-04-19 13:31
u are lucky to be top 15 lmao
2019-04-19 13:31
top 10 inc.
2019-04-19 13:41
#35
 | 
Switzerland x676 
Totally agree.
2019-04-19 13:52
#44
jks | 
Australia LinksClone 
Lol same goes for NIP
2019-04-19 14:14
#77
woxic | 
Turkey cemc_ 
lol ofc not
2019-04-19 15:46
#94
 | 
Denmark TurboHenning 
+1 So lucky they don't come close to tier 1 cs, and will never win big tournaments.
2019-04-19 16:33
That makes no sense. Other teams outside top15 don't come close to tier 1 cs. The only exception is mousesports but they will be there soon
2019-04-19 17:44
#114
 | 
Denmark TurboHenning 
Yeah, nice try Valiance fan, just show me the flair
2019-04-19 18:39
Ok then name the teams.
2019-04-19 18:40
#116
 | 
Denmark TurboHenning 
SHOW ME THE FLAIR
2019-04-19 18:44
Nice argument. It's ok to be wrong
2019-04-19 18:44
#118
 | 
Denmark TurboHenning 
I mean, they're not tier 2, at best you could say they're tier 3, and even that might be stretching it. They aren't even competing in the biggest tournaments, they've never come close to winning a tier 1 tournament, so i would say it's undeserved that they're this high up in the rankings.
2019-04-19 18:49
So you ignored my point completely. It doesn't matter if they don't come close to winning tier 1 tournaments if no one else does either. Do you understand how rankings work?
2019-04-19 18:58
huNter really good player gl
2019-04-19 13:32
#13
 | 
Europe Skraj 
Attending irrelevant t5 tournaments is enough to get to top 15, wish them GL
2019-04-19 13:33
yeah okay start with top 30 first
2019-04-19 13:34
We will always want more
2019-04-19 13:34
#105
 | 
Czech Republic realProkda 
nt poland
2019-04-19 17:13
him and nexa deserve better than botto and esp1
2019-04-19 13:34
#48
 | 
Russia 1gor1 
flag checks out.
2019-04-19 14:38
#54
 | 
United States k3ar 
Ottond is fine, but not sure wth happened to EspiranTo.
2019-04-19 14:48
#57
NiKo | 
Slovenia ArlindEl 
He's Serbian bro he want a full Serbian Vailance thsts why he's talking shit
2019-04-19 15:03
no man) i want nexa and hnt to go to a better team or them to get kio/draken or smth
2019-04-19 15:09
#84
NiKo | 
Slovenia ArlindEl 
Otto is better than Draken
2019-04-19 16:07
Dont be funny😂😂😂
2019-04-19 17:05
#17
 | 
United States AproximateCS 
Dope
2019-04-19 13:34
Nice guy
2019-04-19 13:35
#20
 | 
Denmark Experative 
valiance tier 3 but ok
2019-04-19 13:35
mouz huNter pogchamp, i guess they decided to go with frozen instead
2019-04-19 13:36
Which paid off for them indeed
2019-04-19 13:41
#22
 | 
Serbia d1ckson 
Ez
2019-04-19 13:36
Ez4NiKo
2019-04-19 13:38
Sicko Mode
2019-04-19 13:38
Never tell , just do
2019-04-19 13:38
#26
 | 
Brazil BENd 
+1
2019-04-19 13:39
Why is letn1 not an igl?
2019-04-19 13:41
nice try
2019-04-19 13:41
BOT Speaking LUL
2019-04-19 13:44
Wtf dude 2016 is over
2019-04-19 16:15
#33
 | 
Denmark DeximaD 
FaZe.huNter, I wanna see Niko playing with his brother together <3
2019-04-19 13:48
They’re cousins I believe. But yeah the Kovacs boys on one squad would be pretty cool. He has a lot of potential.
2019-04-19 14:06
Like Dosia and Fox used to play. RIP NiP 87-1
2019-04-19 14:37
they need an igl rn allegedly, them playing together seems more likely if niko will ever leave faze
2019-04-19 14:50
#34
 | 
Switzerland x676 
Top 15 is beyond what you ever deserved. You guys will be back to top30-40 soon
2019-04-19 13:51
stu noob. you top 40 at best.
2019-04-19 14:03
+1
2019-04-19 14:10
#112
 | 
CIS Neaxyl 
nt anime kiddo
2019-04-19 18:20
*asian*
2019-04-19 18:50
u will be destroyed by any team on top 10 so stfu
2019-04-19 14:04
vitality is t2-3 team. vitality 100% not t1 team
2019-04-19 15:04
They're top 10
2019-04-19 15:27
how long
2019-04-19 15:48
For a couple weeks. And with no signs of moving backwards, squid.
2019-04-19 16:24
We'll see in 4-6-8 months there.
2019-04-19 18:53
Doesn't matter, what matters is Vitality is top10 and valiance won against them, which proves that they won't get crashes against any top10 team.
2019-04-19 16:35
#60
 | 
United States DervGuy 
They could beat NiP.
2019-04-19 15:12
-_- Reply needs to have actual content
2019-04-19 15:14
#64
 | 
United States DervGuy 
I mean, I'm not wrong based on how they're looking Trust me, I would love to see NiP back in some form, and not losing to devils.one
2019-04-19 15:15
They would destroy NiP right now.
2019-04-19 16:24
NiP is in top 10 by mistake anyway
2019-04-19 15:43
#83
 | 
United States DervGuy 
I suppose.
2019-04-19 16:04
#113
 | 
CIS Neaxyl 
lul anime kiddo said about valiance tier 4 lul
2019-04-19 18:21
#42
 | 
Serbia s1v9mple 
"We quizzed the team's in-game leader, huNter," Narcissism runs in the family, that's for sure
2019-04-19 14:10
#61
 | 
United States DervGuy 
How is that narcissm lmao
2019-04-19 15:12
#65
 | 
Serbia s1v9mple 
Guy thinks that because he's the best player on the team that he deserves to be the IGL
2019-04-19 15:16
are u talking about s1mple now? Narcissism
2019-04-19 15:51
#82
 | 
United States DervGuy 
Does it say that? I think hltv made a typo, cause nexa is IGL.
2019-04-19 16:03
This tesm Nexa and Hunter share the IGL roles. Nexa is main caller.
2019-04-19 16:25
#128
 | 
United States DervGuy 
Oh didnt know that, thanks
2019-04-19 20:30
Next time don't talk about shit you have no clue about...
2019-04-19 22:19
#133
 | 
United States DervGuy 
Why you so salty :(
2019-04-19 22:51
I replyed to the wrong guy , sorry
2019-04-20 12:14
#135
 | 
United States DervGuy 
All good man
2019-04-20 16:59
-olof + hunter - adren + igl sad but good choice
2019-04-19 14:40
FaZe hunter <333333333
2019-04-19 14:47
#53
 | 
United Arab Emirates K1o7a 
Top 14? Lul
2019-04-19 14:48
#62
 | 
Bosnia and Herzegovina maraculjko 
Good luck hNt
2019-04-19 15:13
Lmfao relax, you are barely top15.
2019-04-19 15:20
#67
 | 
Bosnia and Herzegovina maraculjko 
silence kebab
2019-04-19 15:24
Oh, im so sorry that i hurt your feelings. I won't be joking when they get out of top20 i swear.
2019-04-19 15:26
#72
 | 
Bosnia and Herzegovina maraculjko 
Your comment is full of cynicism, in fact you are such a nation.
2019-04-19 15:30
Sorry man. I was just going to copy paste what you said in the first place, but you dont have a flag. May i ask why?
2019-04-19 15:38
#87
 | 
Bosnia and Herzegovina maraculjko 
Do not comment humiliating. Not cultural.
2019-04-19 16:14
What
2019-04-19 18:56
Why should he relax? He wants to achieve as much as he can and wants to be the best. That's how every player mindset should be
2019-04-19 16:12
So the guy isn't allowed to have his hopes and goals ? Go away with that bs you kebab shit
2019-04-19 22:23
#70
 | 
Singapore FallBlade 
good guy hunter
2019-04-19 15:28
who?
2019-04-19 15:41
NiKo cousin
2019-04-19 15:45
#78
 | 
Serbia livefour 
Gl hf
2019-04-19 15:48
#81
s1mple | 
Brazil afxsaw1 
-adreN + HuNter
2019-04-19 15:59
#97
 | 
Japan KRabbyy 
-EspiranTo +Niko will be better xD
2019-04-19 16:36
-Espiranto +Zehn And then on Winstrike -Bondik +Espiranto Bondik can then go to NoChance if they want to play with him
2019-04-19 16:09
#106
 | 
Lithuania calibrity 
if im correct espiranto doesn't speak russian well, he knows a bit but that's not enough.
2019-04-19 17:21
#92
 | 
Finland Weathermen)) 
Top 10 for sure
2019-04-19 16:28
#95
 | 
Japan KRabbyy 
Valiance tier2 good team ez top10 ez for hNt
2019-04-19 16:34
#98
 | 
Japan KRabbyy 
-EspiranTo +Niko EZ top5 and better than 2k19 Faze
2019-04-19 16:38
#144
 | 
United States CajunX 
Yep. 100%
2019-04-22 21:17
Espiranto is the clear weak link in the team but i believe he will improve glhf
2019-04-19 16:41
Nope it's the finn
2019-04-19 17:50
Ottond doesnt fuck up every third round cuz he's "feelin it"
2019-04-19 19:40
Please look at his LAN stats of the last 3 monthes, 6 monthes, and 12 monthes then compare to the 4 others and come at me bro ;) Espiranto has 0.15 more rating that this nuub. Main sniper with 1.0 rating = problem
2019-04-19 22:39
That is all correct but watch their matches and youll understand, espiranto does not win many rounds for valiance with his stats, but he does lose them for valiance. Or he did in the major quali when it mattered... Im not gonna 'come at you' cuz im not 20 years old.
2019-04-20 18:19
I actually watch their matches. Just because he did lose some rounds at some point doesn't make him the " clear weak link " . He isn't , far from it actually, and stats back it up. He still too aggressive because of his youth, but he does his part most of the time, and has shown much more potential than ottoNd. This team problem is that they will need a A-too sometimes be less aggressive and more strategical and mix that with the aggressive aim based style they love. B- Get a top level dedicated awper because once they match most top 10 teams this will become a real issue when facing the s1mple, Guardian, and device of the world. ps : I remember a lot of rounds where ottoNd lost them rounds by missing easy shots. And " come at me " is just an expression bro
2019-04-20 22:06
I can see why you'd say that ye. I guess its more frustrating to see espiranto fuck up cuz of his overaggressive playstyle (good for fpl, not suitable for top tier cs). For me he is the clear weak link cuz he breaks his own teams game plan. Anyway it doesnt matter who is right, i hope they all keep improving with the current lineup. Ofc simply getting better players is a quick fix but that wouldnt be too romantic or good for balkan scene :)
2019-04-21 11:38
Getting " better players " on paper isn't generally the fix unless you are severely lacking firepower which isn't their case. It's been proven time and time again ( to their detriment ) by big teams.. Their players are way good enough to be a top 10 team. I think if they can fix their over aggressivity issues and work on a deeper strat book they'll be the 2019 breakthrough team. It will be between them and Windigo ( who kinda have the same type of problems, very skilled but playbook is absolutely clownfiesta-esque )
2019-04-21 21:57
#101
f0rest | 
Sweden Jnordz 
Well you won't be more then 15+... Scrubteam
2019-04-19 17:04
lul being in top 15 shows that hltv ranking system is fucked
2019-04-19 17:11
#108
 | 
Other Onizuka_go 
Niko's brother
2019-04-19 17:48
Cousin
2019-04-19 22:40
If they stick together (which seems likely), they might be even higher in rankings. I kinda start to like these teams more and more while loosing interest in projects like faze or mouz, dunno why. Maybe i just like dark horses and the fact they are going for that "from zero to hero" thing like ence did and work hard for that matter.
2019-04-19 18:56
#125
 | 
Europe xrnavkha 
surprised NiKo hasn't gone bowling with him yet
2019-04-19 19:36
it just proves that CS:GO genetics are important XD
2019-04-20 17:11
top14
2019-04-20 18:20
#139
 | 
Finland Weathermen)) 
ez for hunter
2019-04-20 19:54
#142
 | 
Andorra OjV 
lul
2019-04-21 18:31
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