malta: "When we aren't playing in Europe the T sides are pretty impossible to get down"
The Australian team survived the second day of the event by taking down Heroic in a thriller game, managing CT-side comebacks on Inferno and Overpass. That will see them face off against FaZe tomorrow, in the lower-bracket match of group B.
Grayhound's last LAN event was Cobx Masters in India, where they were eliminated in the semi-finals by Alpha Red, 2-0. We asked malta about the disappointing loss and how that affected the team going forward, and also learned about their lacking Terrorist sides.
Can you tell me about the Cobx Masters, which was a disappointing performance from your team, and how that built towards IEM Sydney and Australian online stuff you have?
Yeah, we definitely went into it without good preparation and we kind of just thought it was going to be a free win for the team, which, obviously, you can never go into a tournament like that. Everyone, on the day, can outaim you and beat you that way, that is how we felt it happened. We didn't think that strategically they were doing that much, they had good setups on the CT side and were winning aim duels, and we didn't talk about how we want to approach anything that they were doing. I think that is just an example of a really bad preparation for an event and overestimating your ability. It was good to have that in a tournament that was a little less important than IEM Sydney or even the qualifiers we had around that time as well. So we learned from that and started doing a lot more preparation now, either the night before, the day before, or just on that day, having a talk, getting a gameplan going. That has been really good for us and it has helped us a lot coming into these tournaments.
Talking about the domestic competition, some teams have been kind of pushing you, you didn't lose anything important, at least not yet, but how do you think things are working out domestically? You haven't been playing international tournaments in a while, did that impact your level in a way as well?
Playing in Europe for two weeks or whatever it was around the Minor, getting that good practice... we probably didn't make the most of it, we probably could've learned a lot more than we did, but we did play against really good teams and they punished every setup and every T-side strat. If you leave a gap, you get punished for it, which is so different to when you play in Australia. I guess why our T-sides are so weak in these games versus European teams is that there are so many factors that we haven't experienced yet because the Australian teams just don't punish us on that kind of stuff. So if we run a strat against an Australian team, dexter might go in and get three kills, and then you are like "Awesome! The strat is all good!", but obviously, we should add a flash here, double peek there... It is the kind of stuff that, when you verse these teams now, you can go and revise and you can realize that... your strats are actually shit. (laughs) That is what we were doing in Europe and it strengthens you, but then we replaced sterling and reset, starting again. I think that individually, we kept a lot from Europe, but I think we lost the team strategy a bit with Simon coming in.
As for domestically, I think ORDER, Chiefs and us are the clear top3, I think that contrary to popular belief at the moment, the top3 of Australia is quite far above the "tier2 teams", I guess. Everyone has been saying that it is pretty close at the moment but I think it is just... I don't want to make excuses, but when we've had close games and people have taken maps off of us, it's either been in tournaments that don't mean too much or it has been, for example, when we came home from Cobx Masters and played the same night, dropping a map to Ground Zero. But we still won the series. Stuff like that, I don't want to use jetlag as an excuse, but it does affect you, even when it comes to these kinds of tournaments, it is affecting the European teams as well. But we should still be better than that, we should still be able to get over jetlag and not let it affect us, but it does.
You mentioned Sico, what does he bring to the team that sterling lacked? What was the reasoning behind the change?
It felt like sterling would within six months be the player we needed, he is a really skillful player, his knowledge of the game is insane. Someone will throw a smoke and he will be like "That's the North smoke. They did that back in 2015 against fnatic". He knows everything. But I think confidence in his own ability is what he lacks, he needs to back himself up to make a pick, take a fight, pull out a pistol and duel with the p250, that is what Sico is really good at. He will be like "I'm doing this pick" and for example on Overpass, he commands dexter like "I'm doing this, you do this and this". That is something that Sterling didn't bring. And Sico loves a fight, I love an AWPer who will just take fights and they are confident, they will take a P250 and fight with someone who is close, I think that is great and something you have to do. That is what Sico brings to the team, aggression and confidence in himself.
How and why did NeiL_M joining you on a trial-coach basis happen?
We've been searching for a coach for a while now, we've had sonic (Stuart "sonic" Rayner) at the Minor and I love Stew, he is a great coach, he really meshed with us well. But he works full-time and just couldn't commit the time that we needed. So, sadly, we parted ways with him. Then during the two months that we didn't have a coach, we just realized how much we really needed to have a good coach. So dexter put out a Tweet and Neil reached out and we were like "yeah, this guy seems all right", we were talking behind the scenes.
And then Neil was DMing dexter about matchups for the IEM Sydney qualifier, other small things, about the economy and stuff like that, it was really good, little nuggets of knowledge. And we thought that we should trial him, because he knows his shit, basically. He came into scrims, he brought in good energy and has really good suggestions with CT setups, on T-side he has good pace changes... He will just pause and slow us down, just say like: "this is where they are playing, this is how they are playing, we can just do this". And we do that and it is always good. It is kind of, if we are having a bad start to the game, his input is really critical.
Is there any long-term plan, if you are going to keep him is he going to move to Australia? Anything along those lines?
We haven't discussed anything like that yet, obviously we are just trialing him at this event, and if all is well, on the management, team, and his side, then we will continue on with him. As for moving into the house, Sico is moving into the house in a few weeks, basically after this event was the plan. So it will be the first time we've had all five players at the house, competing and practicing there. But there are not enough bedrooms at the moment, we have to build one for Sico, and if we do that, there is probably going to be nowhere left to put Neil. So I don't know, we haven't really talked about it, but the house is pretty packed out.
Lets talk about this event, you already played two games, two games of similar fashion with poor T sides and solid CT sides, but let's focus on the Heroic match because you managed two comebacks, on Inferno on Overpass. How did that develop, beating a team like them on the rise currently?
I think, generally, we are really confident in our CT side and going into it is just like we are 0-0 again. If we win pistol, awesome, if we don't, that is fine. Even if we are 14-2 down, we can still grind it out, you just can't lose a round, last life. But we are really confident in those kinds of games and it felt like, if I had to critique them, that their Banana control was a bit weak, because our banana players... I didn't see much while playing in Pit on A, but we were getting 2-3 kills at the start of every round on Banana. As a CT player, if I'm playing in Pit, I'm like: "Awesome. I don't have to do anything this round because they killed everyone on Banana".
I'm not sure what was happening, maybe we just played it really well, but I feel like if you win Banana that is such a pivot point in the round. We can gamble towards A or save our utility. On Inferno that was a big factor, I think, and we got lucky a few rounds, they did an A apartments explosion I was lucky not to die, maybe they should've killed me. Overall, I think it was just Banana. Then on Overpass, 10-5 half as Terrorists is really not that bad, to be honest. It might look like they were storming away with it, but because we won the pistol round, Sico won a nice 1v2, CT side was pretty confident. When you win the pistol, 10-5 is fine.
Last year you broke out here as a team, now you are two BO3 away from the playoffs, with some good teams waiting on your side of the bracket. What are the expectations moving on from here?
Personally, I didn't expect to make the stage but I also didn't expect to just lose out both games. Making the stage is obviously the goal, but the teams that are coming to these events are of a really high level and when we aren't playing and practicing in Europe... Our CT side we can practice pretty well in Australia because it is just our individual setups, patience, grenade usage, but the T sides are pretty impossible to get down. You can run strats but it is so hard to learn about the strats if you are not getting punished at all. So I think that our T sides feel a bit weaker going into this, we are still confident on them, but the EU CT side is quite disruptive on us, so we have to learn from that. That said, we are still comfortable that on our CT side, we can beat all of these teams if we just play well. And then if we get a good T side to boot, awesome. We are confident that we can make it to the stage, but I didn't come in expecting to do so. It is more like getting a few wins would be nice, and if we get to the stage, then awesome.