nitr0: "Our biggest problem right now is the finals, I don't think it really matters who it is against"
The North American side topped group A by defeating BOOT-d[S], BIG, and NiP, and did so without dropping a map. Liquid therefore confirmed their tournament favorite status, and are hoping to finally break their Big event deadlock by lifting the IEM Sydney plate on Sunday.
To do so, Liquid will have to deal with their issues closing out, which we saw come into play at BLAST Pro Series Miami, where they lost to FaZe. nitr0 touched on that game, as well as how Vertigo affected their map pool, in our latest interview.
You've been to six events this year if we include EPL, fairly busy, one of the busier teams it feels like. How has it been for you guys in terms of traveling and attending a lot of events? Is it well balanced out this year?
We're definitely trying to take this year a little bit lighter in terms of traveling so we can focus more on the bigger tournaments and preparing for them. Similar to what Astralis is doing now, but we are not trying to skip as many as Astralis, I think they are doing it a lot more than us, but for each tournament, we want to feel like we are going there prepared enough to win it. So far we've made two finals at BLAST, we won iBUYPOWER and topped the groups at EPL. So it is going pretty well so far this year, but we are hoping for a bigger win in Sydney.
One of the things NAF touched on in a recent interview is your map pool, he said that people think you have a good map pool but he isn't really that confident in it, except Dust2. How has that developed in the past few weeks?
I think Overpass is our best map currently and we've been working on our lower-tier maps, trying to not focus too much on our better maps. So we've been focusing more on Mirage, Inferno, Cache, they are getting rid of Cache though so that is kind of a weird scenario. We're trying to play it here and there so we feel prepared, but not worry too much about it because I think we are still a good team on that map. We haven't played Vertigo yet just because Sydney is the last event without it. Really, we have just been trying to focus more on our middle of the pool maps.
With Vertigo already introduced in some competitions, was it possible to get good scrims on Cache leading up to this event? No one played it at IEM Sydney yet...
Cache was our third map versus NiP actually, it was there but we didn't get to a third map, obviously, but we got a couple of scrims on Cache going into Sydney. It is not like it is a bad map for us at all, we were still able to get scrims against compLexity and some other NA teams because we are all in NA. They were preparing for EPL and stuff like that because Cache was still there. I think that is the last tournament that has Cache for most teams. After Sydney, I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing a lot of Vertigo.
What are your thoughts, not as a part of Liquid, but just as a CS player, having Cache removed and Vertigo coming in?
I think it is a good and bad thing. I think for a casual player and a spectator it is pretty cool that they are going to see a new map and they are going to learn stuff from the pros, just like it was back in the day when they introduced Overpass and Cobblestone. It will be cool to see what kind of strats are invented, all this kind of stuff because it has never been a competitive map. I think Cache is in the reworks right now so I'm also excited to see what they do with that and what map they will remove for Cache if they do it, I'm pretty sure they will.
It is a good and bad thing, it is kind of bad because, for a team like us, Cache is one of our better map and at one point it was our best map. I think it kind of hinders our map pool a little bit and we will have to refocus on Vertigo, maybe one of our better maps is going to get weaker because we are focusing more on Vertigo. It is kind of interesting to see. Astralis also didn't play Cache that much, it was their permaveto against most teams and now they got it removed. They could be one of the teams on Vertigo. It is a good and bad thing for the pro scene and we will just have to see how it pans out.
Touching on IEM Sydney, you are already in the semis, you obviously looked good so far and considering the other teams that are here, you are probably the biggest favorites to win this an event like this that you've ever been. Obviously, there is the whole thing that you didn't win a big event yet, so is there added pressure for you to finally do it now?
There is always a little bit of pressure added just because we've been in so many finals and came in second so many times. We just really want to win a big tournament, whether Astralis is here or not, it doesn't really matter to us. I think that our biggest problem right now is the finals, I don't think it really matters who it is against necessarily, I just think our team crushes under the pressure in the finals a little bit, and we've been working on that with our sports psychologist. We've just been trying to identify problems that we encounter in every final, because every time it is different. We've just been trying to work on that and I think that if we hit the final here, we can take it, finally. So time will tell and hopefully, we will take it.
You said you identified a different problem every time, what was the issue last time against FaZe at BLAST?
I think we went into the map pool wrongly, I think we should've picked Overpass, that was our first issue, and instead we took one of their best maps, Dust2, and looking back at it we should've picked Overpass. But that is hindsight, obviously. I think that we started our maps pretty slowly and pretty scared and I think that if we play in the final again here, we will have a different approach to the map, no matter what map it is. We will have a different approach to the final and a more aggressive style I think.