REZ: "We always have close matches, so I want to be able to really destroy a team"
NiP reached the quarter-finals at IEM Sydney less than a week ago, a tournament in which they went out in a very close best-of-three match to their Swedish rivals fnatic before flying out to Madrid to compete at BLAST Pro Series, where they will face off against some of the best teams in the world.
After resting on their only day off after traveling from Australia, REZ talked about NiP's hard time closing out matches, giving up big leads, what they need to make it to the next level, and what he would like to see his team achieve during the two days of play in the Spanish capital.
Let's start talking about the whole scheduling conversation that's happening right now, as you're coming straight from Sydney. Long travel, not much rest, how are you coming into this event?
Fine, I think. We planned out the year so we know where we have to go, it's not a surprise. We can't blame ourselves for going to many tournaments, although it's tough to travel so far, but it's fine. This will be the toughest one, going from Sydney to Madrid with only one day of rest, but I think we can manage. We've all beaten the jet lag pretty well, and we all got some good rest. We're prepared.
You come off of a tough quarter-final loss to fnatic. It was a close and exciting match, but you came out on the losing end. Has that affected you at all, or have you bounced back pretty well?
It was a tough loss, for sure, because we had a lot of opportunities to close it out. I think our main issue right now is closing matches out. That's really what we have to focus on and work on, to be able to close out matches. It's something we have a really hard time doing and we need to not get too calm when we're in the lead, we need to keep the same focus and motivation when we're in the lead because when we lose our focus and motivation we give other teams an opportunity to strike back.
How do you think you can improve on that?
When we practice we need to never reset, to never calm down, to always try and end the match. It feels like we've given up so many rounds on every map in which we've had a good lead during the past few months. It's not just the clutches, it's the mindset we have going into the game. We need to have the same mindset when we lead than we do when we're losing.
You've been in this top 6-9 area in the ranking for the past couple of months. Where do you think the ceiling for this team is?
I think we belong where we are right now. The way we played lately, I don't think we deserve to go up in the rankings, I think we need to work on a lot of things. We need to be able to win the matches against teams like fnatic, we need to be able to take down teams like this easily if we want to go up in the ranking, and this is all connected to what I was saying about closing matches.
We talked about dennis coming back already, but you've had a couple of events now to feel it out, so how's it going? Are you finding your groove again?
He's doing really well from what I've heard, and I can feel it in him, that he's doing really well. He needed some time off and we respected it. Before draken came in we had a really structured team and we had worked really hard with him, and we had to put it on pause when draken came in. Now, we have to rebuild that structure, and I think it's going to work.
Let's talk consistency. You had Pro League, which didn't go so well, then Sydney, where you made playoffs and lost to fnatic in a very close match. Where do you see yourself now?
We're at a point where we consistently reach playoffs, and I'm fine with that, but at some point it gets really frustrating. It has been a really long time since we reached a final, that was at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen against Na`Vi, so it's been a really long time. But reaching playoffs is always progress for me, it says that there aren't that many things to work on and we're doing well, it's just the little things that we need to focus on to reach the next level, to reach the finals, that's what we need to work on now.
Coming into this event with a lot of BO1s, do you think you can go all the way and make the final?
I think this is a really good challenge because a lot of top teams are here. I'm not going to give predictions or anything, but if we manage to get at least three wins against these teams I would be proud of that.
So I know you guys don't like to talk much about goals and predictions and so on, but are there some goals about how you want to see the team performing, or a way you want to play?
Yeah, as I said before, I want to be able to close matches when we have a lead. We haven't had a match in which we crushed our opponents, like 16-8 or 16-7. It's been a while since we've had that, we always have these close matches, so I want to be able to really destroy a team. That's my goal. [laughs]