ALEX: "I think summit was not a main objective for most teams, while we came to win it"
After Vitality eliminated Ninjas in Pyjamas from DreamHack Masters Dallas, we sat down with Alex "ALEX" McMeekin to discuss cs_summit, the team's grand final series against Liquid and their run in Dallas so far.
Vitality had a tough opening match, conceding a bitter 14-16 loss on Overpass to North after surrendering a 14-8 lead. ALEX and company proceeded to climb through the lower bracket, beating Lucid Dream and Ninjas in Pyjamas by 2-0 scorelines.
The team is now set to face North again in the concluding round of group A's lower bracket, with a quarter-final slot at the $250,000 event at stake.
Upon conclusion of Vitality's match against Ninjas in Pyjamas, we sat down with ALEX to discuss the team's performance at cs_summit, the grand final match against Liquid, the squad's skill ceiling and ambitions coming into Dallas off of a win at cs_summit 4.
cs_summit 4 saw an outstanding performance from the team as you secured first place, dropping only three maps in the process. The result was definitely unexpected - how was this achieved?
I think we had a lot more preparation than the other teams did. We had about a month without an event, and the others were all participating at events, so they didn't have that much time to practice. I think cs_summit wasn't a main objective for most teams, whereas we came to win it. I think some of the other teams were just happy to be there, and maybe getting practice for this event. I think that changes the mindset going into games.
The grand final saw a confident 2-0 for your team against Liquid. Surely the team must have felt a sense of elation securing a victory against the world's #2?
Yeah, we were very happy. We came to win, we weren't sure that we would - our main objective was to get to the final, but we wanted to win. We managed to do it, and did it in a pretty clean fashion, which was good. I think in the final we just wanted it more than they did. Every kill and every flashbang was screamed on TeamSpeak, everything went our way.
You mentioned preparation - in terms of Liquid's performance in the grand final, did it feel like they were off?
I seem to remember that they had a good plan against us, but it just didn't work out. We were winning all the important rounds, and getting the extra kill that maybe we shouldn't have got. They just gave us easier rounds to snowball the game and just win. I don't know if they were off, but we were definitely on point.
In the post-match at cs_summit 4, NBK mentioned that the team was fired up on all cylinders - did you feel this to be the case going into Dallas?
We're feeling good, a little bit tired because of the overnight trip that all the cs_summit teams did. We got a plane at half one, arrived here at half seven in the morning, so none of us got much sleep. Other than that we're feeling good, the practice areas are good. We lost some individual practice time at summit because the venue closed at nine, but we're catching up with that here.
Kind of disappointed with the North game, I feel like we should have won that, and the game against NiP on Dust2, we lacked so much discipline on the T side - it was unreal. We need to sort that out, and then hopefully we can make it to the semi-finals.
Touching on the North game - it felt like you were going to walk away with a win with that 14-8 lead. What went wrong on the T side?
Our game plan was good - the first half and the initial portion of the second half we were outplaying them, we were winning the important rounds. It was still tough, because we weren't winning the rounds cleanly, and it came down to the one kill that changed the round. The whole game wasn't clean, and it switched to their favour. When we got to 14-8, it was almost like we thought we had won, and we just switched off a bit. When you switch off at this level you just lose.
Looking at Dallas, what ambitions did you set out bearing in mind that you were coming out of a tournament victory in Los Angeles?
After winning summit we knew it would be harder to make a deep run here, because teams aren't going to underestimate us anymore - they're going to watch our games. We played 15 maps over the course of summit, so they've got a lot of stuff to look at, while we obviously have not had a lot of time to change much. I think it's going to be harder, but we can definitely make the semis and, if everything is going well, we can make it to the finals and even win it.
You mentioned teams underestimating you - do you feel this has been the case in the past?
As I said before I'm not sure. Because of summit it felt like the teams didn't have the hunger that they would have had at a top event, so it's hard to tell if they underestimated us or if they just didn't care as much as we did. It feels like they didn't exactly know how good we could be when we were playing like we did at summit. They underestimated us in that way.
In terms of your peak, where do you think Vitality stand?
I think it's more about consistency - we showed at summit that if we hit our peak, we can beat anyone, but it's about being consistent. Everyone makes fun of Liquid for being top two consistently, but I would love to be top 2 consistently if we could, because it's so hard to do. Our peak is very high, but it's more about consistency for me.
Some have expressed that Vitality overly rely on ZywOo stepping up to really demonstrate results. Do you feel there is a degree of truth to this statement?
It's a tough question because he's really good, and he can just carry a game by himself, so there's obviously some truth to it. The main thing that people don't understand is that he plays a certain role in our team - he doesn't just go out and kill five people. He has to do what I and NBK- tell him to do as in-game leaders. It's not a case of: "Hey, ZywOo, do what you want and we'll try and win the round behind you".
We are a team, and the difference between summit and the other events is that we were all hitting our shots instead of ZyWOo having to make up for me missing my shot or something along those lines. I definitely think we're a team and not overly ZywOo-reliant, but if he wants to carry us, then go for it.
Lastly, could you clear up the in-game leading situation? From what I understand it's NBK- and yourself leading, with you taking the reigns on the T side.
I lead on the T side of every map apart from Inferno, because I didn't play it for two years. I lost touch of what we can and can't do on that map.
And is that going to remain the case for now?
It's remaining for now because we didn't have time to talk about it coming straight from summit, but yeah, that's how it is for now.