NBK-: "We had a bit of trouble regarding leadership before ECS; we managed to put everything aside and win"
Vitality dropped to the lower bracket of group B following an upset by the hands of NiP, the Swedes stealing away Dust2 following a perfect CT side, 11-0. The Frenchmen managed to eliminate one of the favorites in the lower bracket, though, ENCE, and continue their run at the tournament.
Following the game against ENCE, we sat down with NBK- who revealed that the Vitality didn't have big expectations coming into ECS S7 Finals, that they ended up winning, as leadership issues plagued the team ahead of that tournament.
The opening game against NiP here started well, but then on the T side of Dust2 you couldn't get a round on the board. What happened there, how did they manage to grind you to a halt?
I think that since the beginning of the team we had a pretty weird dynamic on Dust2, we started off extremely strong and it became our best map very very fast but then it dropped down a little bit because we practiced it less to focus on other maps and have a deeper map pool. Now we are in a stage where we have to renew some stuff maybe, change the dynamics of the maps and how we are working, I think that is pretty much what is missing. And we should play a little bit raw, because on Dust2 you can just send players out Long, Mid and just kill people.
Maybe we are trying to overcomplicate things a little bit, but we knew it wasn't going to be a map we play against ENCE anyway so we didn't really speak about it, we will see what happens tomorrow because we will play Astralis or fnatic, and there I think it is pretty likely for it to be in. Yeah, we need to fix that. Against NiP, again, we weren't putting in enough activity, pressure, and were not hitting shots more than them, really. They weren't really disrupting what we were doing, they were just sitting passively and killing us.
Talking about the meta generally, Liquid is the best team currently and on the T side they are perhaps not as structured as they used to be, or maybe as Astralis looked last year. Do you think that on the T-side teams just need to have a random aspect, like something you said that works on Dust2, simplifying things and doing what works?
I think a lot of teams, I'm not going to say all of them, but a lot of teams, when they are extremely good, dominating, winning big tournaments, they have very simple T sides where you are not going to complicate it, you just do simple things. 4-1's, activity on one site, fake it, go 4-1 on the other side. I think that was the case a lot of the times and I think that shows confidence in being able to play on the map. So I don't really know, now we have a lot of different styles on the T sides, it is just a matter of teams knowing each other quite well and teams knowing Liquid very well, so it is hard to reinvent yourself every time you come into the tournament. So in the end, I think the Terrorist side sometimes comes down to the individual actions and how players want to play individually, as well as keeping it simple. That is when you can snowball rounds and things like that.
Is that the approach you had against ENCE on the T side of Overpass? You had some fast things that worked out and then you just kept rolling with it.
Yeah, pretty much. Against ENCE we focused on the A bombsite heavily, playing stacked together, and then we swapped that mid-half. On Inferno as well. Especially against ENCE, they don't really like playing against a team that plays stacked on the T side because they are very passive, and when you are passive, you are subject to being swarmed a lot and that is what happens. We did it already, I think, at StarLadder, where we had a really good T half against them, we were just playing packed together, pushing them, because again, if you are playing passive, you are subject to that.
That was our approach on those two maps, on Nuke it is a bit harder to do against passive teams, but yeah, we just fu**ed up our thing at the beginning of the half against them. When we started playing a bit looser, then we started getting rounds. We need to find a balance between both of that.
Touching on the Nuke T side, you didn't really go towards that classic wall of smokes outside that much. You did a lot of deep smokes at different parts, do you think that is something that is going to be more popular nowadays that people are really used to the outside smoke wall and know how to deal with it?
Yeah, again I feel like it is a matter of balance. You cannot go with just one type, or it can work for just one tournament. But if you want to be better in the long term, then you have to have all of those different types of smoke walls and play around with them, change it back and forth. It is a thing we didn't have that much practice on, to be honest, because we have 10 days of practice coming into the tournament, we've been pretty busy, and we actually took those smokes from another team that we saw in practice [laughs].
We are just playing around with it, trying to make the best out of it and I think it frees ZywOo to just go outside and kill people. He just went there and started to kill people freely with his AWP and a couple of flashes. So yeah, it is a matter of adapting and balancing our game constantly because that is when you are going to be unreadable and you are going to be able to develop your game, outplay your opponents, have a very specific game plan and stuff like that. That's the end game pretty much, now we are just playing around with it, trying to see what works the best against which teams.
I wanted to talk about the dual-IGL system that you have going. In case you maybe have different ideas, perhaps on roles, styles, or vetos, how does the system work in those instances?
We actually had a bit of trouble regarding leadership, especially on a human level, especially before ECS, funnily enough. We decided to stop the discussion when the tournament started and continue it when the tournament was done, so we probably weren't expecting to win with all of that, but we managed to put everything aside, play, have fun, and win a tournament [laughs] - can't complain!
But yeah, we had some troubles, so we are trying to allow our coach to have a bigger voice in the whole group and take ideas from everybody. But the main ideas come from our coach and me, and then ALEX has his input as well on if he doesn't feel comfortable on some map or stuff like that. It is just a balance, but generally, our ideas are not really far off. When he leads his T half, I give him 100% freedom, when I'm doing my CT half I have 100% freedom, and then our coach relays us information if he has something to give us. In general, it feels pretty well when it comes down to Counter-Strike.
Your former teammate shox and G2, they had a decent tournament in Montpellier and they have also been doing something similar with shox and AmaNEk leading and their coach as well. Do you think they are kind-of copying what you are doing, in a way?
I don't know, I don't have much information about what they are actually doing. I wouldn't be surprised because I think AmaNEk is pretty smart in game, and especially if you bring that raw game style I think he is pretty good for that. I don't know, I think the main thing with that style is managing to make it work long-term. And for G2 it was always a problem, managing to win long-term, over several tournaments. I think that is the main thing with them, they played extremely well in Montpellier and it was pleasant to see, you know, kennyS playing well is always very fun to watch. Again, I don't have enough insight to really say that, I don't think they are really copying, maybe the are getting inspired by our idea- I think it is always good to be inspired by any idea you see, but I don't see them being as clear-cut as we are, knowing shox.
Lastly, I wanted to ask you about RpK, because he is the player that doesn't get a lot of spotlight or discussed a lot, he is just there, shooting, not saying much. What is his role on the team, what does he bring that a young, up-and-coming French guy that maybe has better aim, wouldn't?
I think you nailed it [laughs], in the sense that he is there and is a rock on the team, you can use him the way you want to, he is never going to complain, he is still going to do the job, he is going to shoot people. And you need someone like that on the team, he is not creating any drama, expecting anything, he is just giving some input when we ask him to on the spots and positions. Because of the personalities we have on the team and the way we are working, it is very good to have someone who is really laid back and is not talking much.
So you are saying he is the least-Frech French player?
[laughs] Pretty much, yeah! And he is very respected by everyone on the team, that also helps. You look at him - and you can't talk to him like you would talk to someone else, you would be scared by him if he got really angry. [laughs] He is the nicest guy, but you don't want to piss him off, pretty much. It helps to have someone like that in the team because then you can play around with him the way you want to and it is great to have him around.