s1mple: "I think that ZywOo is closer to my level than any other pro"
Concluding our coverage from the group stage of ESL One Cologne 2019 is an interview with Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, in which the Ukrainian talks about the addition of Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov, the ceiling of Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, and more.
The Russian-Ukranian side defeated mousesports in the rematch of the opening game of the tournament to secure a spot in the LANXESS Arena, showing good form in their first LAN event with Boombl4. As usual, s1mple was a big factor in that feat, boasting a 1.31 rating.
We sat down with s1mple to hear more about replacing Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev with Boombl4, what expectations the team had coming into Cologne after a big break, and the failed knife attempt against Liquid.
Starting with the change: saying farewell to Edward, a long time Na`Vi member, how did you make the decision to go for the swap?
After a loss, we discussed if it was going to be better for us if we change a player or not, because we've been playing with the same lineup more than any team at that point. We decided that we need more firepower and it was a hard decision for us. After that, we asked B1ad3 to help us with selecting the new player. He watched demos of all the new players and asked us what kind of a player we need. After watching demos and listening to us he just told us that Boombl4 is a good choice for our team.
Does it help to have someone like B1ad3 on the outside who can take that responsibility of finding a player, not putting it on you in the team to decide who you want? Can you tell me more about that selection process?
Yeah, B1ad3 watched a 100 demos of Boombl4 and he watched the position of Edward as well, he compared all of this, he watched other players too and gave us three options. In the end, we decided that we want this player because he is like a leader, Boombl4, he talks a lot in-game, he is an entry fragger, but he can lurk as well, he is not always going first in our game.
You've been with him for a month now, a bit over that, what are the initial impression of playing with Boombl4?
The first impression is that he is very active and that he is creating space, no matter where we go he will create space. He talks a lot, he plays a lot, he is trying to improve all the time. On scrims he only had one problem, he sometimes played overaggressive after some advantage, but that comes with experience I think. I think Boombl4 will play much, much better after a month or two, same as electronic did after he joined.
You skipped a few tournaments this year as a lot of teams did, but comparing this to years before where you were playing big events every two weeks, how does that feel for you? Do you miss playing at tournaments all the time?
It was so weird after I came to this tournament with my team. I see that the top is different, the people are different, everyone is behaving differently. I see the tweets and all of that stuff, I see that all these teams think that they are very, very good, but some teams are still on the same level as it was before. But it is hard because all of the teams that we played have played LAN tournaments recently. FURIA played Astralis, mousesports' progress is really good, I was a bit nervous I would say. Two months without a tournament, with a new player, you don't know what to expect. You are trying to be calm, to focus like before, but sometimes you even forget how you focused before because it was two months ago.
Did you miss the competition that much that you ended up playing with the cats team in an online tournament?
Yeah, yeah. [laughs] I was trying to play for fun, I don't know. Especially against ForZe, they had a good chance to beat Liquid, they actually defeated them on Mirage before that game, so it was interesting for me to see how they play, I never looked into them. And we just played for fun with good personalities like Lobanjica and others.
As you said you weren't playing that much, on the rankings you dropped to 13th, so on paper you are not among the favorites, but on the name value it is expected from you to do well. What was your expectation coming into Cologne?
Our goal and expectation with the team is to just play as many maps as we can, to get a bit more experience with the new player before the main tournament, the Major. We understand that a lot of teams played together with such a long time and they have experience because they played previous events and we just practiced. But everyone understands we can win this tournament because this is a completely different roster, it could potentially be the best Natus Vincere roster. Of course, I think the 2016 roster with Zeus, GuardiaN, seized was the best one, but still, I think this one could do better.
Let's touch on the group stage, you beat mousesports twice, the BO1 and then the BO3, you made it through the lower bracket into the playoffs. How do you see what you managed to do so far?
I think we started pretty bad because, as I said, everyone was nervous and didn't know what to expect from this tournament, the first game, especially when we lose the first game every time. But after they beat us in the first half, they were screaming a lot and we told ourselves that we are tired of hearing them scream. We did comebacks on scrims and we know how to do them, and Boombl4 said: "Why did we come here if we can't do a comeback?". So everyone stepped up, played their game, started to play free, and we managed to do the comeback, 16-14. It was a tough game. They thought they were better on Train because of their streak, 11-0, but their problem was that they didn't know what we practiced and what are our strongest maps.
Taking into account everything that happened, you almost could've been undefeated in the group stage, looking at the Liquid game which went how it went. That's why I have to ask you about the knife situation, because maybe if that doesn't happen you go and win Dust2, win 2-0... how do you look on all of that?
I don't know, I just tried to knife because I wanted to knife, you know. I knew that he was not going to check me, I knew that he was going to jump on the left part of X-box, but he was looking at top mid while jumping... I hit him, I thought he had 45 HP left, but no one knew he was actually 15. I didn't expect them to do the comeback, you know, we were much stronger than them, we were better on Overpass, on Dust2, of course Mirage didn't go well, but still...
People write so much hate about this, but it was just a mistake. I understand that it is a mistake and it is not going to happen the next time. I actually thought we were going to win this 1v3, I saw Boombl4, electronic, myself... [laughs]. It was just an unlucky round and a very sad round for me. The same with the coldzera situation on Cobblestone, but that game wasn't so imporant. After this game I told my teammates: "Sorry about this guys, but we were stronger, we were unlucky on Mirage, and I think we deserve to go to the playoffs. Sorry for not letting us go to the playoffs right now". I think that is the biggest mistake, that you didn't let your team go into the playoffs. They understand that they had a chance to kill him as well, but still, it is a team game, and what happened happened, and I'm so happy that my team bounced back on Overpass. It was one of their strongest maps, it was 88% win rate before that game, and we just played better. They did come back, but still, it was a great game. I'm very sorry about the knife situation.
To finish it off, one of the players that has recently been compared to you and your rise is ZywOo. You only played Vitality once, at the last major, but how much did you see him play and what to you think about him as a player?
I think that ZywOo is closer to my level than any other pro. He is doing smart moves, he is doing a lot of what I'm doing, and I easily see this. He just needs to get more experience on LAN, and he already got a lot at ECS that they won, cs_summit... I think he is playing well and he just needs to play in this form more. He shouldn't relax, he should never relax, even if his team is winning. He should always prepare. I wish him good luck, he is on a good level. He is actually the first player that I see that is playing really smart, and not the type of smart that you need outplay the enemy, but smart with your mechanics, with nades that you use, with flashes that you give. It is hard to explain, but yeah, that is how I see it.
Is it motivating for you to see a player like that? Does it make you push yourself in order for him to not catch up with you, you obviously want to stay the best player in the world?
I understand that it is pretty hard for him to catch up with me if I'm on my high level every time, if I'm playing a lot - as I usually do. But I understand that there are going to be more players like him soon because the game is becoming bigger and all players need to step up.
They need to understand that they need to spend eight to 12 or 15 hours per day, like in every sport, football, basketball, whatever, you need to spend all of your time on what you want to upgrade. If you want to upgrade nades, you need to go on the empty map, if you want to upgrade your aim, you need to go play aim_botz, deathmatch, if you want to practice wallbangs you need to go on a practice server, do sv_cheats 1 to see what wallbangs are possible. Figure out what nades you need for retakes, for afterplant situation, and you need to be practicing this always, every time. And only because of this you can become better. And after all of this, you have a team that you need to understand, you need to help them as well, you need to fix their mistakes as well, and that is how you upgrade and become better. And with more experience, more skill, there are going to be more players like that in Counter-Strike.