ALEX: "The only thing that's going to stop Liquid is the player break, hope they drop off a bit because it's ridiculous"
After narrowly beating Heroic in Cologne, Vitality faced off against the Danish side twice more over the course of the IEM Chicago group stage, losing to them in the opening round before taking their revenge in the deciding series. That set them up for a rematch against Liquid, who secured a second consecutive victory against the French team following a convincing semi-final showing.
ALEX's team came by the press area on the final day of the event and we grabbed the in-game leader to talk about Vitality's newly-established rivalry with Heroic as well as some of their recent struggles on their go-to map, Dust2, and to get his point of view on what it's like to play against Liquid at the moment.
First of all, you had problems against Heroic in the opener of the tournament and you also had a close game against them in Cologne, how did you approach that matchup the third time around?
I don't think we did anything special. We rewatched the game we played against them in the first game of the group stage and noticed that blameF has quite a few tendencies, he likes to do the same things quite a lot, so we tried to play on him and kill him. Especially on T sides on Mirage, he was always lurking somewhere like top mid, so we were making sure we wouldn't get killed by him because in the previous games he came behind us constantly, killing one or two of us, so I think that was the only thing we really prepared for them because we knew how they were going to play, we played them quite a lot recently.
Can you comment on what happened in the veto in that series, where you banned Train as opposed to Mirage?
(laughs) Basically, Train being our permaban, Nathan just went into the veto and was like 'yep, ban Train' and then remembered that we were playing Heroic and that we weren't supposed to ban Train. But I guess it worked out in the end, since we beat them on Mirage.
You've prioritized Dust2 a lot over the last few tournaments, but it hasn't gone too well recently, here you lost it to Heroic, then to Liquid, also to NiP in the opening game in Cologne. Why do you think you haven't been very consistent on the map?
I'm not sure how consistent a team can be on Dust2 because everyone knows the map through and through, nothing much has changed on it over the years. Everyone knows everything you can do on the map, but I don't think it has anything to do with actual tactics, it's more about how we are in the game. That's what we've struggled with and it's not just on Dust2, the Overpass game we lost against North in the opening game at DreamHack Dallas, we were up 14-8... and constantly, games like this where we just switch off or we don't get into it at all. There's always a moment where something goes wrong.
Maybe we lack energy to find our way back into the game, I'm not sure. I don't think it was a problem we had at the start of the season, we usually started well and were winning. I don't think it's map-based. Liquid, obviously, is a totally different thing, no one can beat Liquid now, they're just too good. I think the only thing that's going to stop them right now is the player break and hope they drop off a bit (smirks) because it's ridiculous.
Considering what you said about the map, what makes you prefer Dust2 so much, then?
Just because we feel good on it. We have everything down and I think recently — because we have no time to practice, I think we played about three practice games in about a month or something, we literally haven't practiced — it's just that we play it in some games and I don't remember who we smashed on it in one of the tournaments, we just felt good on it, and we smashed Renegades on it here. We just felt comfortable on it, everyone was feeling good about it, it was a map that we usually play high tempo on, which means that everyone's getting straight into the game, comms are flying and everyone is involved.
In the game against Liquid, we had like zero A long spawns, which was what we were kind of relying on to try and beat them. I think we had one, but it was just at a point where we couldn't take it anymore because we didn't have the money or something. So yeah, we like the map, the French scene has obviously been really good on it in the past, G2 are really good on it now, we're really good on it, I just think it's down to external factors, not just the map.
Speaking about Liquid, NBK commented on them on Twitter saying how scary it is to face them at this point, what is it that makes it so difficult to play against them perhaps outside of just raw skill, which is something that everyone talks about?
I don't think they're scary, I don't mind playing them, it's just too hard recently. I will forever remember the example on Dust2 in the Cologne final, I came up short behind two of them and I started shooting two bullets and I hit him once, it was nitr0, and he just turns around and one-taps me. That's literally how it is with them. At the moment, that's what it is, it's skill, they're not doing anything special, they're not doing anything new, they don't have the best teamplay like Astralis had when they were good. They're just too good at the game itself. Twistzz ran from mid doors to get a weapon and dinged two of us on the way with a CZ whilst running, there's nothing you can do.