ImAPet: "Our ranking won't have any effect on pressure"
NRG head into the StarLadder Major as one of the heavy favourites to claim Legends status, but they will need to avoid the same mistakes that led to their elimination from IEM Katowice's New Legends Stage with a 0-3 record, forcing them to go through the Minor system once again.
So far in 2019 you have had more than a handful of 3rd-4th offline finishes and have solidified yourselves into the top five of the rankings. However, we have yet to see the team make it to the grand finals of a Big Event. What would you say is the biggest thing holding the team back from making that final leap?
Right now I would say the biggest thing keeping up from making that leap is the amount of practice we have had. We’ve been traveling from event to event, especially during those 3rd-4th offline finishes, so it definitely hurt us not being able to have a long enough time to reinvent ourselves or fix bigger picture issues like not being able to update our playbook or fix individual plays.
You recently arrived in Katowice for a bootcamp. What would you say is going to be the team's main focus during this time?
I think we will just work on expanding and making the maps we are mediocre on much stronger than they currently are so we can explore stuff out of our comfort picks.
Why did you decide to bootcamp in Europe instead of North America? Do you find the competition from the European and CIS regions is better for practice?
The European and CIS regions are definitely better for practice, it’s taken a lot more seriously and people don’t just give up in scrims like they do in North America. There is also a lot more variety of styles in Europe and people punish you differently when you run strats.
At IEM Katowice, the previous Major, you went out way earlier than a lot of people expected you to. So what is going to be different this time around at the StarLadder Major, how far do you think the team can go?
This time we have definitely learned from our mistakes and have been a lot less careless and I think it has shown in our results. Hopefully we can use this time in our bootcamp to refine everything so we can reach at least what we think is doable, which is top eight.
You had been invited to the Arctic Invitational but ultimately decided against attending this event, allegedly due to scheduling issues. Could you explain why you decided to sit this one out?
We decided not to attend because we wanted to avoid going to too many LANs, it was a bit inconvenient for us to fly to Europe for like 3-5 days. We don’t want to burn ourselves out with too many LANs.
The Americas Minor was pretty straightforward, in that you won the tournament without dropping a single map. Did you expect to have such an easy time there, even against FURIA?
The Americas Minor, in my opinion, wasn’t an easy event, we had a lot of close games and tight series. However, in the FURIA series it felt a lot more in our control especially on Nuke despite the close scoreline just because it felt like we always knew what to do every round and we were getting a lot of multikills. I think we learned a lot from this Minor and it really helped us address a lot of issues that we didn’t know about.
At the Minor we saw some great maps from Ethan. What kind of guidance are you and stanislaw giving him to make sure that he can become a more stable contributor like Brehze?
Right now we’re trying to refine all the small things that make up everyone's game. So naturally it will help Ethan become more consistent in his game and overall we just want to help people get more comfortable and versatile in their current roles. We’re going to be testing a lot of stuff at our bootcamp so it’s going to be a bit of trial and error until we find what is best for us.
You cruised through the Minor, but the rest of the tournament was all about the Brazilian teams. Were you disappointed that Singularity and eUnited both came up short? How long do you think it will take for us to see another North American team break out and compete with the best?
It was definitely disappointing that the other North American teams didn’t come out very strong during the Minor. It kind of shows that the younger scene is lacking a lot of guidance and hopefully this is the first step for these teams to step it up a bit. As for another team being able to compete with the best, I think Riot Squad is the next up-and-coming team, I believe FNS has been doing a good job with that team and will help develop those players to be a threat in our scene.
The new Cache will be showcased at the upcoming ESL One New York event. Are you excited to see the changes to the map?
I hope the changes will allow for more strategic elements for the CTs, but otherwise they shouldn’t change too much about the map because it was an extremely good map with very few issues.
Would you say that the team’s current ranking position is an extra source of pressure leading up to the Major, especially considering how the team fared in Katowice, at a time when expectations were also high?
Our ranking won’t have any effect on pressure, we will play the same regardless of our rank. Everyone is usually pretty calm and we’ve played at this stage of the Major before. I guess we will see what happens when we move on to a new stage at the Major, but it doesn’t seem like we will crack under the pressure.
stanislaw was the team's second-best performer at the Minor with a 1.24 average rating. Was that the sort of impact that you expected from him and that you missed with daps?
I was expecting something around that level for sure, we had previously played matches against stanislaw and you could tell he had a lot of impact for his teams. He lurks and makes creative, unrehearsed plays that help us win a lot of rounds, which is something we might have lacked previously.