Stewie2K: "We had so much pressure on us during the Grand Slam that nowadays the pressure doesn't really exist"
Liquid have moved on to the 1-0 pool after an opening match against CR4ZY saw the North American favorites start slow as they were down 5-8 at one point against the Serbian side, but ultimately got the better of their opponents with a dominant finish to the Mirage affair.
After the match, we asked Stewie2K about the early struggles and went back to their week of preparation in Malta to find out what kind of form Liquid are in and whether they're feeling the pressure under the status of tournament favorites.
First of all, break talk. There's always the question about the Legends coming in late and what kind of form they're going to be in, a lot of questions about rustiness considering the break just happened, how are you feeling with your form after your preparation?
I think all of us took a good break for the player break. I was grinding pretty hard, I was still streaming, but for our bootcamp last week in Malta we were focusing on getting back on track where we left off, making sure our fundamentals were strong, and our teamwork because when you're on a break you create a lot of bad habits, you have to fix them and get back onto that LAN vibe, LAN environment.
There was a little worry about rustiness, the first few days of our bootcamp were not that sharp, it wasn't that good, it didn't look like we were at the same spot where we left off. It was a little rusty, but we all understood that not every day was going to the best day of practice. Towards the end we were all just waiting to play on LAN and we got that excitement to play like we did back during the good run we had on the road. There was a little rustiness, but I think we're still on the same page that we were at where we left off.
With how confident you were looking ahead of the break, was it easy to figure out what to focus on when you came back?
It was pretty obvious what we needed to get back on track with. The one thing that really stood out for me was just not making individual mistakes, not overpeeking, not overextending, and making sure your play was best for the team. Don't let your urge take over and make that mistake that can cost us the round.
Does that come down to what you were saying before, playing a lot of FPL beforehand?
Yeah, I think during the break I was playing a lot of pugs with mOE, with all those guys, you make a lot of stupid, silly mistakes. Everyone is overpeeking, making mistakes, sometimes that falls back on not being confident enough in your team, and you just want to be confident in your aim and you want to take that duel. But sometimes it's just better to sit back and contain them. I think those little fundamentals that we need to keep working on, those little things really do change the round.
Back at IEM Katowice you were considered among the teams to have a chance to win the title, this time you are undisputed favorites, does that put any extra pressure on you?
I think it's been so long now that we've been on the road and we've had so much pressure during the Grand Slam that nowadays the pressure doesn't really exist. But we know it's there, it's more about not feeling it. I think we're pretty used to that. We know we're the favorites, but coming in, even before the bootcamp ended, we said 'we know we can lose and even if we do, it's probably no surprise.' For us, the main thing that stood out in that conversation was that to be the No. 1 team it's about how we bounce back, it's not winning every single tournament and really putting that priority as if we had to win.
Coming into this, playing against CR4ZY, it was an interesting decision for you to play Mirage, where they had quite a streak going, can you talk me through the thought process behind that?
It's still a funny thing with us, with our map pool on LAN, it's a lot different than it is online when we play. Mirage was actually the map that we always struggled on online, in scrims, in practice, and it's no secret, everyone plays us and they know it. On LAN I think we enjoy playing it more and we feel like the fights favor the LAN aspect of it instead of the online aspect. We just watched their demos and we just thought we were stronger on Mirage, they couldn't really surprise us, we know all the strats, we know how Mirage is played, how the style is, it's a pretty stale map, like another Cache, you know what's going to come when they execute on you, and we're all comfortable on the map individually.
It still seemed like the first half was a little shaky before you took over on the CT side, what did you struggle with there?
I think it's getting the LAN jitters out of the way, it's our first LAN match in a while after the break and we're still trying to get back on track a little bit and get back into that LAN environment. Just getting the jitters out of the way, I think that's probably one of the main things for me, I know NAF said it too, that's probably the main thing we had to get out of the way. Other than that, we still have to stay 100% focused, we had too long of a break sometimes and some things we forget about, sometimes we get caught off-guard and we get punished. They punished us a lot on their CT side and I think that's one thing we need to focus on.
I've been asking team about potential surprises. We haven't seen a lot of these teams for a month, some even more than that, is there someone who sticks out to you, positively or negatively?
No one is really standing out right now, but in the past, teams like forZe, CR4ZY. We know they're hard teams, they might be a little underrated and their names aren't really out there, but we always knew they were a strong team. They are really coordinated on their CT sides and they have good plans on the T sides, it's just more about being adaptive, how to play situational CS, and I think that's one thing they should improve on.