zonic: "We have to forget about how we played [NRG] in the group stage"
Astralis became the last semi-finalists of the StarLadder Major after taking down the No. 1 side, Liquid, in a much-anticipated series, which saw the Danes pick Vertigo and win it convincingly before closing out the encounter in a close Overpass affair.
After the match, zonic told us about the team's thinking behind the surprising pick, walked us through some details of the match such as their CT flanks on Vertigo and a heavy focus towards B on the T side of Overpass, and previewed the upcoming rematch against NRG.
The Vertigo pick came as a bit of a surprise, was it difficult to find a map to pick considering one of your biggest strengths, Inferno, is also one of Liquid's?
I kind of knew how every other team felt when they were going up against us back in 2018 because when I was looking at Liquid's win streak on different maps, it was kind of like 'what to pick?' We had some really good practice both on Inferno and on Nuke, but after the stomp versus NRG, which I think also related to the long Train game, we kind of wanted to catch them off-guard. We've been really good in practice on Vertigo, extremely good playing against all different teams, so it was also a case of not falling into old habits of "if we get Nuke and Inferno, it's going to be all good," that hasn't really shown in the past couple of months. It was about going a different route this time and then winning the mind game, I actually looked at them when we picked Vertigo and it took them some time to decide whether to pick CT or T.
You were getting a few flanks off on the CT side, was that something you spotted as a weakness?
I think we did it a couple of times, it was working quite well in the beginning, I think we spotted it in the antistratting that whenever they were smoking off what we call GeT_RiGhT, the hole in the wall on B, it was from T spawn, it was the guy covering middle, which meant that we could go quickly through middle and what we call pop dog [ladder] and go from behind. I think the second time we did it, he called out that he was going to stay, he wasn't going to push that quickly, he was waiting until Liquid started attacking, but I think EliGE was covering it from behind after the first time they got destroyed by us. It didn't work after I think Magisk who came from the back.
I've been getting teams' thoughts on Vertigo after the changes came in, what do you make of how the dynamic changed since the previous version?
I think it's getting better and better, it was very T sided before they changed the B lobby and A lobby. I kind of feel it's okay, still a bit slow and you have to walk around the map, and I think for the spectator's point of view it could still be boring. But overall we feel quite confident on the map, I think it's definitely getting better, more balanced.
Touching on Overpass, towards the end of the first half Liquid took over, what happened in those last rounds that you couldn't keep up the pressure?
I think we were playing a bit too defensively. I hate when we're defensive on B and A at the same time, we somehow need to push, but it's also difficult because when you're losing a couple of rounds and they're getting momentum it's difficult to force you into a push. I think they also played really well and they had some good mid-round calls, it was not our best CT side showing.
In the second half, at the start you lost an antieco on A, how did you manage to recover from that? From there, you started to favor B a lot, why was that?
I always hate when, I think it was Xyp9x who accidentally bought an SG which resulted in him only having a kevlar, but yeah they shouldn't be getting first kills without us punishing them and I think it was one of our guys who died in toilets and we weren't able to punish them. And the whole thing about planting on A, we need to stay there and defend the bomb planter after he has planted as well so that we can go defensively afterward, and then they started pushing the smokes, which we knew that they always do.
The B bombsite, it was just different ways of going B and it was working out in our favor. I think what we did well was that we were patient even though they were blocking us off, we knew Twistzz loves the barrel position on B. Even though we were smoked off, we had patience and didn't rush into the B bombsite. We also had some perfect flashes when we had to take water as well, so it was a really good performance and great calls by gla1ve on that T side.
Tell me about the NRG matchup. You lost to them once already, you mentioned it at the start of the interview, how are you going to approach that matchup the second time around?
I think we have to forget a little bit about how we played in the group stage. We have analyzed that match already. I think we played very differently today, I think we played more like ourselves and with more confidence and people were hitting their shots individually. I think it's going to be a tough game, I'm not quite sure what their approach will be in the map veto, so we have to go back and just focus on that game. I think what I'm going to say to the guys when we come back because this reminds me a lot about PGL Krakow Major when we put all our energy and effort into beating SK, and the same with Liquid now. I wouldn't say that we thought that it was ours, but this time we will respect NRG because they are still, in my opinion, the best playing team at this Major.
Well, you are the last "big name" left in the bracket with all the upsets in the quarter-finals and before, do you feel like that is adding pressure on you given that a lot of people expect whoever comes out of this bottom part to win the whole thing?
Yeah, but we have the experience, we have tried it so many times before and the whole 2018, what kind of pressure did we have then? My boys are hopefully experienced enough that we will go into this match playing our own game and not underestimate NRG in any way. I'm pretty sure that we have enough experience and have tried all possible scenarios during this Major already so that we're ready to go.