Sonic: "Going into the tournament we felt very strong, we didn't feel like underdogs"
After ATK eliminated North from the EPL Season 10 Finals we spoke with Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek to discuss the young team's progress, their approach to the tournament and the matches against mousesports and North.
ATK ensured the second elimination of a Danish team in Odense as they sent North packing after stunning the Danes 2-0 with victories on Overpass and Vertigo. The squad will now face either Astralis or G2, dependent on who falls short in the group B upper bracket semi-final matchup.
After the team bested North, Sonic, who ended the series with a 1.47 rating, took the time to give us insight into the young squad's development over the past three months, the team's mindset going into their largest event yet, the aggressive approach and how they ended up incorporating it into their playstyle.
Before we discuss the performances here, let's talk about the squad. The effective team came together in September with the addition of oSee and floppy. How did you land on this specific five and, in terms of progression, how far do you feel you have come?
We built the team with the idea that we could have five really strong individual players, all with sufficient enough firepower to perform on the international stage. A bonus is that we are all very young players who have a lot more space to improve and grow. We knew this would be a timely project, and with the experience from our coach T.c, myself and JT, we could mold the team a lot faster than we had our teams in the past.
We saw progression a lot faster than we expected, I think we hit our goals a lot faster than we thought we would, which is great. Everyone is really hungry on the team, everyone is motivated to achieve something for themselves and as a collective.
You mentioned the individual aspect of the squad and how the goal was to bring together five heavy hitters. Talk about the tactical component of the team in JT, T.c and your analyst.
T.c is phenomenal as a coach, he is very tactical, as well as JT. I think JT has a very good understanding of tactics, I think he is a phenomenal in-game leader. He's got an insane read on the game against any team we play. He has no fear, he will call anything against any team; he's really confident. m1cks helps a lot with the demo reviews, he's a very tactical analyst and he and T.c are a good combo when it comes to preparing for teams and preparing our game plans.
The Pro League Finals are the largest event the current team has attended, and on paper the squad was considered an underdog coming into the tournament here in Odense. What was your mindset and approach going into it?
We were putting up really good results in NA, even against teams like Liquid, so we felt pretty confident coming to Europe. We also had a week-long bootcamp as we arrived here in Denmark, and we were seeing some good matchups and good numbers being put up against some top teams in Europe.
Going into the tournament we felt very strong, we didn't feel like underdogs, but we were labeled as underdogs, which is a very different thing for us. We felt like we could compete, we felt we were a strong team to be reckoned with. Our advantage was that teams may not have expected that, especially the teams we were matched up against, because those were the teams we didn't scrim against, so they had nothing to expect from us. I'm glad we could show what we're actually made of and I hope teams will actually respect us now.
Before we get into the series, did the team have a moment to analyse what went south in your Nuke match against mousesports?
We definitely debriefed our game against mouz. We also kind of let that veto slip, Nuke is one of their better maps. We actually got quite close, I think we let the game go ourselves a bit and we started beating ourselves in the end, rather than mouz performing a great comeback.
In the series against North you caught them off guard with your aggressive playstyle, which was consistent throughout both maps. Could you give some insight into your approach going into that series?
I like to think we're a very aggressive but also very tactical team. We're very well-placed in our aggression and timings. Actually, we get that playstle a lot from playing the Brazilians in America, something the Europeans don't have. Brazilians are crazy, man, and we kind of learned that playstyle from them and implemented it into our playstyle. The one thing you can't do in Counter-Strike is play scared. We always try to keep up that aggressive playstyle, I think it suits us best as young aimers and fast individuals. That's our style.
Specifically regarding Vertigo - were you surprised how the veto panned out, considering North's result on the map last night against Liquid? Did you expect them to leave it in as an option for you to pick?
I think they felt like they had some good preparation on Vertigo, but when we watched it we felt ours was much better. I didn't think they had a very broad understanding of the map, they had some gaps here and there, and their defaults especially - some gives, some takes. We did sort of expect them to leave it in, but obviously it was very nice that they left it in, we felt very confident going into the map, and the results show.
The next match-up for the team will be the loser of Astralis vs. G2. What are your thoughts on facing either of these opponents?
Well, if it happens to be Astralis, shit man, best of luck to us (laughs). If we end up facing G2, I've beaten them in the past, they beat me recently in different circumstances, but I feel confident going into that game. I think G2 are looking pretty strong, they've done a lot of work over the past couple of months. They are a good team and I'm kind of friends with their coach, so I kind of know how they're doing. It'll definitely be a good matchup, I think they should respect us, and we will respect them, but when it's game time, only one team walks off that stage.