nexa: "Coming here, we no longer doubted whether we were going to be good or not, we knew we were"
The French-Serbian side have looked insurmountable so far in Poland, running over the competition as they have defeated 100 Thieves, mousesports, and Liquid, losing just one map in the process against the European squad.
In an interview conducted before the news of the playoffs being played behind closed doors came out, we asked nexa about the team's impressive form as they are heading into the bracket stage, their incredible success in 4v5 scenarios, and discussed their confidence going forward.
This has been a fantastic event from you overall, what is behind the form you've showcased so far?
Just hard work. There is really no other way or no other reason for this, it's been hard work we put in. After summit and Malta, we finally had time to sit down, practice, and prepare our map pool, and do everything by the book, properly. Once we did it, this was the result of it. We were doing it, we felt really good in practice, we were showing good results in practice, but we didn't know how we were going to perform on LAN.
But coming into BLAST, it felt like everything gelled together, we were playing smoothly, everything I was calling people were understanding, reacting. Even now, here, we're playing and everything just feels so smooth, there is no panic and we're not screaming, yelling, the game somehow feels smooth. At every moment, we know what we need to do, how to adjust and how to react to our opponents.
But you've looked even better than at BLAST, outside of the one poor half on Dust2 against mousesports, how did you reach this kind of level?
Yeah, after BLAST, we finally were like "the process is working," and then it gave us additional confidence. Now, coming into this, we no longer have this doubt whether we're going to be good or not, we know we are good and that's why we're playing well.
This last series against Liquid was apparently not as clean as the rest of the tournament, or at least not by what I heard the team say immediately after the match, how so?
I think we had this issue where people feel tired. With long tournaments like this, you have to play every day, and one of those days you're not going to be at 100%, it's just statistically impossible. We had this problem before in at the CS:GO Asia Champions and, there, we had the same problem with exhaustion, but what we didn't know then is how to deal with it. The reason we won today was the lesson we learned in China after we lost to TYLOO and EG there. We learned a lesson there and even when we're tired we know what the bare minimum requirement you need to bring to the team is in order to win and everyone knows this.
Even though we feel tired, we're not performing well individually, we know what this minimum is that has to be met. If you're not shooting well, then you need to contribute somehow else to the team, you give better comms, you give good death cam, or whatever it is, other aspects of the game. That is something that we learned and it's helped us stay cool-headed and actually close out and win games, even though we're not at 100%.
You've been doing well from pretty much every angle, individually and as a team, but one way you perhaps stand out the most is in 4v5 situations, of which you've been winning a ridiculous amount - close to half. How do you manage that?
We have this rule - it's not really a rule, it's just something that works very well for us because we have strong fraggers. If we're in a 4v5, we don't split, we just group four people and we trade, and then we play the clutch, and it's been going great for us. We just have strong individuals, JaCkz, huNter-, AmaNEk, and I would even say myself, I think I was pretty good as a trade-fragger or even entrying the bombsite. And having Kenny, 4v5 I just tell him "let's go contact on your AWP," he gets the first guy 90% of the time and when he does the rifles just know how to follow up.
Do you feel like you can keep this up even without players performing this well individually, or do you think that level is more a result of the team chemistry?
I think we have good protocols, a good system, I have a really good stratbook, we always do good antistrat before every opponent ready, we have a proper game plan. It's not so much about killing people - killing people, of course, always helps, but even without that we'll still be able to win games.
With this kind of dominance you've shown, how far do you think you can go? Is this tournament-winning form?
It definitely is a tournament-winning form right now what we showed at this backstage area where we played, but when we go to the arena, it's the first time for me and huNter- playing in front of a crowd, so I don't know, maybe I'll have some jitters. I don't know what to expect, but I'm super excited about it. [Editor's Note: the interview was conducted before ESL announced that the playoff matches would be played behind closed doors]
This sort of run lends itself to overconfidence, how do you make sure that doesn't get into your head and you don't get ahead of yourself?
Because we know we're just human. Every time we play against someone, they are just another team, it doesn't matter what their name is. The same goes for us, we're just another bunch of players, five of us playing the game. Anyone can beat anyone, it doesn't matter that we beat 100 Thieves 16-2, 16-3. If we play them again in a best-of-three, it's not going to be like this. It's the same as what happened at BLAST against OG, we smashed them once and played them next time again and it was a super-tough, close game. In this game, right now as it is, anyone can beat anyone.