nitr0: "I'm not scared of the word 'Astralis,' I was scared of the players, now I'm not scared at all"
The Liquid captain spoke to HLTV.org after qualifying for the Legends Stage over their old Danish rivals.
Liquid started the Challengers Stage of PGL Major Stockholm in dismal fashion, going down 0-2 and sitting upon the brink of elimination after the end of day one. However, they managed to claim redemption by excelling in series play, eliminating 9z, fellow North Americans Complexity, and former rivals Astralis en route to securing a spot in the Legends Stage.
After completing the comeback and advancing with a 3-2 record, HLTV.org had a chat with Nick "nitr0" Cannella. The 26-year-old in-game leader spoke to some of the changes in Liquid, including playing with a proper AWPer and what Richard "shox" Papillon brings to the lineup, as well as what it means to him to beat Astralis to advance to the Legends Stage.
Congrats on qualifying by beating Astralis, just tell me how you're feeling right now with that win.
Obviously with the first day being 0-2 for us, there was a little loss of confidence, especially on Inferno because we lost it twice, and when you lose twice on a map you kinda have to see what's going on and find some solutions. Beating them was a huge step for us, I think they've been playing pretty well the last couple of months, like watching them at BLAST and stuff, they've been having some good wins.
Today was pretty good for us against Astralis because their map pool is very similar to ours, and they actually picked our best map. That was definitely a relief when they picked that, we were like 'alright, cool,' and we get CT side, we know how to play this map, we have a lot of protocols. We were definitely happy with how the veto went. Today was definitely the hardest matchup, like Liquid versus Astralis out of all the teams in my opinion, so happy to win.
On that note, Liquid versus Astralis is obviously a historic matchup, so how does it feel beating them specifically to make the Major Legends Stage? With the new lineups between you and them, how did it feel on the server?
Honestly it's a completely different vibe, a completely different team. Since there's no device, there's no huge tier one AWP — I'm not saying Farlig is bad, but I don't think he's a device right now, he needs to implement his style into the team. I feel like he's maybe a bit too passive, he's not doing the plays that he likes, maybe he's not as comfortable, I know he was the last one to join.
There's a lot of things there. In terms of old Astralis, like when I was playing versus now, they're completely different. They have only two of the same players so it's hard to even really think about it. I'm not scared of the word 'Astralis,' I was scared of the players. Right now, I'm not scared at all.
What was the team conversation like when you went down 0-2, were you saying something like 'these results can't stand?'
Well obviously we were one of the favorites to go through to the next stage so there's a lot of expectations, personal expectations, organization expectations of going to the next stage, so there's a lot of pressure. Honestly it was best-of-ones, and I don't know, I'm just not a huge fan of best-of-ones when you're the favorite. I knew when we got to the best-of-three part of the tournament we would have no problems, and that's how it turned out. Our map pool is pretty good for a best-of-three, but maybe we messed up some vetoes here and there in the best-of-one process, but honestly I'm just happy to be through.
For you personally, coming back from VALORANT to your first Major, what does to make it to the Legends Stage, obviously with some difficulty but to get through?
It means the world because... I was actually thinking about this the other night, I just came back to this game and I'm already in a Major, it's pretty impressive, for me personally, because I didn't have too many expectations,
I wasn't IGLing in VALORANT until the last two months or so, so coming back to CS I knew it was going to be pretty hard, and obviously I think the game is just harder in general, like mechanically and how the meta is. There might not be as many variables as VALORANT when you're IGLing, but there's way more mind games in my opinion. It's way harder to call in CS because the games been out for so long, it's evolved so much, like even coming back the game has evolved so much compared to 2019.
A lot of it has been just learning, I'm still getting used to things, but I'm happy to definitely be in the Major and at least make the next stage with all of the top dogs.
We were standing near you toward the end of the match, the second last round, and you wanted to call a B rush in freeze time but shox said that you shouldn't, and take it slow instead. How is it having shox's influence behind your calling for situations like that?
He's very good at picturing the macro, whereas me, I like to just call things I feel in the moment, even if it's not maybe the correct call we should be making, it's the call I feel will work the best. Obviously sometimes I call it off if he has an idea, like you saw in the second last round. It was actually a good call from him because they started three B that round, so props to Richard for that.
He definitely helps a lot, and in specific ways, he's not just a mid-round helper where he's like, 'we can do this right now,' or 'we should do this,' he's more like 'well they just failed at B, we can maybe re-hit B or maybe fake it,' he's good at moving the puzzle pieces around depending on how they're playing. He definitely helps a lot in aspects of the game where maybe I'm not as focused on them, and more focused on us and what we're doing and what we can do, micromanaging. shox is thinking big picture, and I think it helps a lot.
There's a vocal number of people in the community who think shox doesn't belong on this roster, but from what you're saying, he brings a lot to the table.
Yeah, I wouldn't say anyone should be cut right now. We're still a new team, we still need time to progress. Coming into the Major, we didn't have the best bootcamp because we had the RMR, and then we had two qualifiers in North America that we had to play online, then we had a three day bootcamp, and then we came here.
Our practice wasn't that good coming into the Major, so I think if we had a little bit more time to practice and actually have some days off where we can focus on our mental and stuff, we would be a lot better, but right now we're just trying to get the best of both worlds and focus on what's in front of us.
Part of the new Louvre Agreement says that you need to scrim a certain amount in North America, has that been a detriment to you at all in the first half of the year?
The thing with NA right now is that the practice just isn't good. There are teams that are just changing constantly, there is no consistency, so when we look for practice, we have no idea if these teams made changes, what's going on. They don't play the same as Europeans obviously because they just don't have the experience of playing across the sea, and it's just a lower quality of practice.
CS right now is just exclusively Europe if you want to be a top tier team, but at the same time, it's nice to be home and focus on your personal life and stuff. Right now we're just trying to find the correct balance.
I wanted to touch a bit on playing with oSee. When you were on the previous Liquid lineup, you were using the AWP and the team didn't really have a consistent tier one AWPer, so what is it like having that in your arsenal now?
It's actually kinda neat and cool, because now I'm calling with an actual AWPer, I've never called with an AWPer on my team. It's definitely different, like when I had the AWP I could say, 'I'm doing this, you guys can support me,' because I'm pretty vocal and I know what I want when I'm AWPing.
It's nice because oSee is really good at supporting, and it's nice to have a second dude on the team that knows how to support really well, has good comms, he knows all the nades, so it's really nice to have that in your back pocket. He's like an IGL's best friend when it comes to in-game micro stuff, he's been doing really well honestly and he steps up when he needs to for sure.
I also wanted to talk a bit about EliGE, his performance has dipped a little compared to the peaks he had last year. We were actually looking at a graph, he has really high DPR for a rifler, so we were just wondering if there was a reason for that, have there been some role changes or anything?
[Editor's note: nitr0 understood DPR as damage per round rather than deaths per round]
The thing with Jon is that he likes to have his set plays, and he's very good at identifying when he wants to use those plays, so he has a lot of impact in that department, he has a lot of freedom on the team to just figure out... if he is feeling like he can get a kill doing something, I'll be like, 'okay, let's do that, and everyone else do this.' We kind of make plans around what he wants, you know he's a star, so that's usually what happens. He's been doing great, he's an amazing fragger, but other than that there's not much else to say.
Have his roles changed at all in any way, like how you've used him before to now?
Honestly no, not really, he's switched up a couple of spots to when I was playing with him before, like last time, and me as well because I was AWPing. I'm also learning new spots now. I became an anchor in VALORANT, so when I came back to CS, I wasn't really the same player I was in CS.
I've been doing anchoring for a year and a half in VALORANT, and mentally I'm pretty good at it I feel, I know the mind game part of it like, 'I played here last time, I'm going to do this,' or 'I'm going to show this utility and next time I'll do this utility,' they're different mind games. I think it's very important to have your anchor be kind of a smart player, because if they read you, you just lose sometimes if you're alone. Coming back to your question, EliGE hasn't changed much, he just got better individually.
Heading into the Legends Stage, there are a lot of top teams coming in, FaZe, NAVI, and so on. Looking at that pool of teams, how do you feel about heading into that stage and your potential now, where are you looking to land there?
It's just a relief that we made it because we were 0-2. We're going to think about it a bit, and I think we're actually going to feel more confident versus the teams we play in practice all the time, we know how they play, we know the caller's tendencies, so I think it's going to be... definitely not easier, but we're definitely going to have a chance to make playoffs in my opinion because we just need to keep talking and fix our mistakes, just continue and we'll be good.