iM: "All of us are more comfortable with our goals, positions, and strats"
Natus Vincere made waves with their international move in the off-season, and their new roster split community expectations from the get-go. They got off to a steady start and qualified for the BLAST Fall Final in their first event before narrowly missing out on the IEM Cologne playoffs and suffering early elimination at Gamers8 at the hands of Vitality.
Something clicked for the Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen-led squad when they came to Malta, however, as they qualified for the ESL Pro League S18 grand final without dropping a single map in the tournament.
This is your first grand final with NAVI. How are you feeling right now?
It feels amazing because it's our first final as a team. It's probably my second final ever on LAN, the first one was in the Paris Major, it feels amazing. We prepared a lot for this tournament. I'm happy that it showed. We still haven't dropped a map, and we are very confident for the final.
Talk me through this series. You were amazing in clutch situations, especially on Mirage. Do you think this is down to the mood in the team?
100%. I even said to Andrey [B1ad3], our coach, that we are losing stupid situations, bad situations, on T side, but the mood was very good. It was, for me, surprising. And then as you can see, we didn't play our best because Mirage was our pick. We were confident that we were gonna win on it, of course, but we struggled a bit because on the T side they took nine rounds. And then on the CT side, it was amazing, because we started with a good mood. I'm not sure if we won the pistol round?
On the CT side, you did.
Yeah, and then we ran with it. Also, I was trying to do some plays, I was dying first and then watching some insane retakes from my teammates. There was one dying, one more dying. And then an HE flying in there, killing the last guy, we had two scenarios like this. Then b1t clutched 1vs3, it was amazing. It was very nice teamplay by us, if we can play like this all the time, it's wonderful.
I know Aleksib said that jL is the only loud guy on the team, but this time around, I think there were a few more cheers from you guys.
The whole tournament we tried to put up our mood and hype each other up even more, not just Justi [jL]. But for me personally, it's a bit hard because I never do this. Like I can scream, 'Let's go, nice!' But like I said, I cannot be like 'Justi, you play so good, let's go, keep it up!' So I cannot do that, it is not natural for me. I can fake it, but it's not gonna look good, you know? But everyone else did a good job. Every time, whenever we were losing, we were saying, 'nice try, nice try, let's keep it up.' Whenever we won, we were full screaming, and then it was very nice.
You've been in NAVI for three months now. How has this time been for you in general?
A lot happened. We practiced a lot, especially in our first bootcamp. Official practice was basically eight hours, but still, we stayed over some days, 14 hours or something like that. We stayed for 14 hours, slept, then 14 hours, it was so stressful. We were preparing for our first tournament, and it was a one-week boot camp. It was very rough, we needed to prepare a lot of maps.
But now with the second bootcamp, it gave us more confidence, and all of us are more comfortable with our goals, our positions, and our strats. We fixed a lot of mistakes, there are still a lot of mistakes, but there are less of them. At least we can play with something on new maps that we are not comfortable on, for example. It feels nice now.
I also wanted to ask about b1t, because he was the biggest question mark when it comes to English communication. How do you think he's doing in this new NAVI lineup?
Honestly, I got super surprised by b1t on the first day I arrived. I was the second guy at the boot camp, and he was the first guy. We went to eat, and he was speaking English. It was not that good, but I could understand everything that he said. And then I was like, 'What? So you can speak English, why are people saying that you cannot speak English?'
And if you can speak English outside of the game, in-game is gonna be way easier. Sometimes you see he struggles in some parts whenever it's more stressful, but he's doing a very good job with his English. He's also taking lessons, so he's gonna improve even more.
Counter-Strike 2 just came out. Did you have a chance to play it, and what do you feel about the new game?
I didn't play a lot of Premier, I played FACEIT a bit. It feels okay-ish, I will say, like the movement and stuff like this, but Premier was hard. It was fun for me, not gonna lie, but it was hard. I was behind the wall, I was killing people, I was shooting guys here and then I hit a headshot for some reason.
It was fun, but whenever you're gonna play officially, it's not gonna be fun anymore because things will happen, and maybe it's not gonna work for you. But still, I'm pretty sure they're gonna update stuff in the future. They also need to add cl_bob, because I cannot play without it.