With our Counter-Strike squad due to play at EPICENTER: Moscow in a bit, we sat down with the team’s manager, Jérôme “NiaK” Sudries, and discussed the preparation for the Russian event, where $500,000 are up for grabs.
We also picked his brain on the recent run at ESL One New York and how the team has been working since returning from that event to regain the level of form they were at before the Summer break, when they won the ECS Season 1 Finals and rose to the top places of HLTV.org’s world ranking.
How did the team practice for the tournament? What kind of aspects did the players focus on?
The return from New York was not easy, the disappointment was big, and even though we identified what we had to work on, the players lost some confidence there. Confidence is pretty important in Counter-Strike, and we have recovered it gradually over the last two weeks. The last week, in particular, was really productive, and I saw again a team that is able to win a tournament… We are back on the right track.
What are your expectations heading into the event? Do you think this will be a good tournament to see where you stand right now, or do you approach it with the intent of winning?
As I said, we are again in good shape because we have recovered a play style that really fits the DNA of the lineup. Freedom, initiative, aggressiveness… that is how we reached the top before the Summer break. So I am confident about our chances of a great run in this tournament, but, above all, we are here to gain confidence by playing properly without making too many mistakes.
We seem to be in the same situation as before the ESL One New York event, where the team was still trying to overcome consistency issues. What has been done to solve that problem?
The period before New York was special because we had come to a point where we started to reconsider the way we played. This made sense at the time because when teams get used to the way you play, you become more predictable. We have worked hard to play to our strengths again, just like we had done in the past, so you should see a more consistent G2 in the coming weeks.
Did you learn much from the NY event? What do you think that were the causes for those results?
Most of it was answered before, but, to be more precise, I would say it went down to several factors: disappointing individual performances, some divergences in terms of how to approach the game and preparation that was too much focused on the strategic aspect. We lost the spontaneity factor, which allowed our players to really play at their best. This had been one of our key strengths before.
Do you think you were maybe a bit too confident after the second place at Starseries. Did that run in Kiev give the team the false impression that you were at your best?
No. In fact, the opposite occurred. We felt that in Kiev we were not at the best level, and shox pointed that out to the other players. Preparation between Kiev and New York was intense, but there was not enough time to implement new strategies and to focus on the basics. This last aspect is the main thing we worked on before this tournament.
You will face NiP, dignitas and Na`Vi in the group stage. What are your thoughts about these opponents?
All these teams are in shape and full of confidence. NiP has performed well since bringing Maikelele back, winning StarSeries over us. Na’Vi played really well in New York, and dignitas just won the WESG EU Qualifier… This is definitely a strong group, but we are afraid of no one. Let’s do it!