Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to talk to Natus Vincere manager Evgeniy “Ugin” Erofeev at IEM Oakland about roster changes, recent struggles and playing too much Counter-Strike.
Vince Nairn: What’s been the biggest thing you’ve seen from your team’s form in the last few months?
Evgeniy “Ugin” Erofeev: I think that we did our best (this week), but as you can see, I think we failed the last two tournaments. But we won ESL One in New York. When we started to play with s1mple, it’s always hard to make a change with even one player. This is an absolutely new team. New style. Even if starix was still coaching the team (in game), it’s still hard to build communication and cooperation. Cooperation should be on a necessary level for us to achieve our goals, but for now it seems that it’s not enough. We need to keep practicing and work hard to achieve our goals and make the top.
VN: What’s been the most challenging thing about adding s1mple? And how have you guys tried to get him to buy into the Na’Vi way?
EE: The hardest thing was to say, “Zeus, goodbye.” I think that’s the most hardest thing. Then, you never know if this is a mistake or not. We need time to understand what we did, what we should do in the future. So the hardest thing is just to keep believing and keep working. That’s it.
VN: Has the coaching rule change added another layer to that? Because now you’re not only adding another player now, but everybody else kind of has to change their role?
EE: We have to just accept it, I think. This is the rule. What can we do (about) this? Nothing. So we have to keep moving, keep working. We are a team that kind of “abused” the coach because we built our game on starix’s tactics before, and he was the in-game leader during the game. For us, it’s really complicated to change this. We need to change everything, I think. And also, we changed Zeus, so we lost twice in this case. That is why we have some difficulties. It’s OK.
VN: What are the things you need to continue to do to improve to get to where you want to be for the Major in January?
EE: I think we need to keep working. That’s it. I think we’re doing a good job. We’re still doing good even if we failed the last two tournaments. It’s OK. It happens. But we have some new ideas how to improve our skills, how to find new tactics and strategies. We know how to work on them. That’s it. We just need some time.
VN: As a manager, I’m interested in your perspective on this. There’s been a lot of talk about the number of tournaments and if there are too many. Where do you see yourself in that debate?
EE: I think I have to be focused on this team. Obviously I’m not thinking about the future. I’m just trying to do my best. I’m just trying to build a real champion team. That’s what I’m doing. What we’re gonna be in the future? Who knows. We’ll see.
VN: Do you find the players noticeably getting tired at the end of stretches like this?
EE: This thing needs to be fixed. But it’s more about organizers. They need to cooperate. We come into this event to the next event in one week and then another in one week again. It’s hard, but like I said, what can we do? We are visiting a lot of tournaments, and we’ll keep visiting. But we’re also skipping a lot of tournaments.
VN: And for you guys, ECS was the one to get rid of…
EE: Yes. It was absolutely unreachable for us. It’s really hard. Maybe our team just playing, playing, playing, traveling, playing, playing — maybe this could be one of the reasons why we played so badly the last two tournaments. It’s one of the reasons.
Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack