Slingshot’s Blake Bottrill and Vince Nairn caught up with Team Liquid’s Nick “nitr0” Cannella after at ESL One New York to talk about life after s1mple, the tournament format and choosing the right events to attend.
Blake Bottrill: You guys are coming off a pair of huge wins against Fnatic back-to-back. You seemed like you were riding the crowd almost the whole game. How does the crowd here compare to the Major in Columbus?
Nick “nitr0” Cannella: I would say it’s a little less than Columbus because the stadium is way smaller but it’s still really insane and feels so good to have the crowd behind you. It’s such a good feeling, especially when you do something good it just gives you a personal bump to your game and it helps a lot.
BB: After Friday I talked to a couple people who sounded like they thought you would go down with a whimper. A lot of people talk about “haters make you famous,” but how good does it make you feel to keep winning with the Liquid lineup even after you lost s1mple and a lot of people thought you couldn’t maintain the results?
NC: I wasn’t expecting to lose the online matches that we were losing because I think our whole team is at least top 10 in North America individually. Pimp is really good and he could be top 10 in NA if he was from NA but he’s from Denmark, obviously. I think we are still adapting to a new play style because s1mple, we would cater to him a lot. With Pimp we are trying to be more tactical and develop more strategic point of views so it is still a work in progress in my opinion. I think we will eventually be on the same level.
BB: How many rounds in a game would s1mple just go off and do his own thing?
NC: Like I said, even our practice regiment we would cater to him. We knew if it did happen in a match we would be prepared for it. It has happened a couple of times at LAN but for the most part we were prepared for anything that he was going to do, shut down, not talk, do whatever he wants. We gave him a lot of positions on maps where he could do whatever he wants, we gave him that freedom. I guess you could say we were prepared, but he is still pretty nuts.
BB: Were you surprised that Fnatic gave you the salty runback and gave you Dust 2 for a second time in a row?
NC: I don’t know why they would pick Dust 2 again. We fixed our mistakes big time on our T side. We adjusted to what they were doing when they started winning, the eight rounds in a row or whatever it was. We actually prepared for their Train and Mirage, Dust 2 was on the fly. We weren’t comfortable doing anything on Mirage so we said “OK let’s play Dust 2” because we had practiced Dust 2 a lot. I wouldn’t say it was a gamble but we were playing to our strengths. I think we would have beat them on Train, too, because that’s one of our best maps and especially at this event. I think they should have chosen Train.
BB: I’ve heard mixed reviews about the tournament format. What is your take on it? Better or worse than the standard format?
NC: In my opinion I think it is one of the dumbest formats I’ve ever played in as a player. It just doesn’t make any sense. I realize with eight teams it is kind of almost impossible. I think with Swiss format you are supposed to play each team once or something like that, three wins and threes losses or something? We wound up playing Fnatic twice on the same map, how is that a thing? Plus, in my opinion it is kind of over-saturation. For example, you want to wait for two teams that you like watching play right? You want to see that in a BO3. You don’t want to see that in a BO1 and then later in the tournament they play a BO3. It kinda ruins it for you. And then I think it’s not that exciting for spectators. I guess with lots of BO1s.
Vince Nairn: Was it difficult at all to get over the mental block when Fnatic started coming back? Did you have flashbacks to Columbus, and if so was it difficult to get past those?
NC: On T side? We were up like 7-1. From my point of view, all the rounds that we lost were so close, I think it was six defuses in a row. It wasn’t like we were getting destroyed like in Columbus. In Columbus we were making so many mistakes but our post plants were really screwing us over in the comeback. I knew it wasn’t over because I knew our CT side was gonna be decent but there was a little PTSD.
VN: You guys have had a lot of people shuffle in throughout the year roster wise. Do you feel like this group now is finally starting to get comfortable together?
NC: I would say that with our results online, not at all yet. There is a lot of mini arguments between people. Some people don’t respect each other, which is fine. We are just going to have to keep working on our mistakes and fixing them for the next match and then hopefully we can grow our map pool as a team and just be good.
VN: One thing that a lot of people are talking about nowadays is: are there too many tournaments? Sometimes teams weigh in, a lot of times it’s just media and other personalities. As a player, how do you feel about the number of tournaments there are? Whether it’s tournaments like this or ELEAGUE or online leagues like ESL Pro League. How do you feel about how many tournaments there are?
NC: I would say there is actually a lot of tournaments but that players have a choice to go or not, obviously. It’s on the players to pick which tournaments they want to attend because there is such a thing as over-saturation. People get burnt out. I know my whole team was burnt out after Cologne because we played like 10 hours a day for the bootcamp and we were there for a whole month. We’re away from America for a whole month just constantly playing Counter-Strike. I think there is a little over-saturation, but then again players get to choose which tournaments they go to so I think that is a good factor. They are not being required or signing contracts for leagues, so I think that helps. There is a lot of online matches, I think that’s where it really hurts people because there is just no time to practice and people just see what you do, you have to change stuff accordingly to your opponents when you go to LAN because they know what you do online.
VN: Is it a bit of a weird dilemma though because you said the players have the choice to go, but on one hand it’s we could and should go because, prize money; but on the other hand it’s risking burnout and being tired. Is that kind of a delicate balance to walk?
NC: I would say for my team, we make our choices based on prize pool. I think the number one factor is the teams going (to the events). If there is no competition going, I don’t see a point in really going. Why are we going? We aren’t going to learn anything, we could be practicing at home fixing our mistakes.
Photos: Helena Kristiansson/ESL, eslgaming.com