Moments after the Team Liquid/Astralis upper bracket Final at the Season 10 ESL Pro League Finals, DBLTAP’s Jarek “DeKay” Lewis spoke with Team Liquid in-game leader Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella. Topics ranged from their performance at the Season 8 ECS Finals, missing luggage, to the impact of Jake "Stewie2K" Yip.
Jarek “DeKay” Lewis: Let's go back to the beginning of the matches here at the Pro League Finals. I heard Twistzz mention in his post game interview after beating North that you guys arrived after matches had started and didn’t even have your luggage. How difficult was it to deal with all those issues and how much more difficult did it make those first matches?
Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella: "We didn’t really talk about it too much. You’re either going to put in 100% effort or you’re going to use it as an excuse. I think we put in 100% of the effort we had left."
"I would say though that the worst part of the trip from ECS to here was losing our bags. We didn’t have things like our toothbrushes or our clothes. Elige and I had our keyboards in our luggage, so we had to use random keyboards. That was the hardest part, in my opinion. Dealing with jetlag is just another beast too when you have the later matches because of the psychological effect of the time zone difference."
"I think my team just decided that we had to win those matches. We know how good we have been and how good we can be. We knew that if we put 100% of our effort in, we could do it."
JL: Speaking of ECS, that event felt like a bit of a resurgence for you guys. Did you do anything different leading up to the event preparation wise or did you guys just have more time off to work with?
NC: "Not necessarily. We just had more time to practice, that’s really what it came down to. During our practice we felt more confident and discussed with each other how we felt like we were "back." We had a good team vibe heading into that tournament and coming off of a hot bootcamp is what you want when you’re going to play three tournaments in a row. We could just tell we were playing better."
JL: How pleased were you with the second place result there? Were there plenty of positives you were able to take away from it?
NC: "Yeah for sure. Every time we play Astralis we learn so much and we try to adapt every time we play them. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that well, but it’s still a work in progress. Coming into ECS our expectations were actually pretty low because of how our prior results had been, so making the Final was a huge boost in moral for us."
"Astralis is the best team in the world right now, so losing to them isn’t really an upset for us. We obviously always try our hardest, but you can’t be too dissatisfied. I will say the way we lost in the Final wasn’t very good in my opinion, especially the last map. You could tell our Dust2 is a little better here at this event, but we aren’t 100% yet. We are just going to keep learning throughout the tournament."
JL: I want to focus on one of your teammates in particular in Stewie2k. I notice he gets a ton of flak for his stats, especially considering the type of player he was in some of his previous teams. Can you tell me about his contribution to this team and how he helps you as an in-game leader?
NC: Stewie mostly helps with the mid-game, he helps me out a lot actually. He is like my secondary caller. He calls a lot of the mid-game, while I call a lot of the early and late game stuff. He has a very unique play style so whenever he wants something done, he micromanages how he wants it done. That’s very important because it helps the team understand the whole plan for a specific round, if that makes sense."
"When you have five super skilled players, you aren’t going to have five players that all have super good stats unless you win every match of every tournament. It’s just not how the game is. At least two players are going to take a hit and have to take up a supportive role that involves flashing, buying nades on pistol, and entrying. There are little things they have to do so the star players can excel. Stewie and I take the hit in most of those cases, but that’s how the team was created. That’s how we found most of our success and probably how it will always be."
JL: Evil Geniuses surpassed you in many rankings recently, did you spend any time watching them or analyzing their play? You handled them pretty well in your one recent match-up.
NC: "We knew they had been playing really well in practice and from watching their matches. They have good protocols, teamwork, flashes, and smokes. We started studying them and I’m pretty sure many other teams started studying them more when they climbed the rankings. Eventually, I think they traveled so much that it just got to them."
"They traveled to China, went back home and then went back to China again right away. Then they come to Europe and then will go to Russia at the end of the year. It’s just so much travel and that’s going to get to them. We know first hand how that can affect your gameplay. It’s just an unfortunate reality of the circuit right now that if you want to stay on top of the rankings, you have to go to a lot of these tournaments."
JL: How will your team approach the schedule next year when it comes to traveling and attending events? Will you do anything different compared to this year?
NC: "This year our experience as professional players helped us in the open circuit. Although, next year we are definitely going to have to have more talks about what events we want to attend and if it makes sense practically. No matter where an event is, we need to discuss if we are able to prepare properly or not so we can go into them at 100%. That way our expectations will always be to actually win the event."
"You don’t want to go into a tournament not at 100% and be OK with losing. I don’t think that’s okay as a professional, you always want to feel like you’re fully prepared. Unfortunately, it’s not always like that. It’s not okay, in my opinion. We are going to step back next year and take a look at the big picture."
JL: As someone who is doing a ton of decision making for your team, how do you feel about the game right now from an economic stand-point? Do we need another adjustment to balance it better?
NC: "The most common suggestion I’ve seen lately is to change the money bonuses on T-side back to being $1400 instead of $1900. I don’t think you should have a worse buy than the opposition after winning the pistol round. That doesn’t make sense at all. I even abused it today in the Astralis match after we lost the pistol on T side Dust2 and got the bomb down. You can buy a galil, head-armour, smoke and a flash. You can buy two kriegs, a deagle and a scout maybe. That’s three or four rifles against probably three SMGs, a famas, and maybe one M4."
"The economy right now is really bad and is even worse with how overpowered the krieg is. I don’t think Valve nerfed it enough with what they did. They either need to nerf the gun itself or make it way more expensive. It should be a luxury buy, if that makes sense. Something you buy with extra money or full money bonus."