JR at the FACEIT Major: "Psychologically, it's a lot easier for us. We have nothing to lose."
Photo by: FACEIT | Joe Stephens

JR at the FACEIT Major: "Psychologically, it's a lot easier for us. We have nothing to lose."

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Cybersport.com sat down with Vega Squadron's in-game leader, Dmitriy "jR" Chervak after the Sharks' victory against North in the New Challengers, where we discussed the bo3 series, tournament formats and why their style is so frustrating to play against for even the top contenders.

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Dima, congratulations on making it through to the New Legends. Prior to the commencement of the New Challengers did you count on making it through to the Legends or was it more of a off-chance that it would happen?
Thank you for the congratulations. Prior to our arrival to the tournament we hadn't really played anywhere — this is our roster's first LAN showing. I'll say that, personally, I didn't count on any results; whatever happens, happens. Had we lost 0:3, 2:3, I would have accepted any result. We didn't come into the tournament with any expectations. Our aim was to arrive and play to our maximum, to show a respectable performance, or, at the very least, not be ashamed of ourselves. Essentially we didn't want to have regrets along the lines of, "Oh we didn't do this or that; we were too scared to this etc., etc". As such, we played for our own pleasure.

Our aim was to arrive and play to our maximum, to show a respectable performance, or, at the very least, not be ashamed of ourselves.

We practiced against various teams, and results were mixed. There were some days where we had decent showings, and then on some occasions we were unable to even pose a threat to some of the weaker teams. Personally, I didn't have a clue what sort of form we'd arrive in for the Major, because during scrims you're playing against people and you simply can't comprehend what's going on. You're playing against tier 1 teams and you're beating them, then during the next practice match versus a tier 3 team, they beat you without a chance — you have no idea what's going on. 

Then you arrive to this LAN, where everything is held on equal conditions, and everything is mental. Seeing as we're arriving as underdogs, psychologically it's a lot easier for us. We have nothing to lose, so to speak.

Let's take a look at your series against North. How did you approach Inferno and Mirage against the Danes?
To be honest, we had a trick up our sleeve. In my opinion, they lost during the map veto process, because we, roughly speaking, have six maps that we play. We don't play Nuke whatsoever. All the other maps we do play, some a little bit more, some a little less. In the first stage of picks/bans we vetoed Overpass, which is a decent map for them. I don't know why they didn't pick Nuke, we expected them to pick it. From our perspective it was a bit of sneaky move, because after we banned Overpass they didn't pick or ban for a while, perhaps they were thinking things over. Prior to our match, they lost Nuke to Team Spirit.

The idea was given to us by Amiran [HellRaisers' analyst — Ed.] last night. The guys visited my hotel room and said, "Ok, you should try this out, they might take the bait". From our perspective, we had little to lose, because we didn't stack up against them. We were facing a team that just came out of a victory at DreamHack and who were in great individual form, and our team hasn't really had a showing at LAN tournaments. It was a sneaky move, because they may have started thinking that we could've really worked on Nuke over the past three months, meanwhile there wasn't a single demo over an entire year. Maybe they were unsure because they thought we had Nuke figured, in addition to losing the map to Spirit.

North's success at DHMS 2018 - Photo by: DreamHack | Jennika Ojala Flickr.com

I think at the stage when they picked Inferno they had already lost. They picked their stronger map, but it also happens to be our strong map as well. I am of the opinion that they lost in this respect. The first map was Inferno, but I'm unsure of how they could surprise us on it. Sure, they're good on Inferno, but again, if you're a Championship-winning team playing on Inferno against an underdog and you get aggressively pushed, you start playing a lot more conservatively, you're afraid of making mistakes. Meanwhile we have nothing to lose, we're the dark horses — if we lose, we lose, it's not the end of the world. We would've lost to a team that just came out of a victory in a very prestigious tournament. Even if we look at raw stats: they're a top 5-10 team, and we're top 200. We had to make risks and push the envelope. They were very afraid to make mistakes, they were very conservative in their play style — the price of a mistake was a loss for them and this led to them making even more mistakes. As for us, even if we made a mistake, [it was] whatever, no worries, next time we can make another mistake — we have nothing to lose. Someone goes for a risky play, makes a successful move - it can translate into a string of won rounds.

I think at the stage when they [North] picked Inferno they had already lost. They picked their stronger map, but it also happens to be our strong map as well.

North played just like we did against compLexity Gaming. We were very scared of making mistakes against coL. Because of this, we gave away something along the lines of 11 consecutive rounds on the T side. In my opinion, we were the favourites in the match-up against coL. I guess it's the psychological aspect of LANs — favourites are afraid of making mistakes. It particularly really has an impact on best-of-1 series, however we were playing a best-of-3. I don't comprehend why, perhaps it would be different if it was a best-of-3 in the initial round or in a stage that didn't decide the outcome of your tournament run. Maybe that affected them, because they knew it would determine whether they'd make it to the next stage.

A recurring topic of discussion among teams, particularly those are the top tier is that they would like to see a consistent best-of-3 format, where not only the final round of Swiss would feature the format, but also the prior four rounds.
From one perspective, the format of The International is an ideal tournament format, because there are best-of-3s, double elimination. The format of The International is optimal, and implementing this format at the Major is the best we can get, however until they implement it we have the Swiss format. So far there hasn't been an alternative format. We have the GSL format as well, but with the best-of-3 round at a 2:2 record, we already see great improvement to it. They don't want to make it a best-of-3 because in Dota, for example, you have 2-3 matches running simultaneously, whereas we have match after match. This is why they run tournaments over the course of 4-5 days, and they don't run as long as the Major, for example. It also revolves around money, and in order to run a tournament you need to sustain 40 players for a whole month, not a week. 

Also, people don't want to watch two matches at the same time, they want to pool as many viewers in a single one. For players, The International format would, of course, be the most ideal format possible.

Photo by: FACEIT
Photo by: FACEIT Twitter.com

Essentially all players I've interviewed at the event have expressed that they really don't want to face Vega Squadron, due to your specific playstyle, described as hyper-aggressive and, at times, puggy. This was a sentiment expressed by both dupreeh and stanislawduring our interviews with them. How have you guys managed to produce such a unique style of play?
Many teams don't like this approach, but in reality, in order to be able to make an aggression of any sort, people usually look at it like, "Oh, they pushed here, there, they're pushing from all angles". If you dig a little deeper, however, we have a system, where for example, in the game against North, we had a prior agreement along the lines of, "Guys, feel absolutely free to go for aggression, there will be no repercussions to your actions. You can go ahead and take risk in 5v4 situations, 4v5 situations". We used this approach against North because we weren't the favourites and we had to surprise our opponent in some way. Some sort of a non-standard move, even in certain moments inadequate moves. If you're a favourite playing against an underdog pulling inadequate decisions that is still winning, you start to make more mistakes, because you don't understand how this is going on. How can they be pulling this stuff, and making it work.

At the same time, we have more coordinated pushes, where two push up, the third goes for a re-frag, the fourth throws a flashbang. There are pushes we need to discuss either before the match or during the round in a timeout.

Let's take Inferno for example, we had a round against compLexity, where two people pushed mid, the third was watching the drop to pit, the fourth went apartments and our fifth was using utility on banana. If you look a little deeper, you can immediately recognise that they're deploying utility on banana, but aren't taking map control, instead holding in front of pit. As a reaction, we push mid in order to be able to back stab them. To accommodate this, one person throws grenades to ensure he doesn't get rushed; then again, one person goes apartments, because when people get info on a mid rush, they start rushing apartments. A flurry in the next 2-3 seconds kicks off, where they're communicating: "Mid got pushed, mid got pushed". A player rushes apartments, he dies, we exchange frags mid, as such a situation can convert to a 5v2 or a 4v1, plus we've basically got the entire map under control.

When people perform on LAN the pressure kicks in, it's like it's a totally different game. They're uncomfortable, like a fish out of water, with pressure both in-game and outside of it, and as a results demonstrate a weaker performance.

A lot of similar tricks can be used, and if you know that people anticipate this, opponents will spend a lot more time in securing other spots. They'll be waiting for you to push up, they'll await your aggressive play, but you simply throw a grenade, and at that point he has already wasted 30 seconds, a third of the round is already wasted. The next round you once more chuck a grenade, wait a little and nothing happens, they waste another 30 seconds. The round after you chuck grenade, and at this point he's thinking: "Ah, he's not going to push again", at which point you push in and catch him off-guard. There are a lot of nuances that you can catch players off-guard on, and convert rounds as a result. 

In order to be able to control such a style, you need for all five players to maintain maximum focus. They have to be extremely focused, which is a difficult thing to ensure in itself: to have all five players focused not only on their own aim, but to anticipate essentially anything: getting rushed with a flash, without one, a double-peek, go for a contact play, a run boost. There are a lot of nuances, and every single player in their respective spot has to be ready for it. He has to be ready for a certain spot to be executed on, but anticipate that it might be a fake, or not. You need to be prepared for absolutely everything. Players that are able to do this are currently in the top 5 of the world. If you are prepared for absolutely anything, it's very difficult to be surprised; if you're not prepared for these sorts of micro-aggressions, so to speak, or just simple tricks, you're going to lose out. It happens very frequently, even more so on LAN.

Online, you can do whatever, because people are quite relaxed and there's no pressure whatsoever. They're comfortable and as a result barely make any mistakes. When people perform on LAN, the pressure kicks in. It's like it's a totally different game. They're uncomfortable, like a fish out of water, with pressure both in-game and outside of it, and as a results demonstrate a weaker performance. If this leads to a lack of focus on their aim, this can prove to be a much more fruitful style than online, where you pull something like that and people just frag you out, because at home everyone is more chilled out, relaxed, focused etc. I don't know what the root cause of it all is, I'd just say it's the nature of CS. There are a lot of pros and cons, and it even so happens sometimes that the weaker team wins thanks to surprising, inadequate moves. If the stronger team isn't prepared for it, it's their own issue. 

More FACEIT Major coverage

New Challengers interviews

—  snatchie: "We were the least prepared team of all."
—  stanislaw: "The T side really just confused the hell out of me, honestly."
—  AdreN: "We recognise that it is absolutely crucial for us to be a more structured team."
—  dupreeh: "We maybe prepared a little bit too much [vs. Rogue]."
—  Bondik: "The main goal is to proceed into the next stage, the rest is irrelevant."
—  NEO: "I've been nothing but happy and surprised how good snatchie is."
—  Dosia: "B1ad3 is rearranging our in-game approach entirely, on all maps."
—  Lekr0: "We can't underestimate VP even though they had a bad streak."
—  Magisk: "I don't think that any team should be guaranteed a spot at the Major for being top 8."

 Features

New Legends Stage: Pick'ems predictions
How can FaZe avoid another Boston?
Three lessons we learned from DH Stockholm 
Why FACEIT Major's system is so damn good
— Which CS:GO players could repeat a Major title — and what are their chances?
— The top 10 players for MVP contention at the FACEIT Major
— The five CS:GO Major series you should watch before the FACEIT Major

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