Post-win interview with s1mple: "We were nervous, everyone was shouting. Sometimes you couldn't even hear the communication on TeamSpeak."
Photo by: Cybersport.com

Post-win interview with s1mple: "We were nervous, everyone was shouting. Sometimes you couldn't even hear the communication on TeamSpeak."

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Cybersport.com caught up with MVP of ESL One Cologne 2018, Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostylev, who analysed Natus Vincere's best-of-5 grand final versus BIG, the team's emotions following their victory against Astralis, and their reaction to a group stage loss against G2 Esports.
 
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Sasha, congratulations on the grand final victory against BIG. How does it feel to be crowned champion?

We're very happy with the result because we trained very hard before all of our tournaments. I think we fully deserve our first notable victory at a tournament where all of the best teams in the world were present. The victory over FaZe Clan was a lot more emotional, I think, as they have only one tournament left to win the Intel Grand Slam, and had they won they'd have reinforced their position.

As for BIG, they are a very strong opponent and it was difficult playing against them. However, when we won against them, I didn't experience the same emotions as I did, for example, at StarLadder after the final against NRG Esports, back in my hometown of Kiev. I don't know why, but for some reason it was different. Everyone is very happy with the result, and so am I, really.

The victory over FaZe Clan was a lot more emotional, I think, as they have only one tournament left to win the Intel Grand Slam.

Yesterday, you faced Astralis before BIG's match versus FaZe. Did you guys watch them play? Did the team pick up on anything you used against them today?
We watched the second and third map, when BIG won on Inferno and when they played Train. We saw their executes — the most dangerous thing on Train was their execute involving smoking off Ivy and old plant. Then there was the execute on B, which was more difficult to counter as we had weaker equipment, but later on, we got a feeling for their timings and made it work. They very rarely went through Ivy, which was a massive plus for us on the map as well.

Misha [Kane] and Danya [Zeus] had a look and analysed everything. Every day we got together in the practice room and discussed the game for two hours, focused, warmed up and went into the matches fully prepared.

In terms of the series against BIG, you guys won in convincing fashion with a 3-1 score. Could you give us a quick overview of the grand final?
On the first map [Overpass], we had some difficulties after switching over to CT. I hadn't woken up yet at that point, I didn't really feel the rhythm of it. I wasn't satisfied as we made some silly mistakes. We lost force buy rounds on two occasions with the CZs. We understood that we weren't really playing our game. We were nervous, everyone was shouting, the crowd was shouting. Sometimes you couldn't even hear the communication on TeamSpeak, which caused some frustration. On a few occasions, we would ask, "Why didn't you relay the info?" and the person would answer, "I did, you didn't hear me", so this was one of the adversities we came across.

The second map we lost, Dust 2, was because we were lacking cohesion and communication. It's like we were floating somewhere in the clouds; meanwhile, they started mounting a comeback.

The third map [Train], after we got to around a 1-5 or a 1-6 deficit, we all focused and started playing our game. We came back on the T side and subsequently transferred to the CT side, winning the map in dominant fashion on the defence. Then on Inferno, we made a little comeback on the CT side and transferred to the offence, where we had a more comprehensive idea of what we wanted to do. We anticipated the map veto process to go in the order that it did, deciding not to pick Nuke second, and leaving it for the very end instead.

We lost force buy rounds on two occasions with the CZs. We understood that we weren't really playing our game.

Did your loss against G2 in groups affect the team at all mentally?
The loss against G2 didn't affect us in any way, as we knew for ourselves that it was somewhat of a freebie. For us it is always the first best-of-1 in the tournament [that we lose], judging by our performance at StarLadder, where we subsequently won, despite losing to TyLoo. In Shanghai, we had a bad start against EnVyUs with scores that were too close for comfort, as well as the matches against NiP, where we lost a map, yet subsequently topped our group. 

I don't think G2 really surprised us as such, we just conceded rounds we should've won. I was quite angry after being blamed for the 3v2 clutch that we lost. There were two players on low HP, and one of the players that was super low ended up fragging me in the end. I was walking out with a coordinated flash, but there was a slight miscommunication between electronic and I. He threw a bit of a different flash than what I had anticipated, meaning they were flashed for only something like 0.5 seconds, which lead to a pointless death.

You mentioned that the semifinal victory against Astralis was a lot more emotional for you. What did it mean to you guys when the score on Inferno ticked over to 16 victorious rounds and you finally bested the Danes?
When we kicked off the series against Astralis, we were aware that in the past we always experienced difficulties against them. We prepared against them the most, we knew all of their strong maps: Dust 2, where they have a win rate of 6-0 or something like that, and Nuke, that they basically never lose.

We knew the maps we needed to work on, the only thing we needed to land on was the maps we wanted to pick. There were essentially three possibilities: Mirage, Overpass, or Train. We agreed on picking Overpass, as they had removed Train, but again, the start of the map was difficult. There were endless refrags and force buy victories for them, not to mention two lost pistols for us. It was a very difficult map for us.

Against [Astralis], we should have played a lot looser, more boldly securing territory across the map, baiting out their utility faster.

On Nuke, things just didn't go our way. Our economy was absolutely terrible on the defence. We tried to force an attempt to break their economy, but they ended up simply taking their rounds on both sides, leading to a loss for us.

As for the third map, we knew exactly how they would play it out. The difficulty about playing against them is that they are able to gather information on various parts of the map while saving their utility for an execute. This produces a situation where you have 30 seconds left in the round, but half your team is low on HP, and they're deploying molotovs and smokes in your face. You just enter the smoke and die.

Against them, we should have played a lot looser, more boldly securing territory across the map, baiting out their utility faster and, as such, allowing us to enter sites for exchanges in a lot more of an unsuspecting manner. I think this is the key to defeating them because after this happened, they lost their footing and we returned to playing our default game.

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This is now the third title in a row for S1mple and co., following gold-medal runs at StarSeries Season 5 and CS:GO Asia Championships. It all points towards good days for the NaVi team, who earlier this year were struggling in the face of poor results and roster uncertainty. Having beaten both Astralis and FaZe in major LAN tournaments, the black-and-yellow jerseys have emerged as strong favourites for the Major trophy in September.

More ESL One Cologne interviews


—  dennis: "We can't get worse. So it's only gonna be better."
—  SmithZz: "We should have won Cache [vs. BIG]"
—  Thorin: "The Zeus structure looked like a joke earlier this year [...]"

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