For most fans and analysts, this match-up between you guys and Astralis seems to be the pinnacle sort-of match-up everyone is excited about. Do you feel that this match-up with Astralis brings out the best in your team?
I think our team might not be showing the best results against other teams outside of Astralis. But we are definitely one of the few teams that can actually challenge Astralis in Bo3's. We can really make games where - even if we don't win - you can clearly see we had a chance to win those games. That's why I think most fans are excited for this match-up and it's the same for the players.
We know we've been very close to beating them and of course, they're such a great team. And in my opinion I think CS is very open, and I can see us destroying them and them destroying us, depending on the day. It's such a close match-up. There's so much talent in the match-up that's it's very hard to see, it's very hard to predict. That's why it's such a cool match-up right now.
What are the changes you're looking to make to your own game given how close the ECS Finals were this time around against Astralis, if you face them?
I don't think there's any specific change we're making for the match-up. It's really about trying to keep the same approach as we have been when facing them. You don't need to complicate things than what we have been doing. I mean, it's worked so far, we've been so close to winning. Maybe we could be a little bit more clinical in rounds where we have the man advantage or rounds where we should be able to win more than lose and making sure we get those points. Because you can't waste easy rounds against Astralis.
Individually you looked quite good at the ECS Finals, at least, more-so than what we've seen at various points throughout this year. What's motivated this resurgence in form from you individually?
It's hard to say a specific reason for the improvement on my performance lately. I think it's when I start getting confidence and the team starts rolling by itself without needing to much guidance. When we start speaking the same language in-game it's easier for me to focus on my own game and take the best from it while sharing the responsibility of taking care of the team with my leadership.
I think I have just been putting a lot of focus on trying to get back on track. It's not that I haven't been putting this focus on for the entire year, it's just that it's working now. I feel that I've been getting the important kills and being the AWPer the team needs me to be while also leading. It feels great. There isn't specific changes I've made, it's more-so the pay-off from hard work throughout the year.
It feels as though rounds don't end by running out of time or you guys being too structured anymore. In your leadership have you made changes to the structure of the team and your style?
There is definitely a lot of structure into our game. It's just that sometimes this structure can be loose and sometimes it isn't. It just depends on what our approach is for the round, or the map, or the series itself. There is definitely a lot of difference between the way us Brazilians think about the game and the way the North Americans play it. For along time we've been trying to mix these together and get on the same page.
I think now it's paying off towards the end of the year. We are speaking the same language in most rounds: what rotations we expect to happen, which decisions we want to take and what gaps we're exploring. This way is more natural for everyone. That's the only thing I can say about what's getting better in the team.
Do you have any specific examples of this difference between the way North Americans and Brazilians play the game?
Basically, I can say that the way we play Counter-Strike - the Brazilian school of Counter-Strike - we don't try to explore every single gap we can in a round. Even if we see many different potential advantages, we don't take unnecessary risks. Sometimes this can be harmful as well, because we don't take those gaps, we don't take those opportunities. Our game becomes a little bit too slow, a bit to methodical, a little bit too predictable.
The current meta we are playing in Counter-Strike, a lot of good players are playing for information too much, they're always risking something, always trying to be one step ahead of you. From that fact itself, two things can happen. If you try to take those gaps and be smart, you can be caught and then you lose your advantage and the round is even again. But at the same time, if you don't go for those things fast , they are going to get information somewhere else and start reading you because you're too slow. So there's downsides and upsides for both things in-game. I can say that our way of playing CS was a little bit hurt during this year because CS is playing a little bit faster nowadays. People are challenging you more.
So we had to change the way we think is the correct things for some plays, and what isn't, but overall we don't like taking that much risks as most teams take. And that's why I think we've been so consistent throughout the year. We know what we are going to fight, how we are going to play and we are happy with it.
To lift the trophy here in Odense you'll have to beat Liquid/Na`Vi and then probably Astralis in the final. Na`Vi and Liquid both have different styles and approaches. One is quite loose while the other is quite structured. What style would you prefer to play against?
Well when you play against Na`Vi you never know how the game is going to be, but you always know they can turn any round at any point because of their raw skill and the way they play. They are very good at the fundamentals at the game. Their strategy doesn't look so strong, they don't look robotic, it doesn't look like the have the sickest strategies in the world, but they are so good at the fundamentals it doesn't matter. They have such good aim they can overcome any round.
It's a very a different game to play between Na`Vi and Liquid, like you said. I guess, Liquid we know them very well, we've been playing them for a long time, we know their players, how they play. It's kind-of a chess match because we know a lot about each other. Both challenges are going to be interesting in the semi finals.
The level I know we can play Counter-Strike is a level that is sufficent to beat any team in the world if we get to this point. So the challenge for me is not beating this or that team, it's about reaching the level where no matter who we play we can beat anyone. It's kind-of a challenge for ourselves to get to that level. I'm not really concerned who we play, if we want to get to this point where we're the best team in the world, it's about our own level.