nak: "Our matches in Dallas made us more confident"
Prior to Renato "nak" Nakano and Sharks departing Europe, HLTV's Luis "MIRAA" Mira sat down with the Sharks captain at the team's house in Portugal ahead of their trip to the United States for the ZOTAC Cup Masters.
This will be your second international event in the space of just a few months. How is your preparation going?
We are very confident for this tournament. At the ESL Pro League Finals we were also confident, of course, but the level there was completely different, it was a tier 1 event and he got a tough draw. We had to face mouz and then Cloud9, we were obviously not happy with how things went down because we lost, but we were satisfied with what we showed there. We did well, against mouz we were up 6-0 and then we lost a 1v3 to chrisJ, it was silly. We analysed the match afterwards and we realised that we had not really made a mistake, the guy just killed a player \[the bomb planter] through a smoke. We know that the level of this event is a bit lower, but we know that things will be just as hard, because all these teams, except FURIA, are much more used to playing this kind of tournaments than us. But I think our matches in Dallas made us more confident. We practiced a lot in Brazil and we came to Portugal to practice for ten more days before ZOTAC.
What exactly did you practice in Brazil and what have you been focusing on since you got here?
In Brazil we were more focused on coming up with new strats. After Dallas we knew that there were some things in our game that other teams could study, especially after our map win against Cloud9, because other North American teams will watch that match and study our game. We cannot go into this event with the same game plan, so we focused on the things that we had to change and on this new approach. We developed new strats and executed them in our practice games, but when you’re playing in Brazil your strats normally work because the level there is lower than the one here. We came to Europe to play against other teams and see which things were working and which things were not, and fix them. We are practicing every day, we decided not to have any days off until we leave for California. We wake up, we do some tactical and individual training, we take a break and then we practice against other teams. We play three maps, take a two-hour break then play three more maps.
What are your goals for this event?
We want to secure the spot in Hong Kong. We know the teams we will meet there are on our level, but we still want to win this event.
You did not compete in the second edition of the Superliga because you were in Brazil. Does it still make sense to stay in Portugal?
Yes, we had to skip that league, but we stayed in Brazil not because we wanted to, but because we were waiting for our visas, which took some time. We ended up staying there longer than we wanted, but we got lucky because there were several good tournaments and we secured spots at two international events. We want to stay here because there are many more tournaments in Europe and we can improve a lot more here as practice is so much better than in Brazil. We need to improve, so, even though the scene in Brazil is growing, things here are much better. Our goal is to go to California for ZOTAC and then get back here.
Which teams do you think that will pose the biggest threat?
I think all the teams are on the same level, everyone is good and there is not a single weak team. We are wary of everyone, we studied all five teams and we do not see anyone as favourites. They are all good teams, not just FURIA, who we know that are strong, but also the North Americans, who also have the advantage of being used to events like this.
You qualified for the EPL Finals and for ZOTAC, but you could not earn a spot at the Americas Minor, losing to YeaH! In the qualifier. Was it a disappointment? What went wrong?
Yes, we were disappointed. We were really confident before the match and we really well prepared for the qualifier. We had a very easy first map against them, I think we beat them 16-2 after being up 14-1. We relaxed a bit after that, and YeaH are not a bad team, they are quite good actually. We were really well prepared and we executed everything well, so we went into the second map, Inferno, which is normally a very strong map for us. We had some problems on that map, RCF timed out on four occasions in the middle of rounds, and there was no admin to pause the game. They were up 7-1 or 8-1 with RCF getting disconnected, we could not pause… We practically played with four players, and we lost the game. In the end, it was pretty close, 19-17, but I think that our mental game took a hit, we were annoyed that RCF kept timing out and we got nervous. We went into Train and we started out on the worse side, and nothing was working out. YeaH! grew into the game and won all 15 rounds as CT. They played a perfect game and we just could not rediscover ourselves. We ended up losing the spot like this.
Do you still think about it? Does it still bug you?
We were very pissed about it at the time, but this qualifier was very strange for us… I think we were a bit over the moon because we had just played in Dallas… We did not practice like we usually do, we were not really committed, then we won the first map against YeaH in that manner, and the atmosphere was a bit strange. After we lost, we realised that we had to keep our feet on the ground. Yes, we played in Dallas, but that does not mean anything, we had to rediscover our hunger. Losing that match was a lesson for us, but we have moved on.
During the event in Dallas, many people, including Immortals CEO Noah Whinston, praised RCF and exit. As the most experienced player in the team, do you think these two players have the potential to become stars?
Yes, absolutely, not just those two but all four of my teammates. They are all very young, they do not have that much experience at international events, but they have proved that they have a lot of potential. People praised them in Dallas, and I think Brazil’s next big star can come out of this team.
Has it been hard to fend off interest from other teams in your players?
It is always hard, and this has been the norm in Brazil. Whenever a big team stops doing well, they start looking at the team that is second or third best. They have the best conditions, the biggest salaries, so it is hard, especially nowadays. I am glad we have Sharks behind us, they are a very good organisation and their support is great. Everything we have here is very good, the gaming house, the structure… If it were not for Sharks, maybe we would have already lost some players, but with Sharks behind us… I think our players can only leave if MIBR comes knocking [laughs]. It will be hard for any other team to com and take one of our players.
nak and Sharks' first match in California will be against Ryan "freakazoid" Abadir and Swole Patrol.