daps wants one more solid finish before the year is out

daps: "We over-prepared a lot [for the Minor]"

We spoke to the NRG captain about his team's performance as the year comes to a close.

Joe "tolkienfanatic" Cardali had the opportunity to catch up with NRG in-game leader Damian "daps" Steele at IEM Chicago following the team's elimination to discuss NRG's performance at the event, what playing without Chet "ImAPet" Singh did to the team's game, and their recent results and victory at cs_summit 3.

Not the outcome that you wanted here, obviously, can you walk me through what happened?

We started against North, they gambled Cache, which is their permaban, so obviously they put a lot of prep into it. Cache is one of our weaker maps that we play, we just decided to pick it for the fuck of it, and we lost on it.

Then we played MVP on Dust2, which is a map that we don't play at all, really. They beat us on it, then we won the next two maps pretty convincingly, because those are maps we actually play. But they are a pretty good team, I was impressed by the xeta guy, at least, with his skill.

The next match was MIBR, we thought that would be the hardest match we play, at least in terms of the group stage, because they beat us 4-0 online, so we thought they had our number. We lost our map pick which was Inferno, looking back at it, we probably should have picked Overpass, but Overpass has been hit or miss for us lately. We ended up winning on Cache, their map pick, and then Train, pretty convincingly.

Finally, we played LDLC, a team we definitely had no clue about at all. They definitely surprised us in some ways in terms of the skill that they had. We won their map pick on Nuke, and then lost Overpass. Looking back — I rewatched our matches already — any other day, you give us CT-side Overpass, and that doesn't happen. Lately it has been failing us, against Vega I think we got zero rounds, against LDLC we got two rounds, and both of them wound up being close. So something with it has been really bad lately.

ImAPet had to leave the tournament early, how big was the impact of that on the team?

Definitely versus LDLC, and even just our CT-sides, T-sides are controlled by me, so it is easier for me to know what is going wrong if I am calling something. CT-sides it is a lot easier for the coach to sort of have an overview of what every player is doing, little mistakes they are making. Because if I'm playing a spot across the map it is hard for me to keep track of what they are doing on radar all the time. I think if we had ImAPet against LDLC we probably would have been able to take Overpass, because he would have been able to see the adjustment to make earlier on.

You came here on the back of winning cs_summit 3, what is your take on that event, which I believe was your first summit, personally?

Summit was a cool event, casual. Just a good atmosphere. I think it is a good event to showcase what a team can be if you remove the pressure of the environment that some events have. I think Summit showcased how good we can be at times, obviously we had some weak performances there, like against Ghost, even though we beat them I'd say we played horrible. Not taking anything from them, I think they are a lot better than people know. But we played really bad versus them and that was sort of a wake-up call to us over the course of the event. It is a nice event to go to, it has a pretty big prize pool considering the type of event it is. It was nice for us to get a win.

You mention the series against Ghost, but I'm curious about the BIG match, which featured three blowouts. Was there anything in particular that caused that?

Thinking back, I thought when we played BIG they give us more of the feeling of being anti-stratted, but we didn't really have that. We lost Overpass convincingly, so that is now us losing to Vega getting zero CT rounds, we lost to BIG getting minimal CT rounds, and then we lost to LDLC here getting like no CT rounds. So that is three LANs in a row where our Overpass is starting to fail us, so I think that is probably the biggest surprise from that BIG series. I expected more from them, like BIG was definitely the team we didn't want to play, we wanted to play OpTic over the whole course of the the tournament — and we did get them in the final.

Going back to the Overpass issue, what do you attribute that to?

I think it is multiple things, versus Vega we definitely got countered. People don't give Vega enough credit for the prep they do, but Vega straight-up countered us that whole series. You could feel it. Going into it, we didn't know what to expect versus them, we didn't think they were an anti-strat type team, but they did their homework, so shout out to them.

I wouldn't say out Overpass is getting weaker, but it is definitely the map we put the least amount of time into, just letting it sit there, and rely on. Which is why some of our other maps like Train and Mirage have got a lot better. Even Inferno has been our best map over the last three months. So we've put a lot more time into other maps, and people have probably watched us a ton on it, because we were one of the best teams in the world on it. I think we'll probably have to revisit it soon and sort of reinvent it.

LAN performance aside, you've been doing great, qualifying for ECS Finals and are right on the brink for EPL. What sort of prep is going into these events to close out the year?

Yeah, I don't think we've made EPL yet, I think we need one more win. We definitely want one more good result, either at ECS or EPL, I think if we do bad at both that will be a pretty disappointing way to end the year. That Malta event, we're sort of just treating it as practice, I don't think we are going to do any preparation for it. We are just going to treat it as scrims, which is sort of what we did for cs_summit 3 as well. That could help us, maybe, who knows. But the goal is top four at either ECS or EPL.

Can you speak on the upcoming Americas Minor, in the context of what happened to you guys last time around?

We definitely don't want to put the Major on a pedestal, I think that was a huge problem we had last time, in terms of preparation. We over-prepared a lot, teams we should be able to beat without looking into them at all, we were watching like every map they had every played. I think that is a negative, because then you start relying on that information too much. We're going to treat the Minor sort of just like any other. Even though it already happened once, our team is really young, and I think just the fact they haven't made a Major and that we'll be favorites again — we have to try to find ways to remove that pressure. I think that is our main focus, trying not to build it up as much this time.

eUnited were the team that knocked you out of that last Minor, what can you say about them and their rise? Holding their own in both major leagues, etc.

I guess it is hard to judge them because they just changed their roster. They had a decent showing here with Relyks, which begs the question of if they will even keep Cooper. I don't know what is happening with that whole thing. I feel like they did pretty well this event, and they did have prep for it, I think the reason they played with Relyks was because they practiced with him. They have an IGL in FNS who has experience, he has always been able to get teams to a decent level. You have a bunch of players who could be really good.

In terms of the scope of the Minor, I think it is definitely us, Rogue, and eUnited, because compLexity won't be there — thank God. Ghost has JamezIRL playing so I don't expect — I mean, steel is a pretty big person to lose from your team. That should be the top three, but who knows, maybe Swole Patrol without swag will be able to surprise, or... I can't even think of what another team there would be.

It is interesting you mention Rogue, because they have had a rough go of it since the Major. You think MSL is going to right that ship?

I think I just can't think of who else I would put above them. I would put Ghost above them if steel was playing, I'd put Ghost above eUnited too. But steel isn't playing, so I can't put Ghost above either, in my opinion. I think Rogue could be good, I've always thought Rickeh was a good player, very versatile. SicK used to be one of the hot up-and-coming prospects here along with Twistzz, and then Twistzz just took off over him by a longshot. Hiko has been playing well too, he's hitting his shots and looking more like his own self, so I think MSL has good pieces to work with. My only concern with a team like Rogue is that I havne't seen any great progression from anyone individually, really. Rickeh sort of has always been good, SicK has sort of just stayed the same, vice is pretty good as well, but I think all of them have plateaued. Hiko is the only one who has had a noticeable improvement in the past three months. I think MSL may have come to North America underestimating the competition as well, because watching some of their games, they are not having an easy time against teams even they should be beating. So he has his work cut out for him, I'd say.

NRG are still fighting for one of the final qualification spots for ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals, currently sitting in fifth place for the online season. Their remaining matches will see them take on Renegades and Cloud9 as they look to claim a spot in Odense, with the team already having secured a slot at ECS Season 6 Finals in Arlington.

Also read

#1(With 0 replies)
November 12, 2018 03:02PM
Dust2 Birthday cake!
Steel :(
#2(With 0 replies)
November 13, 2018 02:11PM
i saw 2 typos get ur shit together joe
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