nitr0 echoed his teammates' encouraging words about oSee

nitr0: "Tomorrow, it's a Major, it's the biggest tournament, the better team's gonna win"

Liquid's win over 9z sees the squad set to battle it out versus Complexity in a North American elimination matchup.

While reporting from the PGL Major in Antwerp, Dust2.us' Ryan Friend managed to sit down with Nick "nitr0" Cannella. The two spoke about Liquid's preparation for their game versus 9z, the additions of both Richard "shox" Papillion and Josh "oSee" Ohm, and the transition back to CS following the IGL's stint in VALORANT.

We're here right after the 0-2 elimination matchup versus 9z, what were you thinking heading into that match, did you figure that Overpass might come through and what were you trying to prepare for that?

Yeah, I mean, they could have picked from a bunch of different maps. We were thinking anything besides Inferno because statistically Inferno isn't their best map, so we prepared for most of the maps and they chose Overpass today, and we had a good game plan. Actually, yesterday's BO1, we were considering playing Overpass versus Imperial but we ultimately went with Inferno because our Overpass in practice has been decent, but not a map that we're as focused on compared to other maps. But, at the end of the day, we still feel like we have a pretty good Overpass, maybe we still need to touch up some things on CT-side I think. You can see that at the beginning of the half, they had a pretty good game plan but I think ours was perfect to counter them, we just messed it up.

In what ways?

Just in timings, micro-decisions and stuff, we just made a couple of mistakes.

Do you think that boils down to communication or individual decisions?

It could be a little bit of anything really. It could be stress, it could be misinformation. I don't really know. I'd have to watch it round-by-round and figure out what happened because I was just trying to think big-picture what was going on and solutions for that.

We just spoke about the pressure of being 0-2, this do-or-die situation, going through your mind and being in that position, how were you trying to prepare yourself and the team for a game like this?

I think, obviously, being 0-2 is going to be a huge wake-up call for us, and the ways we lost yesterday was pretty bad, like it didn't feel like we had a chance against ourselves. But today, it felt we weren't as stressed today and we felt like we were playing more as a team and ultimately, whenever we're like that, we're actually a really good team, really solid. You can see it when we play Heroic, we're in the zone, but yesterday was not the case. Today, we had a really good game plan, we had a good mentality going in, we had a good start to our day, and ultimately we know we're the better team and we're taught to play with confidence and play our own game, and that's it.

So do you think that was the difference today, being more confident in yourself and kind of reinforcing that?

Yeah I would say so.

So tomorrow's matchup had already been decided, you're 100% going to play Complexity. Knowing that, what is your game plan, and how are you looking to prepare?

I think it's going to come down to a lot of decisions that we have to make. We play Complexity a lot in scrims in North America, we play them in matches all the time, we talk to them a lot, so there are a lot of things going on in the brain...

...Especially against Grim

Yeah, Grim, he's a good guy. So, I think we're gonna have to get together tonight, talk about it, and then just like we did today - create a game plan, make sure we're confident with it, make sure there's no complaints with any maps that one player wants to play and one player doesn't want to play, so we can just agree on everything. That way there's no external factors that will affect us while we're playing. We just beat them in the Dallas qualifier pretty easily, so, I don't know. I think we have the upper hand over them.

So you wouldn't say it's 50/50?

No (laughs) 51/49.

Is there any kind of pressure or any added factors to this being another NA team or are you treating this like any other match?

Honestly, I stopped caring about these kinds of things multiple years ago, especially in VALORANT, I was like "Do you guys really care if you're the best NA team? You can just go to a tournament and get destroyed and nobody really cares about you anymore". So, in my eyes, you gotta prove yourself, beat the teams in front of you, prove that you're better and then people can justifiably say that you're the better team instead of being "We beat this team, you beat that team, we're better". Tomorrow, it's a Major, it's the biggest tournament, the better team's gonna win - straight up.

I think a lot of interesting things have been said about this team, one of the biggest criticisms has been shox. Obviously, he's under-performing, how are you guys trying to work around that? Even if this is a rut in form, you've got to account for it, right?

I'm not sure the details in what's going on in his head, but I feel like he might be a little burnt out because we had the RMR in Romania where we bootcamped for all of that just to make the Major, and then he went home for a day in France, and then he had to fly to the US to play the Dallas qualifier and a BLAST Spring Showdown so he was not home during that time. Then we had a four-day bootcamp where we just let him go home to hang out with his family and kid, and I just feel like it's pretty bad for him mentally to be gone for that long and not have that balance. So that's something we've been trying to focus on - having that balance - because if you're not fresh mentally, you're going to be worse. You gotta have a good mindset and mentality is so crucial in video games in general. I think maybe some external factors, but he's great, he was great today, helping out with a lot of situations and giving crucial information and making his plays. I think he needs to do whatever he needs to do, whatever it takes to get in the right mindset, and we had a discussion about that last night with all of us where we were just like: "Do whatever it takes, you're the only one who knows how to get in the best mindset possible. No-one else knows, it's only you, so do what you have to do and whatever it is, just do it" and it looked like it worked today.

On the other side, you have someone like oSee who jumped into this team and is flawless. I was talking to adreN yesterday about Josh's comms, being able to be that receptive, and being able to contribute as much as he does, how much has that helped as a team with meshing together?

I think Josh has impressed all of us because he decided to stay in CS in hopes of eventually being able to join a Tier-1 team and be doing what he's doing now - his dream. And he finally achieved it, and honestly, it feels like he's been here for a long time already because he has a great mentality, great work-ethic and it seems like he's been around a while. The second he joined the team, we instantly meshed - personality wise. He's super chill, he's super receptive, he likes to have conversations about the game so he's been great honestly. His biggest enemy is himself, honestly. He knows how good he can be, he might be getting in his head a little bit because he's a new player, he's maybe stressed about some things and missing some shots here or there, typical AWPer stuff. So being on a Tier-1 team as an AWPer, the number one thing you have to do is hit your shots and be consistent, which is the hardest part at the same time, right? And I think he's been studying the game a lot, studying different AWPers and seeing what approach he wants to take to the game, what kind of style he wants, what kind of style we want for him, and I think recently, the most impressive thing is he's been stepping up, saying what plays he wants to do which helps me a lot because I can fit in the missing puzzle pieces around it and he can say what he wants as well. And I think it's really nice to have that extra layer of that commanding voice and he's been doing great.

It's also interesting that you've transitioned back into CS after a year in VALORANT, how has that been for you? Has it felt that seamless or have there been a few bumps in the road?

I'm not going to lie, I don't even remember 2020. That one year just went by so weird, I barely remember that year. 2019 was obviously a great year for us in CS, and then in 2020 COVID-19 happened, everything was weird and different. So it's weird to even remember the good moments during that year, it was a pretty rough year for me, so, it's been a lot of learning. And obviously to keep trying to figure out what the meta is and what works/doesn't work, that was a huge step for me. Nobody can be gone and come back and be insane, it's not possible. And there's a lot of new players, new teams that are just better and back when I was playing, maybe some of them weren't even playing the game at a high level. So it's a lot of learning. In 2019, I knew how every team played, and I knew how we played, but coming back you don't know how this team plays, the only thing you can really do is study a demo and create your game plan. The hardest part is actually implementing your game plan while in the moment. Because you can be study a game for 20 hours and be like "This is gonna work 100%, this looks like it'll work because they do this" but when they don't do it, it's like "Well, what do you do next?" It's been a lot of protocols, and figuring out how you want to play, and it's a new team, people wanna figure out how I call. I was a bit rusty when I came back because I wasn't IGLing in VALORANT, until the post-steel lineup. So I was rusty, and I'm calling a different game. VALORANT and CS calling are nothing alike at all, nothing alike. All the CS fundamentals are out of the window when you play VALORANT. So, a lot of it was re-learning and stuff so, it's been a lot of fun honestly.

So personally, since there's more travelling with CS and you're now married with a kid, how have you been handling that transition?

Well it's super-hard to be away from my wife and kid. It's definitely hard to find the right balance because you need to be focused on work - you're a competitor and athlete - you need to focus on your game and play at the highest level whereas some jobs you're sitting at a cubicle and just do what you do. So, it's definitely hard, I don't think there's a correct balance, you have to make sacrifices here and there, but like, I'm young, and thankfully I was blessed to be home during COVID-19, with my wife while she was pregnant and then when we had Maverick, so, right now it's definitely easier than it was when he was 0 to 1, it's getting easier. When you have a kid, everything is different, your routine and sleep schedule, it's all different. So a lot of adjusting.

So finally, if you do win against Complexity, who would you most want to face in the 2-2 matchup?

Honestly, in my eyes, I think all the teams are pretty much on the same level. I feel like it just depends on us. If we go into it with the right game plan and the winning mentality, I think we could beat any team.

After Liquid's win over 9z earlier today, the stage is now set for a North American elimination derby, with Liquid and Complexity set to duke it out in the 1-2 matchup tomorrow.

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