9z have come a long way after a 0-2 start to EPL

try: "If we move to Europe one day I know 9z will become tier one"

try believes 9z has all the necessary ingredients to pursue the top of the scene.

After a 0-2 start to ESL Pro League Season 18, few expected 9z to make playoffs via an extended run in the last chance bracket. However, that's exactly what happened for the Latin American team as they bested M80, Apeks, and 5yclone to secure a spot in playoffs. Ahead of their match against Virtus.pro tomorrow, Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore spoke to Santino "try" Rigal to discuss the team's feeling about their comeback run, the preparation for Virtus.pro, and what the future holds for 9z as they pursue greatness.

9z showed a lot of resilience in the group stage, needing to win three must-win matches to make playoffs. How did the team manage to stay grounded mentally to come back from those early losses?

After the Imperial loss we had some talks about what we were doing wrong. It was mostly about the communication issues and putting too much pressure on ourselves. It wasn't healthy for us so we just had some talks and sorted it out.

At the start of the year you returned to 9z after a year with 00 Nation. How do you think you changed as a player as a result of your time with the Brazilians?

There were a lot of good things that I learned from 00 but it was mostly communication and some things outside of CS like being mature and all that stuff. They taught me to be more professional and communicate better in game, that's the two main things.

Coming into playoffs, 9z is going to be playing Virtus.pro in their first match. 9z has played the team twice before in somewhat one-sided series, what has the team worked on to counter VP and prepare for them?

VP is a tough opponent, nobody likes playing them because it's a hard matchup always. There's never an easy matchup against them because they always save and have an AWP or either two rifles, and they play slow rounds. Our approach has already been talked about how we mostly are going to play the game but we have played them twice so now we are ready.

Going into the series against VP, they are known to save and play all 30 rounds if they can to grind down their opponents. Does the team worry at all that the stratbook is not deep enough for such a series?

I don't think it relies on the playbook, the match relies more on the micro decisions, mostly on T-sides like our defaults and to not make mistakes on our CT-side. You have to know when to save nades, when to play aggressive, and so I don't think it comes down to the playbook, it comes to micro decisions as I said. Don't give a first kill on T-side is very important as well.

9z has been spending a lot of time in Europe this year. Looking towards the future is the plan to stay in Europe for the rest of the year or to return to South America post-EPL?

After the tournament we are going back home. Of course our main goal is to stay in Europe. If the team manages to stay here, we're going to grind really fast and grow really fast as well. We need to play in Europe to become a tier one team as soon as possible because I know we have everything besides the same [opportunities]. If we move to Europe one day I know we will become tier one.

9z will be facing off against Virtus.pro tomorrow at 01:00PM.

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