Immortals were the first team to be eliminated from First Strike: North America after a 2-0 loss to Envy. The team had one of the more challenging experiences during the qualifiers and could not make it past the first round of the tournament. However, Immortals were the first to pick Icebox in a professional match but were defeated in a one-sided game.
We spoke with Andrew “ShoT_UP” Orlowski, Jason “jmoh” Mohandessi, Noah “jcStani” Smith, and Armgalan “Genghsta” Nemekhbayar about the strategy behind selecting Icebox, only going A, and the Immortals’ mentality going into the second map.
We weren't able to bring the aggression and coordination to compete with @Envy, despite our wildcard Icebox pick.
— Immortals (@Immortals) December 3, 2020
Hotspawn: What encouraged your team to select Icebox as the first map of the series?
Genghsta: We scouted out Envy to see what they’re good at, and we kind of predicted what they would ban, which was Haven. They did that, and we were just like, would we rather start attack side on Split or take the gamble? This is a map no one has seen us play or seen them play, and could throw a wrench in the gears. We took that gamble, and I think it was the right choice anyway.
JCsTANI: We knew our Split is bad and that Envy’s Split is really good. We knew we probably wouldn’t win Split, but maybe we could cheese out a win on Icebox. We might have been able to get an advantage in the pick and ban because if we got the first ban and we banned split, maybe they would’ve banned Icebox, and we get that advantage. If not, it didn’t really matter. Not a lot of people play Icebox, we didn’t play it much, and maybe we can just cheese out a win. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way, but we had previous scrims results against teams in First Strike where we did just go A 12 rounds in a row and won 10-2. There was a chance, honestly, we weren’t really expecting to win Icebox. If we did win Icebox, then maybe we could just 2-0.
Hotspawn: You were committed to A site when attacking. Can you explain this strategy, and did you ever consider switching sites?
Genghsta: In scrims, our A takes were usually pretty good, and they worked 80% of the time. At A, it’s kind of like a deathmatch; whoever kills each other first takes the site. There isn’t really gimmicks you can use on A. I think taking B is a lot harder. We thought, let’s just go A because we’re good at that and have insane aim; all of us have good aim. All of us probably out aim the enemy eight out of ten times. I think that was the reasoning behind going A literally 12 times, and I think it would’ve worked if we were just a little bit more confident.
JCsTANI: It was experience in scrims and lack of experience. We have only scrimmed the map three times. We didn’t practice for it for the UMG closed qualifiers because it wasn’t even played in the qualifiers. It was only played in First Strike. Our map pool was very bad, so we knew we might be able to cheese out a win and couldn’t win Split.
In Icebox, we started rough, and the coaching squad took a tactical pause and literally said, “play normally, don’t play like bitches, just fucking run at them because we are not doing what we usually do.”
Hotspawn: Do you think other teams will begin picking Icebox?
Jmoh: Honestly, I do. Icebox is a fun map. I know there is a lot of criticism; there are a lot of angles to hold and spots to play. There is just so much happening. I feel like it’s a map that will slowly make its way into the map pool for professional VALORANT and even the tier two scene. People just need to get used to it, and once that happens, I feel like it will be picked more often. I could see it being a normal map in the rotation for people to pick soon to come.
JCsTANI: I don’t think the map will be preferred in the current state it is in. I don’t think it’s a very good map. I think it’s very one-dimensional since you can’t really split from A to mid because they can just sit in their spawn and watch so many angles. It’s very open. Even A site which is the better-made site, I still don’t think it’s made very well. You can’t go B unless you play Sage and spam a plant. If you want to go A, you kind of just have to run it down. I hope they reduce some of the angles on B and give a new plant spot that isn’t fully spammable because you can’t even plant on B without getting sprayed from mid. I definitely feel like they need to do a lot of work.
Hotspawn: What was the Immortals mentality going into Ascent after the initial loss?
Shot_UP: Ascent is a map we’re a lot more comfortable on, but we knew, and the coaching staff knew we were not playing like we normally do. For me, I play the best when I’m just ego peeking everyone, I’m E’ng [rushing] into their spawn and stupid shit like that. It’s really hard to do that, especially in important matches, because it’s a super volatile tactic that you do. I’m really confident that I’ll win that, but in an important match when you’re peaking a really tight angle, and you know you have to hit this insane flick, it feels like the odds are stacked against you, even if you usually hit that flick. I think the mindset was that we need to just play like we normally do. In Icebox, we started rough, and the coaching squad took a tactical pause and literally said, “play normally, don’t play like bitches, just fucking run at them because we are not doing what we usually do.” The next round, we pushed A, I pushed Screens and killed someone, and E’d into their spawn. That was just not something I did before the tactical pause. We wanted to continue that going into the next map.
Jmoh: We’re a team that never gives up. No matter what, we keep fighting, and we felt like we were going to win on that map, but obviously, some things didn’t go our way at the end. But, our confidence was still the same; we weren’t down that much, we kept bringing each other up when we felt down. We were just confident, even when we were losing 9-3, we were confident that we could come back and win.
We didn’t play like we used to, and we weren’t ourselves.
Hotspawn: As a team, Immortals almost pulled off the comeback on Ascent, were there any clear mistakes that prevented this from happening?
Shot_UP: Our CT side was really fucking bad. Again, it’s a confidence thing, and I need to fix this, and it’s just not right. Maybe I topped fragged, maybe I played well, and maybe I had good stats, but it’s just not right. I shouldn’t have had 22 kills, I should’ve had 30 kills. I just wasn’t doing what I normally do, and I need to work on that. I just need to wide peek B main, and I’ll win that fight, and I wasn’t doing that. I think that’s the main reason, I think I’m the reason we lost.
Jmoh: I think when it was 11-11, and we were going A, I think we should have canceled. We were telling each other there are likely three or four [enemies] here. We probably should have canceled because we still had a lot of time left, and we would have still executed on the site. If it wasn’t for mummAy getting that 3k by pushing the smoke, I feel like we actually would have won that round by taking the site. Also, when it was 12-11, Kaboose getting that 2k was really big for his team. It was 5v4 for us, and we felt like getting that A kill early was going to make it harder for them to rotate, so we knew going B would be the best play. Without Kaboose getting those two kills there, we felt confident that we would’ve taken it to OT.
Hotspawn: A running theme I have heard is that confidence impacted your performance. How did the lack of confidence on the Immortals team impact the match?
Genghsta: I would say it’s a huge part of why we lost. I don’t think we were outclassed, Envy is a good team, obviously, but to say we were outclassed and they just beat us because they’re the better team, I would disagree with that. I think it was on us as a team. We didn’t play like we used to, and we weren’t ourselves. A majority of us just didn’t show up with the same confidence that we usually do. I would say it’s a pretty big factor.
Jmoh: One hundred percent. We are confident as a roster. We have done a lot with each other so far. It’s a brand new Immortals roster; it’s not the old roster anymore. We got second in the Renegades tournament as our first big tournament together, and we made the First Strike tournament. Even though we lost in the quarterfinals, it’s a good learning experience for us, and we are excited about our future as a roster and are excited about what we bring to the table as we took Envy to the last two rounds. We know we can fight against any tier one team out there; we just have to keep building that chemistry and be more comfortable in playing as a team together.