Following their victory against Team Liquid in the First Strike EU VALORANT quarterfinals, Team Heretics’ Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas spoke to Hotspawn Esports about their plan for the map pick-and-bans, their streak heading into the tournament, where he gets motivation, and whether Liquid need a change.
Hotspawn: Both lowel and AvovA have said that the team is pretty tired right now after the best-of-three, are you in the same boat?
Nukkye: I think I’m the opposite. With the adrenaline from the last map, my heartbeat is at like 300 right now. I’m still riding high, and with the energy drinks I’m at full power right now.
Hotspawn: If were up to you, would you want to jump into your next series right now?
Nukkye: No, I think I would pass out in the second map. It would be a high like a sugar rush.
Hotspawn: Well congratulations, this is a huge win for you guys. Split isn’t a typical map for you guys and a favorite for Team Liquid. Were you guys worried when it went through the pick-ban phase?
Nukkye: It worked as a plan for us, we decided to give them Split. We expected that they were going to ban Haven against us, so we knew we couldn’t avoid Split. We were preparing for a week straight, we kinda wanted them to pick it. We ended up trading map picks.
Hotspawn: So the idea was to beat them on their own pick, but then they came back and flipped it on you, or more accurately ScreaM came back and flipped it on you.
Nukkye: That guy was eating something today, I don’t know what.
Hotspawn: Coming into this tournament, you had only lost one series in a best-of-one to Ninjas in Pyjamas during the qualifier. Did the momentum add any extra confidence or pressure?
Nukkye: For me personally, I had a terrible game in my performance. But I felt zero pressure coming into this game, and I wasn’t scared of who I was facing because I’ve faced these people in CS:GO. If I play them once or twice I have enough confidence that I know how they’re going to play. I feel like my team was missing me [on Ascent] because I’m one of the key players on that map.
Hotspawn: Did the pressure/expectations get into the heads of Team Liquid?
Nukkye: I honestly think it did, it’s a lot of pressure. ScreaM played insanely, I mean that team is built around him, he did his job but the rest of the players didn’t step up. I think if they were firing on all cylinders we would have lost map two even harder and gotten slapped on the third.
Hotspawn: Do you expect them to make any team changes going forward?
Nukkye: I honestly feel like they shouldn’t, but I don’t know what’s happening with the org. If the org feels like they’re not meeting results, but I don’t want them to split, I think they have a lot of potential. I just think the team needs more consistency. They have a good coach, a good way of playing. ScreaM and soulcas are the only deadly ones.
Hotspawn: Thespike.gg had you guys ranked seventh before this tournament, below Giants whom you’ve beat a handful of times. Do you guys pay attention to rankings? Is it motivation or is it just distractions?
Nukkye: It’s extra motivation for us. If we’re high [in the rankings], it’s a small goal for us to maintain it. If we’re in the top five I want to maintain the top five spot. Not even the top spot because it’s too much pressure, everyone’s reading and studying you.
Hotspawn: AvovA said there’s no question you guys would face G2 in the next round, do you share the same sentiment?
Nukkye: I think it’s gonna be three maps. I honestly look at the lineup and I feel like the Orgless guys can pop off, and have a higher skill ceiling than the G2 guys. I think Happy’s gonna be good in this best-of-three. G2’s gonna have a lot of pressure, and Orgless is gonna have zero. With orgs watching, even if Orgless take a map off of G2 it’s going to be big for them.