Acend Nbs: “If we perform as well as we can, I don’t think there is a single team that can stop us.”

acend nbs 1

Last Updated on: 9th December 2021, 05:02 am

Acend defeated Team Secret in straight maps to advance to the semifinals of Valorant Champions 2021. By advancing to the second round of the knockout stage, Acend avenged their Masters: Berlin disappointment where they infamously blew a 12-7 lead to 100 Thieves in Map 3 of their quarterfinal series.

A substantial number of people predicted Acend to reach the quarterfinals before the start of the tournament, so their subsequent accomplishment should have come as no surprise but considering their previous international disappointment, advancing to the semifinals required a load of preparation and composure with little time to spare.

Not to mention they needed to overcome a surprising bid from Team Secret, who didn’t own an ounce of international LAN experience before the tournament, Acend had their hands full before they could even sniff the semis. Someone who understood the urgency behind taking on Secret in the quarterfinals was team head coach Laurynas “Nbs” Kisielius.

Since joining the team in January when it was known as Raise Your Edge, Nbs oversaw Acend’s progression through the 2021 VCT season from winning EU Stage 1 Masters and qualifying for two international tournaments to instituting a roster change with the addition of Zeek for Koldamenta. From a coaching standpoint, Nbs had seen it all, but even though he led one of Valorant’s most electrifying teams, he could not stop himself from being captivated in watching his players continue their march in Champions by beating Team Secret.

In surpassing their previous benchmark, EMEA’s third-seeded team is now in uncharted territory. Sitting amidst the best four teams in the world and needing two series wins from officially being adorned as Valorant’s first world champion, the time is now for Acend to seize the opportunity laid out for them and etch their name into the game’s history forever.

Following the series, The Click spoke with Nbs to discuss how his team performed against one of the tournament’s surprising teams, how they prepared for TS, their progression from the end of Masters: Berlin, and who he would like to face in the semifinals.

Acend Nbs on series against Team Secret

First of all, I’d like to start off the interview by giving my congratulations to you and the rest of your team for qualifying to the semi-finals of Champions. What is going through your mind right now?

Acend Nbs: I don’t think it has kicked in just yet. I’m still kind of thinking about the games but it’s a good feeling, you know. Everyone has been talking about the possibility of having four teams from EMEA in the semis. We managed to do our part of the job so now we’ll see if Liquid, Gambit, and Fnatic can do theirs.

Heading into this series, you faced a team that frankly nobody in the tournament expected: Team Secret. How did you prepare for a team of this magnitude seeing as nobody expected them to reach this stage of the tournament?

Acend Nbs: Yeah, I think Team Secret is a great team. They surprised a lot of people and actually subverted lots of expectations. They play really good Valorant. I personally had them in my Pick’em’s as the second team making out of Group C, so it didn’t really surprise me too much. We did scrim with them as well before the official games. They are a great team and the preparation that we did was honestly just from the Champions games themselves.

We didn’t watch their previous games or anything [before the event] because, just like against most of the other teams with a few exceptions, there has been a big gap of time between Champions and other recent tournaments that they played in. When there’s a lot of time between games, you change a lot of things and then your research can end up hurting you or helping.

With that in mind, I just analyzed [Secret from their recent games] along with a couple of other guys from the team as well. We watched their games from Champions. We saw how they played, we looked for the stuff that we can use, and we tried to mainly focus on ourselves, though. That is because we know that if we perform as well as we can, I don’t think there is a single team that can stop us.

And you guys obviously put those strategies into good use. In Map 1 of the series, you guys defeated Secret in Icebox, a map in which they defeated both Vikings and Gambit in this tournament. What did you do to counter Secret’s maneuvers specifically in that map which had previously stifled other teams?

Acend Nbs: I honestly think that Team Secret plays pretty simple Valorant in Icebox. Icebox is a map where there is usually not a lot of room for strategies because the middle is really hard to use as attackers. We usually end up seeing only like one or two maybe rounds where attackers use mid and in all other rounds it’s just pushing A or B as a group (maybe sometimes with a lurker).

Very often, it comes down to who can have better timing, who can play well together in the trades, and who can hit their shots. We knew that we could match them and I think we are even better at those things, so we focused on those things. We wanted to have good trades, good spacing retakes together–just pretty simple fundamentals. And we knew that if we actually managed to keep our fundamentals up, we should be able to beat them.

READ MORE: C9 Mitch: “There’s been nothing but close matches whenever EU and NA play.”

Acend Nbs on team’s progression in Valorant Champions

acend valorant champions quarters 2021
Credit: Riot Games

It wasn’t just one player within Acend that performed very well against Secret. The entire team did. Of course, cNed did cNed things and he performed as well as he often does, but there were other players that had their own shining moments such as BONECOLD who pulled off a couple of 1v2 plays. How do you view the team’s progression in this specific tournament as the stakes continue to rise and the necessity to perform at a high-level increases as well?

Acend Nbs: I think the majority of the progress can be tracked from Masters Stage 3 where it was the first big tournament for us as a team. It was our first big LAN in Valorant so of course there was pressure. We were inexperienced in LANs and also a really young team. After that, we had another tournament where we wanted to play in also, so we gathered all that experience and arrived to Champions. We’re much more prepared than when we were in Masters Stage 3.

Even during Champions, with every game, we’re accumulating more experience and the jitters, the nerves, all that stuff goes away and we start playing closer and closer to our full potential. Even though we won today, I do think that we can play even much better. Maybe we played at 70% of our capabilities, but it’s really hard especially when you’re playing in Worlds. It’s really hard to perform at the fullest because of all the pressure and how everything is on the line.

Everyone’s watching, everyone wants you to do good so the pressure on the guys is really immense and I’m super proud and happy of the improvements and progress that we showed between Masters Stage 3 and now.

Indeed, it’s still a work in progress for Acend heading into the semi-finals. Talking about the pressure that the team face within the tournament, you obviously encountered that exploit controversy concerning Vivo Keyd. A few members commented on the heavy mental strain that they felt within that stretch of time, so I’d like to know your perspective about it. Were you as equally fatigued during that exploit scrutiny?

Acend Nbs: I don’t want to comment too much about it but I’ll just say that it was a really unfortunate situation for both teams. Hopefully, in the future, we can avoid that from happening again. It did put a lot of stress on everyone involved–me included–but experienced people have seen stuff like this happen before. It didn’t faze me too much, but it did faze them a lot. I’m really happy that we managed to bounce back from that and managing to perform well now that we’re in the playoffs.

A few hours before the start of the series, you took to Twitter and posted the team’s total record in scrims. Acend played around 648 games, won 460 times, and lost just under 121 times. What are you trying to prove with that tweet?

Acend Nbs: There’s nothing to prove, really. I’m not bragging or anything. I know that a lot of people really like the scrim stuff or all that “juice,” you know. They really like to know about how the teams are doing before and during events throughout the year because you can’t really leak too much stuff, right? You can’t say who you are practicing against and stuff like that. But at the end of the year, with stats like how many scrims we played, that doesn’t really affect us at all. It’s mainly just information to the people that are curious.

As I said in the tweet, I’m going to post more stuff such as the whole discussion that happens with some teams. There are teams that play scrims at an inefficient pace, as in they play to only learn, but for us, we play to win and learn as well, but mainly to win. We’re super competitive and we’re super adaptive, so in every scrim we play, even though we have strategies that we want to try (some new compositions, some new default, or some new strategies), we’re always trying to win and I feel like that has helped the development of the team and the players immensely.

As you said that we played around 640+ games, if you’re trying to win every single one of them and you’re trying to adapt in every single one of them, once you play on-stage, you have done that so many times that you will do it at a much more efficient pace. That’s our playstyle. It wasn’t really a brag or anything. It was just like a random stat that I know some people will like.

READ MORE: Secret Gibo: “We don’t feel any kind of pressure because we know that we are one of the underdogs.”

Looking into the semifinals, who are you expecting to face? I’d like to know your thoughts about that.

Acend Nbs: So the other quarterfinal in our side is Cloud9 and Team Liquid. I just saw the players getting ready for the stage. In my opinion, Liquid should take it. I think they are a very solid and all-around team and they’re in a very good form. Even though Cloud9 is also in good form since both won their respective region’s LCQ, I do still think Liquid is a little bit stronger.

The only concern though is that when it comes to the stage, the result doesn’t always come out from the strength of the teams. There’s a lot of other factors involved like how players can deal with nerves. Maybe somebody lost their mouse and now he’s nervous and all that, so the mental side of things is very important. The pressure is huge.

Not to mention this is the first time that TL is playing on the main stage because Nivera was recently cleared right from quarantine. That is the only aspect I see where they could crumble, but if not, I’m pretty confident that TL will take it and then we will get our chance for a rematch in the semis.