An incredible reverse sweep went in favor of LEV during the VCT Americas LCQ Lower Final, and after, esports.gg caught up with IGL kiNgg.
We are reaching the end of the VCT Americas Last Chance Qualifier. Only two teams remain on the path to a Champions berth after a grueling Lower Final between Leviatán and Cloud9. In a heartbreaking loss, Cloud9 gave up the reverse sweep to the LATAM team led by Francisco "kiNgg" Aravena.
Following the historic comeback that sent LEV to the Grand Final, we had the opportunity to speak with the team's in-game leader. Needless to say, kiNgg was very happy with LEV's resilience and is looking forward to an all LATAM decider in the LCQ Grand Final.
LEV kiNgg discusses the reverse sweep against C9, facing KRÜ in the Grand Final, and overcoming a rough regular season
"We have ourselves a LATAM-only Grand Final of LCQ between Leviatán and KRÜ Esports. How cool is that?"
kiNgg: "It's amazing. We really wanted to have that final against KRÜ. It's a classic already, so, yeah, really happy about it."
"With LATAM having the lowest number of teams in VCT Americas, being just the two, what does this say about the region's talent level after making this run here in the Last Chance Qualifier?"
kiNgg: "We've always been, both teams, really strong. I think in the Americas league, both teams had problems managing. We didn't know how to play such a long league. We didn't know how to manage things. I think both teams suffered from that. And we're now in the classic lower bracket tournament. We've always been a really strong teams in this format, with KRÜ qualifying to almost every tournament until Masters Tokyo. But yeah we've always been both really strong and we learned a lot from that league."
"I'm not going to lie, it looked like we were in for a quick series after the first two maps. What do you think was the biggest factor that prevented your team from winning either Lotus or Pearl?"
kiNgg: "It's always the same story. We say to ourselves that we have to be chill about it, no pressure, but it's always feeling pressure. We don't get cool after that. We just start trying to not get pressured, but it gets there eventually. And yeah, I think after the first maps, we had a lot of pressure, and after the 9:3, we were like, guys we need to play. We know this is literally the last chance. We're 9:3 down, we have to give it our all. And Onur said something that really got to us, to everyone. He said, 'We have nothing to lose, but we have everything to win.' We had that spirit to fight back and we did it."
"Well, onto Split. You had a comfortable lead, but Cloud9 started to come back. I spoke with Onur after you played C9 in the VCT Americas Playoffs. I asked him about how he uses his timeouts, to which he said it depends on the situation, but he either brings up technical aspects or he uses them to keep you all mentally focused. What kind of conversations were there during the timeouts on Split, especially the last one?"
kiNgg: "I had the read that they were playing really weak on A. I felt like they were always trying to fight me and just playing A retake with the Cypher cam So, Onur paused, and I said that we have to go A and we did. We rushed A, we the lost round. But after that, I tried to punish their A site. And yeah, eventually me and Onur came to the conclusion that we just had to use our strong Ultimates on A and just win the post-plant. And I think that's how we won Split."
"Coach Onur also mentioned he felt that the team was kind of in the middle of pre-season expectations and the results that were being shown. With this victory over Cloud9, how do you look back on the regular season in this moment, knowing every that happened has still led to one final shot at Champions?"
kiNgg: "Everyone made a lot of mistakes in the regular season. We had a lot of internal problems that we didn't know how to fix, but the thing that this tournament gives you, as it says, is the last chance. So, everything that happened before, we just cut it out. There's no need to keep thinking about those things. Obviously, we talked about it. We talked a lot and I think that really helped us group together again as a team."
"So, your first map pick was Pearl. Then you chose Haven. Cloud9 just lost to KRU on both of those maps. Did that play a role in choosing them for this series?"
kiNgg: "Yeah, kind of <laugh>. The thing is that we didn't expect to lose Pearl, but it happens. I think I could have IGL'd better. I know there's a lot of talk about my IGL'ing, so I was putting pressure on myself. I was like, 'Guys, I'm sorry. We could have won this map on Attack side.' So, when we were on Haven, I was just in the zone. I was feeling it and calling. I felt like after everything I said, we were going to win. I'm happy with myself and my IGL'ing, because I think I did a pretty good job on Haven and Bind."
"And on Haven, you guys came back with eight straight rounds in the second half. I'd like to ask your thoughts on your calling during that map. Was there any moment or play during that streak you are particularly proud of?"
kiNgg: "I'm really proud of how I felt like they couldn't respond to our calling. I didn't call anything special. Where I can say, 'Oh, this call was amazing,' but I do feel like every call was on point. I'm proud of the entire eight straight rounds, you know?"
"As the team's IGL, do you find it difficult to call risky plays when you're down, but still have the momentum of a map win?"
kiNgg: "You feel a lot of pressure, but what makes you a team that wants to win? It's that even though you have that pressure, you still do the risky things. If you don't risk it, there's no way you can win. There's no way you can come back, you know? For example, when we won pistol around and their eco, we normally buy Spectres or Stingers to play fast. But in the third round, I said, 'Okay guys, let's do a Tier 1 buy.'
"That's when we bought two Vandals and one Spectre. So, in our bonus, instead of having all submachine guns, everyone has a rifle, you know? So, I think we have four to five rifles. It's a really risky buy because if you lose that round, your economy goes downhill. That's kind of a risky thing. Or when you have to fake. I think it's also very important.
"Another example, in the last round, I wanted to go B and I told Shyy to walk to A Sewers. If we got blocked by, I think they had a Breach Ult, I told him that we're going to go B, we're going to go with our Astra Ult. I know they're panicking, so as soon as we Ult, everyone will go to B. And in that timing, Shyy, I wanted to walk through A. Eventually, I think they just let us plant.
"They weren't risking anything. They couldn't go through the Astra wall with an Omen blind, with a Breach stun, or the Ult. They just felt scared to kind of stop our exec. So, yeah, I think that those kind of calls are risky, because they could have pushed A and killed Shyy. But I felt that we needed those risky plays individually to do our stuff."
"Alright, well as it ended on Bind, it was a rare best-of-five reverse sweep. You are a team that's familiar with best-of-fives during the previous version of the VCT. Do you feel having that experience kept from being drained and giving up?"
kiNgg: "It really helped us in being comfortable with going through five maps. Also practice can help you with that. Obviously, you don't have the same stress, but you do have a lot of training. straight up. When we do four to five scrims, it's kind of the same as having a best-of-five series. And I think that also helps in mental training, because there are scrims where you play bad and you have to come back, and keep your mental strength on point to play good in the next scrim. All those things help you a lot."
"Okay, so next is KRU. You obviously know that team well and have seen the competitiveness that are bringing as of late. What are you looking forward to most in the Grand Final match?"
kiNgg: "In the Grand Final, the most important thing is that we have to play with a lot of confidence. We cannot let the pressure get to us. We feel good in that matchup against KRÜ. We feel comfortable playing against them now that we know we're playing good.
"I think KRÜ is playing really good. I think they're a really strong team, but in my opinion, they don't have anything special in their calling or in their structure. There's nothing out of this world. They've been having a really good tournament. It's the confidence they've had.
"They're going through smokes really good and really fast. When they flood, they do it good. And a team with confidence, always when they flood, they do it well. I think the thing we have to do is just keep our mental straight. I think we can win with all of our macro and all of our strats in the maps."