Talk about a statement being made in your opening series of the season. In what is regarded as the most anticipated match in the opening week of the VCT Americas League, Leviatan of LATAM defeated North America’s NRG 2-0 with resounding authority.
Despite scraping past NRG with a close 13-11 victory on Pearl, Leviatan took matters into their own hands by trouncing the opposing team 13-4 on Lotus. It was a performance befitting of a major contender in the league and one who is aspiring to qualify for Masters: Tokyo at the season’s end.
Of those that made Leviatan’s victory possible was duelist Vicente "Tacolilla" Compagnon who, despite not playing well on Pearl with a 9/18/1 KDA, rebounded on Lotus with a 19/9/4 KDA, 1.51 rating, and 147 ADR against NRG.
Following Leviatan’s series win over NRG, Tacolilla sat down with BLIX.GG and spoke on how this result came about, his improvement from Pearl to Lotus, what it’s like living in Los Angeles, California for VCT Americas, looking back at LOCK//IN, and much more.
Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: I want to cover your thoughts on taking down a team as high a caliber as NRG. What allowed this team to play so well on both maps?
Vicente "Tacolilla" Compagnon: I understand that, but it's nothing special. We do what we have been working on. We put a lot of work into the strats and practice our style, and with all that extra work, we just trust in what we have practiced. We put trust in every player and our fundamentals and it was nothing special. We could do our game, we were playing with a sort of flow state, and we just got it.
BLIX: For you specifically, you obviously did not have a good performance on Pearl but you were able to play very well on Lotus by recording a 19/9/4 KDA and 280 ACS. What changed for you? What allowed you to play so well from Map 1 to Map 2?
Tacolilla: First of all, in the first map, I was whiffing a lot of my shots and I didn't know why. Maybe I needed some warmers, my hands were probably too cold and I was uncomfortable with other stuff. I couldn't provide the kind of impact I wanted. Upon finishing that map, I got angry with myself but I never lost my mind. The team was playing well. We had everything in our control and that's why we won Pearl.
We kept calm and patient, but most of the issues were personal. I whiffed a lot but my team could carry me. In the second map, I went with the same mentality but I was angrier with myself for doing what I had to do. It was nothing different from the first map. It was maybe something different mechanically with the hands, but in the second map, I just got comfortable on stage and it happened.
Living in LA
BLIX: Focusing on the preparation before the start of the season, you guys had to travel from South America and move to Los Angeles. What has that transition been like for you from South America to North America for the season?
Tacolilla: There's not too much of a difference in hours so we could adapt to that. Personally, I just love where I'm at. I can't believe I'm living in LA because of a game. It's like I'm living the dream just from my work because I'm good at what I do. I love what I do and I try so hard to get this. I think all the work we've done is pulling off. I don't know how to describe it but it's a nice feeling. I'm very happy right now with where I am in my life and I just want to keep continuing in this way. I think we have got everything we need to be champs but there's still a lot of work to be done. If we continue in this way, we can get everything. I really trust this project, my team, every player we have, and the coach. We know we are good and we have everything we need to be champs.
Reflecting on the LOCK//IN
BLIX: I want to know your thoughts on the team's preparation from the end of LOCK//IN until now. You guys played well in Brazil by finishing top eight following a loss against NaVi. How did you view your experience playing in LOCK//IN and how did you then use that experience for your preparation for the Americas League?
Tacolilla: In LOCK//IN, we weren't well prepared. We played nice matches, but in the end, the mental breaks were hard things to control sometimes. Against NAVI, everything was out of control and we suddenly suffered a mental breakdown and it's hard to recover when you're in that situation, but experience and work with a psychologist fixed it all. I think the difference was to stay in the game, stay focused, and look into the future. Don't get lost, don't get mad, don't get tilted, don't get sad, don't get scared, and don't let yourself be dominated by your feelings. Get through that and play the game like you know how to play. That's a really important thing.
I think mentality in competitions is so important. You can be the best player and the best team, but if one or two players are down or worried about something, they're not gonna play like they know how to play. That was something that happened to us and I think experience can fix it and make us stronger. Now we're better than we were in LOCK//IN and I think that's a big difference.
BLIX: So it was mostly mental and not anything within the game?
Tacolilla: Yeah, that's it.
BLIX: With you guys beating NRG, you have a lot of momentum going into Week 2. Your next opponent is going to be FURIA, a team you are familiar with. How do you rate FURIA and their performance in Week 1 and how are you going to take them on?
Tacolilla: To be honest, I didn't see their games like all the other games, but I know they are a strong team. They have such strong individual players. Like I always say with any team, we prepare to be the better version of ourselves. We don't care about the teams that are coming or if they have a really good player. We need to trust in our process and trust in what we do when we go on the stage. We don't focus too much on the opponent. We just try to do our best.
Playing with keznit
BLIX: I want to talk about, if you're able to, your experience with keznit [Angelo Mori]. Given that he is now a former member of the team and how you guys were experimenting with yourself and him switching in matches, how did you view that experience with keznit and what was the reason that experience did not work out?
Tacolilla: I can talk a little bit about my experience with him. He's such a nice guy. He's been really nice to me and I've been really nice to them and it was a healthy competition between us. I learned a lot from him. He was the funny guy in the group. He was always smiling and I think I really got close to him. I talked a lot with him and it was a great friendship that we created. I don't have anything bad to say about him. I think he's a really good player. We're friends and now we're rivals.
As for why the rotation didn't work, it wasn't because it didn't work. It was because you need to practice with five players to get more consistency and synergy. That's why, there's no other big reason. I have played with this team more times, so I knew better about the structure and keznit didn't. He's a really good player with a lot of firepower, good aim, and personality. It's a little bit of a difference. That's why.