Coming into VCT LOCK//IN 2023, it was expected that Team Secret’s stay in Brazil would be short and quick. Given they were up against a new-look Team Liquid, which had reloaded with former Masters champions in Redgar and nAts alongside Sayf. All that to say, not much was expected from the Champions 2021 SEA representative.
However, after their 2-0 drubbing of the EMEA team, Secret progressed to the next round of the Omega Bracket to set up a date with Natus Vincere, surprising fans and analysts alike and prompting a portion of them to rally behind the lineup.
Unfortunately for the APAC squad, their journey ended by losing to NAVI 2-0 off a 39/11/11 KDA performance by shao and the trademark aggression of former world champion marksman cNed.
Following the series against NAVI, Team Secret spoke to the media in a press conference to discuss what happened in their performance against Kyrylo "ANGE1" Karasov's men, their reflection in LOCK//IN, and their outlook towards playing in the Pacific League later on in March.
(To Warbirds) Commiserations on the loss. About Icebox, we know it's one of Team Secret's strongest maps but it seems NAVI put up a great challenge for you today. What do you think was the biggest difficulty they gave you?
Evan "Warbirds" Olzem: Honestly, they have really big firepower. cNed was a massive issue for us that entire series so it was about being able to shut down those big players, especially on defense. Our attack was a lot better than it was versus Team Liquid. That was one thing that we worked on during our two practice days. And I was just able to not be as manipulated as much and one thing we also talked about in the match was not playing super passive and being able to push through. Those are just some of the things that we'll have to work on going forward.
(To JessieVash) During the match, NAVI heavily outdid you guys in terms of first kills. They had 27 to your 11. On your part, do you think there was too much early-round aggression that didn't pay off? What was the reason for not taking some of those opening duels?
Jessie "JessieVash" Cristy Cuyco: The pressures from some of the players, especially with cNed who always tried peeking. Instead of fighting them normally, they normally fight while rounding back, and cNed always caught us off guard. We just got bullied by cNed because we all know he's good at finding first kills so everyone didn't play their original play style like holding angles. They started running more upward instead of fighting at holding the angle because I think we got a little pressured by cNed especially. He always gets the first skill on defense, so when we switched up our positioning on defense, it wasn't our original thing.
(To DubsteP) We all saw a significant difference between the first and second maps. What factors do you think contributed to this?
Jayvee "DubsteP" Paguirigan: I think, in the first map, they got more confidence because we kept losing on the defensive side in a landslide manner. We couldn't win a single round and they kept winning consecutive rounds, so I felt their confidence went through the roof from the second map onwards. I felt they played with confidence and steamrolled from there.
(To JessieVash) DubsteP was talking about confidence just now. I'm looking to know how was the team's confidence going into Pearl seeing as you had just dropped your own map pick and it is not a map you have a lot of officials in.
JessieVash: I don't know but I feel we were all being too careful against cNed. We always give him the space that he always takes. Normally, we're playing to hold all the angles, but on the second map, I think everyone was holding back and being too careful which is bad because it's not our original play style. I think we got pressured by the result of the map since we have new players, so I think map one hit us really hard.
Looking forward to the Pacific League
(To JessieVash) Despite the loss, you still put up an amazing performance in LOCK//IN. You defeated an EMEA team and progressed to the Quarterfinals in the Omega Bracket whereas a lot of teams had to go back due to the single-elimination format. How does that make you feel and what are your plans for the future?
JessieVash: I think we are satisfied with the result even though we had a bad loss against NAVI. We saw the results of our one month of practice and it showed us how far we can go. From now on, we can focus on the Pacific League and we're not going to stop grinding to get better.