Nikola "NiKo" Kovač is mousesports' in-game leader and is considered one of the highest impact players in the world. But unfortunately was unable to make it out of the groups at the Major, the third time in a row for the player.
On Day 5 of ESL One Cologne 2016, NiKo took the time to speak to theScore esports about the team’s mental game and improvements for the future.
Can you very quickly go over the group stage.
We started off with Virtus.pro on Train. We had a really good start, 7-0, and then we made some really crucial mistakes which turned it their way and in the end it was 8-7 for us. Then we started as CT. We won the pistol round and we got our money reset and we just threw away the whole half. We had very good preparation for that match. Like, we played really well as a team. We knew everything that they are doing, what we are doing, the game plan worked pretty good. We just had to kill them and that's it.
Liquid was the decider match, which is the third time in a row for me [at the Majors]. The two Majors before when I played in the decider, it was close games losing 2-1 and I thought, 'OK, maybe it's easier if I lose 2-0,' cause then I had no chance. But it's not, it's even harder that I lost so hard.
Was it more of a mental thing that caused those losses?
Probably it is, because it's always in your head if you lose. You know how it is, it's very hard.
Did Kassad help that mental game at all?
It did help...like, it helped...it didn't help that much in the Major for some reason, but it helped, like, in the qualifier for example it helped a lot. And ELEAGUE, even though we had a bad result, it was a very important factor. To the Major, we had real mental problems just like...some other guy cannot fix it for you. You have to get your thing together in the head and...yeah.
So, do you not think either Kassad or maybe even another coach can fix those problems or do you think it's something that's internal with each of the players or yourself?
Something internal, I think. No one can fix it, you need to fix it, you need to improve yourself and everything so no one can put something in your head if you don't want to have it.
Well, you guys have some support from mouz and they seem to be open to you guys bringing in that fifth or even sixth member. Have you guys considered maybe bringing in like a sports psychologist or anything like that?
No...we didn't actually, but yeah, some teams have it, like Na'Vi they have it, but we didn't think about it to be honest. Maybe it is needed but I don't know.
What do you think is the solution?
Solution is...I don't know. (laughs)
What were some of the factors for bringing Kassad into the team?
I’ve known him for like seven years and we played together like three years. So we know each other really well. We can work really well and each can try to help the team. And, I think in some way we did, but still it wasn't enough.
Well, considering that, is he going to be staying on with the team? Are you happy with what he brought?
Yeah, he will stay on the team for sure.
One of the other things that kind of became a factor was oskar. It's kind of unfortunate how it happened, but was that something that weighed on the team? That one of you was possibly getting replaced?
Yeah, some players thought about all the time, like if they’re playing bad, you know, that's one of the mental problems. You cannot fix it always. Even if you don't think about it at all it's always [there]. It's like, I don't know how to say it in English, it's always there.
Like it’s mental, you're always thinking about it,
Actually, going back to Kassad, he's kind of taken a bit of a step back from his leadership role, but do you think him coming into that in-game leader role...
Yes, really he would be in-game leader. I am done with being [the] in-game leader. This was my last tournament being the in-game leader on this team.
What are some of the improvements that you're going to be making towards the future.
Don't know. Working on an in-game leader, because when I was in-game leader in the last few tournaments I tried to do a lot by calling, but that's why it didn't work for my mid-game. I think that I could carry my team, that we go to the groups. But because I was in-game leader I couldn't do it because I tried too hard to make good calls.
Are you guys going to be taking a vacation? Or are you guys going to be practicing?
We have vacation. We already booked some vacation to America. Yeah, we will see there everything, talk, discuss, decide.
Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking
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