By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
VPEsports caught up with Sanjar “SANJI” Kuliev as well as Alexey “qikert” Golubev following AVANGAR’s victory over Vitality in the quarterfinals of the StarLadder Major.
The two discussed the teams run in the event, how they turned things around, their match against Vitality, and more.
VPEsports: How do you feel right now? You are essentially making history.
SANJI: I would not say that. In order to create a story, we need to take two more steps. After that match, I only feel the desire to win even more. Before the tournament, we planned to win and I hope we have the strength to do it.
VPEsports: You’ll move into a match against Renegades now. Were you surprised by their victory over ENCE?
SANJI: No, I expected the match to end with exactly this outcome.
VPEsports: In the match against Vitality, both teams won the pick of their opponent. After you took the Mirage, were you simply a bit overconfident?
SANJI: No, we just had some minor mistakes that cost us the map. We made erroneous decisions during the match up, micro errors were made here and there, someone did not play at full strength, etc. On the third, we were fully focused and the result was completely different.
VPEsports: On dust2 you started with a score of 12:3 on the T-side. What do you think was making it so easy for you all?
SANJI: It seems to me that Team Vitality played under tremendous pressure. They were greatly influenced by the fact that they are obvious favorites. This led to the fact that during the match they did not make the necessary decisions that could surprise us.
VPEsports: It seemed like you guys had a few struggles when you swapped to the CT-side as well…
SANJI: Yes, it all started with the pistol round I lost. As for the buy-rounds, everything also came down to a series of failures, or to an unfortunate position. This is due to the fact that sometimes it was not possible to read the opponent.
VPEsports: The last round was stressful. Did you say something to each other?
SANJI: Qikert said that he wanted to hunt them down, after which he went and took two rounds in a row.
Qikert: It wasn’t difficult because the four of us stood on a point and I could just say: “Guys, I’m going to push, so adapt,” and the guys adapted well and got up where they needed. Even if I were dying, nothing would have changed, the round would end the same way.
VPEsports: How did you guys manage to outplay Vitality on their map pick?
Qikert: After the 1st half, we won the pistol round and everything happened so that on every buy round we just got our entries to win, we won the duel and this led us to the winning sixteenth round. Each time they met four of us, but somehow we won these duels, somehow we won these situations, some miracle happened on Mirage.
VPEsports: Does the fact that you are the first and only representative from Uzbekistan somehow influence you?
SANJI: I feel proud of my people. It inspires me. And the rest of the emotions and awareness of the moment will come after the tournament.
VPEsports: I remember just half a year ago you were at the IEM Katowice Minor. Did you ever think that in six months you will enter the top-4 of the world (Major)?
SANJI: Funny that you ask. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post on my Instagram on New Year’s. In it, I wrote the following: “I feel that 2019 will be a good year.” And so it is.
VPEsports: In the group stage, your team didn’t look so confident at times. What is the reason for this?
SANJI: We just couldn’t get into our groove. We knew that we could play much better, but something was in the way. When we reviewed the demos of our games, the realization came that opponents weren’t beating us, but that we were the ones losing the matches.
VPEsports: How did you spend your time between the stages of the Major?
SANJI: We rested and prepared! Of course, the emphasis was more on team interactions in order to keep ourselves in good shape and not to relax over these days.
VPEsports: There were many fans of the French team in the arena. Did you hear them, did it somehow affect you?
SANJI: No, absolutely no effect. The only thing is that the fire from the bomb explosion gave heat to the booth, but otherwise everything was perfect.
Other interviews from the StarLadder Major: