As we near tomorrow's kick off time for DreamHack Bucharest, we still have two more interviews to go, this one featuring Refuse's Nikola "NiKolinho" Kovač.
Kovač's team, previously known as e-Sports.rs earlier in the year and iNation a few months ago, first turned heads at Mad Catz Vienna where they knocked Lemondogs out of the tournament.
Since then the Serbian side are yet to attend another international tournament, so DreamHack Bucharest will be all the more important for the squad as they do not get many chances to compete against the best on LAN.
NiKolinho's last big event was Mad Catz Vienna
This weekend Refuse have been dealt into group C, where they will hope to upset VeryGames or Lemondogs, once again, in order to advance to the playoffs and score a top eight spot.
Refuse has a history of scoring upset wins here and there, so continue reading to find out how Kovač feels about his team's odds of taking down one of the favorites in Bucharest.
How have you prepared for DreamHack Bucharest? Have you only practiced online or also bootcamped? How well prepared will you be in time for the event? Will we see you in tip top shape?
NiKolinho: We just practiced online, since we weren't able to bootcamp because of my school. After our summer break we had some difficulties, so I can't say we're in tip top shape exactly, but we gave our best to prepare.
There have been a lot of online matches in the past few weeks, do you think this has helped or damaged you coming into a big LAN event? Do you think being able to study other teams’ strats helps or will others studying you hurt you more? How much should we look into your recent performance as an indicator of current form?
NiKolinho: I think it's a good thing that we had some competitive matches online to get back into things. It is a two-edged sword regarding studying tactics, because lots of teams didn't show their best online so it may hurt us if we think otherwise.
The timing of MSI Beat it quals didn't suit us because that's just when we got back from our break, so we had some poor results. Now we have EMS cups which are very important for us and they come as great practice before DH. We hope that we will show our real selves at DH where it matters the most.
You've been placed in group B and will start off against VeryGames, Lemondogs and Tessa. How do you expect to fare there? Do you see any upsets taking place in the other groups?
NiKolinho: Of course that we can't consider ourselves favorites in a group with VeryGames and Lemondogs, but if we show good form we can surprise someone. I don't think other groups will have any surprises.
NiKolinho knows Refuse need YNk's AWP in top shape
If you had a gun to your head and had to guess which placing you would end up at in Bucharest, what would you guess? What placing would you be happy ending up at? How do you think the top three will shape up? Who will surprise in the tournament, both positively and negatively?
NiKolinho: My optimistic expectation is that we will finish in top 8, and we would consider that a success at a tournament like this, but of course we will do our best to go even further.
I think NiP and VG are in the best form atm, but the guys from Astana Dragons can do some damage to them.
Who in your team needs to play well in order for you to perform at your highest level? Which players from other teams do you think can turn some heads? Any up and coming stars to watch out for?
NiKolinho: In my team YNk needs to show up with his AWP in top shape, I also need to show my aim and emi needs to step up. This is simply a high caliber event and it's impossible to pick out any player, every team has great players that can turn a match around.
With Refuse you have finally found an organization to send you to an international event after months of searching (even years if we go back to 1.6 days). Is that more of a pressure to perform or does it motivate you (both as a team and individually) to work harder and improve yourself?
NiKolinho: We are very pleased to have finally found an organization that can help us reach our goals and it definitely affects us positively, motivating us to practice and improve more than ever before. It's a lot easier this way to focus on our game and we will try to show ourselves in best light at DH.
Coming up later today will be an interview with NiP's Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund as well as the second part of our DreamHack Bucharest preview, set to focus on the playoffs.