TaZ: "We haven't reached our peak"
We continue our series of pre-ESL One Cologne by sitting down with Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, fresh off Virtus.pro's gold at G3.
The Polish giants have been in a rich vein of form since the start of the year and clinched the G3 title last weekend after winning EMS One Katowice back in March.
Virtus.pro got off on the wrong foot in London and finished third in their group but then turned up the heat and moved past London Conspiracy, dignitas and Titan to get their hands on the $20,000 cheque and the spot at the ESWC finals.
For ESL One Cologne, Virtus.pro have been drawn in the same group as iBUYPOWER, dAT Team and fnatic, with the Polish side due to take on the Russian/Ukrainian mixture in the first round. Find out what Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas has to say about his team's triumph in London, their preparations for ESL One Cologne and much more by reading the interview below.
TaZ thrilled with G3 victory
How have you prepared for ESL One Cologne so far? Do you have a bootcamp planned for the final days leading up to the event? Do you feel adequately prepared?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: We are actually bootcamping right now. We had a hard decision to make before G3, because going straight to bootcamp from a LAN is not always the best idea, but we decided to give it a try. With that being said, I am not feeling that we are near a good preparation, we still have tons of work to do, especially with the new maps. With the new veto system, we need to have five strong maps for the group stage and six for the playoffs. I bet that many teams will struggle to achieve that, and I do not want our team to be one of them.
After a long hiatus from international competition, G3 took place last weekend. What do you make of the results? Were you surprised by anyone? What comes to mind when thinking about the event?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: I do not think there were any surprises for us. We knew that NiP had taken a break, just like us, so these two teams were not favoured to win, and you could see that in the group stage. I might even say that we were a little bit lucky with the team we got in the quarter-finals. I believe the game against London Conspiracy woke us up, and our experience gave us the edge on the last map. For me, the teams that did well were Titan, dignitas and fnatic, and their confidence will be boosted for ESL Cologne. The same can be said about NiP, who will be eager to get back on track. There were some really nice things about the event: the players' lounge had food/coffee, the stage was really nice and the whole staff was kind to the players. But there were also some disappointing things: short warmup time, the monitors and head-to-head not being the decisive factor in the group stage. Last, but not least, we are damn happy to have won the event. We did not prepare for it in a great manner, but when we got bashed by some teams we were able to get back as a unit, talk about our problems ingame and solve them. That is the one thing I am most proud of, in the events before G3 we were not able to do that.
At ESL One you’ve been placed in group C together with fnatic, iBUYPOWER and dAT. Can you go through each team one at a time, and tell us what you think about them, and your chances against them?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: It is a crazy group. I know that all of these teams are practicing Cobblestone and Overpass, which makes it even harder for us, given the small time to prepare for the event, but we are on it. I feel like all teams can advance because of the new veto system, where there will be a draw with the maps remaining. It seems like the team that is more flexible and lucky will advance.
I do not know exactly how dAt Team play, but they are capable of causing upsets, they already showed that in the qualifier, so that will not be an easy game for us. fnatic have a new lineup, which on paper looks very strong, but I feel they will need some time to adapt the mentality of some players. You could see that olofm has not been at his best since joining fnatic, and I think there might be a reason for that, even though I do not know it. I just hope they will not solve their issues before ESL One Cologne. iBUYPOWER are a team we want to beat, we lost to them at the ESEA Finals, and now we want to exact revenge. I would love if this game were to be played in the winners' round. Everything will come down to the maps.
What are your expectations going into the event? I realize everyone will say they are in it to win it regardless of stature, but would you be happy with a quarter-finals exit? Top four? A spot in the grand finals?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: I want to win, I will never be happy with an early exit. There was a time when I would say top eight was not that bad, considering how my team were playing or what our peak was. With this team I think we have not yet reached our peak, we are still growing. I do not believe all this bullsh*t about age and getting worse after every year. I know that Neo can dominate CS:GO games, and I can do it as well, just like byali, Snax and Pasha can. Our main goal now is to actually use all five players to their fullest. What I wonder is how people cannot see the sacrifices that have been made so that our team can win now. I doubt that f0rest or GeT_RiGhT had to learn new team roles during their career. That being said, we had a similar situation in 1.6, and we will find a way to unleash the beast, sooner or later.
TaZ thinks Virtus.pro can continue to grow
Do you have a clause in your contracts regarding the sticker money that will be coming in from ESL One? Is that something you had added later on specifically with Cologne in mind, or did it exist in the first place?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: We never had a clause regarding sticker money coming from ESL One Cologne. To my knowledge, it is the same thing as winning a tournament, people buy stickers because they want to support players in certain organisations. Still, I feel like Virtus.pro are a great company and if some issue with sticker money comes up, I am certain that we will find a solution.
It’s now been weeks since ESL announced the new map pool, featuring de_cobblestone and de_overpass. Now that you’ve had a chance to practice them, what do you think about them? What do you think about the new map veto system? Do you think these changes will work for or against you?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: I feel like Overpass is a fun map, but Cobblestone is a bit too big. Still, in our team we like both of them, and we are willing to practice them with same approach we had towards de_season and de_cache. The new veto system will be painful, as you will have 1/3 chance to get the map you would like to play on. With eight days to prepare it is hard to say what effect it will have on us, but well... soon you will find out.
At both of the previous majors we saw a new team win a title (fnatic, Virtus.pro), propelled by new players rising to stardom (flusha, schneider, byali, Snax) . Do you expect another new team to rise up this time and if so, who could it be?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: There are currently around 10 teams that can win the whole event: LDLC, fnatic, Virtus.pro, NiP, iBUYPOWER, Titan, Epsilon, Dignitas, LC, NaVi and Cloud9. I have a feeling about one player that will rise during ESL One Cologne, but you will have to wait for it... I really do not know which new players can shine, maybe fxy0 or someone from London Conspiracy.
According to you, you struggled due to preparing well for SLTV Finals, DreamHack Summer and ESEA. Now you won G3 with poor preparation, and get to bootcamp until ESL One. Is there any reason we should not consider yourselves favorites to defend your title?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: The veto system in the group stage will make it very hard to predict which teams will advance, also the faster we forget about winning G3, the bigger our chance to defend our title from Katowice will be. We are bootcamping in order to get hungry, to feel that we put up tons of effort on preparations, so that we feel we need to win no matter what. Let's see if we will succeed!
Is it true you became the team’s in-game leader before G3? You’ve previously led the team in CS 1.6, but never before in CS:GO if I’m correct. How is it working out? What was the reason to change from Neo?
Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas: That's true in both cases. G3 was first event for me as a in-game leader in CS:GO. I have no idea why Neo decided to step down, probably he got tired of the role, as all in-game leaders do at some point. I do not know how good my in-game leading will be, or if it was a good idea. I am trying my best, I am not the best "in round" caller, but I like to lead and take difficult decisions, I do not mind the pressure. I learned a lot from Kuben, Neo and Snax, but not really from a game knowledge perspective. It's more about their perception of it, of how to call, or talk to people. I was a really stubborn person, now I try to be more open.
More pre-ESL One Cologne interviews:
|Pål "Polly" Kammen: "We are here to stay"|
|Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen: "There is no I in team"|
|Jesper "JW" Wecksell: "We can surprise a lot of teams"|
|iBUYPOWER: "Too many mistakes"|
|Spencer "Hiko" Martin: "You are in for a treat"|