Happy: "Tired of quarter-final exits"
Our next interview about ESL One Cologne is with Vincent "Happy" Cervoni from LDLC.com, who recently won DreamHack Valencia.
LDLC.com are one of the few teams who will be at ESL One Cologne that did not attend G3 earlier in the month, with the French side's last event being DreamHack Valencia, which they won after beating fellow countrymen Epsilon 2-1 in the final.
They will not be looking to build on that campaign in Cologne but will face a difficult task to progress to the quarter-finals, having been drawn alongside Na´Vi, CPH Wolves and G3 sensation London Conspiracy.
LDLC recently won DH Valencia
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?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: We have followed a regular practice schedule, pretty much like an everyday one, we play about 4 hours each night during 5 days a week. So we will have a moderate preparation for this event. Sunday we will be bootcamping in Paris for a few days before going to ESL One Cologne. We have always been working this way, and every time we managed to pull out of the groupstages of the Majors. I feel though we could use a tiny bit more time to get some more experience.
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?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: This LAN was, as a viewer, one of the best event I've watched so far. There were so many interesting games and so much competition I feel like we watched another one of the majors. Well I pretty much agree on the general aspects of your article "what did we learn from..." Titan definitely showed up as a major threat and a serious contender for ESL One despite several months of bad results. I've also been impressed by teams we didn't expect much of. For example London Conspiracy, which are in our group in Cologne, their strategies didn't impress me but I know they are that kind of team that you don't want to meet in a best one, heavy pressure, underdogs type of game, they rely on their momentum but if they get it, they are as scary as any top team. Virtus.pro also impressed me, when the groups were over I wouldn't bet on them to win the whole thing, but they have such a strong mentality that I guess anything is possible for these guys. And of course Dignitas seemed really strong, yet they failed to defeat VP in their semi-finals. What I concluded after the event was that the level of competition is mind blowing in CS:GO, and you have to be prepared for anything and anyone.
At ESL One you’ve been placed in group B together with Na`Vi, London Conspiracy and CPH Wolves. Can you go through each team one at a time, and tell us what you think about them, and your chances against them?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: I think we ended up in a very well balanced group. I think we play London Conspiracy first. As I said above, they are that kind of team we 'have' to beat, meaning we have a much more developed team in terms of teamplay and achievements, so it will definitly be a hard game because they will come as underdogs and the pressure will be on us even if we are favorites. If we manage to win our first game, I would say we will have to play Na`Vi. We are used to playing against them, and I think the odds are balanced, it will mostly depend on the form of each player, so it will be a tough fight but I think we have a chance at finishing first. If we have to play CPH Wolves, I would say that they are a team that also relies on their momentum, but they seem a bit too young to be a major threat to Na`Vi, yet in CS:GO you can't make any predictions regarding results, especially in a best-of-one matches.
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?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: My personal expectation for this kind of events has always been to reach the quarter-finals, because that means a lot of pressure just disappears and we can play our best game. Obviously we crave to have a major result under our belt, and I'm personally tired of going out in quarter finals. Both time we have lost to the winners of the events (fnatic, VP) so I guess we have that going for us, but yet we really could use some momentum as well to reach the level of elite teams.
Happy will not settle for a quarter-final presence
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?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: We just talked about it briefly yesterday so no, we don't have for now any idea where the money is going to go. I think it is a great way of adding some extra revenues to players if it comes to that.
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?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: When I first walked around the 2 maps I was literally shocked that Valve added those in the map pool. Then we had time to practice and make strategies and I personally like playing them now. I think overpass definitely has a future in the competitive scene, cobble too, but it might need tweaks. But we are fine with it now. I'm really curious about how the veto system will affect the teams going to Cologne, it definitely feels random and I don't like when our hands are forced, to me the old one was working just fine and it was maybe a way to play the new maps. As a player I didn't have any problems with it, and well... I didn't have trouble playing inferno 5 times in a row, but I guess that was not a viable option in the long run. The veto system will definitely favor the more prepared teams on the new maps, so I guess it will play out in our favor, slightly.
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?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: We definitely fill out the criteria to be a rising team, we are still pretty fresh, with young and talented players like Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian, so yeah, I would say us. If I had to pick other teams, 2 come to my mind. The first would be fnatic, for the obvious reason that they did it already and their playstyle allows them to be contenders even though they lack experience as a whole, and they showed already some pretty impressive games during G3. The other one would be HellRaisers, I can't really explain why but I think at some point they will show more stability in their results, maybe in Cologne? If I had to pick out single players not within my team who can do well in Cologne, I would say rain, Aizy, Krimz and Swag.
You missed DH Summer due to exams, won DH Valencia fairly convincingly, and skipped G3. Are you a team who likes to pick your spots to give you the best possible chance for success by attending less events? If not, how come we don’t see LDLC at more events? Does it hurt or help you?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: We don't plan on such things, I would say this is just a matter of communications and availability. Of course it affects how good or bad we play, on one hand we are less predictable by attending fewer events, making it harder for the teams to anti-strat us, and we feel more rested by not attending every event. On the other hand it limits us in the experience departments, playing a lot of tournaments like NiP have been doing is always a nice bonus because you feel like every tournament is the same, taking away some pressure and adding more versatility to the team as well as being able to adapt quicker during tough games.
You’ve been gradually improving on our world rankings, and you’re one of the only teams yet to make a roster change in 2014. How important is your consistent roster to you? Did you ever consider picking up kennyS or shox when they were available?
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer: Yes I think we can be proud about that. As Ex6TenZ's way of thinking, I'm heavily focused on the long term plays. When everyone suggested we should replace Uzzziii with shox, we just didn't think about it. And I think it was the right call, he has been improving tremendously and he has tireproved his worth. On a personal level, as I said, I'm more comfortable with a stable team, it brings bonuses you can't imagine, and it makes my work easier. You just have to watch teams like NiP and Titan, this is not a secret, stability does matter, and that's how everyone on the team sees it. So it might take time for us to show how great we can play, but we will do our best in Cologne, because we definitely have the potential to do it. Cheer for us, that does help a lot!
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