ub1que: "Let's just wait and see"
Right around twelve hours before ESL One Cologne kicks off, dAT's Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov came through and answered our interview about the event.
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov's team qualified for ESL One Cologne after besting mousesports and ESG in the European Finals, garnering plenty of criticism for Egor "flamie" Vasilyev as a potential cheater in the process.
Since then the Russian-Ukrainian team struggled to gather funding to attend the event, and even struggled with visas till the very end, but finally made it all work.
Here's our last minute interview with dAT, who share group C together with Virtus.pro, fnatic, and iBUYPOWER, and will face the Poles tomorrow at 15:00.
B1ad3 is dAT's captain
How have you prepared for ESL One Cologne so far? Do you have a bootcamp planned for the final days leading to the event? Do you feel adequately prepared?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: There’s no such thing as too much prmeparation, unless you place first. In the end, we know we will regret not practicing this little bit longer. Since we don’t have a manager, we spent a lot of time planning the trip, getting the shirts and visas, etc, time we would have preferred to spend practicing for the event. Unfortunately, we didn’t know if we would be able to attend the event until the last minute (WorldEdit and flamie got visas 16 hours before the flight), and it somewhat affected our preparation.
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?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: I didn’t follow G3 too closely, however I can say that a casual spectator in me is glad that Titan are finally getting back on track. I really like the players and their attitudes, and I’d like them to break the curse that’s been plaguing them throughout the whole 2014. Truth be told, I expected dignitas to win the whole thing. They looked so dominant until they got into the 2nd map with VP.
Also, I’m glad LC finally put themselves on the competitive CS map. It’s always nice to see more and more teams playing at the top level. I just wish Valve put a little more effort into developing the Asian scene.
What are your expectations going into the event? I realize everyone wil 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?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: We obviously realize that we are the underdogs of the event, seeing as this is our first international LAN. Not getting out of the groups is the most likely scenario, so making it to play-offs would make us extremely happy. Regardless of the result, this event will be a huge experience for all of us and will definitely help us develop as a team. Winning an online qualifier is one thing, however LAN is a completely different deal. After some point, you cannot evolve without attending LAN’s, since this is where the real Counter-Strike is played. Nonetheless, we are ready to rock.
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?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: We are not a part of any organization, dAT Team is run by the players. Unfortunately, we were only approached by one organisation. The guy was willing to pay half of our expenses, however when asked about stickers, he said that “every manager that he knows told him they still didn’t get the money”. That was extremely fishy, seeing as every Katowice player that we asked told us they received the money quite some time ago, so we decided to turn down the offer.
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?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: I actually grew to like overpass a lot. It’s a cool map with quick rotations and interesting multi-level design. It allows for a lot of fakes, there are a lot of cool boosts and you can throw nades from across the whole map.
Cobblestone, on the other hand, is a huge pile of poo. It’s gigantic and clumsy, the distances are way bigger than in any competitive map, and there are way too many positions. You need an enormous amount of smokes in order to execute a proper attack. Furthermore, I really dislike the fact that they’re trying to push a 15-year-old map as a new one. Come on, it’s been around for ages, there were attempts of remaking it (de_forge) and people still hated it.
I personally hate the fact that Valve just basically shoved those maps down everyones’ throats and everyone just swallowed. This is not how you introduce maps to the competition. I don’t see them making major changes to Dota a month before TI3, so why do they think it’s acceptable to do so in CSGO?
Still, there’s no doubt these changes are advantageous for us. Upsetting a top team is a lot easier on a map that no one has experience playing at. It adds a factor of randomness, and this is exactly what we need when playing a higher-profile team.
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? What about players?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: Most of the teams attending the event (NiP, VP, dignitas, Titan, NaVi, HR, LDLC, Cloud9, iBUYPOWER, fnatic, Epsilon) are already considered the cream of the crop. There are only two teams who still have something to prove (and are capable of doing so), specifically CPH Wolves and London Conspiracy. While I really enjoy Nico’s AWPing and hope that he can get back to his old form and start wrecking everyone once again, I feel like they haven’t practiced enough for this event. Most of the time I’ve seen them play, they played with a stand-in.
That leaves us with LC. They’ve improved greatly during the last few months, and they have one of the best infernos out there. So if there’s a team that can make a breakthrough at this LAN, it’s them.
As for the players… Probably fxy0?
How tedious was the process of gathering the necessary funds to travel to Cologne after upsetting mouz and ESG in the qualifier? Could you have funded the travel yourselves, knowing you’d be paid back from prize money and stickers, or would have stayed home if you couldn’t secure any funding?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: In four days, we collected about 800 euros. We could’ve accumulated the necessary funds slowly during those two weeks, however that was not an option. Since neither Russia nor Ukraine are a part of the Schengen area, we can’t simply buy tickets a few hours before the event and just fly to Cologne. We need visas, and in order to apply for visa, one has to buy tickets and book a hotel. We won the qualifier on July 28th , and we had to apply for visas on the 4th of August If we wanted to have good chances of actually attending the event. Then you have to consider the fact that German visa is the most difficult to acquire. Germans are very picky, they can easily deny a visa for no reason whatsoever. For example, both seized and kibaken were denied their visas a few days before EMS Fall and had to apply for Latvian ones.
Long story short, we needed the money ASAP. It’s true that we will get the money back through prize money and stickers, however that will take an indefinite amount of time (a few months according to our sources), not really acceptable to those of us who couldn’t pay for themselves and thus would have to borrow the money.
Flamie really broke through in the EU finals for Esl One Cologne, even garnering cheating accusations – which were quickly dismissed. He has been a good player for a while, but never on big stages. Was his performance a surprise to you? Can he deliver the goods in Cologne under pressure?
Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov: Pr1ZraK told us he won’t be able to play the EU finals right after the qualifiers were announced. He had a vacation planned weeks before the announcement, and he wasn’t going to cancel it, since it would mean wasted money, plus his wife wouldn’t be pleased.
Anyway, the second we knew we would need a stand-in, we knew who we were willing to use. Since we had no time to properly prepare for the qualifier, we needed a strong aimer whom we could say stuff like “go there and kill them all” and know he can actually do it.
Flamie has been known for his aim even back in CS:S times, however he never got a chance to play for a proper team. Even though there is a huge amount of players in CIS region, there are no organizations and no serious lans. There’s a lot of talent in the scene, however making a name for oneself is almost impossible. One of the most obvious examples is seized, who I used to play in teams with. Once he got an opportunity to play at top level, he used it to full extent and right now he is probably the best player in NaVi.
Unfortunately, flamie didn’t agree at first, and it looked like we would be forced to use some unexperienced newcomer instead. However, after a series of losses in StarSeries internal problems arose in USSR, and 2 days before the qualifier he told us he was ready to play if the offer was still valid.
The cheating accusations were really laughable. It’s not like he came out of nowhere. He was 2nd best player of Voronezh cup, topfragging against HR.mix. It’s not going to be his first international appearance either: he attended CPH Games 2013 with ed1k and hooch, where he had a KPR of 0.77 despite losing all the games. He’s been around for a long time, and I think a lot of top players already knew him.
Anyway, the whole situtation was extremely weird, seeing as the accusations came from eksem, a player who was in the same position as flamie just a year ago: a somewhat known semi-pro player with no achievements whatsoever. I can’t really see NiP, Titan or VP players acting like this, even though all of them had been playing on top level for ages.
As for flamie’s potential performance at ESL Cologne… Let’s just wait and see. We gave him a more restricting role than during the qualifier, so that could probably affect his performance. Still, we have no doubt he has what it takes to deliver when it matters the most. The guy is a real talent, and in two years time, after he becomes more experienced, he will be a real beast.
In case you've missed some of our previous fourteen interviews with ESL One Cologne participants, below is a full list of them. You can also find our official preview here.
ub1que's dAT will debut tomorrow at 15:00 against Virtus.pro, and will go on to face either fnatic or iBUYPOWER in the second round, either tomorrow or Friday.