natu: "[stonde] will bring chaos"
Up next on the list of ESL One Katowice pre-interviews is 3DMAX's Joona "natu" Leppänen and his insight on the upcoming major, as well as some additional questions.
3DMAX have secured a spot at ESL One Katowice from February's main qualifier taking place offline, despite Joona "natu" Leppänen's inability to participate due to his wedding.
Since then the team had to say goodbye to the team's clear star Aleksi "allu" Jalli, who has found a new home in NiP, and replaced him with a stand-in they used at the qualifier, Mikko "xartE" Välimaa.
natu shares his thoughts on 3DMAX's state going into the major
The Finns were drawn into arguably the hardest group alongside Virtus.pro, who are widely considered as one of the four favourites, TSM with a record of two quarter-final and two semi-final finishes at the majors, and Cloud9.
natu gave us his input on the team's background going into ESL One Katowice, the recent change and various other topics, including sticker money allocation system, current state of pistols and more:
How confident do you feel with your preparation going into ESL One Katowice? Are you having a bootcamp or only practicing online? Is there something you focused on in particular?
We've had a bit of bootcamping but unfortunately we cannot do it as much as we wished due to IRL commitments that our players have. Our focus has been on fine-tuning things, building teamplay and adjusting to the recent change we had so that everyone is comfortable with their role. New maps and strats have been worked on as well.
What do you think about your group? Can you go through each team and tell us how you think you match-up against them? Which two teams should be advancing to playoffs out of Virtus.pro, TSM, Cloud9 and yourselves?
Definitely one of the harder groups at the event I should say. Starting off with Virtus.pro, they are a hard team to predict considering how they've played in recent times and the fact that the event takes place on their home turf. Playstyle-wise I think we feel like it's a good match-up where you need to be on point with your individual play to beat them. That actually applies to all of the teams in our group, none of them are known for tactical superiority, but more about their high skill ceiling. On paper I feel TSM is probably the most dangerous in that regard and we need to play with a high confidence to keep up.
What is the minimum placing your team will be satisfied with in Katowice? Do you feel any pressure to succeed, will you be extremely frustrated if you fail to reach your minimum goal?
The first goal would have to be to reach top eight, so making it out of the groups. After that it's about taking it as they come. I don't think any competitor should ever compete unless he participates to win it all, no matter how people predict their chances to be.
The professional scene has probably never been as competitive as it is now going into this major, but who do you think will end up in the top four? And who do you see as the most likely surprise, whether to win it all or get out of the groups ahead of some big favorites?
It's hard to predict anything, but the usual suspects being up there, such as fnatic, EnVyUs, NiP and perhaps Virtus.pro. I personally wouldn't be surprised if either CLG or Keyd Stars advance in group C ahead of HellRaisers. Both of those teams have shown their abilities recently, whereas HR seem a bit inconsistent in their form.
Is there a player or two in your team who you will hope to make the biggest impact in order for the team to achieve its goal?
Everyone needs to make an impact, but if I had to name people, my first pick would probably have to be stonde - who is our main AWPer. He is a very very talented AWPer and I truly hope he can show that in Katowice without taking too much pressure and just going with the flow. We give him the room to do his thing and I have no doubt he will bring chaos.
natu believes stonde will be 3DMAX's most impactful player
How much of a setback was the change from allu to xartE, especially this close to the major? What kind of level can we expect from stonde with the AWP now and how much will you rely on him in that role compared to allu before?
The only right approach in a forceful change is to look at the positives and what we still have instead of thinking about what we've lost. Both players, xartE and stonde, are very talented and bring tons of skill on the table. I think for us it's a fortunate situation that we had another great AWPer on our team already, even though allu left. Basically we just had to shuffle our roles and we'd still have a similar AWPing potential. It goes without saying there is no replacing a player like allu, but you don't expect that either. You change things accordingly and I think we all want to show the world that it's never a one man show.
CS:GO has been booming in Finland lately with numerous grand finals broadcasted on national TV. How much do you think that will affect the future of the game in your country? Do you expect new players to develop more rapidly from now on?
Feels like only couple of years ago this situation would have been unheard of. It's great for the awareness about eSports in Finland, so it benefits it from a business standpoint, and for growth of the scene. The more it is shown on TV and other media, the more eSports' marketing potential gets understood. This means potentially more money getting involved and the possibility for more professional players to come from Finland in the future. I do hope more Finnish players get a motivation from all this so that we have new kids coming in. It's also our job to show that there is hope to be a Finnish team and be worthy of battling with the best.
There has been an increasingly high number of online leagues and cups lately. How did participating in them affect your team, do you think it helped in preparation or damaged you somehow? And how does it affect the scene in general in your opinion?
Playing official matches online works sort of as practice for tournaments since it's always a different mindset playing those compared to the normal practice. For us I don't see it has been much of an issue as we've tried to limit the amount of online competition we play in due to the recent change. Few matches here and there is always a good method of seeing how you fare against teams in a competitive environment.
What does your team think about the changes to Overpass and Cobblestone? Are the changes for the better or worse? Have you practiced them?
Both maps have improved and given more options for the T side to run different strategies for sure. I think there are options down the line that are better in terms of what maps should be used in competition, but atleast they've made both more viable and enjoyable to play. We have spent time on both and I think it's important to not "fear" any of the maps if you wish to be competitive in a tournament like this.
Do you like the current state of the pistols, Tec-9 and CZ-75 in particular? Would you make any changes to them or are they all finally balanced enough for competitive play?
The majority of people would probably agree with me that the Tec-9 is at its current state a ridiculously overpowered pistol. Not only can you run and one shot people but it's fairly accurate mid-air too. However, I do think it's not that bad, you really need to have strategies set up for rounds where you expect teams to forcebuy Tec-9s/CZs and Scouts. This gives a deeper tactical diversity in the game. Still, SHREK-9 needs to be tamed. It shouldn't be so that in some situations it's more beneficial to buy five Tec-9s and all the nades instead of some nades and rifles.
xartE put up big numbers when it mattered most at the qualifier
Reportedly the sticker money from the previous major, DHW, was split according to how many of each team's stickers were sold. Which way would you prefer it this time, an even split between all legends/challengers or distribution per selling amount? Or perhaps you would like to see a part of it added to prizemoney?
This is a touchy subject and has taken even too much focus at points. For teams like ourselves, that do not make a living/money out of Counter-Strike on a regular basis, it's great there is a system like this to justify the time you have to spend practising. It only means the competition will keep getting tougher as there are more teams able to spend more time focusing in the game. You have to realise players are always going to have to make sacrifices from other things in life to keep up, so being compensated for it is only fair especially with how big CS:GO has become and how big of a marketing platform it is for major companies getting exposure from it. After all, it's the players that make the show.
What is your stance on the current tournament system in the majors? Ever since DreamHack Winter 2013, the system has remained the same with a BO1 group stage, as well as a playoff spot securing a place in the next major. Would you change it in some way or keep it the same going forward?
We should probably go for the "The International" style of group with bigger groups meaning tons of games for every team - or a compromise would be a BO3 format in the group play. But I would definitely vouch for a day or two of extra competition and a bigger group play.
Since the start of 2015 the prize money in most tournaments started rising fast. Although no single tournament "outweighs" the majors yet, do you think that time will come? ESL One Katowice will be a huge event nevertheless - do you expect the viewership record will be broken? How many do you estimate will watch the grand final this time?
The time should definitely come. Counter-Strike most definitely generates a ton of money and eSports is without a doubt a huge factor in the growth. It deserves bigger prizepools and something similar to DotA's "The International" for example. Player numbers are ever rising so it should also show as a growing number in viewership. I don't think we're too far away from reaching a record of million viewers. It is an awesome time to be a player and a fan of the game, no doubt.
We've already interviewed CLG, FlipSid3 and LGB in the last few days, check out the other ESL One Katowice pre-interviews in case you missed some.
|James "hazed" Cobb: "We don't have a ceiling"|
|Morten "zEVES" Vollan: "C9 can surprise in playoffs"|
|Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy: "We don't feel any pressure"|
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