KRIMZ: "Goal is always to win"
Our next interview ahead of ESL One Cologne is with Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson, who discusses fnatic's preparations for the major.
As Katowice champions and the only team to have won two major titles, fnatic are without a doubt the biggest favourites heading into the event in Cologne. Still, Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson reckons that the gap between the top teams is so small that anyone can lift the trophy on a good day.
The Swedish giants' first match in Cologne will see them take on Team eBettle - the surprise package of the offline qualifier. Read on to find out how fnatic have prepared for the tournament, what KRIMZ makes of de_train and why he thinks Luminosity can cause an upset or two in Germany.
How have you prepared for ESL One Cologne? Are you going to or did you bootcamp beforehand or have you only been preparing online? Have you focused on anything in particular? (e.g. teams, specific problems at recent events)
After DreamHack Valencia we had a small break, so we started to practice again in early August. We have been working really hard, and we feel it is starting to pay off. We have improved a lot of our old stuff and we have come up with new stuff, such as tactics. We have not bootcamped as we feel we train more efficiently from home. There has been no special focus on anything other than improving and remaining a top contender for every trophy.
Is there anyone who you think is underrated and could surprise in Cologne?
We have been practicing a lot against Luminosity, and they have been playing really well. Amongst the underdog teams, they can surely surprise and come a long way.
What are your team’s goals and expectations for the event? Where do you draw the line of what you’d be satisfied or happy with?
Our goal is always to win. I would lie if I said we would settle for less.
KRIMZ says fnatic will show some new moves in Cologne
The level of teams has been levelling out recently, a number different names have been in the grand final at events in the recent months (EnVyUs, TSM, fnatic, Na`Vi, Virtus.pro, Cloud9), who will be the favourites to make it to top four in your mind?
It is really hard to name a top four. Those six teams can definitely break into the top four, and it will all come down to the bracket draw.
What do you make of the change in the group stage format? Is it better to have a chance to play against more than three set teams before the playoffs? Is it going to be harder to prepare for such groups?
I guess some teams like the opportunity to play against the same team twice in the group stage, while others prefer playing against another team. But it feels hard for the less favoured teams, who might be happy by just advancing from the group stage. They now need to prepare to take on almost every team to advance from groups.
Train has been in the pool for quite some time, but ESL One Cologne will be the first major to feature it, how has it developed over the recent months? Was it figured out in terms of playstyle, strategy, etc.? Is the current map pool diverse enough?
Train is a great map that differs a lot from every other map on the pool. It is a lot faster and has a lot of more chaotic choke points. It brings something new to the tactical play and something new for viewers to see. We like every map on the pool and feel comfortable playing any team on any map.
What are your thoughts on your group? Can you go through each match-up and say how it is likely to play out?
Before the group draw we knew that there were no easy groups to get. As stated above, we feel comfortable playing against any team, but of course that Na`Vi will be the team to beat to win the group.
Yet again this major has not seen a prizepool change, even though the sticker money is likely to get bigger, would you like to see it get increased?
Of course that bigger prize pools are nice for the players and for the prestige of the tournament in question. Sticker money is somewhat hidden from the community, and it could be an improvement to include them in the prize pool and show the community how big the tournament actually is. This would bring more prestige to the event, also in comparison with other big tournaments in other games.
Lately the outrage against certain weapons has decreased (e.g. CZ-75 at the beginning of the year, Tec-9 during the second quarter of 2015), are you satisfied with the way Valve balanced them out? Are there any weapons you’d like to see nerfed or buffed?
I think the game is fine as it is. We are not the team that focus too much on negativity after every change. We simply try to adapt to whatever happens in the game and make the best out of every scenario.
Do you think the new anti-doping measures being taken by the ESL are going to change anything from past events, has this been blown out of proportion since Semphis’ statements, or is it necessary?
I did not see it as a big problem before, but obviously it is a bigger thing that anyone could have imagined, I guess. All competitions should be played on equal conditions, so I guess this is necessary.
Will fnatic win their third major title?
With the proliferation of both online and offline events, and having had at least one big event every weekend or every other weekend for the past few months, and with many teams travelling around Europe and North America—or both—, how do you think it will affect teams’ performances?
We’ve made a decision as a team to try to limit our event attendance to a maximum of two tournaments per month to and play as few online tournaments as possible. This is simply because we need time off and time to practice. Too many matches is never good, also because it affects the performance of the team and brings little entertainment value to viewers.
In our pre-interview before the last major, ESL One Katowice, you mentioned you had something special in store for the viewers, is that the case for ESL One Cologne as well?
We constantly improve and change how we play, there will always be new stuff to show!
You are widely considered as the favourites to win the tournament, do you think that makes you the target for the other big teams? If so, is it going to affect your preparation?
I guess every team is considered a target for all the other teams. I do not see us as the red-hot favourites. It will all come down to form, that is how close all the tier one teams are to each other.
Almost all other top teams have changed their lineup at some point over the last twelve months, but your has team stuck together ever since the big change, do you feel like that’s what puts you at an advantage over the other top teams?
Both continuity and renewal can be good for a team. We still have a lot of fun together and like playing together, whilst other teams need to renew the lineup to keep motivation up.
Being the only team to have won a major twice, are there going to be any psychological hurdles along the way? Do you think we’ll see old rivalries (with NiP and EnVyUs, especially) resurface in Cologne?
Of course that every match up will be tense and emotional. We do not feel any pressure going into this major after winning two titles. We will simply focus on one game at a time and take it from there.
Here's a list of all pre-interviews we have conducted so far prior to ESL One Cologne, check it out to see if you missed any: