jR: "Just came here to play some CS"
To get to know how the CIS Minor winners Vega Squadron feel coming into the ELEAGUE Major Main Qualifier, we talked to the team's manager Alexander "Lk-" Lemeshev and their captain Dmitriy "jR" Chervak.
Let's start with the Minor that you won as ALL IN, what were the expectations going into that, did you think you would win it and how did you feel after that accomplishment?
jR: It all started when we won the ESWC qualification and got the slot for the tournament, but we lost our organisation so we had to change our roster a little bit. Then we came up with the idea to play alongside hutji and Keshandr once again. We decided to abandon all the tournaments, all the qualifications and focus only on the preparation for the Minor. We had roughly a month, we were playing around 10-12 hours a day so it was hard work. Talking about expectations before the tournament - we actually came there just to play some Counter-Strike, not expecting to win, but to show our best. Our first goal was to get out of group and then we were like - it will be what it will be.
Can you tell me more about losing the organisation before the Minor and how that went down? You were playing with the Belarus players before that, was that why they left the team?
Lk-: It had nothing to do with a roster change, it was just a matter of the organization. We were waiting for them to pay us salary for like two months and there was still no money. It was questionable if we could go to Paris because ESWC didn't cover anything. We were waiting for ANOX to start solving the visas and so on. There was an ultimatum from us to ANOX, we waited for them to deliver their part. On the day of the deadline, the Belarusians decided to stay with ANOX so we were left with three players and me as the manager. That night we came up with the decision to take back hutji and Keshandr to play with us.
After that you won the CIS minor, upseting Spirit. What do you think went right for you there, why were you able to beat them?
jR: Let's start with the upper bracket final - we played a BO3 (against Spirit) and won the first game, it was kind of easy for us. We didn't expect to win that huge. The next two maps were 16-14 even though we were winning both of them 14-11 or something, so they made comebacks both times. We knew that we lost both maps because of our mistakes. Spirit won those games but we did our mistakes. Coming to the loser bracket, I think it's just a huge joke, not to blame StarLadder, but it shouldn't be that you are playing a best-of-one match for the spot in the Major qualifier. We won against the Lithuanians, and coming into the grand finals we knew the map pool will be actually almost the same as it was in the winners finals so we came into that game really confident, we knew what to expect and we were just - come, win - as expected.
jR and co. did not set their expectations high for the Minor or the Major Qualifier
What are your thoughts on the Minor itself? There are a few things to discuss, for starters, all of the Minors have different formats?
Lk-: There were some discussions, even with pro players, but the whole community - reddit, HLTV and so on - that the CIS Minor itself is like a joke, why would you let CIS teams get in, but, let's look to the fact. There are actually three CIS teams that are Legends now. There are still some teams now that, in my opinion, are worth going to the Major Qualifier and are capable of showing decent results. Even though, at the last Major Qualifier, for Cologne, Team Empire and Fluffy Gangsters both went 0-3. That happens when players come to an event and it's their first international event. Even though, those teams had some problems in matter of the spirit in the team coming into the qualifier, they knew they would change their lineup right after. So it's hard to play like that.
Lk-: Talking about the format, I don't think we can have something better than we have now. I think for the Major itself it's the right time to start expanding. You have the Major Qualifier and there are 11 teams from the Top 20, and eight teams from the top 20 are already Legends. So I think it's start to start expanding the tournament in terms of the number of teams.
Let's focus on your team a bit, can you talk me through the roster? Who does what, which players are in which roles?
jR: I'm AWPing and in-game leading, hutji is more like a support on all the maps. About the other three guys, Keshandr is our main rifler, chopper and mir are both lurks and support depending on what map we play and the situation we are in, how we feel the game. Our playstyle doesn't only depend on the map but also how the team feels. So we could just rush all around or adjust to the team.
Can you tell me about the preparation between the Minor and now?
Lk-: Right after the Minor we were contacted by Vega so they picked us up and a few days after we went to their gaming house to boot camp. All the players came except jR, he was doing his visa in Ukraine and playing online with us for let's say 1,5 weeks. When he got his visa accepted he joined us and we had around a month practicing six days a week, and 10-12 hours a day. We weren't playing any qualifiers or leagues, we were just focused on preparing for the Major Qualifier.
The only match you know at the moment is the one against CLG. Can you tell me what you expect going into that match?
jR: Talking about matchup we don't really care who we play against because we want to focus on our own game. We would like to start to game and force CLG to adjust to our game, not to do the opposite. As before the Minor, we just came here to play some Counter-Strike and see how it goes. Someone could call us underdogs, someone could call us a mistake by the whole CIS Minor system, but we might just prove them wrong, we will see.
To end it up here, any shoutouts or things you wanted to mention?
Lk-:We would like to thank Vega Squadron for solving all of our problems. It would be really hard to get it without their help, especially getting the visa for all the players who have their passports all clean. They got all of our problems covered so we just had to play Counter-Strike and nothing else. And we would also like to thank our main sponsor esports.bet.
Professeur writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter.