nexa: A really big and hard step
After his team got eliminated in the group stage of IEM Sydney, HLTV.org talked to Nemanja "nexa" Isaković about his rise in the scene, FPL, and his in-game leading.
Let's go back to the time around the WESG EU&CIS LAN finals, when you had your first breakout event. What was your plan after that, when did the FPL grind start and when were you first approached by Renegades?
After WESG I wanted to stay in the team I attended the event with, Guerilla Method, but we had a lot of internal problems, some players didn't get along and it came down to everyone going their own direction. I didn't have a lot of options at that point, I was approached by iNation (now Binary Dragons) to play for them and I said yes. We played for a bit, but at the same time I was playing the qualifiers in FPL Challenger and I managed to get into FPL. That wasn't my first qualifier, I've played a bunch of them, but I was lucky this time, so to say. I got into FPL and then the grind started, FPL is no joke, there is a lot of good players in there.
After that, kassad contacted me, while I was playing for iNation, and told me that he is going to be coaching Renegades and that they are looking for another player. He recommended me, Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač and LETN1—and the team decided to try me out. At the time, I had to make the decision to either stick with iNation or to go to Renegades and try out my in-game leading skills. I decided to be the IGL and that's it, now I'm here.
About IGLing, when did that start, have you been doing that in other teams in the past? Also was it a big step moving from a smaller, Serbian team, to the international scene and IGL at the same time?
I wasn't an IGL before, this is a really, really hard and a big step, especially because I've never played Counter-Strike on a higher, professional level. Everything is different now, it's more demanding, you have to put in more effort and give your maximum. But I am here because I know I can give it my all and do the IGL's job.
You mentioned that kassad contacted you, how much did you know him before and how is the relationship working out? He is the biggest name, experience-wise, on the Serbian scene, how is he like a coach?
I met kassad about two years ago when I was first asked to join iNation, at that time we had a longer bootcamp, around two months, when we had a apartment in Serbia where we played, and kassad was the coach there as well. We worked there together, but it didn't work out and it ended with me leaving the team. We kept in touch after that and still had a good relationship. After that I made the team with k1Ng0r, Guerilla Method and we qualified for WESG—by beating kassad and iNation.
About his coaching, he really sees the game in a better way, he understands it on a higher level than me and other players as well. He helps me a lot, to be a better IGL and a better player.
Your move to the Renegades house happened recently, a week or two ago, but in that time, what did you do to improve as IGL?
As you said, we didn't have a lot of time, just two weeks. Our first 5-6 days were mostly spent on getting to know the team, the calls, we took everything step by step. After that, kassad was calling for the first few days just so I could see how it should work, how to setup the game plan and to see how he wants to call. Because he is an experienced in-game leader and he knows how it should go, he knows the players and which style we should use to win the round or the map.
Towards the end I've started to call, but it's a very difficult job, I have to think about a lot of things I didn't have to think about before when I was a lurker/rifler. Those kinds of things didn't even cross my mind, all I needed to do was to look at my crosshair, go out and kill people. Now when I'm the IGL, I have to keep track of every little thing on the map, the economy of the opponents and all the small details. As you could see from the results, I didn't get a hold of all of it yet, but I think with time everything will be ok.
Do you have an idea of how you would like the team to look in the future, when you have more time to set everything up? What is the playstyle you would like to have in the future?
To be honest, I like to watch how FaZe play as they are, for me, the number one team in the world at the moment. And the players we have, AZR, jks, USTILO have a lot of firepower so I think we could use the playstyle FaZe has, that playstyle looks like it could suit us the most.
From your time in FPL and your knowledge of the local, Serbian scene, do you have a player that you think has a good chance of being picked up by a "top" team, either tier 1 or 2?
I didn't spend a lot of time in FPL, maybe a bit over a month, and I saw some players that have potential to break out. Out of the Serbian scene, in my opinion huNter- from Binary Dragons is the player that has the biggest chance to break through, together with LETN1. LETN1 was, in a way, my mentor when I played with iNation. Those two are the players that have the biggest chance to break out from our region.
The results at the tournament weren't satisfying, but did you take anything away from the tournament, what are you going to do moving forward?
We played extremely bad, to be honest, everyone saw that. You learn from your losses, of course, so we know what is missing and we will be working on that in the future. The atmosphere in the team wasn't that bad, we weren't depressed or tilted, we knew that we weren't ready for this tournament yet and we didn't aim to win the tournament or anything close to that. Right now we are focused on the Asia Minor, we want to prepare well and win it.
Professeur writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter.