starix: "Had offers from four regions"
We caught up with Sergey "starix" Ischuk ahead of Spirit's opening match at the CIS Minor and asked him about his return to activity and the team's preparation for the event.
The 29-year-old is about to play at his first offline event since returning to activity, after spending two years coaching Natus Vincere, the team he represented for most of his career.
At the Minor, Spirit will be out to secure one of the two spots at the offline qualifier for PGL Major Krakow, but first they will have to advance from a tough group that also includes Spartak, pro100 and Quantum Bellator Fire.
What are your thoughts on this first month since returning as a player? Are you happy with your level, or do you think it will take some more time before you get back to your best?
Returning as a player was a difficult decision for me. My current level is not as high as I would like it to be, but I understand that a lot of work has to be done before I reach the level that I had before I stopped playing. I am really working a lot to make my new team better and to help my teammates move forward by sharing all my experience, so it may take me a bit longer to get back to my usual individual level.
Has it been hard for you to keep up with the demands and the schedule of playing at a top level once again?
I cannot really say that it is harder than being a coach, since the level of demands and the responsibilities are much higher in that position. By being a coach, I got to understand the game from the other side. And now that I am a player again, my experience as a coach is helping me to better shape the game of my new team. But we still have a lot of work to do to get to a top level.
What made you choose Spirit, of all the offers you had on the table? What kind of offers did you have?
I cannot disclose all the details of the offers I had, but I can say that I had offers from North America, Europe, CIS and even Asia. Different organisations asked me to join them as player, coach or even COO, but I decided that continuing a player was what I wanted and that Spirit was the best option for me.
Since joining the team, what kind of things have you been trying to implement? How much have you changed the way the team plays?
For most of my career, I was on just one team, so I never really got to look at how the other CIS teams played, also because their level was much lower. When I joined Spirit, we decided to do everything from scratch so as to not waste time on improving the way the team played before. But later on, when we realised that we were running out of time before the Minor, we decided to simply improve some of the things the team was doing before instead of doing a full rebuild.
What has your preparation for the Minor been like? What aspects have you focused on?
We are actively working to improve the confidence of the players in the matches against top teams. I believe this is one of the most important aspects for players wishing to be at the top. But I am aware we need to take a big step forward to leave the CIS region behind us and to be able to take on the top teams in the world. Right now, we still have ingame problems that we need to fix before we can earn a place among the top teams.
What are your expectations for the Minor? Who do you think that are the main favourites to finish top two?
We are positive heading into the event, but it is hard to have expectations since the level of the teams is much lower than what I have seen from top teams.
You have been a bit vocal about Na`Vi’s struggles. Is there still some bad blood between yourself and the team/organisation for the way you were released? What is your opinion about the team’s ongoing issues?
I was not being vocal at all. There is not something as bad blood between the organisation and me, but the same cannot be said about some specific individuals inside the organisation. In my opinion, Na`Vi's situation nowadays is pretty close to the situation described on "Spirited Away".