allu: "I definitely want to, at one point in my career, play in a Finnish team again"
FaZe are 2-1 after the second day of ESL One Cologne, and in the aftermath of their game with fnatic, we sat down with Aleksi "allu" Jalli to get his thoughts on the Finnish scene, NiP's start to the event and AWPing.
The European mixture had a rocky first day in Germany, struggling to close out Inferno against Heroic and losing Nuke to mousesports. The second day was somewhat better, as Finn "karrigan" Andersen's side closed out the game against fnatic to go 2-1 up.
Jumping straight into the matches you had here, in the match against Heroic you had a good first half, expected as you were the favorites, but when you switched to the CT side of Inferno, you had a lot of struggles to close it out. What do you think that was down to, did they do something special or were you just struggling to play your game?
As T on Inferno, we lost the pistol but we won our force buy, I think they forced back and we won, they forced again to go with what they saved... We had a really good control of the money game, which is really important, on Inferno especially. We got 10 rounds, pretty good, I think there are some more rounds that we should've won, but when we changed to CT, we won pistol and we lost to an A execute.
They had really good executes in this particular match. They had a really good short go (strat) on Inferno and they used that one with a Tec-9 buy and they just wrecked us. I don't remember if we bought back or no, but in this scenario now they were in control in the money. After we eco'd we won one round, lost a round, eco again, win, lose...
They played really well and we have the tradition of being really slow starters, we always seem to struggle in the first games and especially the group stages. We don't know what it is, but somehow we don't hit our peak. I mean, all props to Heroic, they played really well, but fortunately, we were able to close the match.
The second match you played was against mousesports. It was a similar thing, considering your CT side was a struggle, and this was on Nuke. In the end you lost the game, was this you not playing individually well enough or was there something you saw in that game that you have to change, that isn't working?
No, not at all. I think we played [well], Nuke is one of our stronger maps and always has been. As CT, the first rounds we lost, we lost every first duel, and they played really well, mid rounds when they had an advantage, they calmed down and just killed us. It was not much that we could do, except to revenge frag and so on better. We talked about our CT and everybody felt that we were doing correct things but we got caught off guard or just lost the first pick that gave them a huge advantage. After that, they executed or played really good as a wolfpack.
When we went T, we were just talking, like if mousesports can do this to us then we can do it to them as well. We got the flying start, won big rounds, we had like 10 or 9 rounds as T, but then we lost to a force buy, or eco. There were some communication errors and some confusion going on. After that, it was really hard to come back. I mean, we lost to well-playing mousesports, all props to them. Obviously, we also had the long wait for the game, we stayed here for 12 hours here, but I don't see it as an excuse, they played in similar conditions. They were better yesterday and hopefully we can meet them again later in the tournament.
You mentioned communication issues, back at StarSeries when you were still a fresh lineup, kio mentioned that communication was one of your big problems, working out with all of the different people from different cultures and scenes. Has that been improved since then, how do you feel the communication is working in the team now, comparing it to three months ago?
Yeah, we've improved a lot, not only in communication but with everything that contains communication which would be teamplay, asking for a flash, taking initiative with your teammates, "let's peek here" or "play on me" in clutches and so on. We have improved a lot and we've really paid a lot of attention in practice to this.
I mean, I don't see it as an English speaking team problem but it's just a problem with our players. Sometimes we have people wanting to go for hero plays, not play the rounds, just want to be the star of the round. Sometimes we might lose rounds because of that, sometimes we win rounds because of it as well. I mean, it's a balance, and we've been trying to really put input to play as a team, not get frustrated and just try to work together.
And we've been in good shape lately, in official matches, in ECS, in Sydney as well, and we keep improving. We still have a lot to improve in almost every aspect of our team. I'm really happy.
Improving as a team is one thing, lets' touch on improving as individuals. Like, for you, now playing in FaZe, under karrigan and in the new dynamic of the team. For you personally, for your AWPing, how are you feeling in that regard? Have you been changing anything considering the type of the team you are in and all the star players?
Yeah, we had a lot of changes. Some maps we play are more based on me taking map control and me playing with someone and taking a lot of initiative and having a bit more space. Then some maps I play a bit more passive. I don't mind, personally, as long as we win I'm happy. Obviously, lately, I've had a bit of struggle individually. I don't know what it is, one game I'm good and one game I'm bad, I'm trying to work that out, and also put in more hours myself.
Also, we have different styles of how we play, even on a single map, we can play really explosive, we can play a really structured and slow. Sometimes one style fits my AWPing better than the other. We also force buy a lot, so we don't necessarily always have the money for the AWP, you get into unnecessary positions. It's been a struggle, but what can I say, we've reached four finals, won one of them, so we are playing really well and we are constantly improving. So I don't have any regrets, I just try to do my job and make us better.
As you said, you've come to the top with this team, still not number one, but you are there, contending for titles all the time. But let's say after a period with this team if you achieve what you want with FaZe... NiKo in his profile video for ESL mentioned that he would like to go back to his own region and build something there. Do you have a similar mentality in that regard? Does the Finnish scene attract you, to go back and play there once again?
Yeah, for sure, I already tried it after NiP, with ENCE, and it didn't go so well. I mean, we did OK, and could've done so much better I think. We were competing a lot with teams like HellRaisers who have broken through that tier 2 right now, Space Soldiers and these kinds of teams. And we were 50-50, we won and lost against them.
So we had decent results, but we expected too much from ourselves and that eventually, when we didn't have the results we needed—or wanted—, that broke our team. I definitely want to, at one point in my career, play in a Finnish team again. I do think that there is a lot of potential, a lot of talented players in Finland, we just need a correct environment and correct players in one team that can really thrive and work on teamplay, just being a team and going forward.
So what are your thoughts on the two most notable teams in Finland in the moment, iGame.com, that made it to the Minor, and HAVU, that is up and coming now?
I have to say that I haven't followed that much, so I don't have really deep insight. iGame.com, they have been playing with almost the same lineup for a long time, which is really respectful. They've been improving bit by bit. But I'm not sure how far they can go with this particular lineup, but they've been doing OK so I guess if they believe in it, it's good for them.
About HAVU, many of them are my ex-teammates, from a few years back. I've played a lot with them, so I would expect them to be the number one Finnish team at least, but they haven't done so well right now and I don't know if they play enough or what is going on with them.
In PENTA there are also two Finns, suNny and zehN, they have been doing a really good job and they also qualified for the Major so I'm really happy for them. It shows that we, Finland, we do have talent, but somehow we can't figure out to have a Finish team that can at least compete against the top15 teams.
Let's recap the fnatic game that was pretty tight, and what it means for you going forward?
We were pretty happy to get fnatic in the draw, as we have a pretty good idea how they play. It seems like their playing style fits ours really well. Lately, we haven't had that much problems playing against them, even though they games can be a bit tight. This one as well, we got off to a flying start, 6-2 or 6-1, but we kept forcing some things a bit too much and then they got money control.
A team like fnatic, even though they haven't done so well lately, they still have unbelievable individual players, if you give them space they will take it and you will lose rounds. But as CT, we knew exactly how we wanted to play and there was one key round when kioShiMa won a 1v2. Though, after, it was 12-9 for us and we lost a 2v5, because of a bit of a miscommunication error on B and olofmeister having a huge, huge round. Other than that it was quite straightforward.
NiP is here at the tournament, they went 3-0 in the groups so they qualified straight for the playoffs, and they had some good wins as well. Again we see them making a change and then having a good result straight after that. You've been on the team so you can maybe share some more insight on how the chemistry is inside of the team when someone new joins and how that, seemingly, always boost their results in the short term?
I mean, the main thing is, this has been said for many, many, years, f0rest always seems to fire up when there is a change. I don't know, he's a friend but I don't know what it is in his head that just clicks after that. Maybe it's just fresh blood, new stuff, he plays more freely, maybe he has more space, he doesn't go with the old routines, tries more stuff... And usually, when f0rest plays really well, NiP wins, at least lately. That is what he has been doing in this tournament.
Also, we practiced quite a bit against NiP before coming here, the change in practice from when they played with friberg and when they play with REZ now has been huge. I'm happy for them, the scene lacks NiP, they are legends, so I at least want them to compete for titles and to be able to win tournaments. But not against us, of course.
It seems to be working for them, it's only the group stage here, so it's too early to say, but I've watched their games and they seem to play good Counter-Strike. We have to take into account that they have only played Cache. We don't really know where their strengths lie. But it's also an advantage for them, as they only showed strats on Cache, and they changed the lineup so nobody really knows how they look on other maps. I'm 100% sure that they have a lot of tricks on other maps as well. It's going to be interesting to see how far they can go. It would be interesting, after the Major and the holidays, to see how much they can improve from here to there, and can they keep it up.