TaZ: "The mood in the team is still very good, we are not happy, but we are working"
Virtus.Pro had another tough event, losing to Immortals, SK and Heroic in the ESL One Cologne group stage. After the event finished for them, we managed to sit down with Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas and learn about the Poles' problems in 2017.
The Polish side's struggles continued, as they have now been eliminated in the groups of the last three big tournaments they played, IEM Katowice, StarSeries S3 and now ESL One Cologne. In Germany, the Poles did show some promise in the opening match against Immortals, but SK and Heroic proved to be too tough to handle in the end.
You had a good start to the year, second place at the ELEAGUE Major, then first at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, then after that came the two very bad tournaments for you. Tell me how you went through that phase, going from the top to a very bad form, how was that period for you?
Well, it's not easy, we had a good start to the year, which, I actually think that the China event (WESG 2016) was a big, big upset. But overall it felt like the year started well, that we are very strong and everything is clicking. But after Vegas, I think we got complacent, but we tried to do some stuff, work on our game.
The thing is, I don't think that we underperformed in Katowice, I tink that we actually played a good event. We lost two close maps at the beginning, Na`Vi and North. We were very close to comeback against North on Cobblestone and then they won the force buy, which obviously won them the game. Against Na`Vi I think we also had a good start on Train, but we somehow gave it away and they owned us. And in the end, it came down to the game against Heroic and we, unfortunately, picked their best map at that time. Which was also a good map for us, but they had a good approach and took us by surprise.
Overall I felt like Katowice was a good event for us, I felt comfortable going into the next events. But we did many changes after Katowice, we worked on different aspects of the game, but I think we forgot about just playing the game, playing it the simple way, how we always like to play the game. Adapt to the opponents and play simple, not some crazy tactics, right?
And we got destroyed at StarLadder S3, then we changed some stuff in-game again, we changed leadership in-game, we changed positions in-game. Basically what we did was changing a line-up, in a way. Because, for example, I play Nuke for 17 years I've always been covering the upper site, and now I'm covering ramp. So for me, it's the first three months of playing ramp on Nuke for example. And this happened on other maps as well. There had to be time to adapt to it, and during this time we had to play Pro League, and we played really, really bad.
I think, overall, to make it a short answer, we had a pretty good start to the year, but then we got lost in our heads, how we want to approach the Katowice event, the StarLadder event. It feels like we are playing better and better, but we simply didn't show it at this event. We are doing a boot camp now, and hopefully, we will show it in Krakow. If not, then we have a break, and after the break, with fresh minds, we will try again.
After that, the thing that happened to you was getting relegated to ESEA Premier. So even though its online CS and all that, that officially marked your falling into the tier two competition, in a way. Did that hurt you a bit more than what people maybe think it would?
Of course it hurts, It's not like we don't care about Pro League or we don't care about ECS, we care about all of these online leagues because LAN events of this leagues are always great and overall, the media exposure is really great in those events. So it sucks for us to not play in the next Pro League season, but it also gives us a big hit in our head and egos, that we need to give more attention to the online play. And not only the official games, but also practice games. We tend to have a very bad approach to practice games, and we need to change it, and we are changing it at the moment.
And maybe it's a good thing for us, obviously, there will be a lot of jokes about Virtus.Premier—that are in a way funny—but this is also a good thing for us to just refresh our heads and play against all the teams that we usually have problems with. We always had the biggest problems with, how you say, the tier two teams, or even teams worse than that. We always seem to play to the strengths of the opponents. So if we learn in Premier to play against all these teams, then it can only get us faster back on the track.
Touching on this event, in the map against Immortals, you showed some good executes, something new that people didn't see before. But in the end, they managed to close out the game. Can you talk me through that match a bit, what went wrong?
Basically, I think that the game against Immortals was going well for us. We underperformed as CT, I didn't play to my best on CT on Cobblestone which is usually a good map for me. Other than that, I think it came down to boltz pushing us, we were waiting for the push for like ten rounds, then he pushes in one round after a technical break. So it kinda sucks, but that's what happens, he had the balls to do it.
Then we went alley, and just lack of a pure execute. When we killed lucas there should be a push to matrix, taking the alley, but the guys stopped for like 2 seconds which gave kNg the time to get his great play. These actions, in my opinion, decided the whole outcome of the game. If we took one of these rounds it would be a lot closer, it would probably be overtime or something like that. But this was a good game actually, in my opinion.
After that, you lost to SK, maybe not a big surprise considering their form recently, and then again you faced Heroic in the elimination match. Again, the Danes took you out, tell me a bit about that, was the approach a bit different now, considering Katowice? What went on in the match?
Obviously, against Heroic we didn't want to give them Nuke, we wanted to play other maps, and we were able to play Cobblestone. And then you saw us just failing miserably on our T side which was just a pain to play and a pain to look at when we watched the replay.
I think this is something we need to take back and have a different approach when we are playing. It just feels like we are giving all the teams a very big amount of respect in-game. It feels like other teams don't respect anyone. Nowadays, Counter-Strike is all about pushes, it's more about aggression, and just playing simple tactics. When you want to execute, do some cool stuff, fancy stuff with smokes, you are very lucky if you do it without losing a player.
So I think this will give us a fresh approach to the game. Obviously, we should have been wiser than that and we should be prepared, but we weren't. So it's our fault that we failed, respected teams that used it and they destroyed us.
You have... not that much time left to the Major in Poland, your home country. You touched on it before, but tell me a bit what your mentality is and what are your goals, what do you want to do, fix, or change in the next couple of days?
I think it's just about playing time. We need to just play the maps, change a bit of our approach that we already discussed, be more aggressive in-game and just have fun, see how it goes. There is no need to be stressed or take on more pressure because we are losing a couple of events, that is the way you make teams disband.
You just put immense amounts of pressure on the players, on a team, and you expect them to perform. And there are events, there is enough pressure on teams. We are not going to push ourselves in any way that can discourage players. We are going to play our game, hopefully, we will show a good side of Virtus.Pro, because you didn't see it for like half a year.
I just wanted to get your comment on pasha's Facebook status, how much can we actually read into that, what did he actually mean?
I don't think it's so serious, that we have a big problem in our team, it's just a message to fans and people that he sees what is happening with the team, that we are not standing and just looking, that we are trying our best and it's not working. Maybe you should also ask pasha, because when you ask me, I can tell you that the mood in the team is still very good, we are not happy, but we are working. That is the attitude in the team, we will work until we win. It worked for three years for us and even though we didn't have a big span of wins in a row like other teams do, we always manage to come back. We will see if we are able to do it one more time. Hopefully, we can.