Our third interview from the PGL Major Krakow is with Alexander "kakafu" Szymanczyk, whose BIG pulled off the first upset with a 16-8 win over FaZe on Inferno.
BIG managed to pull off the first big upset of the Major, defeating FaZe with a comfortable 16-8 scoreline on Inferno thanks to a powerful defence.
First of all, going back to the Main Qualifier, gob b said that you were going to work on your map pool as you had only prepared for four maps there, can you talk me through the work that you've done since then?
We thought about leaving it for the Swiss system, but our goal was to be top eight. We actually thought about it and we thought we can be top eight, because we had already prepared to beat the challenger teams at the qualifier. The goal was to get top eight and then we thought even more ahead, we thought 'what if we hit best-of-threes then?', so we can play these four maps, but if we hit best-of-three, we'd probably always lose the veto. So we had to put in another map. We took all the teams and thought about what map they like to play recently, and then we saw tendencies, and the tendency was Inferno.
We knew that we had to improve on Inferno, so we were really good on it, then we kind of left it outside, because we knew at the main qualifier that a lot of teams would have already practiced it and we banned it. So at the time, we went for Overpass, Cobble, Cache, Train, so we knew that we would win many vetoes against teams that were prepared on that map for the offline qualifier. So, we kinda had all these mindgames going on, but, in the end, we tried to get all the maps right, and we tried to get Inferno really good. And we did it.
You said you expected people to play Inferno, what about FaZe specifically, did you expect the veto to go the way it did?
It was exactly how we expected it. Our idea was to ban Nuke and Mirage, we knew they were good on Mirage and we don't play it that often, and we saw they were really good on Overpass, and for us it was really clear that they were scared on Cache, they even said it in an interview, and Cobble is their standard ban. So, we knew it was either going to be Train or Inferno, we prepared both maps, and it went to Inferno.
Before we get to the match itself, what do you think about the new veto format that we have, where you ban two or three maps in a row? How does it compare to the old one?
The randomizer was really bad, but this system is a little bit better for the teams that prepare, because in the one by one vetoes, the enemy can always hit the map that you actually wanted to ban. Like this, the team that starts banning two already had to have planned what the remaining two maps would be, they cannot react to the ban that we maybe do. I think for prepared teams, this veto is the best.
Getting into the match against FaZe, you were in control of the match aside from maybe the first 10 rounds of the first half, can you go through the back-and-forth at the beginning and taking over afterwards?
On T side, it was of course a fight, we lost the pistol in an unlucky way in our opinion, so it started there. Everybody played really well as T, but it's still hard if you lose the pistol, and we actually won a lot of equip rounds, and the last round we could have also won, so it would have been 9-6. We were actually happy with that result, and in the second half we prepared a lot of moves that we knew were going to work.
Then again, it was about individual skill, keev stepped up, tabseN had an insane round in banana, so in that kind of level of competition, everything comes down to the level of preparation and a lot of momentum, how your players are feeling, can all your players perform, hit the shots they need to hit, and I think we did. Three or four people were showing up and that was the key to success in the end.
You have players that haven't been to a Major for a while, with keev being a rookie, do you feel any additional pressure?
It's funny, actually, I think the main pressure we got was before the Minor started. There, we were like, 'ah, how are we going to do it' and stuff, but I think the key was winning the Minor itself. The moment we won the Minor, we kind of felt that we could get there mentally, so we can beat good teams, stay calm, get back from a 11-4 deficit and still win the game. That was a big experience for us.
And here, even though keev is a rookie, he's been playing for a long time and he has also attended a lot of events, he won ESWC and it wasn't a bad tournament. Everyone was kind of cool, and I think that was the key, keev kept his cool and we won in the end.
gob b also mentioned psychological things at the Main Qualifier, is there anything that you maybe figured out in terms of psychology that other teams don't do?
I don't think it is mentally-wise. In the game we had some stuff prepared that nobody saw before, and that's all coming out of gob b's mind in combination with LEGIJA. LEGIJA has a great mind, he has a lot of talent with grenades, if you say I want a grenade there, he finds it in like three throws. That's actually insane work that he does and he's overall a good teamplayer. These two guys work really well together and that's the preparation people will see.
It's just good within the team, the whole atmosphere in our house is really good, we talk about a tournament, we know what we want, we know what we can reach, and that's how we prepare, all together mentally, and come here and play calmly.
Do you think that's what helps tabseN have this form that he's been on ever since the team got together? He played with the same core in NRG, alongside gob and LEGIJA, but it's only now that he finds the insane level of impact...
Of course, and overall the German team. It's important that you have trust in your teammates, too, and everyone knows that they can trust each other. tabseN knows that he can make these moves, but if he dies, nobody really complains.
The system that gob b creates for the players allows them to play their style, how they like it, and it will not affect the overall gameplan. That's a big progress for tabseN, now he can completely play how he wants, he goes 'I want exactly this and this and it should look like this' and gob b says 'Alright, it will look like this, just run and shoot'. Overall, I think tabseN is one of the guys that has the most motivation, he wants to win, it's insane, if he loses, you can see on his face that he's really disappointed. The drive to win is what makes him a really good CS player.