We caught up with Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro ahead of G2's first match in the ELEAGUE Premier playoffs and quizzed him on his team's preparation for the knockout stages of the $1 million tournament.
G2, who are currently ranked second in the world, booked their spot in the playoffs after finishing second in Group A following a defeat to Natus Vincere and victories over Renegades and Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko's men.
This will be the first offline appearance from the Frenchmen since then as the DreamHack Masters Malmö champions failed to qualify for ESL One New York, September's biggest event, and did not take part in ESG Tour Mykonos.
With G2 due to take on Cloud9 in just a few hours, we sat down with Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro and picked his brain on matters concerning the team's preparation for Atlanta, their current standing in the ESL Pro League table, the longtime Train permaban, and more.
You enter the playoffs as the No.2 team in the world. How does it feel to be this close to the top? Are we finally starting to see the ‘super team’?
We are the second best team in the world in the ranking, but I feel like we still have a lot to prove since we did not perform at the most recent Major. It obviously feels great to be that close to the top position, but we are not going to be satisfied with that. Our main focus has always been to improve as a unit, to have five good players here to improve and to put in great performances. There is no super team, there is just a lot of work.
How have you prepared for the playoffs? You had a bootcamp in Berlin, what aspects did you focus on in practice?
We have had four weeks of practice since the group stage. We recently had a bootcamp, and we just worked on the aspects we have recently struggled with. This week has been really beneficial for the team.
This will be the first time that you will face the new Cloud9 roster. What do you think about the North American team and its new roster? Do you think they are stronger than they were at the Major, where you beat them in overtime?
This new Cloud9 roster has really good individual players. I do not think they have had that much time to prepare their tactics as they would have liked, since the team is very young, but they can rely on their skill, so they will give us a good fight.
Your group was topped by FaZe, who looked incredibly strong at ESL One New York. What is your opinion about them?
FaZe have been looking incredibly strong recently, even though they lost some matches in the past few days. I have not watched many matches of them, but when it comes to the few practices we have had against them, all of their players are very complete, with tremendous skill, and to beat them you will have to be in really good shape and make as few mistakes as possible.
You are currently in the bottom places in the ESL Pro League. What do you think that is going wrong there? Is it a tournament you are not prioritising at the moment?
We have always had rough starts in the ESL Pro League online phase, but I believe we will pull ourselves together and get as many wins as it needs to qualify for the playoffs. It is a competition that is a priority for us, but we have been practicing a lot and those late matches have been getting hard to handle. Right now, those weeks with long practice hours are over, and we will redo our agenda to be fully focused on the matches we still have left to play.
Do you think that playing online has been an issue? If so, why is that?
I don’t think it has been an issue, we know that a few teams are more aggressive online and do more things in this sort of matches, but you just have to adapt to that.
Looking at the past three months, you have only played Train once. At ELEAGUE Premier, you banned this map outright in all three matches. Are you taking any steps to integrate this map in your pool, or will you keep it as an automatic ban for the time being?
Leaving Train out was a good thing, our stats have never been good on it, even during the previous G2 lineup, and we have not found a way to get better on the map. We are not trying to improve on this map at the moment, we are focused on Mirage and I think it will continue to be one of our best maps in the upcoming tournaments.
You will not take part in WESG or in ESWC. In the former’s case, it clashes with Bast Pro Series. But in the latter’s case, what was the reason? Is it hard for you to pass up on opportunities to represent your country or to play in front of French fans?
We had to make a tough choice. WESG is taking a lot of time with its multiple qualification phases, and even if the prize pool is amazing, we are looking at the competition first. BLAST Pro Series provides a solid guarantee in terms of field of play with its invited teams, and I must say that its innovative format is really interesting as well. We are looking forward to being in Copenhagen.
It would have been great to play ESWC, but we have decided to be fully focused on the major tournaments for the second half of 2017 and to get proper practice time at home. We played in front of a French crowd at DreamHack Tours, and I have to say that it was an amazing experience. We would definitely love to come back in 2018.