FalleN's SK made it to the Oracle Arena after beating OpTic 2-0 at the ESL Studios in Burbank. We caught up with him for an interview after the victory.
SK started out with a clean 3-0 record on the first day, but eventually went through groups in third place which pit them against OpTic in the quarterfinals. After beating them today, SK will have a day to travel to the Bay where they will face NiP on Saturday.
In the interview, Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo runs us through the preparation and expectations of playing OpTic today and NiP on Saturday, how competitive the top of CS is, and boltz's progression in the team.
Day one started off great for you, but yesterday was a bit bumpy with Astralis mounting a comeback on your first match and then falling to Cloud9 on the second. How did that set the stage for today?
It's funny because every time we have a good day during the group stage, the following day isn't that great. It's not something that's really on our mind, but it just happens this way. In the end what matters is getting out of the groups. It doesn't matter if first or third. Sometimes you go through first and you end up playing the best team in the other group because they failed or something, so the main thing is just getting out of the group stage, and since we did that, everything is OK.
Going into the match against OpTic, they're a bit of a strange team to analyze because they're a strang mix of players, and quite inconsistent. How did you plan the match?
We decided to go with Overpass because it's one of our strongest maps these days, and we basically just fixed some issues we had against Astralis yesterday. As I always say, every single defeat is a learning experience. We failed on some basic stuff against Astralis and that cost us the T rounds, but this time against OpTic we didn't fail and it went much more smoothly.
We knew they could pick Inferno. We thought they were going to go with Train instead but they ended up picking Inferno which has been one of our weakest maps, although we can definitely play it. We've shown that in the past. With boltz coming in we can make some adjustments and I think this map will be great again. It was a difficult map because they started winning but I think we played better in the end.
You're playing NiP in the semifinals at the Oracle Arena. Will there be any special preparation going into that match?
The plan is winning. That basically means we won't go in too deep into analysis or preparation. We just want to have our minds clear and be very determined on what it is we want to do. It's not a disrespect towards NiP, but I think if we play our A game we can beat them. It's about doing our stuff correctly, not getting nervous, not overthinking, and just playing the CS we like to play.
karrigan said right now you and FaZe are the teams to beat. Would you agree with that statement?
Honestly, I think there are many teams doing great right now and I've never seen CS so stacked. It's funny because you see a lot of top teams losing maps against teams you don't even know about, and teams are always trading maps at the top. If you look through CS history back in the days there were teams that if you knew you were playing against them you were going to lose. I don't think it's like that right now, it's just that in the long run, we tend to do a little bit better than others, which is why I think we make it to finals and win more trophies. Playing more and more maps we can make decisions better than other teams.
Since the inclusion of boltz, you went to Brazil and so on, so weren't able to practice with him much, how has his adaptation been going now that you're getting some more maps under your belt?
It's going really well. The decision to get boltz was really well thought out and he was exactly the player we needed. After the experience with felps we felt like we needed a very different player. It's not about who is better, it's about what roles we need and being happy playing them. felps had to change his game a lot, I said that in the past, and it's not easy to become another player. It's very hard. The way boltz came in, he's just ready to do the things we need. He likes to play where we need him to play and he's bringing some extra stuff. He's a really good aimer and he can turn rounds around for us because of it. He's also a smart player, knows when to play, when not to play, and he has good communication. The base of SK, fer, FalleN, coldzera, TACO, is already there, we have a lot of things prepared, so it's basically just "boltz, you do that and that and that." He's a smart guy, after one or two times he's ready to go forever.
How has he grown since the Luminosity days?
What we didn't like about boltz back in the days, despite his aim—he was a beast, we won our Major spot thanks to a five seven play by him—, and having the potential to be the player he is now, he was a little bit lazy and didn't take criticism the way he does now. He wasn't looking to fix his mistakes as fast as he does now. That's why we decided to change him, but getting other experiences outside our team with other players changed him, so now he's the exact player we're looking for. The perfect player to chill with outside the game, and very smart in the game.