After picking up his first MVP medal in Oakland, REZ sat down with HLTV to run us through how it happened.
A grueling series between NiP and the European powerhouse FaZe ended with the Ninjas taking the match, and title, after going the whole five maps. Fredrik "REZ" Sterner, who shone through the whole tournament, took the MVP title with Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg coming in close behind.
In the interview, REZ notes the importance of the team's mental coach on both the collective and with him individually and runs us through some of the keys of the grand final that took place at the Oracle Arena.
During the group stage, draken said he expected the team to play well at this tournament, did you expect to play the way you did at the beginning, and especially that you would be able to make it all the way?
I expected it would be a tough and rough way to the playoffs, but like he said we put in a lot of work to get a routine, and our mental coach Jens has done a lot for us. That's a huge part of what we're doing now, and I'd say he's a part of this win. Letting mistakes go and keeping the frustration away is huge. If I make a mistake and just cry out loud and I'm unhappy and send out bad energy to the team that has a domino effect on the whole team and would keep us down.
It was easier having this mental state that lets us just fight and fight and fight every round. Even if we had an eco and got one or two kills we would be happy about it and keep the positive energy flowing through the whole game. I would say Jens is doing the most to keep us in that state of mind.
A lot of people were really impressed by you personally, your composure, playing on stage at a final of a big event, was there any personal preparation going into this match?
Everyone in the team has these individual sessions with Jens and this is something I talked about with him. I needed to work on keeping my calm and my positive attitude on the big stage and in the big matches, even when it gets tight. I just need to keep the calmness and he's the one to help me to keep that state of mind all of the time. That plays a huge role and it's a huge part of this game. If I would have played this tournament a month ago, when we didn't have Jens, I would have been shaking because there's so much pressure.
Going into the match itself, kicking it off on Cobblestone, there were some tough clutches lost and traded rounds, but you eventually ran away with it.
First of all, we didn't think they would let us pick Cobble. They decided to ban Nuke so we were just happy. We went into Cobble with full confidence. We practice it a lot and they haven't. They don't have much of a record on that map, so we just played our own game the whole way and it worked every round. The only rounds we lost were just 1vs1s and 1vs2s because they are such good individual players. We didn't try to adapt because of that. We knew our standards and defaults worked, so we just kept playing our game.
After that came Inferno, and without being able to exploit the B site like against SK, it didn't go that well.
They were definitely better on Inferno than us and SK. They're a good Inferno team and we knew that. We didn't expect to destroy them or anything. We played our own game but that didn't work too well. We tried to adapt a few things but it didn't work so we just tried to let it go.
Against SK we abused banana control and it worked every time, but FaZe really want to fight back in your face and they took banana control over us every time and we couldn't answer to that.
After winning Train it went to Overpass, which is a pretty good map for you guys. What happened there?
Going into that map someone spilled water all over my mouse and my mouse pad, so I was pretty tilted about that. I went into it with a bad mental state. I tried to fight it back because of what I've learned from Jens, but it didn't go that well.
The map overall, I don't really know what happened. They were just playing really aggressively and we just didn't have an answer. Like on A, rain is a really is really strong playing on the offensive when he should be defensive, and we really didn't know how to face him.
And finally Cache, where you won...
We went in with an open mind, ready to fight this all the way through. It's an up and down map for us, it's not a bad map or a good map, but this time our own game turned out well against their standards and defaults.
Something to notice about this final, and this event, has been how crucial your opening rounds have been. You're aggressive and good at it, is there something to that?
Yeah, of course, like I said before, Jens is doing all of that. Before Jens, I feared to play my own game. I was too scared to do things like going through smokes or making the important plays. Basically, when I talked to him individually he taught me that I have to trust myself to make these plays and to not be scared and do my own thing. This is what NiP has been doing before Oakland and what we're going to keep doing into the future.
Finally, talking about the future, BLAST Pro Series and Pro League is coming up. How are you going into that now after winning Oakland?
After this, I'd say we have a bright future. At these upcoming tournaments, we just want to prove ourselves even more, because we've worked really, really hard. Working out, eating healthy, exercising, doing mental sessions... We really want to prove that we're a top team.