Joe "tolkienfanatic" Cardali sat down with Engin "MAJ3R" Küpeli after his team's run in New York, where they finished in second-place in the ESEA MDL Season 26 Global Challenge and played their first match of the ESL Pro League Relegation.
The Turkish squad's demise in the MDL Global Challenge ended up being AGO, who they lost to twice—both in the group stage and in the grand final. Space Soldiers also played the first match of the EPL Relegation, where they lost to Natus Vincere, but they will still be fighting for a spot in the league, with eXtatus or GODSENT waiting in the next matchup.
Read our interview below to get to know more about MAJ3R's opinion on several topics, including his view on Space Soldiers' run in New York, their chances of making it into the ESL Pro League and even the Turkish scene.
After playing the ESEA MDL Finals and the ESL Pro League Relegation, your run in New York is now over. In general, how do you think the events went for you?
We lost the [ESEA MDL] final versus AGO. It was a little disappointing, they played very well and we did a lot of mistakes, but it is all OK. After the New Year, the goal was to do a bootcamp before the Major, but when we got to know the date of ESEA MDL, we thought that it would be a good bootcamp for us since it had a real LAN environment and it could be a good training and experience.
I think it was a good event because although we did a lot of mistakes against AGO, that might pay off in the most important matches of the Major. Generally, I am not sad, it was a good training. Everything is for the Major. The main goal is the Major.
Before you played AGO, you had a semi-final against eXtatus, which you basically pulled out of thin air at the very end. What do you have to say about that series?
We won on Inferno, especially because near the end they did a lot of mistakes like we did versus AGO, probably because they lack some experience. However, it was a difficult match against both of them, AGO and eXtatus. In our opinion, it was good for us because we are not at 100%.
We are practising as we are used to, of course, but, since the New Year, we are still trying to get to our Europe Minor shape. I think that in the end, generally, it was a good thing for us, even if we lost [a map] against eXtatus. We won some experience here, so I hope it will pay off in the Major.
What is your itinerary after leaving New York?
We have a flight to Atlanta tomorrow, and then I do not our schedule, not even when is our first match. But yes, we are leaving New York tomorrow.
What do you think about the Major happening right after the player break? You have been at this event, but most of the teams have been off for a while now.
I do not think everyone has problems with that. Everyone celebrates Christmas, New Year's Eve… but as far as I can tell from what I check on Twitter, teams are doing like a 10-day bootcamp in January. I think that each team has its own preparation, we had a good one and I think that every team will do the same. For me that it is not a problem because we are all on the same page, it is not like someone has a better situation or not. The date is the date, and I think there is no problem with that.
You were also here to play the ESL Pro League Relegation, but unfortunately, only one match was played because of weather issues. What do you think of the teams in that event, and how do you see your chances there?
I think we did our best versus Natus Vincere. Of course we did a lot of mistakes, but they played very well and deserved to win. In my opinion, we have a better chance to win against GODSENT and eXtatus. I do not know if the matches will be played on LAN, but it would be better for us. I also do not know the date, only that it will be after the Major. I think that we can do it although GODSENT is a very good team. They beat us in Spain [WESG Europe & CIS Finals], so we need to do our best to win that match.
What do you think of the fact that every team on the Major main qualifier has stickers now?
Some top players are saying that it loses its value, especially since now every team have stickers even if they are tier 2 or 3. I do not see it through this eyes, although I can understand their point, because if you see it from the other perspective, it is a boost of motivation for young players, and even for their own economy.
It is good for the community, for Valve, for the fans who can buy the stickers they want, everybody wins. For me it is a good thing, but, once again, I can agree with pro players that might say that it can be a bit unfair. But it is ok.
Earlier in the event, GruBy from AGO said that the European Minor is harder to get through than the Major qualifier. Do you agree with that?
I do not know if I agree, but yes, the Minor in Europe is very, very difficult. For example, when you see teams like NiP and OpTic not even in the Major qualifier… especially if you look at NiP losing against PRIDE in the Europe Minor closed qualifier, and then winning IEM Oakland.
There is a little chance to make it to the Major qualifier. I am glad that we did it this year, but maybe there is something to be done, maybe mix some regions or add some more slots. Everyone has his own opinion on that, but I think that the last decision has to be one made by a group of people that are able to come up with a fair system.
You spoke about motivation earlier, so, if you make it to ESL Pro League, how are you going to ensure that your team stay motivated?
We want to play against the best teams in the world, and that happens in ESL Pro League. Every week you play and that is a good thing. There, it does not matter if you win or lose. It is always about winning experience, and if we want to play against the best teams in the world, we have to be in EPL. It is as simple as this.
Earlier in 2017, you were using DESPE instead of paz because the latter had some personal issues. Can you go into any detail about what happened there?
paz had some personal issues, but now he is back. He did not play for two months, which is a lot of time. For him, here, it was a long break return. DESPE will remain as our sixth player, so when someone has some personal issues or can't play, we can use DESPE whenever we need. That is a good thing for me as a leader because he knows everything about the team and my strategy. For now, we are with paz, which is good. We are motivated and we will do our best in the Major because that is our most important goal.
We do not really see teams with six full-time players. How do you make sure DESPE is in the loop if he does have to fill-in?
It might be something very difficult for other teams, but in Space Soldiers it is all the person who did that, our manager Canpolat "hardstyle" Yıldıran. He created the team, but first he created a link between the players. When ngiN was the sixth player, or DESPE now, they completely accepted it. When our manager says that they have to play, they will give their best for the team. We are all a family, and it was him who put us together.
He is very talented, especially as a psychologist. I am glad that I can work with him, but the fact that we are six players and that everyone gives their best is all because of him. hardstyle managed to turn everyone into true professional players.
We saw DarkPassage disband recently. Do you think there are still enough players in Turkey to create a viable Turkish team?
We have recently created the Turkish Pro League alongside FACEIT, and there was a lot of players joining. I still have not checked enough of the Turkish community, but I know there are a lot of good players. Still, the main problem with Turkish players is that they still do not know how to play like a team. They do not know about that because it is not cultural, Counter-Strike in Turkey is not like in Denmark or Sweden, where when you play you think more about your team.
But TPL is a good thing. We can see if there are any upcoming players, or maybe they will just win some experience when they play against or with Space Soldiers players. They can win some experience as the main goal of the league is to play as a team, more than when I play FPL or ESEA. It is a good thing for Turkey, and I hope that in the future there will be another team like Space Soldiers to represent our country.
After the Major you have the WESG World Finals. What do you think about that event in general? Do you feel like the fact that being able to use your core line-up gives you a leg-up on a lot of the other teams?
Yes, it is an advantage for us. In Barcelona [Europe & CIS Finals], we lost against GODSENT and beat fnatic, so I think it was a good thing since we had not played a lot with DESPE. I like the idea of WESG making a tournament with one-country line-ups. Looking at our five players, we have an advantage and of course we are going to use that. Last year we were on the top four after losing against Virtus.Pro and EnVyUs if I recall correctly, so we have a pretty good chance to shine there.