We caught up with Nemanja "nexa" Isaković to discuss his short stint on Renegades, Imperial's formation, their chances in Copenhagen Games' BYOC qualifier and what lies beyond the Danish event.
The 20-year-old Serbian player, who burst onto the scene with iNation back in 2015, had a four-month stint with Renegades in mid-2017. After leaving the Australian team, he helped to form MANS NOT HOT alongside well-known players from Denmark and Lithuania.
The roster was recently picked up by Imperial and will partake in Copenhagen Games' BYOC Qualifier at the end of this month in Denmark. We interviewed Nemanja "nexa" Isaković to talk about his time with Renegades, how his current team came together, and what they could do at Copenhagen Games.
You had a four-month tenure with Renegades. How did you feel when you got an offer from such an established team?
I felt really excited, I felt like this was my shot at the big leagues. But obviously it didn't go quite as planned.
After four months with Renegades, you were relieved of your duties. Can you describe the experience of playing for a professional team in a foreign country? What went wrong there and how did it help you develop as a player?
It was really hard at the beginning, especially because I went there to be the in-game leader—a role I had never had before, and that messed with my head and my confidence a lot. After Nifty took over the role I felt like I was starting to get some of that confidence back, but in the end it was simply too late. I don't regret my decision to play with Renegades despite not being able to do much good. I developed and learned a lot as an individual, both inside and outside the game.
Let's continue with the creation of this lineup. MANS NOT HOT were formed with two Danes, two Lithuanians, and a Serbian. How did these pieces come together?
Back when I was released from Renegades, AcilioN contacted me, we talked a little bit and decided to make a team based around the two of us and tenzki, but that fell through when he got picked up by dignitas. Later on, after the dignitas lineup fell apart, we came back to our plan, and because AcilioN wanted to be the in-game leader while Tenzki wanted a support role, we figured we needed more firepower so we tried to get the best aimers FPL/Rank S had to offer, and went with EspiranTo and kalinka at the time.
Did you guys decide to form an international lineup intentionally or was it something that ocurred naturally after you all ran out of options in your respective scenes?
Personally, I have been part of a lot of domestic lineups and I was never able to reach the top with any of those teams, so I wanted to try my luck in an international team, playing in my natural role.
Two months in, kalinka left the team and you added nukkye to the lineup. Why did kalinka leave and why did you choose to add nukkye? Did this have any impact on team roles?
kalinka didn't really fit in with the role he was assigned. We tried switching it up a bit, but it just didn't work out in the end, so we decided to add nukkye considering that EspiranTo was not really a main AWPer by nature and that's what we thought we were lacking at the time. Bringing in nukkye has helped us a lot, and letting EspiranTo play his main role has been really good for him and for the team.
You now have an organisation backing you up, Imperial. What kind of impact has this had on the team?
It has had a lot of impact because most of us were struggling with money and were playing a lot of FPL to try and earn some, which made our practice hours less frequent than they should be. As AcilioN said in the statement when we signed, being backed up by Imperial and having a stable monthly income are letting us focus solely on practicing and improving ourselves as a team and as individuals.
Copenhagen Games 2018 could be this lineup's first event on the international stage. What are your goals and expectations for the event?
We're in the BYOC Qualifier, so we are going to focus on making it into the main tournament first, then we will go from there. Personally, I want to make a deep run and face off against some of the best teams.
There are two Danish players on your roster. Do you think or hope that your team will get the support of the crowd because of that?
Hopefully the crowd will get behind us and cheer us on, because I know a lot of our players feed off of that energy and get more hyped the louder the crowd is.
What are your plans after Copenhagen Games 2018? Do you have any other LAN tournaments lined up?
We have no plans set, but we are always ready to attend anything that comes up. I think for us the best thing would be attending one of the DreamHack Masters tournaments.
You are currently ranked 35th in our world ranking. What would be the ideal ranking for you, both short and long term?
Short term goal is hitting top 30. As for the long-term goals, that's what the team is based on. We are hoping to crack the top 20 later this year, and we will work as hard as possible to do so.