We talked to an estatic Justin "jks" Savage shortly after Renegades defeated Faze to secure playoff status and an appearance on the Qudos Bank Arena stage.
The Australian heroes had a successful first day at IEM Sydney, claiming two victories which ensured them a top two spot in the group and a place in the playoffs.
Renegades managed that with a win over local team Legacy and a three-map, marathon upset over FaZe, with the last map going into quadruple overtime. Following that match, we talked to Justin "jks" Savage a standout performer in the series.
You started the tournament against Legacy and they had a decent opening. What was the feeling at that moment like, were there any flashbacks to last year's Sydney, where you lost Chiefs, a local team as well?
I want to say that there wasn't, but there definitely was. (laughs) Before the game as well, some of us were thinking about that, me in particular.
They had a good start because they hit some good shots on the pistol round, we won the anti-eco but after that they reset us. They were actually pretty sharp, we didn't really know what to expect because that's kind of what happens when you play underdog teams that don't actually play that much.
I think we kind of screwed up the vetos, because their Mirage is apparently really good, but our Mirage is also pretty good. We didn't know what to expect in the first few rounds but then we just adapted to what they were doing and from there on out, we just played our own game.
After that, you play FaZe. Obviously, you are 0-5 in maps against them so it's a poor record, give me your thoughts going into that matchup.
I mean, FaZe is obviously a very good team, they are ranked what, two or three right now? And they have top four placings at every event, so it's obviously going to be a very hard match. We are 0-5 in maps, but personally, I feel like it's been pretty close, some of these games, it's been 14-16 two times, maybe the other maps weren't that close, but in my mind, it is pretty close when we play them. I actually enjoy playing against them, they are players I've watched a lot and learned a lot from, so it's fun for me to play against them. Especially this time, of course, overtimes on the third map and stuff like that. But yeah, I think we were more prepared for FaZe than we were for Legacy.
Starting with the first map, it was 10-2 for them on Train, and after that, you personally put in a great performance. How did that happen, where did you pull that out from?
T-side Train we started slow, we won the pistol but then lost the next few rounds after that. I personally especially started slow, I wasn't having the greatest game. I felt like I wasn't getting any opportunities, and when I was, I was doing 70-80 damage and I wasn't actually getting the kill. That kind of plays in my confidence in a lot of games. If I don't have a good start, sometimes it's hard for me to pull the game back. I know I can always play good, but it's just hard to bring it back sometimes. Luckily, in the second half I had a good pistol round and from there on out, I just brought it back.
I was AWPing a lot, that is something we practiced in the last few weeks, just having that double AWP, since I feel like it really helps our team. Especially when we had NAF, we double AWPed heaps, and that's why we were doing pretty well. So we just decided that I and USTILO can pick up the AWP sometimes and obviously, that has been doing good for us.
After that was Overpass and it seemed like an inverse of the first map, you had a good start, you won the second pistol, but after that, the T-side gun rounds didn't work. Anything special you struggled with there?
CT side I think we got good momentum at the start and we were just hitting our shots. I think we just carried it on from the Train game, since we brought it back, everyone was high on momentum. Our CT side is actually pretty good, we have a lot of setups we can play. Overpass has never been a good map for us, historically, but we've been working on it heaps so we are comfortable playing it at this event.
Then we get to the last map, four overtimes in the end. How did it go from your perspective? From what I saw, there were a lot of clutches and then when the camera cuts to you guys you are just laughing... I don't know, I guess the best way to deal with the pressure was just laughing? What was the deal there?
Yeah, in the overtime it was very back and forth, We won one round, they won two rounds, then we won two rounds and on and on. I think we were just laughing because the rounds that we won, we won a 2v5 I think and some weird clutches. And it's like you said, the only way to really get rid of the pressure is just to laugh. We weren't angry or anything like that, we were pretty happy that we were playing even with FaZe. None of us were really down at all, everyone was in high spirits, we were just having some fun, and it was actually a really good match. Even if we lost it, it would've been a really good match, obviously we'd be bummed if we lost, but yeah, it was a really good match.
You obviously achieved your goal right now and what six or seven thousand people that bought the tickets were hoping for. How does that feel, you're going to be playing in front of the crowd this weekend?
Last year we didn't make the stage, we had a very disappointing performance, and after that, I was very very disappointed and very sad. I mean, it's always been a dream of mine to play in front of a home crowd. Ever since last year's IEM Sydney was announced, I was really motivated for it, and to have that kind of ending to it was pretty crap. This year I was very motivated for it once again and I put in a lot of time individually, I was playing a lot of deathmatch, a lot of pugs, I was watching a lot of demos. The fact that we succeeded this time is honestly just a dream come true. I know it's only quarters, or potentially semis, but I think this is the first big stage we've actually played on, in particular, first ESL stage which are obviously very amazing, the crowd is always great. So just to have our first actual on-stage appearance, and for it to be in front of our home crowd... it's really incredible, I'm ecstatic about it.
I think we went over everything, but is there anything you wish to add, maybe for the fans this weekend?
I want to see every fan in the arena, actually it's going to be really incredible, I don't know how we will deal with the nerves of having all of the crowd in front of us, but I'm sure we will come out swinging and I'm sure we all just want to put in a really good show for the crowd. We want to hear the chants and see the shooeys. We just want to do very well, and yeah, thanks to everyone for buying the tickets and coming to support us.