Space Soldiers were able to start the tournament on the right foot, with a victory over SK, taking it in two maps, Cache and Inferno. Next, they will face one of the favorites to take the tournament, FaZe, for a spot in the playoffs.
When we talked to MAJ3R, he opened up about his preparation against SK, what he thinks is needed for support players to receive more credit, and the team's ups and downs in the past months, among others.
DreamHack Austin was a good tournament for you and your team. There, you showed that you can beat mid-tier opposition and take the trophy. How are you facing this tournament, where the teams are better. Is the approach much different?
I think you need to step up your level against teams like SK. I'll be honest, I don't prepare the same way when I play against mid-tier teams than when I'm about to play SK. When I play SK, I prepare the match better. I'm still doing my job when I prepare against mid-tier teams, but when it's SK I'll tell my teammates: "You have to step up your game because it's not going to be easy. You need to have a winning mentality." Every top team in the world, SK, Astralis, FaZe... if you play them without this winning mentality, you won't win. When you go into the server and think "Wow, this is SK", then you already lost. You have to go in thinking "OK, they are human, I am human, they're playing well, but we can play well also." We need to trust ourselves.
You knew your first match was going to be against SK, was there anything special you looked at that gave you an advantage?
Yeah, of course, I prepared the match. I predicted Cache and Inferno and those were the maps we played, so I was happy about that. Yesterday, we watched their demo against HellRaisers on Cache, and I saw coldzera and Stewie2K defend on B. I noticed coldzera likes to play in the first corner a lot, so I made some changes and added a molotov there, especially for him, which worked really well. Maybe it wasn't the molo giving the win every time we hit B, but it worked. We played well, we played together, and it was a good win.
In the end, I think the whole team prepared well. It was the first time I talked to my teammates a lot. Before, I tried to do stuff alone. I didn't want to collapse them by calling "they're doing this, they're doing that" all the time. It was just in my mind and I would try to find good answers to what was happening. This time we played well and they played well. It was a difficult match and I'm happy that we were able to win.
What do you think it is that gave you that edge over SK, is it maybe something related to motivation?
Yeah, something like motivation, but not motivation. I think the difference between them and us today was our hunger. Maybe we wanted the win more than they did. They are a very great world-class team, so if we want to beat a team like that we need to play the best CS we have, and I think we did, especially on the T-sides. We didn't play as well Cache during the CT-side, because we had some difficulties with communication. In the end, I'm happy for the team, but it's just one match. We need to keep working. It's not like winning against SK means we won the tournament. We need to stay humble and keep our feet on the ground. We have two days to practice and work before we meet FaZe.
Talking about keeping your feet on the ground, what are your expectations of the match against FaZe?
When I say keep our feet on the ground, it means keeping that hunger. I don't care if it's SK, FaZe, or whatever opponent. We are going to prepare for FaZe like we do every match. They're playing with cromen, it's not their full lineup, so they'll also be hungry for the victory. I hope it'll be a great match.
You now have the longest standing roster in CS. How important is that for your development as a the team?
I think it's a good thing. I'm not the type of person who, when faced with a problem, wants to kick someone. That's not a solution. The solution is to fix the problem first, to give a chance to my players, and if I make mistakes that they do the same for me. It's a team, we need to work together. You can't win alone. I think it's a great thing that we've played together for a long time.
We have some plays on certain maps that just come automatically. Losing Cobble was bad for us, and we need to work on the map pool. If we fix the communication issue we have, I think we'll become better over time. We try to give everything we have every match, and today was a great win. We'll keep practicing and preparing for the upcoming match.
After WESG, where the team seemed to be going in an upward trajectory, you had a couple of months with ups and downs, and there were some visa issues and you had to play with stand-ins. Now that it's a bit more smooth in that sense, do you think you're back on track to maybe even break into the Top 10 or something along those lines?
We were in bad shape, then good shape, then bad shape... up and down, as you said. It's normal for teams to go through that, I think. I don't want to predict I'll be Top 10, I just want us to do as much as we can with what we have. It's not easy being Turkish players, with visa issues and everything. I'm proud of my teammates and my manager because we face a lot of problems and we always stick together, like a family, which is the most important thing. Today was a gift to us, a comeback gift, a great win against SK, whom we respect a lot. Now we need to keep working.
You said the team is kind of like a family. There have been some rumors about problems with the organization after you blacked out your Twitter pictures and banners. Has this affected you in-game, mentally, in any way?
I'm sorry to everybody, but I don't want to talk about this. It's a personal thing between Space Soldiers and the players. We'll just to keep going and we'll give the best we have, which is the most important. That's the only thing that matters, giving our best.
Personally, you're a big advocate of the importance of recognizing the efforts of support players and have mentioned how they're often not credited enough for what they do. How do you think they could be made more relevant in the eyes of spectators?
I think that in order to be aware that a support player is playing well for his team, you need to understand the game. If you understand the game, really, you can understand that some support players are very important. It's not always about the guy that's going to get 25 kills, because he's not playing a more sacrificed role. When I say the support player is a "shadow player", it means he needs to do a particular job, because we're five players in a team and not every player can shine. You cannot have five star players. You have two or maybe three stars, and two players playing for the stars. I'm okay with that, I can give all my light to XANTARES, paz, and Calyx. I know ngiN also has this same mentality. Every time we have an M4 or an AK we drop it to them, small details that give the stars confidence.
To answer your question, I think analysts and commentators have the key, which is showing and explaining that the player who killed two guys in a certain situation may have done it because the rivals were blind thanks to a well-timed flash. For example, XANTARES can have a good opportunity in a play and kill two players. Then people on HLTV go like "Oh, XANTARES killed two guys, he's so skilled", but beyond that, there is a tactic, there is work done behind-the-scenes, there is a call, there is a flash, there's everything, but people don't see it. Also, I don't want to take away from the star players, they are very skilled and play very well, but it's important to have synergy in a team. That's actually the most important thing, the synergy.