ImpressioN: "NASR is a very capable team; it's kind of a grudge match-up"
We spoke to BOOT-d[S]'s captain Anthony "ImpressioN" Lim and coach Alexandre "alecks" Salle about their recent progress, roster situation and the cheating scandal that occurred at the Chinese event.
Currently ranked 56th in the world and fifth in our Asian rankings, BOOT-d[S] topped Group D on day one, which was reduced to three teams following Royal Bandits' decision to pull out of the event due to visa issues.
The Singaporean side edged past FrostFire in the quarters, but fell to NASR on the final day. Current coach alecks and ImpressioN opened up about BOOT-d[S]'s roster changes, their results at eXTREMESLAND and the one-of-a-kind cheating scandal.
You have been Singapore's eXTREMESLAND representatives for three consecutive years. In 2016, you finished top four, and then top eight in the 2017 edition, so what was your goal this time and how was your preparation ahead of the event?
alecks: We are the second highest ranked team here, so we were hoping to reach the grand final, but NASR prevented that from happening in the semis. Our preparation for this event was not the best (laughs). We practised with two stand-ins for two weeks.
ImpressioN: What alecks said, we had personal commitment issues but we did have a bootcamp before travelling to China.
Your organisation has been lying low on your current roster, with Bobosaur and moxie filling in recently at events. What's going on with the roster behind the scenes?
alecks: Our roster is currently in transition because Benedict "Benkai" Tan will be going to the army for Singapore’s compulsory national service for two years and Alikhan "w1nt3r" Kopzhanov has visa problems, so we do not know who we will pick up yet. Right now, we are just trying out different players.
For now, Benkai is still a part of the official BOOT-d[S] roster but we are looking for stand-ins or players that will slot into our positions well.
The South East Asian region lost one of its two slots in both ESL Pro League Asia playoffs and Asia Minor. Considering you are the top team from this sub-region, what is your view on these changes?
alecks: Obviously I don’t want the slots to go down for SEA.
ImpressioN: Honestly, it’s probably fair. If ESL is the one handling the qualifiers, then they will do it properly with double-elimination format, proper seedings to the playoffs bracket and everything. ESL know what they are doing, we’ve played a lot of their tournaments and we never had any issue with the way they host the qualifiers. Personally, we would like to see another SEA team go over with us, assuming that we go (laughs). The fact that there is one slot left now is still manageable for us to take and I don’t think it’s a huge obstacle block.
Previously, fnatic 1.6 legend Harley "dsn" Örwall was coaching this team and alecks, you replaced him but none of this was announced publicly. When did this occur?
How does dsn's coaching differ from alecks?
ImpressioN: I think the main difference is that Harley has very good analysis, whereas alecks is more suited to being a coach for us. In a sense that we can always ask Harley for hint on our how to become better players. When it comes to being a better team, Harley isn’t as certain as alecks because alecks keeps up with the meta-game, he also knows what strats are good for us, what sort of playstyle we should have on different maps.
I honestly think both of them are incredibly smart and invaluable to us with their work in analysis and coaching. When they combine it all together, they give the information to us and we learn from that. I think that’s how we improved when we had a stable roster previously.
Briefly touch on how the group stage went and why the team was extremely vocal in the FrostFire series?
ImpressioN: The groups went fine for us as expected. It's unfortunate that Royal Bandits pulled out, because I would have loved to play the Turkish team. This time around, we managed to prove that we are the best SEA team in the tournament.
Singapore and Malaysia has always had this friendly rivalry. We see this as a domestic match-up because they are our fellow country neighbours. The two-man core of acAp and aimaNNN on FrostFire along with myself and splashske on dream[S]cape, we've faced each other many times at LANs and our games are always both intense and exciting. This time around the stakes were high and we managed to come out on top.
In regards to the OpTic India incident, BnTeT tweeted out that most of the Asian CS:GO pros knew Nikhil "forsaken" Kumawat was suspected of cheating on SoStronk neXt (PUG platform), did you know about this already?
ImpressioN: To be completely honest with you, forsaken has always been a questionable player. I am a part of the SoStronk neXt player council and ever since his debut in the platform, he has had very questionable rounds and clips surrounding him. There was a time when he got removed, but we added him back in later when ESIC reduced his ban and he joined OpTic India, a globally recognised brand. We assumed he must've been legit, especially after he gained some traction within the well-respected community members of the Indian CS:GO scene.
I was watching at the main stage along with alecks because there was a chance that we would play either OpTiC India or Revolution in the quarter-finals, depending on who wins the series against FrostFire afterwards. Suddenly, there was a pause and a bit of a commotion at forsaken's PC, I saw 6 different admins surrounding his PC and immediately I jested "oh no, they must've found cheats!" (mainly due to the history and reputation of him as a player).
So I texted in my WeChat group to my team that forsaken was cheating, also as a joke, but little did I know that before his PC got surrounded. There was already a dodgy clip of him during the Cache game. My teammate Tommy came into the arena to join the rest of us and he raised his voice saying "REALLY AH? CONFIRMED CHEATING AH?". This was f**king hilarious considering the fact that the entirety of the OpTic Indian roster had their headsets off and was already away from their keyboards, so they probably heard Tommy's words. I definitely feel bad for the other four players on the team.
To wrap up the interview, what are the key takeaways from the loss against NASR?
ImpressioN: NASR is a very capable team that I feel are kind of a grudge match-up when they play us, mainly due to the fact that we've played against each other multiple times and it's so exciting and close for viewers to watch. The last time we played them (ex-Risky) at LAN was ROG Masters Asia 2016, where we won the semis over them, 2-0.
I think we've put in a lot of work for this tournament but a lot of that was on the T side, except for one map against FrostFire on Nuke. You could see that our T-side was excellent. We had lacklustre CT-sides on many maps because of our lack of preparation.
We choked hard on CT and threw away a lot of rounds, it was kind of unlucky for us that a delayed technical pause helped calm them down when we were in the lead. We lost our momentum and they got the second pistol round on Inferno, which helped keep them in the game. We are going to keep working hard to fix our mistakes and weaknesses.