FaZe found their groove in Chicago, where they went on a three-match win streak against LDLC, MIBR, and Astralis, to secure a semi-final spot at the IEM event. Now, they are set to face the local team, Liquid, for a spot in the grand final.
Some of the topics touched upon by rain in the interview include learning how to read Astralis, the dynamic between Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and Finn "karrigan" Andersen when it comes to preparing matches and calling, and the atmosphere in the team after a good result at EPICENTER and a good start at IEM Chicago.
You won all of your matches and are straight through to semis, how is that sitting with the team?
It's really good, we're finally getting our confidence back after a rough start to the season, and with everything else going on... but yeah, our confidence is slowly coming back.
I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the EPICENTER win. As you said you had a rough start to the season, did you think you'd be able to turn it around winning in Moscow and going straight to semis here?
Yeah, of course, despite the letdown at BLAST, where we went out in groups... although when we lose at BLAST it doesn't feel the same as losing at another tournament because the format is so weird and you have those useless matches at the end, but coming out of EPICENTER we knew we had our confidence back, and we knew we could play. Astralis wasn't there, though, so we had to beat the big boss before we can say anything and now we beat
them, so it feels good.
As you said, Astralis weren't at EPICENTER, but you got to play them here. Did you think you'd be able to 2-0 them?
Yeah, I think we're starting to understand their game a little bit better than we used to. Every time we played them before we'd get hit with 200 grenade damage every round, and I feel like now we're starting to understand how they play, we're learning and developing.
Tell me a bit about how the calling is working now. Is it all NiKo or is it a shared thing? What's the dynamic?
NiKo prepares the matches, he says what we're going to do at the start of the rounds, and then if he runs out of ideas or gets a bit lost karrigan jumps in to help out. He also helps NiKo a lot with the mid-round calls, so it's a good combination for now.
There have been some rumors and whispers about karrigan's future, even perhaps this being his last event. Is there anything set in stone or can anything happen?
There's nothing set in stone. We told karrigan we're going to try this out, that he's going to be our support and NiKo is going to try and call. We haven't said anything about last events or anything like that. A newspaper in Denmark twisted his words and it came out as if BLAST could have been his last event with the team, but nothing is actually set in stone. We haven't even sat down to discuss anything, so...
Now that you're in a good spot to win another event, and having won EPICENTER not too long ago, are you confident you can take it all the way?
Yeah, of course, I definitely see us going all the way here in Chicago, but I don't know... I think Astralis have something up their sleeve that they didn't pull out during our match, and I think they'll play a little bit differently if we play them later on. Also, Liquid is still in it and they're always a tough opponent. We'll see how it goes, but we do at least feel confident.
You're going up against Liquid in the semis, too.
It could be a good or bad match-up against Liquid, on some days we can cut right through them like no other, and sometimes they can do it to us, so I feel like them and a team like mousesports are pretty evenly matched up against us, although we just beat Liquid at EPICENTER.
You had the rough beginning of the season, and you're turning it around now. Have there been any other changes than the NiKo/karrigan role swap that have helped?
We haven't really changed much, that's really the only big change. Of course, NiKo calls a bit differently and does some different stuff, but other than that our practice is the same and everything else is basically the same, so really it's just the IGL change.
Right when NiKo took over the IGL role, he said he was hoping to get some help from RobbaN. Has the way he works changed at all with NiKo being IGL now, as opposed to how it may have worked with karrigan?
Yeah, I think NiKo and RobbaN are working together. I know NiKo wants to do a lot of VOD watching himself, and he writes all of the stuff down. I do think they're working together, though, but you know... I usually just sit in the background playing deathmatch (laughs). So yeah, it's up them to figure out the matches.