Sonic: "We put the name of South African CS on the map"
The South African side had to settle for second place at DreamHack Winter as they were defeated 0-2 by ENCE in a one-sided grand final.
Still, Bravado can only be happy with what they achieved in Jönköping, with this being only the team's second LAN event of the year, the first for which they have qualified since moving to North America.
In this interview, Sonic and T.c discuss the team's performance in the title decider, the differences between European and North American Counter-Strike, and the impact that this second-placed finish will have on the South African scene.
While the event overall has been an immense realization of effort for you, in the final itself you pulled up short against ENCE. Was the grand final what you were expecting or could you have hoped for more?
Sonic: To be honest we got the maps we were hoping for. We just fell short in the end. We didn't play our own game and they played theirs. We fell into their trap. So the result is unfortunate, but we tried our best. We got this far and we're proud of where we have come.
What was your game plan heading into this match-up against ENCE? What was your game and how would it have looked if it went your way?
Sonic: If things had gone our way, the scoreline would've looked very different. We expected to play a solid T-half on Inferno. But, unfortunately, it didn't happen. We hoped to bring it back on the CT side, but their game is really solid, so it was so hard.
What does this result mean for the future? This event is clearly the culmination of months of effort, the extension on Project Destiny and the realization of potential. What's on the horizon?
Sonic: We're never going to stop grinding. This is only the start of something big. Especially for everyone here and South African esports. We can only hope we can replicate this result in the future and take the trophy next time.
I was talking to Fadey earlier about the bootcamp scrims you've had here. From your perspective, how did the scrims translate to LAN games?
Sonic: When we came here, we decided to come a week early so we could scrim these European teams and all. That gave us a better idea of how we were against these teams and the kind of standard we were playing. It allowed us to set a level for our game and have a better expectation heading into the LAN. So it really allowed us to be better prepared and more confident going into the games. That played a big factor.
T.c: It really allowed us to test our map pool before coming here. Because obviously the maps we play in NA have different playstyles and approaches than here in EU. We weren't sure coming here what our strong maps were going to be. We kind of play all the maps and are comfortable on them, so coming in earlier and getting scrims on the maps allowed us to see which maps we wanted to play in the tournament and which we wanted to avoid.
That's one of the more interesting things about the difference between online NA and LAN EU competition, right? That difference in playstyles and map approach. How did you see the difference and plan to counter it?
Sonic: I see the difference, I think the Europeans teams are very solidified in their structure and gameplans. They play a much more proper version of Counter-Strike. We find the NA teams to have a lot more different styles but all these EU teams kind of play a similar style of CS, which is more of a proper style. So I think we can take that back to NA, grind it back into our game.
T.c: We play a more structured brand of CS, we play a very European style. And that kind of makes it easier for us to play against that style, whereas when we come to NA and all these teams are kind of just rushing us, bursting us, we are kind of like "what the f*ck are they doing?" a lot of the time [laughs]. But then at the same time, we are like, "that also works" [laughs]. So right now we are at a stage where we are trying to play a mixture of the two. So I think the main thing going back to NA will be not getting caught off-guard by that play is what we need to work on, mostly. Once we can avoid 'that' style of play, and counter it in our game then we will be able to put up a solid showing against NA sides.
One of the sub-storylines here for you was how well individuals like Fadey performed on a big stage despite being inexperienced. How important are players like him in your overall game plan and transition back to online NA play?
Sonic: I'm really proud of my team and especially Fadey. I expected the kid to be great and he's proving that. This tournament gave him a lot of confidence. He is young and this is his first international LAN, it's really important and I believe it will transition into further gameplay and really help grow the team to a new level.
T.c: I think it's really going to help with our confidence. I mean we've only had one international tournament before this, back in March, which was the first international tournament for both Fadey and J.T We didn't really have a lot of confidence in that first tournament, but everyone saw what it was about and how you sort of have to rush setting up and play. It's a quick thing where you have to get comfortable as quickly as possible. And I think now that everyone has built some confidence, heading into future tournaments and online matches I think it will be different.
While this result will clearly benefit you in terms of confidence and experience, how will it translate to benefiting the South African scene as a whole?
Sonic: I believe it's just the exposure we give the scene and the fact that we put the name of the scene on the map. We represent South Africa, and, hopefully, a lot of big organizations will see that and pump their investments into the country.
T.c: And also for the people back in South Africa, just to help keep them motivated, showing them that they can do it. Even if you are in a such an isolated scene, if you want to do this for a living, if you keep pushing, keep working hard, it is possible. It's always possible. You can make your dreams reality.
Max Melit covers DreamHack Open Winter 2018 for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter.