Renegades had a rough start in Odense, as they lost their first match at the ESL Pro League Finals to HellRaisers. After that, Gratisfaction's side were able to beat ViCi and BIG in best-of-threes to secure a spot in the lower bracket final against G2
In the interview, Gratisfaction touches upon the Toyota Masters in Bangkok, life on the road, how he joined Renegades, Aaron "AZR" Ward's leading style, and how the Oceania team known for being laid back is "the right amount of chill", among other topics.
You were at Toyota Master Bangkok before this, how was that event for you?
I think it was the first event they did so it was kind of a shoddy setup, we got there and it was three tables with all of us on them, the tables weren't even full tables, they were like two half-tables put together and it was super shaky. The PCs were really horrible to play on but all of it was kind of amateur, I guess, but every team was on the same playing field. We did play alright, we obviously wanted to win that event, but coming to the semi-finals we stopped playing how we wanted to be playing I guess and didn't read the game properly, and Heroic just booked us on that and we were eliminated in the semis.
Since it was an amateur-ish tournament, did you not take it too seriously?
We took it seriously, it was just that some of us were tilted by the FPS and the monitors and the stage we were playing on was super flimsy, so when the admins were walking back and forth we felt the movement. We just weren't playing at our best.
We haven't talked to you since you joined Renegades, how did it all go down?
I got contacted by one of the managers, Jeff, a good guy, and he was just like "We are looking at players and we want to check you out". He asked me a bunch of questions, getting my thoughts. I answered all of them and he was like "All right, if we need you, we will get back to you". So I shoved it aside, put it out of my mind and kept playing with Grayhound. Then one week, on a Sunday I think, he called me up and it was like "Yeah we want you, so make a decision and as soon as you make it we will get everything done". He wanted a decision by Wednesday, I made the decision to go and the contract was in the very next day. I signed it and I was on the plane on Saturday. So it was basically a week, not even a week for the whole period.
How much do you believe in this team, that you can compete at a high level?
I have a lot of faith in this team. I was kind of on the fence about joining just because I really loved my old team, the environment was super-chill, we were a team of mates that are competing really well in our region. So to leave that team was super-sad but then joining this team, everyone is just really good at the game, unbelievably. I didn't expect them to be at the level they are. The firepower and the comms are really good right now. If we just keep it up we can obviously make it to the top. We need to iron out small mistakes and get the basics nailed down to a T and then we should be all right.
Tell me a little bit about that actually, building a team, two new players... it adds some kinks, you are starting something new. How has the adaptation been to playing international events and so on? How is that evolution going?
I'd say it is going pretty good now. To start with, I probably wasn't as comfortable as I should've been, that was just on me, not knowing my limitations, what I can do and everything. Jay (liazz) has been put into a different role so he had trouble adapting and learning where he was playing. But besides that, I think everything is going well, we are growing with the team, becoming friends, getting more chemistry together. The coach as well, he is fun, he is really helpful as well, he is really good.
How about moving? How is that adventure going?
It was a sad time, you know, saying goodbye to a lot of mates and all of that, but it's all right, though. America's all righ, you know? It's not great [laughs], but uhm... yeah, we're kind of in the middle of nowhere, so there's not much we can do unless we drive somewhere. After officials or whatever we'll head down to the local township.
Where are you exactly?
About an hour North of Detroit. It's kind of boring, so we just play CS all day.
Well you have to qualify for a lot of tournaments, then, you can get out...
Exactly! At the moment we've been on the road for a month and a bit, so we've been getting out.
How is the travel going, actually? Are you getting used to it?
The best thing was the Toyota competition, they flew us out in business class, so we were able to lie fully while we were flying... So good! I think I've actually spent more time outside of America than in America since joining, just because of all of these competitions and so on.
Let's bring it back to Odense and talk about Pro League Finals. First match was HellRaisers, a tough match-up. How did you feel going into that match against a team with a new player?
I don't know, really, I was just expecting to go in and have a super tough match that could go either way. In the end, they just showed up and steamrolled over us. We weren't making mistakes, they were just outaiming us, running out anywhere and just killing us. Later on, on the same day, they beat Astralis on the same map, so what are you going to do...
You beat ViCi, which was somewhat expected, and today you played BIG, who seem to not be playing to their full potential. How did you see that match-up?
I wasn't worried, but maybe the public would say we're the underdogs because they've shown consistent results over time, I guess. Our coach doesn't like playing them, or maybe it's someone else, but someone doesn't like playing them, but I wasn't worried. We practiced and we knew what maps we would be playing, so we just did everything we did in practice and we shot better than them.
You're facing the winner of G2 against HellRaisers, which is G2, but did you have any preference?
I know our coach doesn't want to play G2, but I don't really mind, and after getting busted by HellRaisers I'm more keen to play G2.
How about having AZR calling, how is that coming along? Is he getting more comfortable?
When I joined the team I didn't actually know who would be calling. Before I signed the contract I didn't even know who I was replacing. I could have potentially been a rifler, but yeah, I found out he would call when we started practicing. I'm super pumped, he always keeps the energy levels high, makes sure people don't stay quiet, and he reads the game well, makes good calls, good mid-round calls... I'm actually super stoked.
This may sound like a strange question, but do you think you guys may be a bit too chill?
I remember watching an interview in which Nifty said Australians are too chill. He made a comment saying that the Australians on the team may be too chill and that could be kind of bad because there's not enough enthusiasm or fire.
Would you agree with him?
I wouldn't. I'd say it's a good level of chill. People rage a little here and there, which is good, it's good to have a bit of rage, but besides that, it's good, it's a good level of chill, it's a nice environment to play in. The only problem is we have a slow start because we're chill, like comms aren't always top, and that's
Is that something to improve?
Yeah, we need to get hyped before games or something like that.
Maybe that's on kassad? He seems more emotional...
Yeah, exactly. I like him, he's a funny guy.
Other than that, do you have some goals for this event?
We want to make playoffs, and obviously, the goal is always to beat Astralis, right? [laughs] If we can do that, I'll be happy. But we beat BIG, next up is G2...
You have to go through some of the smaller bosses before the final boss...
Yeah, exactly, [laughs] First the smaller bosses and then the raid boss.
Lastly, being a fairly new team with all this travel, have you had time to set things up? To work on your map pool and so on?
We definitely haven't had enough time to practice, it has been tournament after tournament. Basically, we do preparation the morning of a game or the day before. Our map pool could be more complete, and I think if we would have had time to practice we could have beaten BIG 2-0 by taking out Overpass, but yeah... not much we can do about it until we get back from holidays.
Going back home?
I'm originally from New Zealand, but I'm going to Australia to see family and catch up with the Grayhound boys!