neptune: "I think we can be top two in NA if we keep putting in the work"
Following Ghost's exit at the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals, we sat down with the team's newest addition, Jason "neptune" Tran, who talked about their skill ceiling and what the lineup needs to work on going forward.
Joshua "steel" Nissan's men came very close to making it to the playoffs in Odense, but ultimately lost a close battle with Natus Vincere in their lower bracket group final after beating ORDER and taking down their fellow North Americans in NRG along the way.
neptune was brought in in September to replace Ghost's temporary fifth, Kevin "kRYSTAL" Amend, after being on the roster last year, where he was forcibly moved to the bench after it was revealed that the American had not yet turned 16 and as thus wasn't eligible to play.
In the interview, the neptune opened up about the time away from the squad, their run at the EPL Finals and his predictions for the team's future:
Before this event, did you guys prepare in any way, did you bootcamp or anything, to get ready to come here?
For this event, we had a bootcamp. It wasn't exactly too long, it was around four days, and I think in the beginning it was a bit rough, when we were just getting started, but towards the end of the week it started getting better. Coming into the event, we were just looking to show everyone that we can be a top team, that it's not a joke, we want to be up there. I think we placed really well, just comparing ourselves to last season where we were almost relegated and got fourteenth place in North America. We also beat NRG in a close game here, that really just was a confidence builder.
Yeah, that's something I wanted to touch upon too, the NRG game. It's a domestic rival, you played them a couple of times. How did you feel going into that match, cause they were definitely the favourites, right?
On paper, we honestly feel like we have a better overall map out of the game, and against them, our map pool is just better. But it's up to us to stay composed and play our game in those close mid-rounds, not losing those close 1v2s and 1v3s, cause in the first game, that's what happened. We lost two 1v3s and two 1v2s and in the end we just slapped ourselves in the face and said to ourselves that we couldn't be losing those rounds. In the first map, we were already dominating, so we knew that in the [third map], we just had to do the same thing, so we did.
You also beat ORDER and took a map versus Na`Vi. Rounding out the tournament, how do you think you guys did, did you live up to your own expectations?
Well coming into the season, it was just about making to the event itself. And I think we surpassed our expectations greatly. Towards the end of the Na`Vi game, we were getting a little bit burned out, cause we sat there playing two best-of-threes that both went the mile. So in the future, I think we're going to try to get better at that and build up our stamina. But this just shows that we can play against the top teams, and with more practice and prep, we'll be up there.
So what do you think is the ceiling for this team, how far do you think you can go?
I think we can be top two in NA, if we keep on putting in the work. We've only been together for like two months, and fixing attitude problems, and trying to be more of a family together are things we have to work on. I just joined and everyone in the team is so much older than me, with Kenneth playing for years, just like Josh, and I just have to get used to it, and they'll have to teach me, and we'll have to come to understand that we're on the same level and are all equal.
Yeah, how is it coming in, for you, as the new guy, the youngster?
With Wardell, it's easy for me to just talk to him, but at the same time, it's hard for the others to talk to him, because they're new, where he's been on the team for two years. I'm trying to just go in, learn everything, take in everything I can from steel, koosta, subroza, and just have a great attitude and I think that's going to help us, having a great attitude, not getting mad, not raging at others and teaching each other instead.
This is the last event of the year, so have you talked about what the goals for the next year might be?
Our next goal is really to just practice more and get into the Pro League playoffs again, that's a huge goal. And then we have the Minor qualifier coming up, so hopefully we'll go through, and if we play really well, we can get to the major. We have to use all the time we have for next year to get better, because we've only been together for three months, which is hardly any time at all. I'm curious to see what we can do in six, nine, twelve months or so.
This past year, you had the spot in Ghost, but had to get off and play in other teams. How has that been, how have those trials gone?
So, about the age thing... It was a year-long break pretty much, and the first team I played on was Ghost Academy, which was a fun team, but we really didn't practice too much and were only using our skills to beat other MDL teams. That team, I really love them, they were really great people overall. Even if our roster wasn't on par with other teams, together we were positive enough to just play our game, and I learned that you need a really good, positive aura on the team to play well.
Then I ended up playing on some meme teams, like FeelsUnderAgeMan, a young team, and I actually ended up having to IGL there. It was fun, they listened most of the time, but some of them didn't listen. I wouldn't get too mad, it was just cause we were all young. From there I was just waiting on the news from Ghost and then I tried out, they liked me, and I joined up. They were trying out a bunch of other people at first, and I was told they didn't really want me, so I was just doing what I could, learning what I could, and eventually I joined in and, we had a good start to the season.