Winstrike's tactical coach pipsoN: "We got a four-day break at most, we were preparing for the Minor all the time"
Our first interview from the CIS Minor is with Winstrike's tactical coach Daniil "pipsoN" Mescheryakov, who walked us through the team's evolution since the lineup's creation in October and discussed their competition at the Minor.
Winstrike are through to the playoffs from first place in Group B, where they first defeated Runtime 16-6 on Dust2 before coming back from a 0-1 score in the series and 6-11 on the second map, Cache, against AVANGAR.
After the match, we sat down with their tactical/assistant coach pipsoN, to find out how the revised lineup has progressed since its creation and how they see their competition at the tournament.
Can you first tell me about when and how you came into the team?
Firstly, when Winstrike approached WorldEdit and wayLander and they accepted it, we had played in the same team, we tried to gather a team and stuff like that, so in the wake of that, they offered me to become their tactical coach. That's the time when I joined, like a week after wayLander and WorldEdit joined the team.
How does this team work from a role perspective and in terms of playstyle?
We discussed every single playstyle we approach on the maps, so we are able to change our playstyles during the matches if something goes wrong. It's become way more complex, way more complicated, way more tactical, there is not as much freedom as there had been before in the team. We decided to change the style we play totally compared to how they had played before when they had played with more freedom, right now we are playing with more structure.
How does that compare to the rest of the CIS scene, which is known to be fairly aggressive? Would you say you're unique in that way at this level in the region?
You can't say unique, as you know B1ad3 is doing the same stuff and higher-level teams usually do the same thing. But mostly, I think CIS teams just gather up and have this mix style, using their communication, not discussing things like 'what are we going to do here if the opponent does this', act situations in which we will react in a certain way, and stuff like that. And that's the way we are trying to go with this team. From the middle level of the CIS teams, we are kind of unique in that way, but compared to the others it's totally the same.
What has been the process of creating this playstyle and practicing with the new lineup leading up to the Minor?
When I joined the team, we had one month before the qualifiers to the Minor. Our training day was that we started at 2 PM and we had discussions for the first two hours every single day, then we played three practice games, had a one-hour break, then we played three practice games again, and then we discussed what was wrong. So it was really, really hard, it was 20 days and then Winstrike offered us to go to a bootcamp. We went to that to start practicing for the Minor qualifiers and we played that from the bootcamp and won it. After that, we got a break for maybe five days and we went to the bootcamp again and stayed there until the New Year, almost. We celebrated the New Year together as a team and had two more days off before we started to practice for the Minor from January 2.
It sounds like the break didn't affect practice at all.
At all, we got maybe two, three, four days of a break maximum. All the time we were preparing for the Minor, all the time we were doing something.
Talk me through your first match here against Runtime, what made that so one-sided?
We kind of expected the maps we were going to play in best-of-ones, so we knew what they were going to ban and what we wanted to ban. We played our map, Dust2, started on the strong side — at least I think the T side is really strong on Dust2 if you play it properly, even if you didn't see that against AVANGAR —, we started to play our own game and it worked really well, we reset them twice and it just snowballed. When you reset them on Dust2, they can't win the game.
Next you met AVANGAR, whom you already touched on with the opening loss, but then you came back from 6-11 on Cache, so what allowed that run for you to win the series, in the end?
We prepared Cache a lot. I also think Cache is kind of a T sided map and we played quite poorly on T side, but then we won the pistol round — we won seven out of eight pistol rounds here, which affected the games a lot — and AVANGAR are a team who is really, really emotional. If you break them down a little bit, sometimes it's going to be hard for them to recover. When we did that and we started to take a few rounds, the score was 12-11 or something and we won the most important round of the game, reset them again, and we realized that that was game.
A lot of people see the CIS Minor as the hardest Minor to predict, how would you rank yourselves among the others, especially now that you beat the team that most people favored to win?
When we came to the Minor, we had no idea which teams were going to be the better team compared to others because we didn't see them play for like a month. Most of the teams didn't play at all and one month is a lot, if you get a bootcamp you can change your map pool completely, you can change your decision making, the roles, everything. It's totally unpredictable, the teams come and you have no idea how they're going to play. You can tell from the past, but you can be surprised. That's why I think the CIS Minor is really hard to predict.
How has that idea of how these teams will perform changed since then, now that you're through to the playoffs and we have had the first day of play? Which other teams do you think could be dangerous here?
I didn't watch how they played, I only know the results, but I'm a little shocked that Gambit lost. I thought they were going to be really good here. All the others were kind of predictable, that Spirit was going to win and that AVANGAR were going to win the first match. For me, it's not the confidence or something, it's just that when you come to the tournament from which only two teams who qualify, it doesn't matter who you play, you need to beat everyone. You just come here and you need to play your game, if you play your game on a good level, you're probably going to win.