Ninis: "We'll play our game, enjoy ourselves, and try to surprise"
We talked to Viva Algeria the night before their WESG debut, where they will fight in Group H for a place in the $890,000 tournament's playoffs.
Viva Algeria is a national mix-team formed by different players every year. This time around, a new generation took over and will see their country represented for the first time at a WESG as the previous lineups could never make it despite qualifying for the World Finals since 2016.
(from left to right: Malikof, nOxii, Ninis and sabAAA)
In the interview, the players talk about the Viva Algeria mix team, actually making it out to China to compete in the World Finals for the first time, what it means for the team to be at an event like this, and what they hope to achieve.
So could you tell me a bit about the roles to start off, a who is who of the team?
Ninis: Yeah, nobody trained together during the past few years. This year it was just four players who all played with their own teams and got together as a mix team just for this qualifier, and we really had no preparation.
You're all playing and living in Europe?
Yeah, we all play in Europe, four of us are from Paris and one of us is from Lyon.
Viva Algeria qualified to this tournament for three years in a row, but this is actually the first time you'll play...
Ninis: Yeah, the team always made it through but always ended up having passport and visa issues, certain players always had problems, so it's finally the first year we can be here.
So you haven't been the same five every year?
Yeah, I remember seeing him in Haikou last year, actually. He still flew out all the way to China to be at the event even though he wouldn't be able to play. That's pretty cool.
nOxii: The first year, it was all of the old 1.6 players that qualified, but last year they all quit so now it's us, the youngsters, who are taking the place of the old guys.
So it's like the new generation taking over the tag...
nOxii: Yeah, exactly!
you told me you didn't practice much for the qualifiers and so on, but did you have any time to practice before flying here?
Ninis: No, mostly just individually. I was playing with my team, we had a couple of important matches. We played a few Faceits here and there together some evenings, looked at some stuff, but really next to nothing.
So being here, what does it mean for a team like yours?
sabAAA: Just being here is already a victory.
Ninis: It's a chance. This isn't going to give us a career, but it's a big deal for us, it's a huge bonus.
When it's all said and done, what are you taking back home with you?
Ninis: I think experience, and hopefully a good placing. But at the very least the experience of coming here is great, seeing an event like this, flying out to China, these will be great memories.
Talking about flying all the way out here. Is this the biggest LAN you've been at?
It's nice to see teams like yours, they don't exist much anymore, the non-professional mix team, it's a dying breed. I'm guessing you all work or do other stuff on the side?
Ninis: I currently play full time with my team, but three of the players are students and natsu has a job. But yeah, we can see that every year it's harder and harder to qualify as a mix team. Even teams that aren't very well known are still teams, so they have a certain preparation and teamplay. It's nice to make it as a mix team, with some friends, although we're not the only ones, there's also Russia and Ukraine who are mixes of professional players, but they do it because they don't have full rosters. And sure, they are mixes, but they're really experienced.
You're in Group H... Have you scouted your rivals?
Ninis: Yeah, we're playing Altima, the Mexican team, Alpha Red, and we'll finish off against Chiefs. We didn't really look at their strats and so on, more the maps they play to be able to have the best veto possible and to try and get to play our best maps, but not much else. We have a bit of information about the best player on each team, and we'll try to figure out how to isolate them and play well against them so they don't have as much impact, but we'll play our game, enjoy ourselves, and try to surprise.
Since we don't have much preparation, we can't think about anything crazy, anti-stratting and so on, we just need to play our game and play with the fact that we're a mix team and that we can do some surprising stuff and that's all.
Within the group, where do you think you're at?
sabAAA: We can win it.
sabAAA: When they look and see that every year the Viva Algeria team that qualifies changes, they're not going to take us seriously, which is good for us because then maybe we can try and surprise them.
Is there any match you're excited about?
Ninis: Yeah, we saw Alpha Red had some good results on LAN against good teams like TYLOO and AGO, but honestly we're just excited because we think we have a chance at making it through the groups. What would be really exciting would be to play a team like MIBR or G2 or something like that, a team that really is at a whole new level.
sabAAA: Maybe a little bit, but now we're just practicing and having fun...
How about tomorrow?
Ninis: We'll be nervous, I think, but it will be a good type of nervous. We'll just want to win. As we said before, just being here is a victory for us, so we have nothing to lose. I think we'll just go out and have a good time.
Any last words?
Ninis: Viva Algeria!
And thanks to anyone who will support us, be it French or Algerian, or anyone watching us on stream from anywhere around the world. Thank you!