allu: "Now we really have to focus even more, be even more hungry, and just push through"
Defeating Liquid and Natus Vincere in the playoffs of their first Major got ENCE a new wave of fans, with the stone-cold Finns surpassing expectations quite a bit. Despite a one-sided loss to Astralis in the grand final, the team was happy, but will not be resting on their laurels, allu says.
Becoming a stable top 5 team is the goal for 2019, with the toughest part ahead of them, the veteran believes. Prioritizing tournaments in order to be as close to their best form every time they are at a LAN will be one of the keys in doing so, allu says, while also giving some insight on the rumors about suNny joining ENCE.
With a bit of time between now and the Major, how do you look at the result you had there? Where did it come from, how did you manage to get that far into the tournament?
Before the Major Qualifier, or however it is called nowadays, Challenger stage, we practiced a lot, really a lot, and our games online felt really good, everything felt like we clicked really well. Then, coming to the Challenger stage, we only lost to Renegades, that was a tough match for me, personally, as my girlfriend's water broke an hour before the match, so I was not in the zone so to speak. (laughs) But then we bounced backed against Winstrike and coming to the Legends stage, obviously, the tournament was really long and that affected us a bit because we don't really like to practice so much at events. Even though we maintain our level which we achieve at home, we feel like you drain yourself out if you practice a lot, so we decided not to practice so much, just a few practices before the Legends stage started, and then we got Renegades again, actually the draw we wanted and we just... couldn't beat them again. (laughs) This time with no excuse, we practiced a lot against them and I think they got our number in a way. Perhaps we even underrestimated them, they have good players and a good system.
Then HellRaisers and BIG... let's not go through every match, but all in all, the Major run, we first had a goal to go to the Legend stage, then after we reached that, our goal was to go to the playoffs, and after we managed to do that, we had the goal to win the tournament. Obviously, that is pretty ambitious, even though people might think we can play, we are not really up there in people's minds. But you have to believe, right?
We felt really good when we drew Liquid, of course, they beat Astralis at the event before and everyone was thinking that they are in really good shape, that they are the main favorites to win together with Astralis, but we were actually happy to get them because we feel that our style matches pretty good against theirs. Then we win the game, we got Na`Vi and again, we weren't necessarily happy, but we also matched well against them. Even though we had to make a good comeback on Mirage, but how Na`Vi plays, their gamestyle is similar to ours, they trade a lot and then they clutch, we are good at that as well, not necessarily good as the top-top teams, but we can hang in there.
And then against Astralis... it would have been a bit too much, to be honest. (laughs) In the other games we had good energy before the matches, everything was pretty good, but also Astralis is, in my opinion, the best team, by far, at the moment. What fu**ed us the most in that part, obviously they played better, but it was also that we kind of started to expect ourselves to win, created unneeded pressure. I'm not saying that if we wouldn't have had this we would've won, but maybe the match would've gone a bit differently. All in all, it was a good experience for us, we just need to keep on climbing. We are proud we finished second but we are not content. We have a high goal for ourselves and, as does everyone else who plays this game I believe, want to be the best. We share that same ambition and we will work hard and hopefully, we will climb on and climb on closer [to that].
Did that placing change anything for you as a team? You've got a lot of attention in Finland from the mainstream media, but also on the inside of the team, after you finish second at the Major you are kind of expected to in, the next three months maybe, win a big tournament? Did anything change for you?
We have known that if we play our A game we can beat pretty much anyone since we have really put in a lot of effort to eliminate stupid mistakes which happen often, even in top-level CS. We discussed those things a lot and good reactions to have. In that sense, maybe we got more belief, because even though we knew it, we hadn't done it before. Obviously, we haven't had that many chances either. But maybe it adds a new belief that we can really be there.
I believe that the easier part is getting to where we are now, I would say that we are in the bottom half or middle of the top 10, somewhere there, but now people really know that we can play so they will put in more effort to beat us as well. As in before, we most likely put in more effort in beating other teams than they did to beat us, so it makes it harder. Now we really have to focus even more, be even more hungry, and just push through. If we manage to do that, I can see us becoming a stable top5 team this year, that would be our goal right now.
After you won that StarSeries event, we talked at EPICENTER where you had a bad event and you said that there was a dip in motivation, energy levels... How did you battle that after the Major, because we know that after good Major results a lot of teams, especially underdogs, go downhill?
We took a break, first of all, one week I think, so we had 10 days practice coming here. We practiced hard, so after three weeks in Poland I think this one week off was really needed. We have to be smart, I think Astralis also, they are really good at choosing where to attend and when, and this 'when' part is really important because they are never drained out and if they are not at 100% at an event, at least really close. This is also something we really have to think about because traveling all the time can be really tough.
At EPICENTER, that event was straight after Kiev, so it was a bit different. We obviously lacked the experience of tough event schedules, that also played a part, and when you are two weeks somewhere, then two days at home before you leave again, it is hard. Back then, we were a not a well-versed team as well, so we just try to go forward.
So the last question, I have to ask you about the sunNy report...
Is there any truth to it? I mean, he is obviously a top player, historically the best in Finland alongside you, I think there is no discussion there. So what are your thoughts on it?
I know Miikka, suNny, really well, in past teams and even six months ago, whenever we've been in different teams we've discussed the idea of maybe at one point playing together again. But for now, we are committed to this team.
If we would be able to get suNny—he is my opinion one of the better players in the whole world right now—we would have to see, but it is not my call. My thinking is that if you were [able] to get suNny, you most likely should, but of course, you then have tough decisions to make: who needs to go, is it even possible? I can't answer these questions, they are not for me to answer.