AZR: "We've set a higher bar after the Major [...] we're coming for the win"
Renegades have just come off their victory over MIBR in the second round of Swiss in Shanghai, taking revenge for their quarter-final loss to the Brazilians at the IEM Katowice Major to go 2-0 at StarSeries so far.
In our interview with the in-game leader, we went back a few weeks to find out how the team had spent that time and whether they had managed to get a break after the long Major run. The 26-year-old also gave us his thoughts on Renegades shaky start against TYLOO and talked about his team's triumph against Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo's team.
Going back to the Major and what followed, I know that you stayed in Poland for a while longer to deal with visas, but from what jks said in our interview with him at the end of the Major, you wanted to keep your focus on the next events and balance it with a smaller break. Did you manage to do that, put in the right amount of preparation for this tournament?
Coming into this event, prep wasn't the greatest it could have been because the boys stayed in Poland while I went back to America because I stayed for too long in Europe, past like the 90 days or something like that, and they had to get visas for America, they still needed to get that fixed. So it was rough not having me there and just being in different timezones and stuff, so it wasn't the most efficient practice, but we still put in as much practice as possible.
So since you managed to get a bit of a break, after all, was that helpful to recover from the long run that you had around the Major?
Yeah, I definitely think so, it was definitely good to have a break. We could definitely feel, all of us, by the end of it after two months how much work we put into and how much we felt burnt out by the end, I guess, but having that break for a little bit and getting started with practice felt good. Coming into yesterday's game, actually, we felt that we hadn't played a tournament in a while, we could feel ourselves not playing like ourselves. I guess when we were up 13-2 and we sort of let TYLOO come back, it just felt like we weren't playing as a team properly, but today felt a little bit better for sure.
Looking back at that match, the whole series ended up being very close, so was that just letting your foot off the gas after some good first halves?
The first map, it was a bit of a steamroll in the first half and we let them back into it, we started pretty slow in the second half. Leading into the second map on Dust2, we felt pretty confident, especially being 10-5 at half. I think they just played pretty well yesterday also, but like I said before, it really felt like we hadn't played a tournament in a while. We just didn't feel like ourselves, we were playing a little bit nervous, a little bit scared, but it just didn't feel a 100%.
Today you played the rematch from the Major quarter-finals against MIBR, were there any big learnings from that previous encounter that you brought over to here?
When we played them at the Major, I felt like we played a little bit scared, we didn't play our own game. Maybe it was the pressure of being in the top eight and playing in front of the crowd and stuff like that. Coming into this game, there was definitely less pressure than then and we definitely wanted to get revenge for the Major after they knocked us out, so heading into the game today, we just had our gameplan, we fought it and we played some good CS.
One of the things you were criticized for in that Major series was the map choice, Dust2, which you didn't do here, I'm guessing that was also a lesson learned?
Yeah, I think so. Back then, we were feeling very confident in our Dust2, so heading into that match we were very confident, we all spoke about it, we knew it was Dust2 that we wanted to pick. Obviously, this time around we were leaning somewhere else, but we're still very confident in our Dust2.
This time, you lost your pick again, although it was Cache, so it didn't really matter what you picked apparently, what was that down to?
Yeah, our CT side was really rough on Cache, there were some rounds in which we weren't playing together, fighting together, and they just picked us off one by one. Credit to them, they played really well, as they are a very strong team. But Vertigo is coming in, so Cache... don't need to worry about it anymore (laughs). It was just a rough map for us and they played really well.
Well now that you mentioned it I have to ask, do you have any thoughts on the map pool change?
It's definitely different. I do like the change of a new map coming into the map pool, which is nice. I played Vertigo a few times in matchmaking, wingman, and stuff like that - it's pretty fun, but maybe not ready for competitive play yet. If it comes in, we'll just see how it goes and play it, no complaining, just get stuck into it.
Once again going back to jks's interview from the Major, he was talking about trying to be in the right shape to have a chance to win this tournament - after a couple of matches here, how are you feeling with potentially living up to that?
The Major definitely gave us a big confidence boost. Heading into this tournament, we're definitely looking to go for the trophy, that's without a doubt. After the Major, we've set a higher bar for ourselves and heading into this obviously Astralis and Liquid aren't here, the number one and number two, so we're coming for the win pretty much. We'll take it step by step, but the aim is to win.