FalleN: "We know the path we need to take because we were in this same situation in 2015"
We sat down with MIBR's FalleN during the BLAST Pro Series Miami media day at the Watsco Center in Miami, Florida, where we went back and talked about the Brazilian team's run so far this season, from a promising beginning to some more ominous results at the following events.
In the interview, FalleN goes back to the Major, MIBR's best event since bringing the gang back together, the dynamics of reuniting with old teammates, finding motivation when results aren't as expected, having a tough tournament schedule, and the need for the team to reset mentally, among other topics.
Let's go back to when the team started. You had the Major as your first event, and it was a good event for you, better than many people expected. Since then, though, you have been struggling, with StarSeries being a particularly tough event. What do you think has happened? What do you think went on that made you start strong but come down after that?
We prepared really well for the first tournament, but the preparation is not just for one tournament, so it should lead us to play well in other tournaments. Then we went to China and had a couple of good games, but we actually struggled against Windigo. Those guys are dangerous, they play a lot of FPL and they're very skilled players. They had a good game against us, they caught us off-guard strategically on Dust2... they got the trades, they played it fast, and they managed to surprise us on that map. Then they managed to take the series on Overpass, and that defeat was hard for us because we expected to do much better in that second tournament and it just wasn't like that.
Then we traveled a lot and we didn't get good preparation. We also had very tough tournaments to play, like BLAST Pro Series in São Paulo. The teams playing there were very good and we definitely needed a better start to reach the finals. We had a couple of good games against ENCE and FaZe, they were very winnable, but we didn't manage to close those games out and they were better than us at the time. Adding all of that to the pressure we put on ourselves and the hype we had going through the tournaments, it was kind of a reality check and a come down for everyone in terms of what we expected. Now we just want to reset and start our preparation again. We know we can do much better and we know we have the team and the players and everything, and I'm sure we can do better. We just need to reset and start working again, just like we did for the Major.
I think that sometimes when you try to bring back an old team that was together at some point and then separated it's easy to fall into old dynamics or bring back some of the old bad habits, is that something you're having to deal with?
I think the main thing right now in regards to that is that Counter-Strike is much faster nowadays than it was before. People are looking for information much more than they used to in the past, they're challenging the strategic aspect of the game much more all of the time, so the style we used to play in 2016 is not the optimal style to be playing right now, and we understood that even before we started playing with this lineup. We tried to adapt in this sense, but as you said sometimes some habits and some things are in your mind and it takes time to get it changed, but we're looking forward to that, to changing those things.
We're trying to change our style a little bit, even our individual style, sometimes. There are times we're not looking for so much information and we're not being active around the map, we know that it doesn't work as often anymore so we understand it and we see the points and we use other teams as examples to try and improve all of the time. Sooner or later all of the players will improve and that will make the team stronger.
As we said, you started well and then went down a little bit. Does that affect motivation? Is it hard to be excited again?
I think we're excited, to be honest, even if we lose tournaments and are the last in line, we feel good in practice and the atmosphere is good. Even though we are burnt out from travels, we want to burn our last reserves to end this circuit we created for ourselves with all of these tournaments on a good note.
The excitement is definitely there and it's something good to take from this because I think with the results we've had this year, during other years it could be much harder to bounce back from and have everyone continue working without making changes and stuff like that. I think the team is getting stronger, mentally, in that sense. We just need to get some better performances to get the confidence back and play the game we can play because right now we're struggling and in my opinion it has to do with the fact that we're missing confidence due to all of these little defeats, the burnout, the lack of preparation, we sometimes make mistakes that we normally wouldn't and as soon as we fix that we'll be able to get the results that we want.
You say it's easier for you to not to fall into the thinking of changing players immediately now. What changed between then and now?
I think the maturity is definitely one of the things. The second one is that back in the days we were very used to be playing at the top and being the best team and fighting for titles all of the time, so not winning titles was our problem. If we made it to the finals and didn't win against the last team we'd say "hey, we need a change," and this mentality is something we don't have the luxury to be thinking about right now.
Right now it's all about finding the chemistry, finding the team sinergy that will take us there again and it's a process. We need to be a little bit calmer and understand that it may take more time than we want, but we know the path we need to take to do it because we were in this same situation in 2015. Teams were better than us, we had to learn a lot about the game, and we managed to do it by practicing, learning, losing a lot of tournaments, and understanding how the game should be played.
Back in the day the goal was always to win the tournament, right? Now, with these struggles, what are the goals?
It's kind of a ladder, if you're at the very top of the ladder you want to be winning the tournaments, but right now we're at the bottom, so let's be honest, we just want to win some games. Once you're at the bottom it's not that hard to become better, right? If we win one match here, it's going to be an upgrade already. We know we can do much better, we know we have what it takes to be reaching finals, and it's hard to say that we can challenge teams to be winning tournaments, but we know we can gain confidence game by game as we showed at the Major. We had a bad showing at the beginning there but game by game we got ourselves on the right foot and sure, we got stomped by Astralis, but who didn't during these last years, so you can't really say much about it.
When you're going through a rough patch, how important is it to have a good tournament to get that confidence back?
It's super important. Right now we're judging all of our tournaments by our mistakes, but the thing is that if we had won a couple of those tournaments or reached some finals or had better showings, then the atmosphere would be much better. By failing too many times in a row it gets much harder to get the right mindset and to really approach things differently. We definitely think that for the future we need to change this schedule and to play fewer tournaments.
You have to understand that once we went back to this lineup the expectations and the feeling was that we wanted to play everything we can and do all of the same things we did in the past, so we were excited to do it all again, but it's just that the order of the way things happened make it look bad, but I don't regret doing that. It's just something we're going to learn from and improve for the next tournaments.
You created this circuit of events, one after the other with not much time between them to fix things or change. Is there anything you have had time to analyze and change and fix?
We always have time to analyze the games we play and to watch the other teams playing and learn from them and their tendencies and what differs from the way we approach things. That happens on a daily basis at tournaments, we have our practice areas and after tournaments we always watch the matches to take the things from matches we lost or won, so this kind of work is being done on a daily basis, no matter if we're traveling or not, it's just the fact that Counter-Strike is a mental game and players need to be confident and feeling it to perform and with everything that's happening, if you look at our performances, they're at a level that they shouldn't be which is why it's getting so hard.
I have good expectations for this BLAST, the line is going to be a bit higher so we'll be able to do a better job. As a team I think we're preparing ourselves well enough in terms of strategy, it's just that our individual performances, to get the important kills, make the important decisions, the fast moves, we're just being a little bit too bad in that sense.
Earlier you talked about resetting and then at another point you noted how CS is a mental game, so don't you think that maybe stopping for a second, going home, having a more chill bootcamp or something like that... not having the stress of a tournament, that could be what helps you reset, get back into the calm mental state to go into the next tournament...
With a fresh mind, yeah. Definitely...
Everything you said is true and that's what we're looking for, but also we created our circuit and we can't go back from the decisions we made. Tournaments are expecting us, fans bought tickets to see us, and even though the feeling might have been "hey, we may not want to be in Miami, it's not the right time for us and we need to relax a little bit..." and on one hand we had that mindset, but on the other is that people are counting on us, the TO, the fans, and we have to show up.
It's important for us to do the best we can here and we're treating this tournament just as we treat every other one. We're going to try to win and try to do the best we can. After this tournament is over we have a little bit more time to stay cool, not that long at first because we have only 10 days before we go to Sydney, but after Sydney we're going to have almost a month and two weeks to prepare and reset and stay home a bit to get everyone comfortable again and get everyone hyped to play. So that's going to happen soon, but for the moment we're staying alive!