mertz: "I definitely think blameF is the leader type; you follow in his footsteps by default"
The majorly-Danish squad arrived in Australia in good form, after breaking into the top 20 of our world rankings and outplacing devils.one and NiP in the ESL Pro League group stage. Heroic had a disappointing IEM Sydney, though, finishing 13-16th after losses to fnatic and Grayhound.
Following Heroic's elimination, we managed to sit down with mertz who explained to us the team dynamics, talked about Benjamin "blameF" Bremer's leadership, how Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu fits into the puzzle, and what they need to do to stabilize within the top 20.
When you picked blameF it wasn't the initial plan for him to be calling, but he ended up taking that role. How did he, as a new player on this level, manage to pick that up and handle it pretty well it seems?
I definitely think blameF is the leader-type of a guy. He is a motivator, he is a really disciplined person as well, he puts in a lot of work. It is nice to have a leader which allows you to follow in his footsteps. He has grown a lot in the role by just playing in this tournament and also in Leicester when we went there.
It wasn't supposed to be him [in-game leading] at the start but it made sense now that we couldn't get a caller into our team for multiple reasons. He called in Epsilon as well, he has been calling before, definitely not at this level, but he is stepping up to the plate and he is getting a lot of help from Luis as well, which is going to make sense in the end I feel like.
You said he makes everyone follow in his footsteps in a way, he is inspiring, so is he forcing you to go the gym and do all of that stuff as well, is that his way of influencing the team
(laughs) He doesn't force us to go to the gym, he doesn't force us to do anything really, but when you have a person that is leading you and is also a motivator, really inspiring, then you follow in his footsteps by default.
So how is the relationship with peacemaker now, where does he come in as the coach? What is his main task now with blameF being the in-game leader?
We are still trying to figure out the best possible way for us to make use of Luis' (Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu) coaching and his experience. Right now, Benjamin (Benjamin "blameF" Bremer) and Luis are really working together on figuring out how we should play the game, what we can do to utilize our star players.
It has been kind of rough because Luis is obviously Brazilian and we talk Danish when we play, so he actually can't follow most of our communication unless we tell him afterward what we said and what we didn't say. So we try, most of the time in freezetime, to call in English so he understands the call, and then when we start playing the round, it is just Danish communication. But it has been rough to get Luis the information he wants to be able to coach the team and for us to still feel like we don't need to talk English all the time because that is kind of a burden when we have four Danish guys and a Swede that can talk Danish as well.
How is friberg fitting in there, from what I heard he is calling in English, but he understands Danish? That is dynamic in terms of communication?
He speaks broken Danish, but Swedish and Danish are so close that you can actually understand all of it, almost. So after a while, now that he has played in Heroic for longer than I have, even, he has been getting to know Danish words a lot more and he knows how to pronounce things differently. it was definitely a little bit of a hard time at the start but he has been getting really good at Danish, I can understand everything he says. I know stavn had a little bit of an issue at the start when he joined the team, communicating and understanding everything that friberg said when it is going a little bit faster, but it is getting along pretty well.
With this lineup, you've been having some decent results online, made top 20 on HLTV, then you had the EPL tournament where you advanced into the second group stage. The hype for you was rising, and then IEM Sydney happened. Was there anything that happened in the meantime that foreshadowed that you wouldn't be playing so well here?
Compared to our online performance and when we practiced up to this event, it is a big shame that we didn't do better than we did. I think it comes down to some of us being nervous and I think it comes down to inexperience as well. And we just didn't play up to our standards at this event, obviously. But yeah, it is hard to say what really went wrong, we need to get back home and watch all the games and we need to see what we did, the mistakes that we did and why we did them. Then we will just have to come back and see what we can do next time.
Was there a part of you that underestimated Grayhound in that game? Especially because you had big leads on two maps and then... they came back.
I think that we definitely didn't see them as an opponent we should lose to, but we never underestimated them. I mean, maybe when you look at the game and you see that we were in front so much on both of the halves of the games we actually lost, it could have something to do with that, but it didn't feel like it when we were playing the game. We were all really focused and I guess that we just crumbled a little bit.
The point where you are now, top 20, a lot of teams get to that point, but it is hard to push forward or even consistently stay in the top 15-20 area. What do you think your team need to do that?
I think it is hard to be in that part because you don't get invitations to events, definitely not the big events and sometimes we don't even get the invitations for the closed qualifiers. So you need to be on point every time you play an official game to actually stay in the top 20. I think that is what we need to do, I think that every team needs to do to stay in the top 20. It will only get easier if we make it easier on ourselves.
After this you have ESL Pro League, the second group stage, are there any other plans? And is peacemaker going to make it for this one, is the visa going to be cleared?
I hope that the visa will be cleared, now that we applied for it the first time it could maybe be easier the second time, I don't actually if the first one got approved yet. So that is going to be a tough one to swallow, if we can't bring him again. But we definitely got the best out of it despite not having him. It is a tough group that we've gotten, but we will see what happens.
And I forgot what the other part of the question was...
Any other tournament or plans in the upcoming period?
Tournaments? We are kind of looking for invites. (laughs)