Aleksib: "We mix it up a lot, especially on LAN, and it does feel like some teams are trying to anti-strat us"
ENCE are one of the invited teams for BLAST Pro Series Madrid, making this the second time the Finnish team have been invited to one of RFRSH's tournaments after a third-place finish at BLAST Pro Series São Paulo, where they were nearly able to make the grand final.
In the interview, Aleksib talks about the importance of communication, remaining as a top 5 team in the ranking, being invited to BLAST Pro Series Madrid, having teams watch them and how they play, and having a Finnish player like Miikka "suNny" Kemppi currently on the market.
You've been a top 5 team for a couple of months now, do you think you can keep it up?
I think so, definitely. We haven't been to a LAN for a month, and at first we didn't know we'd be coming here and were waiting for cs_summit, so when we got invited here it was really good for us because there had been a big break. It's good that we play here because we can keep our level up when we go into summit, without too much of a break.
I think we can keep the spot if we play really well as a team, which most of the time comes down to our communication. We're all Finnish and we have small communications that open up opportunities for all of our players and most of the time, when we lose, it doesn't end up being that we played poorly or that our tactics are bad, it's usually down to the clutches or the 2vs2 situations, and we usually shine when we communicate well and play the rounds out.
As you said, it's been a while since you've been on LAN. How have you used this time?
We've been practicing a lot. We had some online games, and people have seen that we've been playing kind of bad online. We started our MDL season 0-2, but we're focusing 100% on the LAN matches. We don't want to show what we have before a big LAN because that weakens the strategy we've been practicing. We've been trying to play well online, but I think on LAN we're just so much better as a team because we get to use our different tactics.
Where do you think your ceiling as a team is, especially when compared to the elite teams in the world?
I think it's up to us to show in the upcoming tournaments, but I think there's Na`Vi to beat, and I think we're very capable if we just play our game. Astralis are a level higher than everyone else, although they will especially have to show it at this tournament, but we can be top 3. Liquid and Astralis are hard opponents, although as we did in the Major we can beat Liquid in a BO3, it's not impossible, although I do think we need to level up as a team somehow to consistently beat them.
At the Major, you got that crazy run. Have you noticed it become a bit harder now that teams are studying you more and respecting you more, putting in more energy when facing you...
Yeah, actually, it's pretty funny. We've been playing teams on Train and what I've seen is that they're doing some of the same tactics we do. I'm not taking credit for all of the tactics, I've gotten some from months ago, or even years ago, when I was playing practices. In fact, one of our best tactics was taken from HUNDEN. Or at least I saw them do it in practice, and then I instantly copied it. It's one of our favorite tactics. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it's great to see because I think it means people are watching our Train, so they are taking us into consideration and taking us seriously.
It's not that difficult for us because our game is not that readable since we play a lot of aggressive rounds in which you can't really read what we're going to do. Maybe you can see some things that happen frequently, but we mix it up a lot, especially on LAN, and it does feel like some teams are trying to anti-strat us.
You've been invited to a BLAST Pro Series before, where you barely missed the final. Is the goal here to make that BO3?
Yes, of course, we always want to win because that's the most important thing and everyone hates losing, we have good maps for the BO1s here, so if we just play our own game, get our communication going, I think we can reach the final. I'm just hoping to beat Astralis because we were so close at the last BLAST Pro Series. We were winning that match by a round, then they stacked B and won that round, and we lost the game 16-14 which really sucked because that would have been the game to give us the boost to make the finals. It's a new LAN now, but I think if we play like last time we can qualify for the finals and have a good BO3.
You're talking a lot about communication, is that giving you trouble? What do you think you can do to make sure everything flows?
Plenty of it comes before the game. In Shanghai we were tired as a team, the players were tired, we were just coming from Brazil and just had a couple of days in Finland, so everyone was jet lagged. I'm not blaming everything on it, but if your game is built around playing really default and around reacting fast, that really affects your game.
If everyone is not completely focused it affects us a lot, so I think that we just need to focus on the mental aspects and on improving our mentality, to not get frustrated if we lose a bad round. I talk about communication a lot because every top team knows how important it is. If you're not shooting that well, and if not everyone is playing their A game, but your communication is on point, it forgives you. You can play situations well enough that even if you don't get the kill, you can still win the round, which is very important in our gameplay and it's something I like to emphasize.
There's this cloud over Finland, which is suNny being on the market. He hasn't said much since going inactive, is it something looming over you guys?
I know that plenty of people in Finland and in the community are talking about who we should drop and if we should bring suNny on, but personally, I don't think about it. I think we can be a consistent top 5 team and break into the top 3 by just playing really good tournaments over and over. We just need to fix small details, we've been a team for over a year now, so we know what our strengths are, we know what our weaknesses are, and it's really easy to try and fix things. We just need to show that we're capable of doing it and improving, which is the most important thing. We need to keep practicing, play more LANs, and see what our results are.