AZR: "If we didn't have [visa] issues I'm pretty confident we would still be a top-five team"
Following Renegades' victory over fnatic, Aaron "AZR" Ward spoke on the team's rough patch, having Sean "Gratisfaction" Kaiwai back on board, Owen "smooya" Butterfield's stint and their results in Dallas.
Renegades have been through a rough patch following their showing at IEM Sydney, in that Gratisfaction has not been able to play alongside his teammates due to visa issues. Luckily, the 23-year-old was able to procure it in time for Dallas, where the team currently stands to qualify for playoffs, depending on the outcome of their group B lower bracket finals series against G2, taking place this evening.
In an interview with AZR we touched on how the team was impacted by the visa issues, their run with smooya, how Gratisfaction's visa issues were resolved and broke down their first two performances at DreamHack Masters Dallas.
Renegades have been through a lot over the course of the year, in that you had a great showing at the Major and Shanghai, Sydney followed with bad form, and immediately after, visa issues for Gratisfaction prevented the team from performing at 100%. Talk me over how this situation impacted you overall as a team.
We'll start with Sydney - that was us just choking, that's pretty much it. We were feeling pretty confident heading into the event, but wanting to get that spot to play in front of the crowd - we fell under the pressure. After that, heading into our next tournaments, we obviously had the P1 visa issues with Sean [Gratisfaction]. He got denied twice or thrice, apparently, they needed more information - like what more information could you give, the guy's real... you know?
I guess it stunted our growth for a little bit because we couldn't properly practice with our five. Then we had a stand-in, Owen [smooya], for a little bit. It was different - Owen coming into our team, it was a different dynamic that he brings compared to Sean, so I guess it fucked with our vibes a little bit in regards to teamwork and stuff along those lines. All in all, it stunted our growth as a team for sure.
In a universe where all of these issues were non-existent - where would Renegades stand as of today?
I think our results would have been a lot more consistent. The way we were heading after the Major was quite good. I could honestly still see us as a top-five team. It has slowed down now because of the issues, but we haven't practiced with Sean for so long now, too. Learning new strats, him not being there, then us having to show him - the chemistry, in general, has just stopped us a lot. If we didn't have those issues I'm pretty confident we would still be a top-five team right now.
You mentioned having smooya as a stand-in on the team - talk to me about his stint with Renegades.
To start off, he's a hilarious guy (laughs). He doesn't shut up, that's one thing - he just talks and talks and talks. He doesn't think, and whatever comes out of his mouth is just instant. He and Sean are different players, I feel like. With Owen, I guess he was a very aggressive player, but the massive difference between Sean and him is the teamwork, it just wasn't there to the potential. Owen would forget a lot of strats and stuff like that, so we just fucked up a lot of things, but he was fun to be around for sure. He had happy vibes.
We're here in Dallas, Gratisfaction made it through with the visa. Initially, it was announced that he would miss the event - how did it all work out in the end?
Initially, we thought he wouldn't be here for the whole three weeks, so he would miss Pro League, cs_summit and miss this tournament, but I guess they sped up the process, or something like that, and a week ago we found out that he could play again. He got the P1 and it came in something like a day. The process was very sped up, so we got him over as soon as possible so we could start playing as a team again.
Let's get into your matches in Dallas - the initial match against G2 saw a 17-19 loss. It was apparent that both teams experienced pretty significant issues on the T side of Train.
In general, I think on the gun rounds we played better. We made a lot of mistakes, like losing pistol rounds in 2v4s. We lost advantageous situations quite a bit that game, I think maybe because it was the first game with Sean back, so not the most comfortable at the time. They played some good CS - they were looking sharp, looking better than what I've seen in the past. Honestly, it was just a close game. Like you said, it was the T side that was scruffy from both sides, to be honest.
Did you identify any mistakes you're looking to fix post-match?
It was more so just fixing the little mistakes that we made, like miscommunication, missed smokes and stuff like that. Making sure we're all on the same page and everyone knows what we're doing, because it felt like when something was called, people had to ask to fix it up. It's about making sure everyone's on the same page.
The series against Isurus saw you guys 2-1 the Argentinian squad. The maps you secured were comprehensive victories, but Dust2 saw some struggle, and the opponents walked away with it. What didn't go your way?
From memory, they came out really aggressive, and I don't think we were expecting that. They really got in our face - they shut us down quite a bit, initially, we were down 4-0. After, we were able to pull some rounds together by changing the pace, speeding it up a little by getting aggressive, and getting in their face. We brought it back to 7-8.
In that game we lost both pistols, so that was rough for us also. Heading into the second half, that's where we made most mistakes. I think we lost two or three glock rounds from them just coming out of Catwalk and killing us - that was pretty rough, and to be honest, we shouldn't lose those rounds. They played pretty good, I feel like there was some random stuff that was happening. I remember Justin [jks] saying that some guy ran into B with a CZ by himself, killing him and taking B. Then we couldn't retake because we were disadvantaged with the numbers, so we just saved. I think they caught us off guard, and I think the eco rounds were the main thing.
Considering you were caught off guard, do you feel the preparation was somewhat off against the underdogs?
Heading into that game we just made the same preparation we do with everyone else - we talk about what we're going to do, where they're playing and what they do in general. I think it was just that our mentality heading into the game wasn't fully there, I feel like. We weren't fully focused because we don't usually lose rounds. Most teams, 99% of teams, should not lose those rounds against glocks. It was just a mistake on our behalf.