arT: "Everyone thinks that our style will be easy to read, but there are infinite possibilities of making aggressive plays"
We sat down with Andrei "arT" Piovezan during the first day of Moche XL Esports 2019 and quizzed FURIA's in-game leader about the recent final against Vitality, the top-five place in the ranking and the prospect of ending their trophyless run.
FURIA traveled to Lisbon with confidence running high after breaking into the top five in the world rankings on the back of a semi-final run at DreamHack Masters Dallas and a second place at the ECS Season 7 Finals.
The Brazilians have their eyes on the prize as they look to end a trophyless run on LAN that stretches back to March 2018, months before they traveled to the United States to get more experience under their belts.
In this interview, arT plays down suggestions that his team's aggressive approach will become ineffective, and comments on several other topics, including the recent ranking jump and the possibility that his players will start to get burned out.
Let's start by talking about the ECS grand final. Looking back at that series, what do you think that went wrong in that match? Did you expect such a one-sided series, considering you had defeated them in Dallas the week before?
I think those two matches came down to key rounds. In Dallas, if they had won those rounds, the match could have been different, and at ECS, in my opinion, there were some key rounds that we lost and, if we had won, our chances would have been different. If we had won those rounds perhaps it would have been a different game. For me, the Overpass game was the result of the first map, it had an impact on the second. I do not think they changed that much from the Dallas match, perhaps they adapted some things but I did not feel that big of a difference. I think those matches were kind of similar.
The team's game style has been a hot topic in recent weeks. Do you think that, as time goes by and teams are starting to analyze you more, you will find it harder to play the way you like?
I keep hearing that and there has been a lot of criticism, that because our style is the way it is, everyone thinks that it will be easy to read. But I have a completely different opinion. Our game is based on a set of aggressive plays, and, in Counter-Strike, there are infinite possibilities of making aggressive plays, with different timings and approaches. I think we will have to work harder to change our approaches. We used to be able to do the same things against several teams, but since everyone is watching our games now, we will have to change our approach a little bit.
There was some criticism targeted at you about your performance in the final because there were some rounds in which you were killed right at the start. What is your take on that?
To be honest, I try to ignore those comments as much as possible, I know that I will be very criticized because of my role. Since I play aggressively I will die a lot, it is almost 50-50, but generally when you die the impact is much bigger than when you get a kill. When you frag, you create a space that no-one will notice, while if you die in an important round, you leave your team in a 4x5 situation and everyone will see that. But I know how important that is for our team and how much our game depends on that. As a team, we know where our problems lie, so we are trying not to pay any attention to those comments.
How do you look at your individual performances in London?
I think they were okay. I was not happy with my performances, but I think I did a good job as a captain and in-game leader. I believe I am on the right track, but I think I still have a lot to improve individually.
You enter this tournament as the fifth-best team in the world. When you look at how the team has progressed since the start of the year, what is the meaning of this ranking placement?
I cannot even describe how important that is. We never imagined that we would be in this situation this quickly, but it is amazing, it means a lot because we are getting more invites to the tournaments. It shows that our work is paying off.
Does it add more pressure? A top-five team has a completely different pressure than a top 20 team...
The tables have turned. We used to enter tournaments as underdogs and if we lost a match there was nothing wrong with it. That is what happened in Dallas and at ECS, where we just wanted to give our best, it did not matter if we won or lost. Now, the fans are more demanding, they expect us to win, to reach the playoffs and to beat the teams we have beaten in the past. We want to keep the same mentality because it is important to play loose, without fear of losing. I think that was one of the reasons why Astralis lost to us, they had a lot of pressure from the fans and also pressure that they put on themselves, and I think that favored us. When you lose the mentality that you just have to give your best and that, if you lose, then that’s life, you end up underperforming. So that is a mentality we will try to keep.
Looking at your track record, you have not won a LAN title since the Aorus League Season 1 Finals. Do the players feel the need to get a trophy, especially now that they are in the top 5 in the rankings?
We have never talked about it, but I believe we all feel it is important, especially as a reward for our work. We have not won a LAN title in some time, so it would be nice to get one, and it would be really cool if it happened here.
What are your thoughts on the other teams that are here in Lisbon?
We have never faced any of the teams here, perhaps we scrimmed against some of them when we bootcamped in Europe. We are really confident that we can win, even though these are good teams, considering our recent results and the fact that we have been beating good teams.
Did you have any time to change anything in your stratbook?
Yes, we did. We had two days to go over tactical aspects, to discuss those things. We had the Minor qualifier, but we still managed to go over some rounds that were important for us and that we will need to execute here.
Earlier in the week, you qualified for the Americas Minor. What are your expectations for this event?
I think every team there is strong. And Counter-Strike is Counter-Strike, it does not matter which team you are going to face, there is always a chance that you will lose. Everyone will be working hard for that event, so we will prepare for every match like we would if we were going to face Astralis. It is really important for us to go as far as possible at the Major.
For a while, FURIA did not attend any events, but the recent schedule has been pretty hectic for the team. Aren’t you afraid that the players will start to get burned out because you are not used to all this traveling?
I believe there is that chance, but that is something we are going to have to work more on, the team does not have that much experience when it comes to that. But from what the other players have said - and we discussed this with TACO and the other MIBR players at the ECS event -, it is important for us, because we are a team on the rise, that we play as much as we can and we keep up the pace. This effort is worth it and it will allow us to know our limits.