ImAPet: "We're going to try a style in which stanislaw will have the ultimate say but where tarik can also add a lot of input"
NRG come into the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals with a lame-duck roster as Damian "daps" Steele' will play out his last tournament with the team in France. The North American side kicked off their IGL's last hurrah with a victory over fnatic, on Nuke, which they were able to take with a 16-12 scoreline.
The interview with ImAPet was mostly centered around the team's new acquisition, Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz, and how the change in leadership will affect the team from a strategic standpoint. We also talked about how the transfer went down, and what the North American team had to take into consideration when making the changes, such as how it could and would affect them in the current Major cycle.
First of all, let's start with the daps situation. You've been practicing with stanislaw, who is even here in Montpellier, so run me through how this is all happening.
We didn't practice with daps before this event, we just had him come in to play the matches, but we've obviously played with him a long time, so we know everything. We brought stanislaw for practice, so any off-time we have will be used to practice with him.
You've been practicing for how long, now?
With stan? About four days or so.
So it's pretty much as if you were playing the same as before, but what about the atmosphere in the team with daps already out of the team but playing here in France...
I'd say the atmosphere is pretty chill. We don't have any expectations and are just having fun, we'll see how far we can get. If the journey ends short, it's short, if it's long, it's long. Obviously, daps and stanislaw have been conversing, which can be a bit weird, but there's no bad blood, they get along fine and used to be teammates before, so everything is pretty chill, we're just trying to cruise along.
You got a pretty good first win against fnatic, who are a team trying to make it as a team that can go deep in tournaments. How'd you go into it?
We mostly went off of past experience, we didn't really do much preparation, which is unlike us, I guess. We went in with a loose style and previous knowledge, we knew about JW being an aggressive lobby lurker and that they like to play fast outside. On CT they're pretty standard, so we just kind of played our game, let everyone play out the clutches, which we got some of those, and kind of felt the game out for ourselves, we didn't put too much thought into what they did.
Regarding the roster change, tell me how it happened. What went into it?
We still think daps is a great leader, and he's capable of leading any team in the world, but we felt like in the fragging department he wasn't up to par for what we think the standard is. He used to be, but he kind of hit a career low, so it was about how much time we wanted to give him to get back into form. We decided that since stanislaw was on the market, that we would try to dip into that and see how a different calling style will suit us.
They're obviously two different callers, one is faster and more aggressive while the other is slower and a bit more methodical, so we're trying to go with the slower pace instead of the more aggressive one to see if that can give us more consistent tournament results because we were kind of hitting a slump before where we were just hitting semis all of the time and we weren't really satisfied with that, so we want to see if this change will push us over the hump to get us through to finals.
Changing the leading style and also getting a more fragging IGL is an interesting point, but do you think a change in style could also be something to negatively affect the players?
I think time will tell the whole story, we're not really going to know if playing slow is going to hurt us, obviously our players are going to have to be more communicative and add to the mid-round calls. I think it's going to go pretty well, it's something we were trying to get used to with daps, even though we didn't have enough time, but I think with time we'll get used to the slow style. If we do end up having poor communication we're going to end up looking like BOTs running around the server, but I think with time we'll get used to it. If not, who knows what'll happen [laughs].
You made the change at a crucial moment, just ahead of the Major cycle, did you take that into consideration as something that could destabilize you going into it?
Yeah, so we figured that in the short term... It's a big timeline, the Minor qualifier was about to start so we had 48 hours to figure out if we wanted to have daps for the cycle and try to improve that way or if we would change and have stanislaw come in before playing the qualifier. We figured that in the short term it will hurt us a lot because we wouldn't be able to get much practice in, so it was a big risk, but I think long term it will be better for us to start fresh, have a new atmosphere, a new playstyle... Maybe teams won't be able to catch onto us, I think that people had figured us out a little bit, so maybe it's what we need to get to the finals, which is our ultimate goal. And to win some of them, as well! We had to make a crucial choice, and that's what we went with.
One of the talking points daps brought up when he made his statement about leaving went back to the FugLy change and how tarik wasn't really a one for one change. The team dynamics are going to change again now, so what are the biggest ones you expect to see?
I think it will be a bit similar at the start, we're going to do a bit of a plug-and-play, but we'll also change a couple of things, mainly on the attacking side. We'll have tarik more active in leading roles than before because we'll have stanislaw on one side of the map and we'll have tarik on the other side, and they'll try to converge and make the round happen together. Before, it was more like daps was kind of on his own. We're going to try a style in which stanislaw will have the ultimate say, but where tarik can also add a lot of input, which he wasn't giving previously to daps.
How about you, personally, how does your life change?
I think we work pretty similar, me and stan, to how I did with daps. It will take some time getting used to it since I haven't been with stan for a while, since the old OpTic days with the Danish guys, which was kind of a nightmare situation. I'm going to try and accommodate stan as much as I can to make him feel comfortable. With daps, we were together for over a year and figured out our style as we went, so it's just going to come with time. We'll figure out what stanislaw likes and I'll make sure to give him everything he needs.