FalleN: "LUCAS1 is a bit more outspoken; the team realized we needed someone like him"
I'll start with the roster change, get straight into it. Tell me about getting LUCAS1, what was the idea behind it, and why him?
We wanted to try someone else to try and have a different approach to mainly two things. One is outside of the game, we feel like he's a bit more outspoken than felps and the team realized we needed someone like him to fill the gap. We felt there was a bit of a gap with felps in that regard. Inside the game, felps was trying to do his best and learn different roles, but some of the positions he had to play and the style we needed him to play wasn't very natural for him. He struggled a little bit to really understand the concepts that we at the time thought were important for our evolution as a team. It was all friendly, the conversation with felps, of course, he was sad to leave the team, but he understood the points and I tried to tell him a few things, that he can get experience from his time with the team and things he can learn to get better for the future. He has a brilliant career ahead of him, so many years to play Counter-Strike, many more than me, so I'm sure he'll do even better in the future.
LUCAS1 was rumored to be one of the players considered back in 2016 when fnx was leaving the team. Why didn't that change happen back then, and why did he get the opportunity now?
Yeah, that's true. At the time we invited him to join the team, but he didn't want to leave because they would have lost their Major spot or something like that and he didn't want to leave his brother and his former teammates without a Major spot. In the end, it didn't pay off for him because they didn't end up going to the Major anyway, so it was kind of a lost opportunity for him. We thought about him at the time because of his in-game skill and the positions he was playing, anchoring sites. It made a lot of sense to have him on the team in terms of in-game things at the time.
This time around I think it's the same, I'm very impressed with his level. He comes from a different CS school than us, which feels very different and sometimes he doesn't organize his ideas very well and fast, but his skill is outstanding. Even here in Cologne, he was able to find some opportunities for us in lost rounds that are not easy to find, even if we didn't win the rounds he did a very good job. He's also helping us outside the game, having someone new that never played with the team, pointing out mistakes and making sure he's hyping everyone up and trying to be a positive influence for everyone to work hard, I think that's a good thing and I'm very satisfied to have him on the team.
You touched on him bringing some critique to the ideas that you have. One of the things people have been criticizing you, as MIBR, is the core of the team, fer, coldzera, and you, always having your way. Do you think that will change a little bit with him having a voice to change some of the ideas you have?
It ends up that we made a lot of changes in this lineup after a long time, and we never touched those players, but that's because the team idea of what's best for the future never came to changing one of those players. In the future, if something's not going well, it may happen. We're not untouchable. It is just that every time the team talked the solution was never alongside changes to that core, but it's nothing special. Somehow, I think this core, our core, we need to reinvent ourselves. We need to show better CS and I'm pretty sure we're capable of that, but right now we're struggling with some stuff that we need to fix in order to achieve that.
As an in-game leader, looking back maybe like a year and a half, everyone would say that FalleN is the best in the world. Now with Astralis dominating gla1ve maybe has that title, you fell down in that regard. How do you feel about your abilities leading in the game at the moment?
I think I understand the game pretty well, but it changed a lot from the past. Even before, I don't think it was only the calls that made me the best in-game leader, it was because I was playing with the best players and they had a very good idea of how the game should be played. They were reacting very appropriately in every situation at the time, and some of that, at least half of that, isn't because of me.
Some stuff just happens naturally, by players' decisions a lot of times, but nowadays I compare ourselves and I see that we make so many little mistakes, so many flaws in terms of the fast reactions that players are doing. It's not even a leading problem, in my opinion, I've been trying to reinvent myself in terms of how I'm going to approach the tournament, if I want to be specific on approaching a match, or if I want to give more freedom, I tried a lot of things and all of them resulted in not being good, so in the end I think it's about other things than just calling that are making us struggle right now.
One of the things that happened recently, coldzera answered a tweet to someone comparing this lineup to when it was the best, and it was something along the lines that before you had the individual skill to smooth over the small mistakes, but that those mistakes are now costing you the rounds. Do you think that's a thing, that you were just that good back then that you could get away with stuff?
To be honest, at the time I think we were better players compared to the others, and right now we're not better than the players we're playing against. We'd be lucky to say we're playing at the same level as some of the other competition right now. This means that you're going to need to be more organized to win some of those situations and in that regard, overthinking about that can make you struggle because if you start to think you need to be one step ahead of everyone, it's overcomplicated CS. That's something we're trying to avoid, I don't think it's in the meta nowadays, so somehow we need to find the balance between all of those thoughts and processes in the game and just play being smart and taking the opportunities that we have in the game as a team, because these days people react fast, but they react as a team, so if one piece of the team is not really understanding what is going on and how fast adaptation needs to happen, then there's a problem because playing fast isn't going to be enough.
Back in the days the best team in the region could pick up all the best talent coming up from lower teams. But something that happened in the past year or so is that some of the players that you originally wanted, you couldn't get because of buyouts, so how is it for you now compared to back in the day?
I think the scene is developing a lot, esports in general, not just Counter-Strike, so it's natural to have stronger contracts and bonds between players and teams, higher buyouts, and all of those things that is going to make any transfer you want to make hard. If you think about international lineups it's very hard because of all of those factors, nowadays if you want to change a player, and this happens even with the smaller teams in Brazil, they have contracts with their teams and all of those things. That's natural. For us as a team, it kind of limits how much we can change as a team, but we never wanted to change that much that it really made a difference, but who knows for the future, for the MIBR organization, for example, it may be harder for them than it was before.
Generally, do you think this good for the scene?
To say if it's good or not, we can make some analysis on what happened to FURIA for example, they came from a project that was very similar in my opinion to the one that we did in 2015-16, everyone came together from nowhere and made something unique happen, and I respect that a lot. The emphasis they have on staying together, I think that's very good for them even though I think that individually it could be better for one of them at the very moment to join a bigger team, for example, MIBR, so there are ups and downs in terms of those things. It can be a wasted opportunity for one of them, but maybe if they keep working as hard as they are, nothing says they can't achieve the same with this lineup.
It's hard to say if it's better or not for the scene, but I think having long contracts can be tough for players because you never know the future. Things can go well for half a year or a year and then you can struggle. We've seen other teams and other players getting into a bad spot because of this, and I think the best example right now, and this is just my guess, is suNny. He had an amazing year last year and we haven't seen him play this year, and contracts may be one of the reasons, although I'm not sure. I kind of have high expectations of the FURIA owners, and I don't think they would ever really harm their players, so if the situation really gets bad and they need a change or someone really wants to go, they would try to make it happen.
Lastly, there have been some tough times for MIBR and MIBR fans. What can you say to the people that have been critical or have lost some faith in the team?
I think it's natural that people are a little bit disappointed in us because we and everyone knows that we should be capable of a lot more than we're showing right now and what I can tell everyone that we've been trying hard. Sometimes we've even wasted energy in the wrong places, and even if there's some misdirection on what we're working for and where we're heading, we're putting in a lot of work and commitment to try and get out of this slump.
There are tough moments in which we feel we're improving but then it slows down again, so we're trying to figure it out. There are things we can improve as individuals to make the atmosphere and the teamwork better because in my opinion when it gets to this level of not being able to come back to the level we were at before, it's not about in-game stuff anymore. We've been trying different players, different strategies, different approaches to how we're going to play the matches, and it's not that suddenly everyone is suddenly much better than us. There's surely something for us to analyze and improve as people and to relearn how to get better again.