chopper: "I'm feeling great as part of the team; I've witnessed a new approach to the game"
Spirit head into the Minor as the highest-ranked team in attendance and with morale high after finishing in second place at the recent ESEA MDL Global Challenge, in Dallas.
This will be the third LAN event for chopper since signing for Spirit, four months ago, after StarSeries i-League Season 7 and the MDL Global Challenge. Previously, he had spent over two years with the highly-entertaining Vega Squadron team, attending four Majors.
You joined Spirit in March - how have you found your time alongside the team so far?
I’m feeling great as part of the team. I've witnessed a new approach to the game, and it’s something different for me - the playstyle is a lot more structured, and interpersonal relations in the team are more mature than in my previous squad.
Did you experience struggles when integrating into the roster?
Yes, I did experience difficulties. Firstly, it’s what I outlined previously - I needed time to adjust to the team’s requirements from me and vice versa. Secondly, in the first month or two I was showing poor individual form and experienced a lack of confidence because I was getting used to the new setting. Besides, we were trying to find a playstyle as a team.
In terms of your in-game role adjustment, has it changed since joining Spirit? How does it compare to your role on Vega Squadron?
Before I left Vega Squadron I was mostly playing the main roles - I was opening up rounds and had teammates adjust to me. In Spirit I initially fulfilled the same roles but based off my individual form and results we decided to change it up and I started playing more of a support role. In my opinion, these changes benefited the team and made it easier for me to co-call with S0tF1k.
You spent a significant amount of time on Vega Squadron, and after 26 months on the team you departed. How did you come to this decision?
I understood that it had been a year since I'd started stagnating and didn't really see any future potential for my development. Because of this, I decided to change teams. Plus, my contract with the team was expiring.
Vega Squadron were known to be a team with an aggressive in-game approach, particularly on the T side, which in previous years made it notorious for being an upset team, even against some of the more established rosters of the time. Do you ever miss the dynamic of your previous squad?
I don't miss the old Vega. I didn't even really think about the fact that we played aggressively. We played the way we liked and worked off of our trust for one another, with no imposed rules or boundaries. This was probably the reason things came out overly aggressive. I think that we stopped playing that style since the very first reshuffle in Vega because we wanted a more stable playstyle with structure.
The team’s run at the CIS Minor closed qualifier was convincing, to say the least, as you qualified via the upper bracket, defeating Extremum and Vega Squadron 2-1 and 2-0, respectively. Did you expect to have such a confident showing?
Over the course of a nearly month-long bootcamp we practiced a lot. Work was being done both inside the game and out. The results didn't take too long as such, and we didn't have expectations for the qualifiers. I think every single one of us knew that it would happen.
In terms of the performance Vega Squadron demonstrated against you in that upper bracket semi-final, what did you think of their new lineup? Did you see a cardinal change in their playstyle or would you say they’re mostly sticking to the previous system?
When you play against your former teammates you always feel discomfort because you know what to expect from them and they understand what to expect from you. It was a bit tricky, but when I saw that Vega were playing the same CS as we used to play, things got a lot more comfortable. Vega have a strong roster - they have two strong riflers, Dima and scoobyxie, two experienced support players in jR and seized, and also crush, who has a great understanding of the game. I think that if every player works hard on the right components, they'll be successful.
Your run at the ESEA S31 Global Challenge saw the team confidently advance to the grand final of the event. You only lost a single best-of-one prior to the grand final, where you faced FURIA. Talk to me about the final and what went wrong.
We lost the match against FURIA because we weren't able to realise in time that we lacked focus, and because of this, we had to stray from our initial plan. Later we tried to adjust a few things during the match, but it didn't bear fruit, so we got steamrolled.
Many teams have expressed that playing against FURIA is difficult due to their aggressive playstyle, something associated with the former Vega Squadron team. Now that you have personally faced the Brazilians, could you give your analysis of their playstyle and why it works?
They play really well, they have their own style that they believe in and successfully use. I think that’s the secret to their success. Fearing no one, they impose their style on matches. On top of this, they have a list of very cool in-game gimmicks; on every single map they bring new and innovative ideas, and that's amazing!
The CIS Minor will be your third LAN event with the team. Would you say the team is confident going into the Minor despite this being only your third LAN showing as a five?
Everyone on the squad except Artem (iDISBALANCE) has been to loads of LAN events, I don't think anyone is too worried about how we’ll play at the actual tournament.
Looking at the list of competitors at the Minor, which teams do you see as your main competition in reaching the New Challengers stage? Why?
I cannot pick a specific team because every single squad has its pros and cons. In the CIS region everyone is familiar with each other, so any underdog can bring something interesting to the tournament.
What ambitions does the team have for the Major outside of qualifying for the New Challengers stage?
I would say advancing to the Legends stage of the Major. This would allow us to anchor ourselves at a high level and take on a more difficult and interesting path.