Samuelsson: "I admire how hard the players have been working on themselves"
fnatic made their third consecutive top four after beating MIBR twice in the group stage of ECS Season 8 Finals, so to hear more about the Swedes achievements and how we fits into it, we spoke with the team's former manager and now coach Samuelsson.
In our interview with Samuelsson, the 28-year-old talked about the importance of team chemistry, working on a seven-map map pool, and the effort the players have been putting in.
How did you become the coach of fnatic? Was that something you wanted to get back into, because you had that period before in the fnatic academy team? How did you jump back into this role in fnatic?
Basically, after we lost in Berlin, fnatic wanted to do some changes because we are a legends team and we want to stay on top. The decision was to cut two players and the coach, and I think it was mostly because Jumpy has been with us for three years, we all like him very much, but a new voice in the locker room was wanted. So then I talked to the players and fnatic and both wanted me to step in - and here I am! I have a long relationship with the players and Golden as well, so it kind of makes sense.
Coming into the team, what were the first things that you wanted to see implemented, what were the first ideas and goals you had?
For me personally, it was that all players should be on the same page on every small detail, both outside and inside the game. That we act as a unit. I think we have achieved that, all players have worked on themselves a lot and it really feels like we are a unit now.
Another goal of me and Golden was for the team to play all seven maps, because that is a huge veto advantage. We didn't want to play all seven maps in the beginning, we started with three maps, then five maps, then six maps, and we are traveling so much that it is hard to find practice time. But now when we had some time, we practiced Vertigo a lot and that was our big goal because it gives us a huge veto advantage. For example, a team like MIBR, they are really, really good on Train and we can just ban Train and play Vertigo. Hopefully we will see some more Vertigo in the future.
The Swedish teams have emphasized interpersonal relationships, what do you think is key to having these relationships be good? How do you ensure everything is good, everything is flowing nicely?
I think it is hard work. You have to give some, you have to take some, and I think the most important part is to make the players realize that if they want to win you have to get the best out of themselves, as well as other players, and the coach, and the mental coach. So if I'm a player that wants to win I really need to make sure that the player next to me is at his best, my coach is at his best, my mental coach is at his best. That everyone around you is comfortable with the team. That makes us strong as a unit.
While you were the manager, fnatic also had some good results, high placings, but now that you came into the new lineup as a coach, you instantly won Malmo, finished second at StarSeries... Is it different being in the coaching role when good things happen? How has it been for you?
It feels like everything happened so fast, in some ways it is different, in some ways it is the same. I'm basically the same person as I was when I was the manager, trying to be the leader of the team, trying to steer the team in the right direction so we can be that unit, trying to talk to the players as much as I can so everyone feels comfortable, and I'm helping Golden with the in-game stuff as much as I can, that's the main difference.
Seeing the changes, the success the team has now, what did you notice that is different than with the last roster that fnatic had?
I think that we have the chemistry now, that is something that is really hard to get. For example, against MIBR we were down 9-13 and the communication was the same as when we had the lead in the first map. Everything is stable now and I think that makes us so good. Even if we are down, we believe in ourselves and we give ourselves the chance to come back when we act as a team.
How do you rate what happened at ECS so far, making it to the playoffs?
Our goal was to reach the playoffs and now we have been top four in every tournament we've been together, all three of them. That was the goal and now all that is left is to go out, have fun and play some good CS. It is going to be a different beast against Liquid, I think they match us pretty well, I think it is going to be a close game but we will win and reach the final.
Overall, I admire how hard the players have been working on themselves. It's never easy to change and become the best they can be. It really shows how much they want to become the best team in the world again and bring fnatic back to the legendary status it deserves.