flamie on Boombl4's progress: "Work remains to be done, but progress is observable and significant"
After Natus Vincere's opening victory against TYLOO, we spoke to Egor "flamie" Vasilyev to discuss the preparation going into the event, specific in-game adjustments made in the past month and Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov's progress.
Natus Vincere kicked off their Pro League Finals campaign with a victory over an inspired TYLOO squad, coming into the event after a semi-final run at the CS:GO Asia Championships. The Russian team ran out 16-6 victors, ensuring an upper bracket semi-final match-up against MIBR.
In this interview, flamie opens up about the work the team put in over the last month, the criticism targeted at Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács and Boombl4, and the atmosphere in the squad after the departure of iconic captain Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko.
TYLOO have recently been showing great results - 1st at eXTREMESLAND, then they made it through to the semi-finals of CAC 2019 right after. What was the approach going into the opening map of the tournament with this in mind?
We knew that TYLOO are a strong team, especially considering how good their results had been of late. When a team doesn't lose much, it develops confidence, plus they faced some of the top teams and even won against them, so the preparation was similar to any other team.
Over the past month you have had a free schedule - what have you been working on in this period of time?
For around 10 days we were training online, then we traveled to Berlin for a two-week bootcamp. The whole time we were preparing for this event.
Were there any specific in-game components that you were developing during the online practice and bootcamp?
Earlier in the year, we had a packed tournament schedule, so we didn't have much time to train. We didn't have many maps prepared, maybe two or three; recently we've been working on all of the maps that we play and tried to improve our weaker maps, while maintaining our level on the ones where we were already established. The main goal was to prepare as many maps, individual rounds, and new ideas.
In the earlier stages of Boombl4's as an in-game leader, there were some struggles. Some time has passed now, what can you say about his progression?
When he just arrived, he didn't have experience playing on a big stage and in big matches, so it was difficult for him to adapt to this serious level of play. He used to play in a weaker team against weaker opponents, and some of his ideas that worked during that stretch didn't work against strong opponents.
B1ad3 works a lot with him individually, and in addition to that, he explains his method of gameplay to the team with specific examples and explanations. Kirill (Boombl4) has really upgraded his level and gained experience; work remains to be done, but progress is observable and significant.
You mentioned in the previous answer that B1ad3 has had a positive impact on Boombl4's in-game leading. Outside of this individual effect, what immediate impact has he had since assuming the role?
I haven't seen a coach that works harder than Andrey (B1ad3). His life is fully immersed in the game, and even when he was the Esports Director, he did his best to help. I think that even in a short period of time he sees all of our mistakes, he records videos, he gives us specific examples of how to improve or play a situation out better. This information is very important and useful, and when it settles in the player's mind, he starts playing smarter and exerts himself to the fullest. I think that even in a small period of two months we have already improved in our understanding of the game.
We used to play more so around individual skill, which was our previous methodology. Now we are trying to translate individual skill alongside the team component, with more focus on the team component. Having said that, our individual level is also important, and we aim to maintain it at a high level.
Two months have passed since the addition of GuardiaN to the squad. Could you explain some of the immediate changes that the team experienced with his addition?
Firstly, Ladislav (GuardiaN) has taken on the main AWP. Sasha (s1mple) used to be the main AWP, but he always wanted to play rifles. Because he was the sniper, he was sometimes forced to use it. He was very good with the AWP, but as a rifler, his impact could be even higher.
When Ladislav (GuardiaN) re-joined, the initial adaptation period was difficult because he hadn't spoken Russian for two to three years and he didn't understand everything. Now he is gradually starting to remember the language. Moreover, our sniper has specific roles, so he has to adjust and remember these in Russian, so the first couple of months have been difficult for him. He is really trying hard and has the ambition to win. People who say he's old or that he has lost interest in the game are wrong, he works a lot and constantly tries to improve. I think he is currently on a great level and can perform better, returning to the level he demonstrated in 2015 when he played like a god.
Lastly, could you give some insight as to how the internal dynamic, or soul of the team, so to speak, has changed since the departure of Zeus?
I wouldn't say the team's interpersonal relations have worsened, seeing as we are transitioning to a level where even if there are conflicts, we try to deal with them as fast as possible. We have a psychologist and manager, and we try to use all of these.
Obviously Danya (Zeus) was a very significant part of the team, as he was the captain and leader by nature. His loss was definitely felt for some time, but now we have a new captain, the roster is rejuvenated and we're trying things anew. We try our best to ensure everything goes without any conflicts or issues and I consider our team atmosphere to be in a good place.