ropz: "Our common goal was to become a top five team and win a Big Event; I think we've done it"
After mousesports' grand final victory in Odense we spoke to the tournament MVP, Robin "ropz" Kool, who explained the team's recent successes, how they were achieved, and what the ambitions for the near future are.
mousesports won their second international event in the space of two weeks after defeating fnatic in a lop-sided best-of-five series in Odense. After a heavily-contested MVP medal race, ropz scooped the award for his outstanding performances throughout the event, where he averaged a 1.24 rating.
In this interview, the Estonian shared his thoughts on achieving back-to-back tournament victories and winning his first MVP medal. Additionally, he broke down both the semi-final and the grand final series, detailing how the squad managed to come back against the No.1 team in the world, Astralis and later proceed to defeat an impressive fnatic squad in three consecutive maps.
This is your first MVP medal since joining mousesports in April 2017. What does this achievement mean to you?
It feels amazing to get the MVP. This tournament was truly a team effort, as I mentioned in my tweet. Everyone stepped up in the right times, I played a really good group stage, then slightly fell off in the playoffs series, but that's where my teammates stood up, so I think everyone had their moments this tournament. I guess I was just more consistent, which kind of helped me to get the MVP. I really have to thank my team because chrisJ, woxic, frozen and karrigan saved our asses multiple times, and that's why we won this tournament.
When we spoke after the match against ATK, you mentioned that anything short of a grand final placement would've meant you failed to meet expectations. How does it feel to live up to the ambitions you set?
It feels great to say something and do it. That's how it is if you're a pro, because you have to set goals and you have to achieve them. People said we had already done well, but we had been reaching quarter-finals and semi-finals very often already, so why would we want that? We obviously want to go further and that's why I say this stuff. We really wanted to get to the grand final and win the tournament. I'm really happy we managed to do it.
The recent past has been intense for the team, in that just a week ago woxic was handed his first MVP medal in Shanghai, and here you are with your second back-to-back title and the medal. How have you managed to achieve this kind of form?
We started off pretty well, we reached our first couple of playoffs matches really early in Sydney, and that's the level we have kept. When the Major came around we really wanted to get to top eight. I think that's where we kind of started to become shaky, we weren't so good as a unit and team. We're all very young guys, except for karrigan and chrisJ, obviously (laughs), and we all have the same goal of becoming better. We all believe in the system because karrigan is a great in-game leader.
After the Major we let things settle down for a bit. We're still happy we made it to the Major, because we had a crazy Minor, so to speak, but yeah, some time after the Major we had a bootcamp and that's when we started to pick up some form. Our whole goal for the year was to become a top five team and I think at this moment we might have achieved it. I hope we have, and for 2020 I think we're going to be challenging for top one, hopefully, because that's obviously the next step.
In general, if we talk about this team, we had a meeting during one of the bootcamps. We're working with a psychologist and we were trying to figure out our goals, and everyone came to the conclusion that our common goal was to become a top five team and win a Big event, and I think we've done it.
Before we talk about the grand final, let's discuss the semi-final against Astralis. The series was incredibly close, where you managed to pull ahead in the end against all odds. Train was won in overtime, and on Dust2 you ground out eight back-to-back rounds to win it 2-1. Take us over the series and how the team kept composure despite the situations you found yourselves in.
On Train we felt really comfortable. We knew what they were going to do on the T side, we knew what their gaps were on CT, so Train was really comfortable. Talking about the veto, we were really close to picking Overpass, because karrigan had a really good gameplan going into it, but I'm glad we didn't as they picked it and it turned out so well.
Overpass was kind of a fly-by from them, but going into Dust2 I think it was a 50/50 at that point. They had a really good start on the T side and I think we couldn't lock down some of the rounds we should have because frozen was having an unlucky game and woxic couldn't find any gaps. They were abusing A Long really hard, so it was a tough game for the guys on A. They had some unreal timings splitting B and stuff like that. I think they played really well on the T side, but when it came to our T side, I have to say woxic and chrisJ saved our asses there. chrisJ stepped up on the start of the T side, and then woxic hit some amazing shots and we were just climbing back.
When it was 14-8, karrigan had some of these moments when everything just clicks in his brain and he makes the right call every single time. Everywhere you go there's just one guy and we easily re-frag him, and I think that's what happened. Karrigan was just calling amazingly on the T side, and that's how we came back.
The grand final that just concluded was a 3-0 affair. Did you expect it to be so lop-sided? What went your way on the three maps that meant a brief series?
I felt really confident for some reason, and I could see it a 3-0 before the match even started. I think we were the better team, map pool-wise also. Obviously our Mirage has been looking shaky but we changed some roles there and we felt a lot better on it in practice, and I think it showed today also, we had a pretty good CT side.
On Inferno maybe we were a little shaky, but we started off pretty well, we had a good few CT rounds, but then we ran into a brick wall with fnatic. I think we did some aggressive pushes that we shouldn't have. On the T side karrigan stepped up with his calls, he's amazing as an in-game leader and he showed time and time again that we can close these maps even if we're down on the T side. It doesn't really matter what the score is, we can do it. I think everyone was playing really well in this grand final, that's one of the reasons we went 3-0. Karrigan had some sick rounds, woxic was hitting some sick shots, I was a solid rock on the sites.
I think fnatic were also struggling individually. Obviously Brollan was up there, but I guess the rest of their team couldn't really find themselves. It can happen, and I think fnatic are a great team. They won Malmö and they made the grand final here. I think it was a great match nonetheless, even if it was 3-0. They were leading most of the time and we just climbed back. I think on another day the score might've been the other way round, but I'm happy with it.
Considering your recent success, what are the team's expectations and ambitions heading into the final two events of the year, cs_summit 5 and EPICENTER?
For the whole year the goal was to win a Big Event, and we did that now. Even after the Major this specific event, the Pro League Finals, we set this event as the highest priority. We wanted to do the best here, and I'm so glad we did. I think it takes some pressure off our shoulders to perform well. Everyone has been expecting us to play well, and I think now that we have done it, we can take that pressure off.
Talking summit and EPICENTER, they won't be as tough as this tournament was, but I guess we're going to be heading into summit as favourites. Hopefully we can perform well there. EPICENTER is going to be a big event with teams like EG, Vitality and Na`Vi, so I guess we're going to prioritise it more. Obviously, we still want to win summit, but EPICENTER is going to be the more important one as there are better teams and a bigger prize pool, and it just is a better tournament overall.
We hope to finish off the year the same way we did now, we have two tournaments to go and hopefully we can perform well there.