Aleksib: "It feels good to beat your former teammates with the storyline behind it"
OG kicked off their ICE Challenge campaign with an outstanding performance and a clean 2-0 victory over ENCE. After conceding their map pick, Train, in overtime, the Finnish side struggled on Overpass against a fired-up OG, who move on to Group B's winners' match.
After their triumph, we spoke to Aleksib, who ended the series with an impressive 1.22 rating. The Finnish in-game leader gave insight into OG's preparation for this event, the recent addition of Casper "ruggah" Due as coach, and the personal nature of the match against his former team.
As a very young roster, you must have had a lot to work on over the break period. Did you manage to get much of a break in or was it mainly working on development?
We had our Christmas break, and obviously we had not played as a team for long, but the end of last year was really hectic, mostly outside of the game. Players, contracts, everything happened at the same time, and after we got everything ready, we started to practice. I think the break was really good for us because there had been tension, which meant that people needed a bit of time off.
We were at the cs_summit 5 tournament before the break, which went pretty well, we were quite happy with our results. After the vacation, we started things off by talking about our team and our goals for the start of the year, etc. Then we just started grinding, I'm really confident.
If you had to contrast the preparation levels and internal comfort in the roster coming into ICE as opposed to cs_summit 5, how would you do it?
I'd say we're really confident here. Cs_summit 5 was our first LAN event and then we had a break immediately afterward, so coming here it feels a bit new again. It's the second LAN for this team and we had a break in-between. The preparation was really good and I just feel like what we lack right now is experience from games. I know which maps we're comfortable on, but I still cannot judge which map is really strong for us and which is a bit of a weaker one. We need to practice all the maps because we're a new team, and deciding everything is still a bit of a question mark. We just need to have LAN games under our belt, and after that, everything is going to be much more comfortable.
The lineup is composed of an interesting list of players, in that you, NBK and valde have extensive top-level experience, while mantuu and ISSAA are quite new to this tier of play. How have the two found playing against some of the best CS offers?
It's hard, but they are pushing their limits, they're working day in, day out, especially mantuu. I have to give him props because I think he is the only player I've seen work this hard when given an opportunity. Some players, from my knowledge, say they'll make this or that chance count, but in the end I sometimes I hear rumors or stories which suggest the opposite. For me, mantuu is just a perfect player because he has the dedication and he takes criticism and makes the most of it; he's really humble as well. ISSAA has his heart in the game as well, he's a really talented player, the only thing is that ISSAA's role is a bit different than it was in HellRaisers, so he will need to fit in a more team-based system. Obviously he's still one of our star players, but he needs to play a bit differently. I have spoken to him countless times, and he is starting to feel confident about his own game. I feel like these two guys will pick it up really quickly.
You, NBK- and valde have all been in-game leaders. In terms of the calling dynamic in the team, is it restricted to yourself exclusively, or do they give you input during matches?
When we started playing, valde still had in-game leader habits. Nathan not so much, because he didn't lead on the T side in Vitality, he was more in charge of the CT side as far as I know. Valde is such a smart guy, we spoke about it a couple of times, and then he was able to completely drop off everything, and now he's the perfect soldier in the team who does what you tell him to do. He can also give really good input.
Right now we decided to try out a dynamic where Nathan has more control on the CT sides. There are still some maps that he isn't too familiar with because we have a different map pool compared to Vitality, so he's leading on the CT side for most of the maps. I still chime in every time and I feel that it kind of takes the weight off of my shoulders as well because I know I can rely on someone else.
Before this event, OG signed ruggah as a coach. What was the process behind signing him, why did you feel he was a good fit? What impact has he had in the short time that he's been with you?
We spoke to some people who had the potential to coach the team. We spoke to Casper as well, asked what his future plans were, and we figured that he fits our profile. To be honest, we just went with it because we needed a coach sooner or later, and we felt like starting the year with a coach who has already established himself in the scene would be good. Valde also knows him personally from his previous teams. We knew that we were going to work with a guy who has the same mentality as us. He was willing to work hard, and we understood that there were no problems there.
As for this tournament, Casper is helping me prepare for matches and with our practice and the mistakes that we make. We're still in the early days as he has only been with us for a month, so we needed to show him every tactic that we had, we needed to familiarise him with our game style. It's going to take time, but so far, I'm really liking it.
The opening series of this event was one of the main storylines coming into ICE as you faced your former teammates of ENCE. Did playing against them give you an additional desire to win or propel you to prepare more?
I think it would be naive for me to say that I didn't prepare for this match more than the others. It's something that is a bit personal, and I think every player in the scene who has been in the same shoes would handle the match the same way. It was personal; in some situations, I felt a little pressure, which is not too common in the sense of when we started Train on the T side, our direction in some rounds was really bad. Obviously it's the whole team, but I would blame myself for it. I was face-palming to myself and asking why I was letting this happen. I'm glad we brought it back and glad that we played a huge overtime. Between maps, I just told my team: 'Guys, this shouldn't have been this close, we played so many of these rounds in practice. Next map, I will do everything way better'. As you saw, on our Overpass T side we had direction and communication. Everything was molding together and that's when I felt that we would be dangerous if we played like this.
Just to sum it up, obviously, it feels good to beat your former teammates of such a long time, with the storyline behind it. I'm just glad for every fan who's supporting me and OG.