chrisJ: "Our first goal is to get back to the level that we had at the end of last year"
After mousesports' opening series against MAD Lions at ICE Challenge, we spoke with Chris "chrisJ" de Jong, who broke down the match against the Danes and opened up about the team's current performance level.
mousesports find themselves in Group A's winners' match in London, but the manner in which they beat MAD Lions was not as convincing as they would have liked. They were made to work hard to overcome the Danish side, posting an overtime victory on Mirage and a 16-11 success on Dust2.
In a post-match interview, chrisJ reflected on the team's preparation for the event and their current state, and revealed why he felt that MAD Lions were one of the scarier opponents they could face in London.
Your stretch of successful tournament runs towards the end of 2019 saw you move up to second in the rankings. Has this added any pressure to perform and maintain the bar you have set?
I wouldn't say I personally feel any added pressure. I think ropz and I were in a similar situation with mouz in 2018, even though we didn't have such a streak of good events, but we had a good six months back then. We also felt we were one of the better teams then, sometimes one of the favourites to win important events. I just try to think that we have to completely prove ourselves again. It's a new year and, in a way, I think it's always good to think like that. It's the next event, everything is going to be completely different again if you're not giving everything, if you're not working as hard as before, other people are going to catch up with you. I just don't think too much about how we were ranked last year.
When we spoke with karrigan in Moscow, he revealed that when the current roster was assembled, you set the goal of achieving top five come the end of 2019. With your recent rise, have you adjusted your ambitions? What do you want to achieve by the end of 2020?
I think our first goal is to get back to the level that we had at the end of last year. We won the first game here but judging from our practice and also from this match, I don't think we're playing as well as we did at Pro League, for example. We still have a lot of work to do to get back to where we were before. Then we can start thinking about the next step again.
In the same interview, karrigan mentioned that both woxic and ropz had shown consistently good performances throughout the year, while you and frozen required some adjustments in order to really shine. From a personal perspective, how significant was the impact of this adjustment?
I believe people think that in the previous mouz roster I was kind of in-game leading, but most of the time I was just entry-fragging. This is just something that suits my playstyle well, I feel really comfortable going in first and making these kinds of "yolo" risky plays that maybe some more conservative players wouldn't like to make.
Previously, frozen was doing more of these things, and he's one of the guys who would rather go in second or third, or play a semi-lurk role, not as hard as ropz is doing, but he's doing his thing on the other side of the map based on the actions of his teammates, right? It just suits me and frozen way better and it showed at the end of last year.
In terms of preparation coming into ICE, did you manage to get a lot done beforehand?
I don't remember exactly when we started, but we only had online practice for this tournament for around two weeks, maybe a bit longer than that. We kind of wanted to take it as somewhat of a warmup tournament even though we want to win. We realize we're one of the favorites, so we want to do well here, but we didn't instantly want to do a bootcamp again, we kind of wanted to save this energy for a bootcamp before the tournament in Katowice, which is obviously more important for all of the teams.
We felt kind of ready. As I said, our online practice wasn't that great in some regards. In some ways, we showed good form, but in others, we were quite a bit worse in comparison to the end of last year.
MAD Lions had caused you some problems in the past, and it was clear from the series that it wasn't as cut and dry as you'd have hoped. What kind of struggles did you have, and how did you manage to close it out?
Before the tournament, the ICE interviewer asked me who I thought was the most dangerous opponent. I think there are quite a lot of good teams here, but I specifically said MAD Lions because we had played them before and they're playing really solid CS. I think HUNDEN managed to make another really good team with kind of unknown players who have all turned out to be pretty good. I was honestly the most worried about this match because I knew that if we lost this one, then suddenly our confidence would go down, even though it would be deserved because they're pretty good. Still, you feel you should beat them.
As you said, the match was really tough again. On Mirage, we didn't have that good of a T side, and we didn't have our best CT side either. Somehow, we managed to close it, but it wasn't because we played much better CS than them, I think on a different day they definitely could've won that map. Dust2 was looking to go the same way, I think at the start of our CT side we won a force, they won a force, something along those lines, and it just went their way because they surprised us with some nice tricks and solid play. It was definitely not an easy match to win and credits to them, they have been improving a lot, and they're a pretty solid team, I would say.