Maikelele: "Every event we get invited to is like a dream come true, especially when we've been fighting so hard"
GODSENT advanced to the single-elimination bracket in London after finishing third in Group B following a close loss to Natus Vincere and a 2-0 thrashing of ENCE, who mustered only 11 rounds in the series.
In a post-match interview with Maikelele, we learned about the team's success in the final quarter of 2019 and their preparation heading into this event. We also discussed the two matches that the team played in the group stage and if he felt that the series against ENCE was as one-sided as it seemed.
Before the player break, you had some solid results at DreamHack Winter and DreamHack Sevilla. How did the team pick up the pace towards the end of the year?
I think when we created the team and brought in our last player, Maden, the atmosphere became really good. That's the biggest reason why we're trying to improve and we've been playing well. We traveled to the tournament in Kiev (WePlay! Forge of Masters Season 2), where we won our first LAN together. We didn't lose a single map, which felt awesome. After that, we got a higher world ranking and were invited to those DreamHack Open tournaments, which was amazing. Unfortunately, we couldn't win either, but I think we got a pretty decent result by getting to the playoffs.
You had a two-week bootcamp coming into ICE. What did the team work on in this time?
Yeah, we had a two-week bootcamp after the Christmas break. We had no practice together before that, so we decided to have the bootcamp to prepare for this event. It was mostly focused on improving our individual level after the break, but we also worked on our weakness, which has been anti-ecos. We're trying to work on them, and I think we have been doing a pretty good job, but time will tell if it's perfect now or not.
Do you feel that there are still gaps that need filling in order for the team to play at an optimal level?
Yes, we are still a pretty new team I would say, even though we've been together for quite a while now. There are always things you can work on as a team, and we're trying to find solutions to all of our problems, which is hard. We're just taking it step by step.
Devilwalk has been coaching the team for quite a while now. His achievements in-game and the experience he gained over the years must be quite impactful. How has he helped the team to evolve?
I think Devilkwalk is our pillar. He's the guy who's behind everyone, he's supporting everyone and trying to help us grow as players, especially when it comes to a newer player like Maden. kRYSTAL and I have been here since the beginning, and we've been saying ever since that if Devilwalk weren't here then we probably wouldn't have the team we have right now, we would've split up a long time ago. He has been helping us a lot, and, yes, his experience is helping us for sure. We have some players with a lot of experience in me and STYKO, kRYSTAL and zehN have some experience as well, so we have an understanding of the game. He's more of a match-changer, he can call something mid-game and change the game plan, so he's one of the biggest pillars we have in the team.
ICE Challenge is a great opportunity for the team to face opponents from the higher echelons of Counter-Strike, such as mousesports and Na`Vi. How important do you feel the experience from a tournament like this is for the team?
It means the world to us, to be honest. Every event we get invited to is like a dream come true for everyone, especially when we had to fight so hard without an organisation, without salaries, without any support really. Getting invited to this sort of tournaments, and this is the largest we've attended recently, is an amazing opportunity for us as a team. We know it's going to be hard to win the event, even though we are aiming for it, just like everyone else. It means a lot to us, and we can actually see our potential from a different view.
In your opening series against Na`Vi, you really pushed them to the limits on three maps. On Train, in particular, it seemed like you had a strong idea of their CT-side positioning, which was apparent from your utility usage. Did you prepare in any special way against them?
Na`Vi being Na`Vi, they have great individual players. We know that they tend to play aggressively individually, so we were trying to figure out a way to play in their faces instead of giving them the opportunity to make individual plays. I think we followed it through very well at the beginning of the T side, but then, when we started to win a lot of rounds, we felt like we could chill out and play more relaxed and more as a team. Then we started to lose instead.
We have an idea as to how to play the game against different types of teams, and we are all in it together and we all open up and talk about scenarios and situations that can happen. Everyone has an understanding of our opponents, which is really good. We are talking a lot before the games and we decide before them what our approach should be. Later on, we might change the game plan, and that's where Devilwalk comes in.
In your match against ENCE, on paper, they were the favourites for the match-up, but you ended up defeating them in a very convincing fashion. Did you feel like the series against them was a complete rollover?
Yeah, in a way we felt that. We kind of knew that they would be afraid of playing against us because we are this underdog team and you never want to end up losing to an underdog team, so you might play a little bit differently. We knew that they would be like this, and then zehN stepped up a lot in the game as well. He's Finnish, so he pretty much knows everything about the players, so he was communicating really well during the game, and he was helping the team understand the situations that were happening.
We felt it was a rollover, and we pretty much felt that we smacked them, and it was fair and square, I think. Props to them, they're a good team, and it's hard to lose in the group stage like this.
You'll be facing Virtus.pro in the quarter-finals. They've been shaky in the recent past, and from what we learned in a recent interview, they're going through some internal issues. With this in mind, how do you feel you stack up against them?
I think we are pretty comfortable against them. They used to be AVANGAR, and they were playing a lot of online tournaments like the LOOT.BET tournaments, and we would play them as well. We have faced them a couple of times already, and sure, it was before they transferred, but we still have a relatively good understanding of how to play against them. I think it's a good match-up for us, and I think it's going to be a close game. Hopefully, we will win it.