ropz: "Practice quality hasn't been great, so it feels good to win this tournament and get our confidence back"
mousesports opened up 2020 with a victory at this year's ICE Challenge, the second of its name, which was played at the ExCeL exhibitions center and congress in London and carried a grand prize of $125,000 for the winners. The European combine did so losing only one map in their first three best-of-threes, and dropping only one more in the best-of-five grand final which they won against Natus Vincere.
Following the fourth and final map of the best-of-five grand final as swathes of contractors swarmed the ExCeL exhibition center to tear down the many stands that made up this year's ICE London, ropz took a moment to talk to HLTV.org about the team's preparation going into ICE Challenge, their first matches of 2020—including the final against Natus Vincere—, and not playing BLAST Premier, which is taking place just down the road.
First event of the year ends with a win. Not a stacked tournament, but you had to beat Na`Vi in the final. How do you see 2020 shaping up?
It feels great, I don't think we've had such a good start so far in our mousesports career. It's a great warm-up tournament for us because our biggest focus is now IEM Katowice. We just practiced online for this tournament, now we're going to have a pretty hard bootcamp and that will boost our confidence even more.
You struggled against MAD Lions at moments, and you weren't as sharp perhaps as at the end of last year. You said this is a warm-up event, so what have you seen so far? Things that have gone well, things you have to work on a bit more... What are the first impressions?
It's all about individual shape. I feel like everything is good when we play the matches, and our communication, but during our practice after the break it went pretty bad, to be honest. Everybody was off and the quality of practice hasn't been great, so it feels good to win this tournament and get the confidence back. We were playing really poor in practice, we weren't hitting shots, and we felt not that good coming into this event. I'm glad we won it in the end, I mean even if we just made the final it would have been great, but if we really bombed out here I think it would have kind of destroyed us.
One of the things we saw with Liquid last year is that they struggled after the player break and they were talking about communication not being the same, things not clicking. Can you pinpoint what it was for you?
The way I see it is that everybody has to give their best. I think we didn't have that much motivation going into practice the past few weeks, but we're getting close to our peak. We had a pretty long break, but even then coming back and playing seven or eight hours a day can be pretty tough. I just think we haven't gotten into the rhythm. We can just do better as individuals in practice because communication, in the end, is just about everyone staying focused all of the time. Sure, you can lose focus sometimes, but most of the time you should be on point and that's what communication comes down to. For example, when you get traded or something you should always stay in the round and talk about what your teammates are doing, what they're holding, and I think the biggest thing we're sometimes missing is that when we die we kind of zone off and become unfocused.
Communication is good, in general, but we just need to push it because against teams like Liquid or Astralis, they have it flowing really well and that's what tough matches come down to, they're really tight matches, and if you give your all when it comes to communication you make sure you don't lose the round to something random. I think we're really close to hitting our peak now that we have our confidence back, [we'll hit it] once we start hitting our shots and improve on communication.
Talking about your peak, you ended 2019 on a high winning trophies and getting good results. What are your goals as a team going into 2020? How high do you want to go?
Our general goal is to become number one. Not just by ranking, but actually be the best team. We want to make it the hard way. We don't really have any other goals than that, just to improve and play well in every tournament we attend. We went down a bit in 2019, towards the middle of the season, so becoming more consistent, as well. Becoming top one and gaining more consistency.
The game against Na`Vi went your way early on, getting the 2-0 on Dust2 and Inferno before losing Train and then closing it out on Nuke. There you won some crucial rounds that were quite contested early on...
It started really slow, we had technical issues and pauses, so it was kind of a bummer. Dust2 was a really tight map and winning a few key rounds pushed us over the top. We were really confident on Inferno and I think we just had them down, they couldn't find their groove there.
On Train we gave them the advantage, we gave them the entry frags, basically. They're a team that like to sit a lot and wait out the rounds, we made some mistakes by pushing too much and giving them the entry. It could have gone our way if we played more passive, but well played by them.
On Nuke we started back-and-forth, kind of, but we won some really key rounds. We were in disadvantageous situations a couple of times and came back in the rounds, which is what helped us win the game. We also did some work on the T-side and have some stuff prepared, so we were quite confident after the CT-side.
BLAST Premier is going on here in London now, as well. Are you kind of bummed out to not be playing that right now?
It's sad, in a way, we're one of the best teams in the world right now and didn't get the invitation, so yeah... I'm kind of jealous watching these guys play in a really nice studio and stuff like that. The competition is really tough there, also, so we're kind of jealous because we're missing out, but we still have a lot of things to look forward to. Hopefully things turn around and we can still be a part of it.