jkaem on G2 match-up: "We have the same strengths, so it's a wide open game, but I think we're the better team"
100 Thieves will commence their 2020 competitive campaign in London, facing G2 in the opening series of BLAST Premier Spring Group C. The Australian team returns to action after an extended break that spanned nearly three months, playing their first match since the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, in early December.
In this interview, jkaem outlined what the team did during their break and the pre-BLAST bootcamp, commented on the results in Odense and revealed that the players have been working with the same mental coach as during their Renegades days.
It has been over two months since you played your last official match, at the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, in Odense. What have you been up to during this time?
After Odense, we went on a player break and we were gone until January 5. After that, we came back to LA and moved into our apartments because when we signed with 100 Thieves we moved from Detriot to LA, so we also had to move there and sort out apartments, etc. That's what we were up to at the start of the year, then we went to Poland and Serbia. We swapped bootcamp locations mid-way, around January 20 and have been bootcamping since.
After talking to AZR at EPL, it was apparent that there were a few things that the team needed to iron out. Could you give us some insight as to what those were?
At the end of a year, there are multiple things that come into play, in my opinion. First of all, there's the playbook, which is figured out by most teams by then, leaving you without too many strengths left to play on. It's rebuilding and renewing it, and there's also burnout. It had been a long season and people were burned out. Mainly it was focused on bringing up the individual level, teamplay and developing a new playbook.
AZR also mentioned that the team had a bootcamp coming into Odense, but despite that, you finished 7-8th, which wasn't the goal you set. Coming into BLAST, did you adjust your bootcamp framework at all?
A little bit, I would say. I remember our bootcamp now, it was in Poland, and we just practiced and went into a tournament where we hoped to do well. I mean, we still finished 7-8th, and if this were a normal tournament with a different format, top eight would still mean that we had reached the playoffs. The difference between the two is that this one was in the new year, in the new season. The one before Odense was just about playing, whereas this one was about refreshing and renewing stuff.
Having reflected on ESL Pro League, what were some of the main faults you broke down after the event?
I think we were knocked into the lower bracket by EG, and we struggle against them, I don't think we beat them the whole year. We went up against FaZe in a BO3, we beat them, then we played fnatic, who I think we defeated in the previous four matchups, so a defeat was bound to happen at some point, right?
I feel like the preparation was fine, we were in the right mindset and there wasn't anything bad going on outside. Maybe it was just an off tournament, even though, to be fair, 7-8th is not like a total bomb out. It's not the worst result, even though our standards had raised throughout the year and we had hoped for a better result. Looking back at it, I don't know what we could've done differently.
It's hard when you look back, there were so many tournaments. The event we had before that was IEM Beijing, where we had reached the final. We felt like everything was on point, we just lost the final to Astralis, which is fair, and they were really good at the time. We were also feeling really strong, we felt we'd go far and deep, and when you don't you're obviously disappointed.
In the same interview, AZR pointed out that you signed a new mental coach as part of your transition to 100 Thieves, who was supposed to assist you over the break. Did you manage to get much done with him over the break?
Actually, the way it all ended up working out was that we had a mental coach in Renegades who was from Detroit, where we lived at the time. We had weekly sessions with him, and when we transferred over to 100 Thieves, they had their own guy, but he was involved in multiple projects, so we ended up asking 100 Thieves to bring our old mental coach back because a lot of people felt good results with him and we felt comfortable around him. Now we have signed him and he's back with us. It happened recently, so we're back with the same guy we had before.
Is there any reason why you picked this coach specifically? What makes him an optimal choice for the team?
I feel like one of the things is that he's been around the team for a long time. He was around even before my time, and I've been with the guys for two years. He definitely knows people on a deeper level than just a client. He was also around when things were rough, we were doing bad and the team wasn't ranked something like third in the world. He has been with us through ups and downs, so that's why. He feels more like a friend than just a colleague.
Lastly, we're here at BLAST Premier, where you'll be facing G2. They had a strong finish to 2019 and qualified for IEM Katowice in January. With their recent showings in mind, how do you feel about the matchup?
A couple of our players and our coach know their team, so there's some rivalry going on, but I think our playstyles are a little similar. The two teams have the same strengths, so it's a wide open game, even though I think we're the better team. The last time we played them was at the Major in Berlin and we beat them 2-1. Last time we won, so hopefully we'll repeat that result.