THREAT: "It's way easier to change the behavior of these players than it was with the old ones"
After they also brought in Tim "nawwk" Jonasson, the new team has so far placed third in Group A of BLAST Premier, falling to the Showdown, and went out in the group stage at IEM Katowice after conceding series to Vitality and Natus Vincere, picking up a victory over Cloud9 in between.
We got to talk to THREAT following his team's exit from the Polish event to find out how his return to the scene has gone and what his first impressions of the new roster are, as well as to discuss other topics such as the role changes NiP had to undergo after nawwk's addition and their new-found affinity for Vertigo.
Touching on your result at IEM Katowice at first, coming into the tournament you were one of the underdogs and ended up placing 9th-12th, how do you reflect on how you performed in the end?
We're quite disappointed with the placing we got. Our goal was to reach the playoffs, but if you look at the teams we lost to, we didn't lose to any bad teams, we lost to Vitality and Na`Vi. However, some of the maps, especially Mirage versus Na`Vi, we felt that we didn't give it our best, which makes us really disappointed. The Mirage game, we just played really badly in combination with s1mple playing really well. In hindsight, I think we are a bit disappointed, but we know what we have to work on to improve.
Going back to your return to the scene, you were gone for close to two years, did you find that the landscape had changed when you came back? How difficult did you find it to come back into it?
There were some differences on some of the maps, some meta shifting, for example throwing the molotov on Overpass towards the A slope wasn't really a big thing when I quit, now it's definitely a part of the meta in how you approach that part of the map. Other than that, no big difference outside of new maps. People are more skilled today, I can tell, and there are new players, but the way you approach and play the game hasn't changed that much.
What are your impressions of the new lineup after the first couple of months?
It's very different than the previous lineup I joined in 2016, obviously, because then it was super-experienced, older players, whereas now it's younger, more hungry players. When we started building this project when f0rest left, we said "okay, let's just bring a completely fresh player in nawwk, and just build this for the long run." So we knew it was going to take a while, there are probably going to be some hurdles along the way, especially when it comes to experience and having that winner mentality. So even though we are disappointed about this tournament, for example, we kind of expected that it was going to be quite rough in the beginning.
How has your approach changed, then, from dealing with experienced players back then to the position that you're in now? What kind of difficulties does that bring?
It's kind of nice in the sense that now you can actually mold the players more, they don't have the old bad habits that I also had as a player, coming from the old scene where the players controlled everything. Now it can actually be a fresh start and we can become more professional, in a sense. It's way easier to change the behavior of these players than it was with the old ones.
How did you deal with the role changes that you had to make because of nawwk coming in, now having two primary AWPers?
When you assign roles in CS, I usually prefer to do it on a map basis rather than on the whole. It's so different playing the AWP on different maps. If you look at all my old teams, I never really had a dedicated AWPer. Maybe one exception was draken, but, in that case, he was just so much more skilled with the weapon than the other players. But if you play Overpass or Dust2 or Inferno, the skillset you need is so different. If it just so happens that one player is better in that position, I don't see that he shouldn't do it just because he doesn't have that role on all the maps.
You've been putting a lot of time into Vertigo, which is a completely new map for you as you were saying, but even for the team, who didn't play it much before the BLAST Global Final. Now you're clearly comfortable enough with it to pick it into teams like Liquid, what is it that makes you so comfortable on it?
Well, if you just look at our results, it doesn't look that good. (laughs) But at the same time, we've had really tough opponents in the few matches that we actually played officially. It's a new map, we're a new team, everyone was so hungry. I love theory-crafting on newer maps and so do all these younger players, so they just join me and that makes it a lot easier to play it during practice. In the beginning, it was really difficult because we just kept losing, but everyone was just open-minded. In practice, everything has been doing so well on that map, it's just our comfort zone right now.
What do you make of the map as a whole and on the meta that is played on it now?
I think it's actually in quite a good place right now. A big part of the map is battling for the A ramp area and it's almost like playing for banana on Inferno in the way that you need to keep your utility as both T and CT, which makes it kind of interesting. There's no perfect positioning for the CTs to do. You have to be aggressive sometimes, sometimes you have to be defensive. You're kind of always put into slightly awkward positions, which I think is a good sign of a balanced map. You always have to be on your toes and be active as CT. It's not static, at all, which I really like.
I wanted to close out with NiP's decision to partner up with ESL for Pro League and the entire Pro Tour. Can you tell me what the reasons were to side with ESL rather than FLASHPOINT?
Well, no. It's a good thing now in NiP that we have separate roles and I'm only focused on in-game, Counter-Strike related things.