AZR: "Very happy with our resilience to come back and get to the playoffs"

We sat down with Aaron "⁠AZR⁠" Ward for an interview after 100 Thieves got eliminated in the quarter-finals of IEM Katowice to reflect on the team's resilient display in Poland and to have him explain the organization's decision to partner up with ESL for the future.

AZR told us about how the Australian squad came back from an atrocious start to the tournament, which saw them win only five rounds over the course of a best-of-three series against G2.

The 27-year-old shed more light on a long talk the team's coach, Aleksandar "⁠kassad⁠" Trifunović, referenced in an earlier interview and reflected on the run to the playoffs, where 100 Thieves were ultimately stopped by fnatic after two overtime losses.

100 Thieves came back from a horrid start to the tournament

100 Thieves were announced as one of the 13 organization who became partners with ESL for the upcoming ESL Pro League and ESL Pro Tour as a whole, so we also asked the captain about what the choice between that and FLASHPOINT came down to.

First of all, tell me what the mood is like in the team after the entire run. Is it more disappointment that prevails after the close loss to fnatic or happiness with the recovery from the slow start to the year at BLAST?

I guess it's a bit of both, to be honest. We are obviously very disappointed with how the year started and with how this tournament started, but we are also very happy with our resilience to come back and get to the playoffs and beat EG and mousesports. But when you lose two OT games, it's very hard with the mistakes you made, you look back at the game and you see the tiny mistakes that can make a huge difference, so it's definitely a bit of both.

kassad referenced a long talk that you had after the opening blowout against G2. What made that so productive?

I think we had a confidence issue in general in the first week here and at BLAST. We obviously spoke about confidence, what we could do to fix it, and one of the things was just to make sure that the chemistry between us is good so people can have their say, have their voice, and make sure that they're being heard and nothing is being ignored. That was definitely one of the things.

Before even heading into that talk, after BLAST we had to fix a lot of things in-game. Like I said before, we weren't playing with a lot of confidence and our discipline in-game wasn't the greatest, either, so we had to work on discipline, individual confidence, and on me micro-managing people more. We weren't making our moves and making the confident in-game plays that we usually would in practice, so that was another thing, and, just in general, we made sure we were more open to each other, it seemed like tension was building up in the team.

100 Thieves picked four different maps at BLAST and IEM Katowice

Your map picks were all over the place throughout these first two events, which I guess speaks to one of two things: either the strength of your map pool or insecurity around it. Which one was it?

We had a three-week bootcamp before BLAST and we had another five-day bootcamp before Katowice, so we were really working on other maps that we thought were weaker after the break. Heading into these map picks against these teams and losing Inferno, it was definitely quite disappointing, to be honest. Heading into this tournament, our Inferno was looking pretty good. Maybe after the second loss on Inferno, maybe we should have picked something else (laughs), but the guys were confident, and kassad and I were confident in our gameplan, too, so no regrets at all.

You were on the receiving end of a G2 onslaught. What did you think made them so strong here? [Editor's Note: The interview took place on the semi-finals day.]

Yeah, they're definitely on a hot streak right now. Just in general, when we played against them here in Katowice, all aspects of their game were on point, whether it be in terms of firepower, teamplay, reading the game. Everything they're doing right now is really good and I think they're really starting to gel as a team and you can see the confidence flowing through every single one of them. When you have confidence in your game as a team, everything just works, right, so they're playing some great CS right now for sure.

ESL Pro League is coming up next for you, which ties into your decision to partner with ESL not only for the league but for their circuit as a whole. Can you tell me about the decision and what led you to side with ESL?

When we heard about the two leagues being pinned against each other and stuff like that, we obviously had a lot of talks with our VP, Jacob ["Maelk" Toft-Andersen]. We were just making sure that our communication was very open either way, whatever we heard or Jacob heard, we were talking to each other. In terms of our pick, I think we were both on the same page that we wanted ESL. ESL have always been a great TO and they've always done really well by the players and their tournaments are huge, like Katowice, Cologne, you want to be there all the time, so I think it was quite an easy pick for us.

Australia Aaron 'AZR' Ward
Aaron 'AZR' Ward
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
966
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.13
Serbia Aleksandar 'kassad' Trifunović
Aleksandar 'kassad' Trifunović
Age:
33
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.75
Maps played:
99
KPR:
0.52
DPR:
0.73
APR:
0.13
#1
 | 
Australia Boostral
AUS #1 like always
2020-03-03 11:00
fluke like always will shit bed on major
2020-03-03 11:11
Last major AUS - playoffs M16R - LUL
2020-03-03 11:26
#39
 | 
Australia CaZeR01
just like the last 2 majors... oh wait
2020-03-03 13:30
the boys: top 4, destroyed a ence that was at its peak and had the form to win the major m16r: only beat nip LMAO
2020-03-03 16:51
#59
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Australia flashi
shit bait nt mibr actual cringe go eat taco and contract syphilis kid
2020-03-04 01:16
MIBR is playing in a dogshit tier 2 league because they aren't good enough to play in tier 1 tournaments anymore, ROFL.
2020-03-04 19:23
#2
 | 
Sri Lanka KalleWoW
The Legend himself
2020-03-03 11:00
#3
 | 
New Zealand SkirmishX
Absolute unit
2020-03-03 11:02
+1
2020-03-03 15:32
the goat
2020-03-03 11:07
+1
2020-03-03 15:32
100 Thieves need to kick someone. JKS carry alone this shit team
2020-03-03 11:07
#24
AZR | 
Taiwan Haoyuan
Liazz & Gratisfaction are the problem.
2020-03-03 11:28
#27
 | 
Pakistan LoOuU2
only Gratisfaction , Liazz does his job well 70 % of the time . Grata goes negative rated in almost every match although being the main awper.
2020-03-03 11:40
+1
2020-03-03 11:59
+1 maybe -gratifaction +guardian??🤔🤔🤔
2020-03-03 12:36
#33
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Pakistan LoOuU2
Gratata went from the second worst awper in Top 20 to the worst awper as soon as Guardian got replaced in NaVi , Guardian isnt even a shadow of his former self.
2020-03-03 12:40
+guardian for fix then team is top 3 100%
2020-03-03 12:41
#35
 | 
Pakistan LoOuU2
no , Botdian is a has been. Should get that awper from Renegades at least.
2020-03-03 12:42
gardian is legend 😠😠 no talk when arent know 🤫🤫
2020-03-03 12:45
#37
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Pakistan LoOuU2
legend for sure but doesnt mean he`s gonna be a T1 player for his whole career , everyone has a fall and Guardian has had his for a long time now.
2020-03-03 12:46
yeah bring in Sico, best awper AU.
2020-03-05 02:16
mayb they can try 5 riflers lineup like liquid(it is proved that to kick jdm and add naffly is a good move for liquid), -grat +dexter may be a good choice(also dexter can igl so when azr is too old to play he can replace him).
2020-03-03 13:40
#42
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Japan sinnert
apparently no one would listen to corona virus
2020-03-03 14:23
0/8 reiwa otaku with pieces of fat, u are not even as delicious as dogs.
2020-03-03 15:55
#58
 | 
Japan sinnert
omg i lost
2020-03-03 23:43
#48
 | 
Pakistan LoOuU2
Thing is TL still have Nitro who can main awp , as well as both Stewie and Naf are actually great awps as well. I don't even know who's the second awp in 100T
2020-03-03 16:34
#55
 | 
Australia beavr27
jks can awp
2020-03-03 20:48
#57
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Pakistan LoOuU2
who would be the main rifler and carry them then ?
2020-03-03 21:07
#61
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Australia beavr27
i was just saying jks is second awp
2020-03-04 04:19
#60
 | 
Australia flashi
well thats the problem i feel like the players are pretty inconsistent. because i remember one tournament a few months ago grat was hitting some sick shots and liaz and jkaem were being shitting the bed. then jkaem was going really well for a while and now jks is really the only one putting up a performance with liaz
2020-03-04 01:19
#6
 | 
Australia csRIOTgo
just have the talk can work magic for this team, it's so s1mple...
2020-03-03 11:07
100 FLUKES OMEGALUL
2020-03-03 11:08
#12
 | 
Australia opzy
what is this, like their 5th fluke?
2020-03-03 11:17
im talking about this tournament. that playoff run was a fluke
2020-03-03 11:18
#15
 | 
Australia opzy
yeah but theyve shown that they can beat top teams somewhat consistently so its hardly a fluke
2020-03-03 11:22
#17
 | 
Australia |bruh|
consistantly fluking poggers
2020-03-03 11:22
so many aussies here wtf? imma outta here
2020-03-03 11:24
#19
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Australia |bruh|
lol, expected its about the boys. i must read it
2020-03-03 11:24
wut????
2020-03-03 11:25
Gay name. Imagine thinking s1mple was better than zywhoo in 2019.
2020-03-03 12:37
everything checks out
2020-03-03 13:02
He was
2020-03-03 18:22
They are both similar in that they both play awp and bait their team. Zywhoo beat simple in everything in 2019: 1. Better rating in every category: All maps, on lan..... 2. Zywho’s team is way Worse, litterly playing with 4 bots, meanwhile s1mple played with arguably the best rifler in the world. And Even flamie and booml4 are nowhere AS trash as Apex and shox. 3. Even though vitality is way Worse than navi they won a few tournaments, where zywhoo carried hard. Its almost weird how trash navi managed to be with simple and electronic. They achived nothing. FACTS, cry simple fanboys!
2020-03-03 18:51
S1mple didnt awp in 2019
2020-03-04 05:24
Guardian was main awp for like a few months yes. Doesnt change the fact that im right about all the other points
2020-03-04 19:09
Didnt wanna argue tbh. Coz everyone knows navi was in a slump due to continuos roster changes, they didnt even play enough tournaments. And s1mple went back to rifling for last 4 months of the year which is like 1/3rd of the year and still made it to top2 2019. Lmao i mean zywoo was good, sure but he was in a consistent team with no roster changes or role changes except the nbk-shox swap i guess. Still zywoo couldnt surpass simple's 2018 stats. U know zywoo was top1 coz simple was in a slump. Thats the only reason why zywoo barely edged simple out in terms of stats. So i m not hurt if u meant to evoke some kind of reaction from this simple fanboy coz in the end of the day I know my facts and s1mple top1 2020 so far so yeah i m good.
2020-03-05 03:21
Got ban mens:( Unstable navi with electronic >4 bots. Zywhoo was better Simple has been best player in 2020 yes, but only one qual and 1 turnament so far
2020-03-08 06:10
#63
 | 
Myanmar Monolico
Guardian was main awper for navi in 2019 lmao
2020-03-04 10:57
For some time yeah. Not the whole year
2020-03-05 03:22
This guy is "outta here" as soon as his point is proven wrong lul
2020-03-03 17:58
#51
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Australia |bruh|
its like hltv is full of bad opinions
2020-03-03 17:59
good
2020-03-04 19:47
#8
 | 
Australia |bruh|
blastpoint btfo'd xd
2020-03-03 11:10
lul
2020-03-03 11:10
ok
2020-03-03 11:11
Nice Lets go the Boys
2020-03-03 11:19
S0mple
2020-03-03 11:22
#20
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Australia TeBo
YTB will easily top their group at pro league
2020-03-03 11:24
S0mple **** rider
2020-03-03 11:25
#25
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World Beard43
Really good effort, definitely great to see the comeback after the disappointment of the G2 game. Unfortunate few mistakes (I thought they were big mistakes not tiny) in the Fnatic game preventing at least the third map though. Overall it was a positive tournament, something to build from!
2020-03-03 11:32
It has to be s1mple right?
2020-03-03 11:37
LMAO "come back" w0t?
2020-03-03 11:59
#40
 | 
Australia CaZeR01
do you not know what a come back is
2020-03-03 13:33
#64
jks | 
Australia Reapz^
A comeback doesn't necessarily have to be a win.
2020-03-04 14:34
YEAH THE BOYS
2020-03-03 12:18
AZR he is the australian player but the titan he is the french stars
2020-03-03 15:16
#44
 | 
Poland SebL
He has been playing really good lately.
2020-03-03 15:27
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