djL: "Qualifying for the Global Challenge has helped us because we know we are doing something right"
Japaleno secured a spot at the MDL S33 Global Challenge after ending the season in third place, edging out Nordavind with a 2-1 victory in the lower bracket for the final spot in the next stage, where the Swedish side will join AGO and Sprout as the final European side to qualify.
Alongside discussing the aftermath of their qualification, djL talks about his time on GamerLegion as a coach and his thoughts on the team's disbandment, the current state of the Swedish scene and what sets them apart from the rest, as well as why Japaleno have yet to sign with an organisation. The Swedish team are still open to offers and can be reached at email@example.com.
The team pulled off a monumental achievement by qualifying for the MDL S33 Global Challenge after finishing the season in third place. What are your thoughts on this accomplishment?
It felt great qualifying for the Global Challenge despite having around three to four weeks of practice. We knew it would be hard for us to get a map pool for the best-of-threes, but our coach, chrille, helped us a lot by reviewing maps for us. We also knew that if we played like we did in practice, we could easily put up a good fight against any team in the bracket, and we did.
Have you noticed a change in motivation and dedication from the team since qualifying for the Global Challenge? Is there a noticeable difference in everyone’s attitude to practice now?
Dedication and motivation were always there. I would say that I have never seen the boys as motivated and hungry for success as they are now. Qualifying for the Global Challenge has definitely helped us because we know we are doing something right.
Japaleno currently sit at No.50 in the rankings, rapidly climbing 113 places since mid-February. What do you attribute your recent form to?
I don’t think the rankings reflect the reality of how good a team is, since it's hard to get points online.
I think what we did wrong in the recent teams is that we played way too many official games and kept on playing them. When you start losing games and have nothing to fall back on it's rough; we did put a lot of pressure on ourselves and now we have smaller goals and the first goal we achieved was qualifying for the Global Challenge. Our approach is way better now and we are focused on getting better long term. We are focused on practising more to be ready for the bigger tournaments.
The core of the team has been without financial backing since being dropped by Chaos in September 2019. Has the team been approached by any other organisations, or are you waiting for the right offer to come along?
We did get approached a few times from newly-started organisations and recently from a big one. Unfortunately, they can't finance it right now because of these uncertain times we are living in, but hopefully it will turn around soon or others will step forward.
You are the most recent addition to the squad, rejoining after a stint with GamerLegion as coach. What impact do you think you’ve had on the team since rejoining? Have you learned anything from coaching? Do you have a new perspective?
Well, I was not sure if I would go back playing again. Freddy and Relaxa approached me after Gamerlegion, and after a long talk they really motivated me to get back to playing.
My impact on the team is that I’m a really calm guy in the server and they like my style of calling. As people know, we had played with each other before and I feel that I know how to use the players to their best. They do really believe in me and my calls, and that is something I feel great with. Also, they really respect me as a leader. From a coaching perspective, I have coached some of the most skilled players in Sweden, hampus has a different style of calling and I took some good things from him.
Were you surprised to see GamerLegion shut down the team?
No, I was not surprised at all. I think that after nawwk left, there was a lot of pressure on the boys to qualify for tournaments, and sadly they were not able to do it. I would say that they might have been great after some time with draken.
In the Swedish scene, there’s fnatic, NiP and Dignitas and then you have a bunch of teams without an organisation fighting for their space in the scene. What is your opinion about the current state of Swedish CS? And is there something different about Japaleno that explains this recent success?
I do really believe that you have to like each other in the team on a personal level, now that I have experienced a lot of different styles in teams. We are six guys who can talk to each other about anything and there is no bad blood at all, everyone in the team takes constructive criticism very well and rarely complains; that's why I think we will have a great future in the team. Team morale is incredibly important in cs.
In the lower Swedish scene, we earlier lacked platforms and leagues to compete in, but now with SPL and Elitserien going on it helps to create new teams and talents in Sweden, so I believe the future is bright and we will see some new names soon.
With the competitive landscape looking unpredictable for the foreseeable future as a result of the global pandemic, what goals have the team set for the short term?
Our goals are to get better day by day and qualify for Pro League and the upcoming qualifiers.