steel: "Beating mousesports opened the eyes of my players and allowed them to understand how good they are"
We caught up with Lucas "steel" Lopes ahead of Sunday's ESL One: Road to Rio match against c0ntact to discuss Movistar Riders' recent victory over mousesports and his first six months on the Spanish roster.
Movistar Riders got their ESL One: Road to Rio campaign off to a dream start as they stunned world No 4 mousesports in a two-map series in what was one of the biggest results for the Spanish team since steel took over as in-game leader, in October.
In this interview, the Brazilian player revealed that the initial disappointment for the cancellation of the Europe Minor quickly gave way to excitement and said that the team have been working hard to find the consistency needed to become a top side. He also admitted that his confidence is at an all-time high, praising Movistar Riders for giving the team the conditions to focus on the game and to forget the coronavirus outbreak that is ravaging the world and has already infected almost 60,000 people in his native country.
What was the team's initial reaction when you learned that the Europe Minor, for which you had qualified, would not take place after all?
We were kind of disappointed at first, because it was already really hard to reach the LAN phase through those qualifiers and now we had to play more tournaments that were going to be even harder. It wasn't the best news, but, personally, I was happy to have the chance to play the best teams in the world once again. The mental reset was actually quick and we started focusing on Road to Rio.
The team ended 2019 barely inside the top 30 and with some results that weren’t the best. Was that normal, given that you had just taken over as in-game leader and were still trying to adapt to the language, and the players were getting acquainted with your system?
We ended 2019 in a good way in my opinion. I had joined the team almost in November and we had been playing teams that were already hot from the season. We were a team with two new players, including an IGL who didn't speak the language and was new to the region, so I was happy with what we did in the last two months of 2019.
What is communication inside the team like? How comfortable do you feel now when talking to the players in high-pressure situations?
Communication is one aspect that we need to improve, not because of the language barrier but because we need to be more clear and calm during these high-pressure situations, where you need to have a clear mind to understand what's going on and what to do next.
How confident did you feel, heading into the Europe Minor qualifier? Did something change in the team, for you to be able to beat a team like BIG, who were at the time 20 places above you in the rankings?
I'm in the best moment of my career, confidence-wise. I have learned so much with my European teammates, my coach, and my opponents since I joined Movistar Riders, and this has led me to being super confident in my role as a captain and in my calls. Plus, I've been doing a lot of work with my psychologist. Talking about our opponents in the qualifier, we played three tough teams: Dignitas, SMASH, and BIG. Dignitas was the hardest match because of mental reasons, in my opinion, it was the first match in a closer Minor qualifier for a Spanish roster that had never reached this stage before. Facing players like f0rest and GeT_RiGhT, emotions got to us. I was pretty confident for the other two matches, we weren't affected mentally for them.
You’ve already shown that you have a high ceiling, but the team still hasn’t been able to find the consistency necessary to be able to return to the top 30. How do you tackle an issue like that, and why do you think that you're still struggling against teams that, on paper, you should be beating?
I think it's part of the process of a team that is improving. Anyone can beat anyone, so it's normal in this process that we are going to lose matches that in theory we are supposed to win. This doesn't bother me at all. I understand the level of competition that CS has right now, and we are on the right path.
What was the secret to beating mousesports, the world No 4, with that amazing comeback on Inferno and the victory on Train, one of their best maps?
There was no secret, we made a plan for the match and I felt that mousesports played the exact same way that we had observed in their demos, so we were aware of their individual moves and strats. I'm not going to lie: I'm super happy about this win.
What are your goals for this Road to Rio and for the rest of the year?
My goals are to play quality CS in this Road to Rio and in the rest of the year. We are on the right path and It's just a matter of time before we reach the consistency that we've talked about. Beating a team that is No 4 in the world opened the eyes of my players and allowed them to understand how good and capable they are. There is no magic trick, there is practice, and we are doing everything we can.
You’ve now been part of the team for six months. Could you tell us a bit more about your daily routines? Movistar Riders have one of the best training facilities in Europe, but were you surprised by the conditions that they provide?
Movistar Riders are the example of how an organisation should treat their players and look at esports. The management and the facilities that we have at our disposal give me the sensation that esports are the future of competitions. Sadly, with the coronavirus pandemic, we are all in quarantine playing from our homes, but they still manage to give me everything I need to focus on practicing and competing.
Being away from your family and friends from Brazil, how are you dealing with the worrying news coming from your country about the coronavirus outbreak?
Being away from Brazil in times like this is hard, I had some really bad days in the last few weeks, and being away from home and in quarantine could be the reasons why. I'm good now, I worked last week to be ready for Road to Rio, and I'm 100 percent focused on this tournament.