innocent: "When I joined the team, you could smell that something was not right"
In an interview with HLTV.org, the Polish player commented on his swift exit from MAD Lions, revealing that there was tension in the team from the first day of practice.
The project that attempted to unite four Danish players with a Pole ended prematurely as MAD Lions announced on Saturday that Paweł "innocent" Mocek had been benched, leaving the 26-year-old sidelined less than two months into his long-term contract with the Spanish organization. According to a report by DBLTAP, MAD Lions are also considering removing in-game leader Asger "AcilioN" Larsen as they line up moves for x6tence duo Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen and Ismail "refrezh" Ali.
To hear about his experience with the Danish team, we sat down with innocent, who admitted that the offer came as a surprise and, while not happy with how his tenure ended, he is satisfied that he got the opportunity to play at a high level again.
Talking about his removal, innocent suspects the change was initiated by "a mixture of player(s) and the organization", completely ruling out the possibility of Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu being the one behind it. The Brazilian coach responded to his departure on Twitter, saying that it was "an absolute pleasure to work with Pawel", who went "out of his comfort zone to help" the team.
Moving forward, innocent hopes that finding a new organization to represent isn't going to be a long process as he feels "really good" about his individual form at the moment, but says that he won't be rushed into making a decision.
Did the offer to join MAD Lions come as a surprise? Can you tell us about the process, who approached whom and how the signing happened?
Obviously, it was a big surprise for me. It’s not every day that, all of a sudden, a team with four players from the same country asks you to join and becomes international [because of it]. It was peacemaker who came to me and started to interview me, sort of. After we agreed on everything, we had a team meeting with all the players and that was it. I figured out all the paperwork with MusambaN1 and a week later we were already practicing.
Joining a Danish roster with a Brazilian coach backed by a Spanish organization as a Polish player - what was your experience with the team like initially? Was it hard to fit in?
It was pretty damn hard, I have to say.
I hadn't really had that much contact with the players or the coach before, I was put in mostly new positions and played a really passive lurker role because I kind of felt we didn't have room for individual movements, even though it was said that we would have that from the beginning. I obviously had to remember a big number of tactics and setups on all maps right away and then had to do well against really good teams in good tournaments. And… I liked it. I like big challenges and it wasn't a small one, for sure.
I've always told myself and any of my teammates that if there is a position they don’t want, I will take it, learn it and it will become the position I like. With time, I got a lot better on those spots. It was a shame I couldn’t do it in time to transfer it into official games before my tenure ended, but despite that, I am really happy I joined them. You always learn something new and considering all that stuff above, I think I did pretty well. I am really hard on myself and I would never be happy with it, but from an objective standpoint, it was a decent job and a learning process that I can use in the next project I will be a part of.
The team went on a bootcamp for ESL One Cologne and finished 9-12th, beating mouz and losing to OG and Complexity. What was the feeling in the camp, was the result satisfactory, given the circumstances?
I don’t think anyone in the team had insanely high expectations for that tournament. We of course wanted to win as much as possible, even win the whole thing, but well, I am extremely positive but also realistic. The rest of the team couldn’t get back to practice earlier than the 6th because of various reasons, so we basically came to play events with one day of preparation. After we knocked out mousesports, everyone obviously felt it was a big chance to make it to the playoffs, but that wasn't meant to be.
OG played much better than they had in their previous games, we played a really bad CT side on Nuke, which was a must-win in that series because we also had to gamble with the veto and prepared only Dust2 for them since we knew we would not have time to prepare Inferno. I was really down after that game, that could’ve been a game-changer.
After Cologne, you played two online cups, recording five wins and three losses - twice to forZe and once to x6tence. Were these losses the reason for the change or were there other issues in the team?
I think it’s a bit of both. We lost at least two of these games due to poor T sides and I think everyone was aware of it, but I have to say that when I joined the team, you could smell that something was not right. Everyone seemed happy to play, but even without knowing all members of the team and their relations with one other I could really feel the tension from day one. That's not a great sign when a team has just come back from a month-and-a-half break, so something had to be wrong and it had started way before I landed on that roster.
Sometimes I could hear voices suggesting we had lost this round because of English. I know it wasn't directed towards me and no one ever gave me a bad impression, but I guess it's just natural that you take it on yourself because no one else requires English communication. So, in general, that's why the changes were made, I think I joined at a moment when everyone knew changes would happen, but maybe they didn't want to do them just yet.
You're leaving MAD Lions, and rumors say AcillioN is going to leave the team as well. Are the reasons the same as in your case?
No, not as far as I can tell, and I think the things I said in the previous question would prove that point. The team will just return to a Danish system and I was basically told I got hit by a ricochet and I would've stayed if the team remained international, and for me that's fine. I honestly don’t know why you would try to keep doing this with four Danish and one foreign player the moment you, according to rumors, will get another IGL, who will most likely rebuild the way the team is playing - unless you signed s1mple or ZywOo [as your fifth].
I don’t even know who will come on as the IGL, but I know it will be insanely hard to find an international one, so it has to be a Danish player. And being totally transparent, it would not be healthy for me either in the long run. When I joined, I told myself that either this team will go more international in the future or I will probably leave or get replaced, because that it's just how it is.
Where did the change come from? Did the players initiate it or was it the coach or the organization?
I am pretty sure it was a mixture of player(s) and the organization, I have my own assumption on how all of that developed, but I am pretty sure I shouldn’t really say it out loud just out of respect towards the player(s), since it's just my opinion that really fits the scenario. I am also sure as hell that the coach wouldn't suggest it. Let's face it: me coming into the team made his job way easier, he understood everything we said, he could probably contribute 80% more than before, and I was really open to talking to him about everything. I don’t think I could see him not liking me on the team in any way.
Recently, there was a rumor circulating that MAD Lions was going to replace AcilioN and roeJ, which was swiftly squashed. But does this change mean that there was some truth to that report?
I don't really think anything was happening at that time. For weeks, I had heard that there was a rumor about roeJ getting cut/transferred to some other team, so probably someone just said something and it spread. I'm not sure about AcilioN, perhaps someone knew that there was something wrong within the team and also spread it. But I don't think anything was planned or even discussed until the last few days.
Where does this situation leave you? According to rumors, you signed a long-term contract with MAD Lions, so does this mean you have by a large buyout as well?
Yes, I signed a long-term contract with MAD Lions, but I have to believe it’s not going be that long of a process to find an organization that can figure things out with MAD Lions.
How do you look at your time in MAD Lions and what are you seeking now, in terms of your next challenge?
As I said, I am obviously not happy with the whole thing, but I am happy that I tried and proved some things to myself, and also reminded people of my name. I've put in an enormous amount of work on myself for the past two years, I feel really good as an individual, and I will continue to work as hard as I have.
I learned some stuff to use in the future in MAD Lions and I came across some things that should be avoided. It's a good lesson. I also learned a lot from a coaching perspective from Luis (peacemaker), he is a great coach and it was a big pleasure working with that man. I am not looking to take any break, but obviously I won't rush any decision. I want to join a team with the ambition to win every competition we attend and I truly believe that with the correct mentality and correct practice, everything is possible and this has been proven many times.