coldzera: "With our new captain, expectations will be very high"
The Brazilian on Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken's signing, his goals for 2021 and whether he's still obsessed with being the best player in the world.
The new-look FaZe team will approach the BLAST Premier Spring group stage with hope rather than expectation. Not only is this their first tournament with Twistzz, who was signed from Liquid at the end of January, but the current lineup already has its days numbered, with FaZe believed to be close to confirming the return of Finn "karrigan" Andersen, who was recently removed from mousesports' starting lineup.
Speaking to HLTV.org, Marcelo "coldzera" David did not wish to comment on the reports linking FaZe with the Danish tactician, but he said that fans can expect big things from the team in 2021. He also heaped praise on Twistzz, who has embraced a star role in the team, shared his thoughts on FaZe's struggles during the last 18 months, and explained how his perspective on playing at the top level has changed in recent years.
This is your first tournament since adding Twistzz. What are your goals?
We want to reach the Spring Final. Even though Twistzz has just joined us, we have been practising a lot in the last week and a half. We want to reach the next stage and assess our level with Twistzz.
What are your first impressions?
They are very good. Twistzz has been a good addition, both as a person and as a player, helping the team to make better rotations, helping with tactics and bringing new things to the team. He is a very complete player, his aim is very good. We put him in the star role in the team, to make him more comfortable. I'm sure he will do very well.
In the recent interview that I conducted with him, he said that he requires a lot of freedom to play at his best level. Will he have that kind of freedom in FaZe?
For sure, he will have that with me, but I don't know how it's going to be with the next captain [laughs]. He will have a lot of freedom, yes, he will take the main positions on the maps, which used to be NiKo's positions. This will be good because his aim is very good and he's very smart. He's also someone who is actively looking for plays, so he will help in that regard as well. I agree that he needs a lot freedom because he's a very good player and he makes the difference when he's playing well.
In the past, it was clear that NiKo was at times unhappy with the lack of resources to build a top contender. Now, you are the centrepiece of the team. Are you going to be able to build the team that you want?
I think that's very hard to say... the team that I want. I picked the two new players, spoke with them and they agreed to come. Our expectations for the team are very high. In the team that we are going to have, everyone will have roles that they enjoy, so that will really help the team, also from a psychological point of view. I think that when I joined the team, it was still quite a mess. I think the team wasn't clicking, I think there were roles in which I would have been more useful, and the same goes for other players. Players were not really comfortable, and when you have players who are taking roles or spots in which they aren't comfortable... you'll have some people playing at 50 per cent and some people playing at 100 per cent. I think a team cannot work well that way. As soon as we add our new in-game leader, everyone will play the positions they like to play and everyone will be comfortable. This will improve the way that the team works. Everyone is happy with our results in practice. Even though we might perform below expectations in this tournament, I can assure that with our new captain, expectations will be very high. We are really well prepared, we are practising every day, working really hard, and we really want to show the world again that we can be at the top. We are also looking for a psychologist, who will be joining us soon. We want to build a team where everyone is united and really get back to the top. Now we have BLAST coming up, and we will try to give our best. We are comfortable playing with Twistzz, even though we haven't practised much with him. A lot of things are changing, and I feel excitement in the team.
Like I've said before, in the last 18 months, I felt the team a bit off. People weren't comfortable playing, there were lots of changes, and that's very bad. I had experienced that in my previous teams as well. The moment you're constantly swapping players, you never have stability, you never have time to practice. Let me give you an example: when I joined the team, we didn't even have time to practice because I joined while the season was underway, we had ESL One New York and then BLAST, so it was tough. When we had time to practice, we had good results, we won BLAST Copenhagen and we had some good results at the start of 2020. We won our group in the BLAST Premier Spring Series and we also did well in Katowice, we lost to the champion [NAVI] and we had some really close games against them, 16-14 defeats. That match could have had a different outcome and we could have made the final. Then, we had that slump when olof decided to take a break and we brought in Bymas. He was really good at entry-fragging but we used him as a lurker - a role that is totally different. He explained what he liked to do but people didn't care that much. I tried to help him as much as I could and make him more comfortable. We didn't have that much space in the team with NiKo and YNk, at least that's what I felt, they had a really big say in the team. After Bymas left, we added Kjaerbye, and again, we had tournaments right away. Kjaerbye is a good player, but I felt that he was taking the wrong positions and that he wasn't playing at 100 per cent. I think he would have performed better if he had played in the positions in which he likes to play, so that ended up hurting the team a little bit. We didn't have much influence when it came to team decisions, things were pretty much decided by NiKo and YNk. Let me give you an example: it took me three months to change a role on Nuke because I wanted to play better on this map, and we started doing better because of this. Some changes took a long time to happen, so we weren't very comfortable. I wasn't very comfortable. Now, with the addition of Twistzz and the new in-game leader... We will take roles that we enjoy and in which we want to play. So no more excuses, right? Now we will play in positions in which we are comfortable, we will be able to play at 100 per cent and it's now in our hands to prove what we can achieve. So we are very excited, with really high expectations as a team. I feel that this will be a very good year for us.
In the interview for his HLTV Top 20 article, NiKo mentioned how important olofmeister is and that his stats often don't paint the whole picture. You've said publicly on more than one occasion that olofmeister will soon retire. How are you going to cope with his departure?
Olof has always played a very important role in the team, he plays the closed sites and does what the team needs him to do. But at the same time, I think he could have performed better, he could have played in the positions that he enjoys playing and, that way, he would have done better and he would have enjoyed the game a bit more. I think he lost his passion to play Counter-Strike because he wasn't performing as well as he would have wanted. At least that's what I feel, that he got a bit tired and stressed, also because of the defeats and the lineup changes. When you're changing stuff all the time, a player gets exhausted, so I think there were several factors that made him not enjoy the game as much as he used to. But it's like I say, sometimes a cycle needs to end for a new one to begin. My cycle with the Brazilian players, for example, also came to an end, and I began a new one. It was olof's decision to leave the team and get some rest, the break was good for his head, for him to think about what he likes and what he doesn't like. I would have done the same thing, and I did the same thing when I left the Brazilian team. I had a break that lasted four or five months, and I took that time to reflect on my decisions, my attitudes and my game, and that was a good thing. I think he also enjoyed that time off and that he found something cool for his life. Obviously, we are going to lose a very good player, but at the same time, we've been able to put together a team that will mesh perfectly. Life goes on.
After you were named the best player in the world two years in a row, you spoke about your wish to stay at the top. The last two years were not the best, you had some instability in your teams and trophies were hard to come by. Do you think that you will be able to return to your best? And is this still a big deal for you, or has your perspective changed?
I think more about the team nowadays. I think that I won a lot of things very early, you know? And the same thing has happened to ZywOo. I've been playing professionally for six years... I started playing professionally in the middle of 2015. That year, I was named the breakout player. The following year, I was named the best player in the world, I received an award from the hands of Michael Phelps, I was once again named the best in the world, I won two Majors, so I think that things happened too quickly for me. In 2018, expectations were very high and I think we left much to be desired, and 2019 was even worse because of the break because I didn't play for three months and I think that really harmed me. During that break, I stopped to think, not just individually, but also more collectively. I'm still 110 per cent dedicated, and even if the team isn't doing well, I'm still trying my best. I'm worried not just about my game, and if needed I'll sacrifice myself and I'll swap positions with someone who isn't comfortable. I'm thinking more about the collective side. Things happened naturally and very quickly for me, it was not something that I really set out to achieve. I had four excellent players by my side and I just stood out. It's different from what you see nowadays. Let me give you an example: NAVI, Vitality, I feel they really push some players to be the stars, so they'll do anything for them. I played on a team where all players were equal, so we always thought that the team was bigger than the individual players. It was not by chance that we were at the top for two years. The same thing goes for Astralis, none of their players has ever been the best in the world but they've won all that there is to win. They think about the team, not about the individual pieces. I think that the teams that have focused on the collective cause have had more success than the teams that only think about making one player shine. The addition of the psychologist will really help us with that, will help everyone feel comfortable with the two players coming in. I want the team to have a really good atmosphere. It's not about telling FaZe, 'Let's buy the two best players in the world'. That doesn't work. We wanted to put together a team where there won't be any ego problems, where everyone will get along, where we can sit down and talk about things and where people will feel that they are being listened to. We want a team where everyone will be 110 per cent focused during practice because that is translated into official matches. We are not going to be a team with five players, the coach and the psychologist, we want this to be a family in which we all get along and we improve our game. Everything begins outside the game. Then, inside the server, if there's harmony and everyone is getting along, that makes us play better and with more joy. That's what we want for the team and that's why we think that these two player additions plus the psychologist will be very important for us.
There have been many changes in the Brazilian scene in the last few months. What are your expectations for these teams in 2021?
I think it's really cool that there has been this many changes. It's like I said, we began a cycle where everything was great and then everything went awry. There comes a time when every cycle must come to an end. I think people... I liked seeing them turn the page, I think after my departure they pushed it, they got some good results, but then the team fell apart. I think it was good that they woke up and smelled the coffee, not just the players who left, but also the other teams. I think it's good that we have more Brazilian teams, I think it was really great that FalleN joined Liquid and that TACO built another team with new faces and young players, he has a lot of experience. I'm also happy that Henrique wants to build a team with his brother and kNg. It's also cool to see FURIA with junior, and there's also MIBR. Now we just have to wait and see what happens this year. But I think these changes are great.