ztr: "I tried to take as much as I could from hampus and implement it into this team"
Young Ninjas' IGL spoke to HLTV about his individual progress as a caller, the addition of Oliver "debo" Hallel, and what holds the Swedish scene back.
Young Ninjas got off to a strong start at WePlay Academy League S2 Finals in Kyiv with a swift 2-0 victory over BIG Academy, dropping just eleven rounds in the series.
In the interview, the 18-year-old also shared that while he wants to keep going as an in-game leader, he wouldn't turn down a good offer if it was required to change the role.
First of all, let's talk about the roster change your team made after Season 1 Finals. You brought in debo to replace Mann3n. What kind of a player is he?
The reason we wanted to go with debo over the players we could choose from is because he is a good team player and much easier for me to IGL with. He's listening to the strats, he doesn't do his own thing too much, so it's easier to have him as a part of the team's structure.
Last season mouz NXT denied you the trophy. Did you prepare for this specific match-up coming into this tournament?
We prepared just as usual, we didn't do any specific things. We have a "secret plan," I guess we can say that, but other than that, we are going to prepare just as usual, and hopefully we won't get as rekt as we did last time.
What do you think of NAVI Junior, the only new team compared to last season's finalists?
I think they are also a title contender, to be honest. If things go right for them, they can win today's game against mouz NXT and we will meet them in the upper bracket final. They are pretty good, they just need to do the right things in this game and they will have a good chance of winning.
Are you worried about m0NESY after the performances he put up, especially in the first season?
He's doing really well against all teams, but I feel like we have a good way of not giving him as much impact as he usually gets. I think we lost to them only one time in the group stage of the first season in a best-of-one. Other than that, we won two close best-of-threes this season. I feel like we have a good way of going around his playstyle.
You were listed as NIP's substitute for the Major. Did you practice with the main team?
No, I didn't. It was only in case of emergency. But we went [to the arena]. We were on a bootcamp for the Academy League finals during the Major. All of Young Ninjas were there; we went with our coach and manager to check out the matches, and it was really nice.
What do you make of LNZ's progress in the last months? You used to play with him on the academy team, and now he competes in Major playoffs.
It's been really just like it was for me, but he went even further. It was a really fast switch and really fast development, he's obviously doing pretty good now in the main team as he qualified for Major playoffs. He's been adapting pretty well. He has improved a lot since the last time we played, and it's really good to see.
Here is a question about the Swedish scene. I saw an interview with f0rest where he said that young Swedish players feel entitled due to your country's history in the game. Do you share that sentiment?
I feel like many players in Sweden have a big ego even though they haven't done so much. There are of course a few exceptions of really humble people, but as for the majority, they have a big ego for the things they have done. I think they should just stay humble - that's how many more teams will form in Sweden. Everyone wants to be a star player, and you can't have a team where everyone wants to be the best. That won't work, and that's why there are not as many Swedish teams as in Russia for example.
What do you make of your progress as a caller? Do you think that you have improved?
Yes, I definitely feel like I've improved a lot since when I was playing with LNZ. I feel like I've progressed a lot.
I've taken a lot of things from different players. When I was playing with the main team, I only IGL'd on two maps for a short period of time, but on the other maps I listened to what hampus was doing, when he was doing it, etc. I tried to take from him as much as I could, and I tried to implement all the good things that I could into this team.
Are you dedicated to keep playing as a caller, or you wouldn't mind changing the role in the future?
I would prefer to play as an IGL. But of course, if a good offer comes up and it's not as an IGL but just as a rifler, I will think about it and maybe even take it, depending on how good it is.
To close out the interview, tell me how your coach, slap, contributes to your individual development.
He gives me tips, we have some chats here and there on how I can improve my calling, how I just act all around in game. That's important as well, you have to act as a leader and be a leader if you are a caller. He's also helping me out a lot in real-life aspects.