hampus: "In some tight situations es3tag doesn't really understand us sometimes"
NIP's debut event with Patrick "es3tag" Hansen ended in heartbreak as the team were unable to take home a series win, falling in one-sided fashion to Astralis to open the event before suffering a tragic loss to Liquid on stage, a team that enter the final portion of the year as an entirely dead lineup.
Despite having limited practice time with their new addition, expectations of NIP were high after the swap of Linus "LNZ" Holtäng for es3tag, and the team failed to deliver against a team that haven't been practicing in recent weeks. It's hard to not be disappointed in the result, both for the public and the team themselves.
To get a sense of what went wrong in the series, as well as to see how es3tag's integration into the lineup is going, HLTV spoke to Hampus "hampus" Poser after NIP's elimination from the event. The Swedish captain opened up about some of the issues the team are having with es3tag's Swedish during frantic moments in rounds, and gave his reasoning on why NIP's T side performances have been so dismal.
Let's start with the match you just played. Coming into it, Liquid were a dead lineup, how do you approach a match like that?
There's not really much to prep, they even said in interviews that they haven't practiced and things like this, so we have no idea what to expect. We checked how they played before of course, we compared it to the games they played two days ago, and they were pretty alike. So we were doing the prep like normal almost, we prepped from before they said they were a dead team, but we also knew that we had this prep but maybe they'll just go crazy, rush B every round and things like this. So we had the prep but we expected them to play different.
You got off to a good start in the series, you won map one, and then Mirage was a bit of a blowout on your end. What went wrong there?
I don't know really, to be honest. On Mirage we had a good game plan, we didn't really stick to it entirely on the CT side I would say. Some of us did some individual mistakes that gave them some entries and then gave them some rounds. I don't know, I think on Mirage they hit their shots, we didn't.
One other thing I wanted to touch on, both in this series on Mirage and Overpass but also in general, is that your T sides have been very lacklustre. Is there a specific reason for that, or why do you think you're falling flat on it right now?
Before es3tag, we didn't really have a secondary caller. When I'm doing my thing, I'm calling something, when I'm in the action, I'm doing my crazy stuff, I can't call all the time, every single time, every round. Sometimes now someone else can say "oh shit, hampus is there, we have a really nice timing to go there", et cetera. Before with Linus [LNZ] we didn't really have that. REZ is quite a quiet guy, he is insanely skilled, so he should of course focus on that, same with Plopski, and device is the AWPer of course, he shouldn't be the second caller.
Now with es3tag it's going better, but we have a bit of an issue with the language still, it's good but it can always be better. We've only been with him for I don't know what, two weeks now, and he never spoke Swedish before. In some tight situations he doesn't really understand us I think sometimes, it takes 1 or 2 seconds for him to translate it, and those seconds are the seconds you win the round on. Things like this are happening now, but I think now with Patrick [es3tag] in practice he's been helping me a lot which is very nice, so I think we just need some more time, need him to learn Swedish fluently, then I think we'll be... at least better on the T sides.
What level of Swedish is he at percentage-wise, at least for communication in-game?
In-game it's okay, but it's mainly when it's like... let's say for example, the 1vs2 Stewie2K did with the AWP, it was es3tag and Plopski. There, Plopski was talking fast, he was stressed so he was talking fast, es3tag didn't really understand what he said and instead of double peeking they peeked one by one and lost it. If both spoke Danish or Swedish, we would have won that one.
Maybe we should have spoken English in those situations, maybe that is something we will do now as a quick fix for IEM Winter, but I don't know. In-game his Swedish when we do defaults and things it's 85-90%, but when it gets chaotic it maybe goes down to 65-70%.
I'm glad you're the one who brought up es3tag's addition. Obviously there is the device connection with him from when they played on Astralis, but what led to his pick up specifically? Did you have any influence in that process at all?
I didn't really have any influence in that. Everyone had a meeting with Jonas [Jonas Gunderson, Chief Operating Officer of NIP], the one calling the shots, and he said after the Major that he felt like all of us wanted a roster change, and that's what's happened. He was like, more proposing es3tag, and when he proposed it I was like yeah, on paper that should be an amazing fit you know. I think it is an amazing fit as well, I just think we need some time with the language.
Talking a little more about that roster change specifically, you lost LNZ. It's pretty early on, but I'm curious if you've noticed anything that he brought to the game that you are missing, at the moment at least?
The hype, for sure. He was so hype, so hungry all the time, and I think that's the biggest part we're missing. When we lost Linus we lost a little bit of our hype and the hunger I would say, in the game.
Touching on your Major run since you just mentioned it, you had a really rough path there in the Legends Stage, you had Gambit, NAVI-
Rigged bracket, rigged bracket! *laughs*
-and G2 in the playoffs.
Yeah, we played the No.1 ranked team, then the third ranked team, and G2 was like fourth, and we were the second ranked team. So it was like yeah, nice, sixteen teams here and we play top five only.
You've obviously made a roster change since then, but what were some of your issues during that run, even with the teams you faced?
During the Major, I would even say we felt good, I thought that we could go far. As you saw, some games, the Astralis game for example, we just destroyed them, like they had nothing to say against us. Even though they might have been a dead lineup as well it was still the Major, and the Astralis guys were the defending champions so of course they will play, and we just destroyed them.
So we had some really high highs, but I think it was more mental for us when we played bad. The G2 game for example, we just choked, but also like even on Inferno against G2 in the quarter-final, even though we were nervous, it was my first stage, Linus' first stage, even though we played bad as a team we almost brought it back as CT. If we just would have played our A-game, we could for sure have won that game. Since G2 reached the final, maybe we could have, you never know. Our Major run... yeah, we just choked, nothing more to it.
And as you said some very difficult matchups.
Yeah, but we still made it through to the playoffs. Getting G2 in playoffs, I think there was no team in the playoffs I would rather have, like if we got NAVI, Gambit, VP, or Heroic or any of these, it didn't matter. G2 was a good game for us. There's always tight games, so the seeding or the matchup didn't really matter in the end.
Two last questions. You've played with a few other AWPers in your career, nawwk, twist, draken. Now you're playing with one of the most acclaimed AWPers in the world in the form of device, what has that experience been like now that you've been with him for a while?
It's amazing. I remember, we were supposed to start [practicing] on a Monday, before we got device and still had nawwk. Then the org is like, "meeting on Monday," then they say "meeting on Tuesday at 1," then at 1, "meeting at 3." I was in TeamSpeak with nawwk as well, and he just said like "oh shit, Jonas is calling me," and then he came back like, "you guys will play with device, I'm benched." I was like, "oh my god, why does he even want to join us," that was my first reaction.
Playing with him is amazing, he brings the security, especially for me when I'm doing my pushes, my aggro plays, I really feel like even if I die, I have device near me, he will kill three, it doesn't matter. It's just amazing to have one of these high-calibre AWPers in your team.
Lastly, being eliminated with no wins here, obviously not the result that you would have wanted in your debut with es3tag. You're headed to IEM Winter after this, so going into that, what're you looking to change or improve on from your performance over here?
I don't really, to be honest, cause the Astralis game, it was just too many individual mistakes, and their individuals were just hotter on the day. This game, I don't know, it's something in our heads. We just choke. We win the first map, so on paper we shouldn't really have any pressure on Mirage, but we're still super nervous, we still do a lot of really bad mistakes in my opinion, so I don't know to be honest. It's in our heads, and we need to talk about it and figure it out.