rain: "My goal is to win everything, basically"
After a confident win over Players, Håvard "rain" Nygaard sat down with HLTV to talk about the game and much more.
FaZe have had a cracking start to 2022, cruising through their BLAST Spring group, picking up an epic IEM Katowice victory with a stand-in, and battling through their Pro League group.
After comfortably brushing Players aside in FaZe's first playoff game here in Düsseldorf, rain caught up with HLTV to discuss his thoughts on the game, why his team struggled so much in 2021, and his strange experience at IEM Katowice.
First things first, congratulations! How did that series feel to you?
It felt pretty comfortable, even though it looked like we got stomped on Mirage; there’s a reason they picked the map, and they had clearly a good game plan coming into it. We felt a bit out-called and they played a good game of Counter-Strike on Mirage, we couldn’t really get into it on CT and it’s always rough to play Mirage if you can’t get rolling on CT, right? I think they just played really well there and we couldn’t come up with a solution.
What allowed you to take Inferno so convincingly?
I think our Inferno is probably one of the best in the world right now, I feel like. We are all super comfortable in our roles and our positions, everything just feels so good for us on that map, so we knew that we could get so many rounds on T, and even we have a bad T side we know we can comeback on CT. We just kept rolling on T, and with an 11-4 score at the half, there’s no way you can lose that game right (laughs).
No matter what zonic says…
Coming back to the game, how does it feel going into a final map when you have just been stomped?
We were still pretty confident, of course we were a little bit down, we just had to make sure that we refocused mentally and forget about that map. They did the same on Mirage, right? We were still up one round in the overall score (laughs). I think it was just mentality, we managed to reset, and had some good clutch moments on Overpass which helped with that.
Another key element of the series was some of the successful deagle ecos. Obviously FaZe and deagle ecos are an iconic and successful duo, but is it down to any specific setups you guys run?
I think deagle ecos are the only rounds where Finn doesn’t call anything. He just says “buy”, everybody buys, and people do what they want on the fly. It’s like a mix-team style, but everybody is reacting off each other, we’re still trying to play together even if it’s not a set strat.
What about you personally – you have always been a very strong deagle player, is this something you are praccing in DM?
I think it’s just natural, of course I learned a lot from NiKo as well when he played with me, how to control it properly. It’s just a fun weapon to play around with, and I guess I have some highlights here and there.
So taking a step back, last year was a bit of a rough one for FaZe, with generally underwhelming results. How did last year feel to you personally?
It was pretty sh**ty to be honest, losing in groups every single tournament was pretty rough. We were dipping in the rankings, and it just felt like the team wasn’t functioning at all.
At the same time, when Finn came into the team, we knew that Robin was coming eventually, so it was always kind of like ‘is he coming now, is he coming later?’. We still played 100% with Olof, and we tried our best, but it was probably sitting in the back of our minds that we were going to get Ropz soon. It was a weird year overall for us.
Do you think that was what held the team back, the idea that the team was waiting for Ropz to turn up?
Nah I think we were just missing something in the team. Robin brings it in with so much firepower and his hunger to play, he is probably one of the hardest working and most mechanically skilled that I have played with. All this stuff he is finding, this math smoke s**t; I’m watching him in the practice room and he is telling me how he lines it up, and I’m like ‘what the f**k, he is counting the pixels on his screen, I am going to go blind if I start doing this’ (laughs). He brings in a lot of good stuff to the team, and it’s what we were lacking last year.
After a year like that, particularly for someone like you who has played for so long and had so much success, was there any temptation to change the way you played? Did you ever sit there and think ‘maybe I’m not playing well enough’?
We did swap around a little bit for Finn, because he wanted to figure out what was going on and find solutions. Roles swapped back-and-forth, I tried to lurk for a while and then I went back to entry, and then I’m a little bit of a support, and now I am back to entry again. I think right now our roles are pretty set, I don’t think they were as set before, and at the same time I am trying to improve more on not just playing deathmatch, but also watching other people and focusing on utility.
Is that something you didn’t do before?
Yeah. In 2017, 2018, all those years when I was in my prime or whatever you call it, I never watched anybody. I felt like I couldn’t learn from anyone.
Especially nowadays, Counter-Strike has changed so much over the years, it’s a completely different game than what it was like three years ago, you know? It’s so much more tactical, so you have to adapt with the game or you are going to go ‘bye bye’.
Obviously we have heard a lot of talk from people about what Ropz has to offer, but what do you personally think he brings to the table?
He brings so much skill, individually and also teamplay. He is the full package as a player, he can AWP, he can rifle, he can do anything, right? He’s just an all-round good player to have in the team, and he makes everyone else better.
How did roles change to accommodate him?
Not that much at all, the roles pretty much – almost, at least – went one-to-one with Olof. They’re both lurk-style players so we didn’t have any big role switches, maybe Russ had to give away some stuff, but apart from that it was one-to-one.
I assume people were happy to give a player like Ropz the roles he wanted?
Yeah of course. We said ‘write down on a piece of paper where you want to play and what you want to do’ and we worked around that basically (laughs), he had full freedom to pick whatever he wanted.
I wanted to ask a few questions about Katowice – obviously a successful event for FaZe, but one that you didn’t get to fully experience. How was Katowice for you?
Going into the play-ins we get the notice that Ropz can’t play because he is sick, it was pretty much like ‘oh… we sign a new star player, and he can’t play the first LAN we are playing’. It was pretty rough at the start, but everybody stepped up at that time, kept the mood up playing games all night.
After the groups when I had to go into quarantine, in a way I felt it was weird to sit there and watch my team play, it was the first matches I have missed since joining FaZe, so it was weird seeing the FaZe banner and not playing. I am happy the guys won of course, but I wish I could have played as well, so it’s kind of mixed feelings.
How was playing with jks?
jks is super talented, he worked really hard. He could barely play before he came, and he just came and sat and played deathmatch for like 10 hours a day, just focus focus focus, and so he played super well. Especially in the finals, he stepped up big time and even played my roles, and he did fantastic.
Seeing a player take your place on the team, even taking your roles, and winning a medal must have been strange. Were there any hard feelings?
No, I love the guy, he’s super nice there’s no bad feelings between us at all. I am super happy that he got to win a trophy finally, he got to experience that, so I am just happy for him.
Looking forwards, what are the goals and aims for FaZe this year, in your eyes?
I think the main goal is the Major, right? Of course. The way I am feeling now in the team, how confident I am going into every game, with the guys if I jump through a smoke I know I am getting refragged, right? So my goal is to win everything, basically. If we lose now, I am going to be disappointed no matter what.
Finally, if I asked you right now who would give you your hardest game, who would it be?
The hardest game is probably going to be NAVI, to be honest. s1mple is back in top shape, and they’re going to be hard to play against no matter what happens. They are for sure the hardest opponent.