refrezh: "It's a dream to lift the trophy on LAN, it's not the same doing it online"
Heroic have ended day one of their PGL Major Antwerp Legends Stage campaign with a 1-1 record, which they kicked off with a 16-11 win over Liquid. They seemed set to run away with their second map of the day, racing to a 8-1 lead on Nuke against Spirit, but were left on the backfoot for much of the remainder of the map as Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov's side clawed back to five rounds at halftime before putting up a stalwart defense in the second half, seizing the map 16-12.
After the loss, we caught up with refrezh to get some insight into how Heroic's first day went from his point of view, what went wrong against Spirit, and how the team prepared ahead of making their way to Antwerp. The 24-year-old also spoke on Heroic's tendency to falter deep into tournaments and shared what they have been focusing on improving to avoid the same situation in the event of a run to the playoffs at the Major.
We're at the end of day one here, you finished it with a 1-1 record. Walk me through your day, starting with your match against Liquid and ending here against Spirit.
We started out the day playing against Liquid, and it was a game we really wanted to win because the last time we played them, they got the better of us, and we really wanted to prove that we could beat them and that we're the better team, because that is what we feel like. We ended up winning, but not in the most convincing fashion, we had some sloppy rounds due to stressful communication and lost some weird rounds that didn't really make sense, like a 2vs5 and stuff like that.
In the end, even though we didn't play to our best, we still managed to close the match and that is a great feeling, knowing that you could have played that match so much better but you still end up winning, and you have stuff to fix and stuff to improve on.
Going into the next game, we felt confident against Spirit, we had a good idea of how they played. We started out really good on CT, but we managed to only get nine rounds, or ten rounds...?
Yeah, you were up 8-1, and then ended up 10-5.
Yeah, they got some good T rounds in there where we just had a hard time playing the midround, we lost some duels that cost us the round, and they just managed to capitalize on our mistakes. They really just stuck to their own game plan, we know that Spirit is a dangerous team because they are the underdogs, and they just played well on their T side.
Then switching over to our T side and their CT, they got so many multi-kills, and we just couldn't trade on the rounds we should. I think our spacing sometimes wasn't the best, so the trades got really hard and we couldn't really get going on the T side, which is really sad because we know how good our Nuke can be.
You did really well at the RMR before this, and then you missed out on qualifying for BLAST, with the Showdown played online. Between the end of the RMR and now, were you bootcamping to prepare for the Major, or what was your preparation coming into this?
As preparation we played the BLAST online tournament just to test some stuff and get some games in, and also get the chance to qualify for the LAN. But we also had a great bootcamp leading up to this event, it was really productive, and we are still feeling confident in the Legends stage, so we are still ready for this even though we lost this best-of-one.
It's a part of playing this format, we went 3-0 at the RMR, and now we lost a best-of-one — not too bad looking at the bigger picture, but we do feel unsatisfied at the moment, yeah.
Spirit and Liquid were both playing in the Challengers stage, so they've had some time to get acclimated here and play some matches. Do you feel like coming in fresh to the environment was a detriment today?
No, I don't really feel like that was the key thing because it's basically the same setup from the RMR, and the last Major as well, so we're feeling pretty confident in this setup. It's nothing new, same PCs, same monitors, same tables, so it's not due to them being more comfortable in this environment, but of course, that could be a factor.
They also have played more matches and they might be more in form, but the reason for losing this match was our own communication not being the best, and not managing to capitalize on the opportunities and get the trades.
When you come into these big tournaments, you're usually able to make it pretty deep, group stages aren't typically an issue for you. But once you hit the playoffs, there tends to be some struggle, you might make it to the semifinals or so but then will fall around there. Is that something you're actively trying to work on in this downtime, like is it a mentality issue or a game-specific thing you're focusing on?
Yeah, we have been working on how to improve our game in the playoffs, because we have had some matches where we didn't play up to our peak, or our usual level.
It's easy to say, but it's mostly due to communication, that's because we're playing a really dynamic style and it requires everyone to chip in and do their thing. If people don't do that, we kind of lose our identity, and we need to keep helping each other, taking initiative and stuff like that which involves communication and moves, that's our biggest problem. It's something that we have been talking about, and it's a process, we're trying to take that final step.
As I said at the start, you're ending day one here with a 1-1 record, you'll have chances to make up for that going forward. You haven't won a big event since EPL last year, so looking forward at the rest of the Major now, how badly do you want that trophy here?
2021 started out with a trophy, our first tournament together, and we haven't won one since then, but it has also been a journey. Experiencing the biggest LANs in the world, which is pretty new to us, that is something we took as a learning process and I think we have been slowly improving. Many people doubted that we could even get to the playoffs and we have done that multiple times.
I think sooner than later, it's going to happen, that we're going to get the trophy. We are actually just trying to take it one step at a time, we are not focusing on the trophy until we can get to the playoffs. After that our focus is on getting to the quarter-finals, getting to the semi-finals, getting to the finals, but before that we are not focusing on the trophy, but it's a dream to lift the trophy on LAN, it's not the same doing it online.