sjuush: "I don't want to take anything away from refrezh, but we also wanted more"
After a year and a half without changes, Heroic decided to pull the plug just a few weeks ahead of the season finale at IEM Cologne, benching Ismail "refrezh" Ali to make space for a new young member in former Copenhagen Flames rifler jabbi.
Now making their debut with the new player in Germany, Heroic have already made somewhat of a statement in the Play-in stage with convincing victories over Sprout and MOUZ, and now they march on to the group stage to face off against some of the tournament favorites.
We had a chance to talk to sjuush after the Danes advanced to get his impression of his new teammate, why the team made changes in the first place, and how he sees the competition at IEM Cologne and Heroic's chances to go far in their debut.
Obviously, we have to address the change at first after you brought in jabbi to replace refrezh. What were the main factors behind that and why jabbi?
I think it was multiple things. I don't want to take anything away from refrezh because he was doing so many good things, but we also wanted more, and jabbi is a young guy, he wants to improve, he wants to learn, and he was already good in Flames and had some good results. We thought that if we take him in we can get even better results, and already by now I feel like me and jabbi have more synergy, we hold a lot of sites together, and I feel there is a change in a good way. I'm excited to see in the future.
What's your impression of him so far?
I didn't know him at all, how he played in-game, so I was really surprised by how much initiative he is taking and just how he's talking in general, the information he is giving. I can do a play, tell him what I'm doing and try to get him involved, and he knows exactly what to do every single time. He does the same thing and I know what to do, so we just work good together.
How much of a one-to-one change is it in terms of roles, did you have to make changes to accommodate jabbi, or was it a simple replacement?
I think it was kinda one to one. On some maps we had to change a little bit, we still keep it the Heroic way, we still keep our own things, and we have a lot of things we can fall back on if things don't really work. We make it easy for him.
You have proven in the past that roster changes don't necessarily always mean that you're not going to be in top shape, as when you came in you won your first tournament together and went on a winning streak. What does that mean for you and Cologne and the expectations you put on yourself? Are you hoping to find that same spark, or what is the vibe like at the moment?
I definitely feel like we have some new energy in the team. We want to show that we can become even better with jabbi, but we also want to give him a fair chance to just get in the rhythm of everything. We haven't really talked about how we do our prep at tournaments and stuff, so he has to get into that rhythm as well. All the small things in the server, outside of the server, as well.
We don't want to say that we didn't have that much practice because we've been bootcamping for like two-and-a-half weeks now and now we're going to be away for 14 days as well, so we'll be away for a month because we really want to show that we can actually win this. So we don't want to use it as an excuse that we didn't have enough practice... But if we lose, we didn't have enough practice.
So you'd just use it as an excuse at that point, got it (laughs).
You just had the chance to play Ancient and it looked pretty straightforward. Do you have any initial thoughts on how the map plays after changes and how different it is compared to the previous version?
It's definitely different now since there are no boxes in the window, I feel like that's a huge change. But us as a team, I feel like we are way better at it now. I felt like we were good at it before, but we didn't win any games (chuckles). I'm really excited to just play a few more matches, but the meta can change all the time on it, no one has really found the right way to play it yet.
It seems that the competition is really close at the moment after FaZe have struggled and NAVI are looking back in form, while other teams could challenge them. How do you view the main event and where Heroic stand among the competition? Can we count you as one of the favorites?
It is definitely hard to say who is the favorite. I honestly have no idea. I feel like maybe Cloud9 are the ones in the best shape at the moment, NAVI with a stand-in can either do well or just be completely bad, and FaZe have been in a slump, everyone is surprised they're not that good anymore, and G2 haven't really shown their level yet... I guess you can keep saying that about them, that they're just not doing anything (laughs). I feel like we have a good chance to reach playoffs. I hope so. We reached playoffs for every single event there has been, so I hope to do that here as well, also to see how jabbi is doing on a stage. I feel like that can give us a lot of experience.