JDC: "It's just a very good feeling to finally see something blow in a good direction"
Dropping to the lower bracket after a close match against Natus Vincere, MOUZ's chances of making it all the way to the playoffs looked dire very early on in the group stage, especially seeing the kind of names still left in a very stacked Group A at the time.
After the opening loss MOUZ clinched a big win over the new Heroic in what was their biggest win in months and a confidence-building victory, according to Christopher "dexter" Nong, and they went on to add an even bigger scalp to their tally after beating Vitality next, setting up a group decider against Ninjas in Pyjamas on the final day of groups.
The dexter-led side got off on the wrong foot with a tough loss on their Vertigo pick against the Swedes, and then faced a 1-9 deficit on Inferno, but MOUZ managed to bring it back with an immaculate Terrorist half and then decimated Ninjas in Pyjamas on Mirage to complete what at first had looked like an impossible run.
To get his impressions of making it through to the LANXESS Arena and finally getting a big result under his belt since moving from the MOUZ NXT academy squad to the main team, we caught up with JDC shortly after their final group stage match.
The 22-year-old talked about the improvement the team has seen at IEM Cologne following months of struggles, the lower bracket run, and being the only German player to make it onto the stage inside the iconic venue:
It's been a massive lower bracket run from you, so tell me your first impressions of making it through to the LANXESS Arena after the huge effort.
Actually... (laughs) I'm so emotional and I'm very happy. It was tears in our eyes after winning. It's actually the first time for MOUZ to make the Cologne arena, and it's just a huge opportunity and blessing to be here. It was just such a hard grind, we've been through a lot as a team in the last three months, it was very tough on us, and it's just a very good feeling to finally see something blow in a good direction and actually coming out on top.
Going from that opening loss to NAVI and dropping to the lower bracket, since then you've taken some big scalps down in this whole run, how did your confidence build during those matches?
We are a very young team, we keep repeating it because that's how it is. Overall, we've been struggling the last three months like I said. We had very good practice results, but we weren't able to put it on the server, so after all we just said, 'okay, we just need to relax a bit, the nerves are maybe high or whatever is the case, and we just need to believe and play our game.'
After that, we had a good opening match against NAVI, we lost it 2-1, but we were actually seeing improvements, the communication was very clear, very calm in high-pressure situations, we weren't struggling that much, so after that game we kinda started believing more that we can take down any team right now that is coming our way if we just keep our cool.
From there on, it was all the other teams coming up, it was incredible matches, a lot of comebacks, the Heroic game was a mentally tough game. Today, as well, we were 0-1 down against NIP and then 9-0 down on the second map, I think. We just pushed through it and we kept believe, and I'm overall very happy with everyone.
Tell me about this comeback on Inferno, what was the key to bringing it back from that big deficit?
It's actually a very good question. Oof, I don't actually have a specific answer. The only thing I can say is we just kept doing what we should do, we didn't make any moves differently, we didn't panic, we just stuck to the protocol, in a way, and relied on our abilities.
We always talked about that we are here for a certain reason, even though it sometimes maybe doesn't look like it, or people are not performing, or whatever might be the case, but we are on the team for a reason and we have our place, so we should just keep working and keep trying hard, you know? And if they win, they win and we respect that, it's a competitive business, but overall we should know that we can win too. That's what kept us going.
One of the biggest things they've said on the desk throughout your run that has been a little different about MOUZ is that you don't play as default and have more of a set plan earlier in the rounds, rather than playing out defaults for too long. Is that something you've consciously focused on?
Well, we needed to restructure some things because, like I said, it wasn't working out very well for us from the start. We just started adapting and playing to our strengths more than trying to force a system that doesn't seem to work. Chris' calling has been incredible lately and his overall overview of things that need to be on the map has been great as well. I would just say we started playing more to the capabilities of us instead of trying to play a certain style that is maybe good if it works, but it doesn't work, right, so overall just adapting and trying to fix our system in everyone's perspective, so that everyone fits in.
MOUZ is a German organization, of course, it's a German event, and you're the only German that's going to be up on the stage next week. Do you think you're going to have a bit of a crowd advantage?
I hope (laughs). I really hope. Support means a lot to me, I take it to heart when people are cheering and supporting my journey because I think it's very nice and I'm blessed to be in the position I am and I'm very blessed to have the opportunity to go to the LANXESS Arena now. So I hope the support is there and I'm very proud to represent Germany here. We'll just see where it takes us, you know, it's game by game and we're just gonna grind. I'm very excited.