mopoz: "Playing [in the arena] was incredible, maybe the best experience in my life"
Movistar Riders' dream run at IEM Cologne continued on Friday, the first day of the playoffs at the LANXESS Arena, when the Spanish team defeated Liquid 2-1 in the quarter-final to set up a semi-final bout against one of the world's top two teams, Finn "karrigan" Andersen's FaZe.
Movistar Riders' longest tenured player shared his thoughts on what it was like to finally play at the LANXESS arena in their Big Event stage debut, where the Spanish team got off to a flying start on the CT side of Ancient thanks to a stellar performance by AWPer Alvaro "SunPayus" Garcia, who ended the first half 22-3.
Alejandro "mopoz" Fernández-Quejo Cano and company had the upper hand after winning Ancient 16-9, going into their own map pick of Inferno with a 1-0 lead in the quarter-final series. Movistar Riders had a strong start on their pick, hitting double digits before the half and making their fans believe that they could win 2-0 on their stronger CT side.
Liquid didn't let up, however, and kept the Spaniards against the ropes all the way to a 16-14 victory to force the decider. "We're going to watch this game and be focused for tomorrow in case we play Inferno because it's one of the best maps of FaZe," mopoz concluded about the blunder.
"We went outside to talk about Vertigo and I could feel that we were kind of nervous," mopoz told HLTV, but after winning the first pistol round of the map thanks to a three-kill hold by Raúl "DeathZz" Jordán Nieto the Spaniards managed to temper their nerves and play their A game, eventually hitting double digits at the half before closing out the map and series.
There is also a full transcript of the interview with mopoz available below:
You just made it to the semi-finals of IEM Cologne, one of the less experienced teams here. It's your first time in a Big Event arena, you made it past Liquid. How was it playing here?
The feeling of playing was incredible, maybe the best experience in my life because I never played in a tournament like this, with this kind of crowd. There's 15,000 people here so it's incredible. All of my family is here, I wanted to show them how this world really is because the events in Spain aren't the same, of course. It's super exciting and I'm super happy about it.
Tell me about the game itself, it started out on Ancient where SunPayus had an amazing CT side.
We always trust SunPayus in every single map because he's a superstar. On the CT side everything started rolling for him, he was just destroying almost everyone, he just went into the zone and that's it. It was really easy for us because we just had to support him and keep giving our best, staying in our positions and give him a little bit of space and time to make the rotation.
The second map, Inferno, you could have closed it 2-0. You had a good first half on Inferno, but Liquid came back and won 16-14, very close. What was the feeling of letting that lead get away from you and having to go to Vertigo, the decider?
They were honestly playing really good, but we lost three ecos and four buys on the CT side. I think we should have won the map, but anyway, it's normal because we didn't adapt properly. For the future we'll do it, of course, we're going to watch this game and be focused for tomorrow in case we play Inferno because it's one of the best maps of FaZe.
Going into Vertigo we were kind of nervous, we went outside to talk about Vertigo and I could feel that we were kind of nervous. But the moment we won the pistols, the first round, everything started going better. We're going to battle FaZe tomorrow, we're going to show people everything that we have and I hope they keep cheering for us.
The Vertigo itself, were you afraid that Liquid had studied you a bit?
We were thinking that they studied us a lot, on T side they did a really good job, they were focusing more on Mid and B. The last matches that we played, the last two or three maps on Vertigo, it was our weak zone because we were focusing more on A. But we adapted really good and ended the half 10-5. We needed to focus on the T side and everything started going better. We didn't start really good, but in the mid-time we just rolled up and everything worked again. We were just 'OK guys, stay calm, focus on the defaults and keep taking space. Make the team play.' We were focusing a lot on Mid and B like them, but it just didn't work for us.
Outsiders/Virtus.pro were your bête noire in the past. You just beat Outsiders at DreamHack Valencia in the final to win your first international event and here you beat yekindar, the spirit of that VP. What was it like playing him here?
It was really good because we really wanted to take that revenge against them and the moment that yekindar wasn't playing with them anymore we just beat them. Right now we just beat yekindar, so it's like 'OK guys, our revenge is done, we don't have anything else to do against them.' From now on we can only go higher and we have to focus on FaZe, one of the best in the world alongside NAVI, so let's see how everything goes.
To close things out, you had a lot of support from the BIG supporters and even tabseN before the game put out a tweet to support Movistar Riders. Tell me a bit about that relationship and if you noticed that part of the crowd cheering for you.
It's because at every single tier one event we [we go to] we're talking to BIG, we're like brothers inside the game and we think of them as friends. We're just hanging out together after events, when we have any issue we talk to each other about the game. When we're at events we spend a lot of time [together] so it was really good to play here in Cologne and watch how they support us and how the Roaring Bears keep cheering for us and screaming. It was super good, we feel really, really good.