k1to on young teammates: "I see myself in them sometimes, when I was younger"
The German jack-of-all-trades spoke about being a role model for the younger players on his team.
BIG have advanced to the grand final of Elisa Masters Espoo after a 2-1 victory over Sprout in the semi-final. The win sets up a match-up in the final with fnatic, against whom BIG played earlier this month at the IEM Rio Major and lost the playoffs-qualifying match in the Legends Stage.
HLTV.org caught up with Nils "k1to" Gruhne to talk about the semi-final match and what the victory against a fellow German organization means behind the scenes to his team's management. The rifler also spoke about being a role model for his younger teammates, the struggle to find an identity as a player after stepping into multiple roles in the team, and the loss of Dust2 in the latest update.
That was a tough game, it went three maps and was close until the end. How does the win feel for you?
We feel really good right now. When we got the news that syrsoN has COVID we were really sad, but we knew that we wanted to play in this tournament. Then we took back faveN, he was ready to play again, and yeah we are really happy that we managed to get into the final now. With a stand-in I think it's insane for us, we didn't expect it and now we want to win the tournament.
For you and for faveN does winning against Sprout make this win extra special?
I think it's always special to beat other German organizations, I think it's also good for our owner. He's really happy every time when we beat Germans, and yeah we are happy of course, but now it's not a German team anymore, it's only a German organisation. So it doesn't feel so special anymore, but it's still a nice feeling.
You have played a multitude of different roles on this roster, you have even coached for an event, does it feel hard to have an identity as a player when you're being switched into these different positions?
Yeah, I think it's hard right now because we play every tournament with different players it feels like. So now I had to AWP on Mirage, because this was the only way we got some round on T in the earlier games, so I did it again. It's really hard if you are not used to it and you play a different role again, but I think we are going in the right direction putting me in the same roles, kind of, on every map, then I am really comfortable again playing on this team.
How would you say the younger players on the roster are doing, especially in front of a loud crowd?
I think they are doing really good. I think someone from Spirit said something similar, they don't get worse on stage, but they get silent and if they communicate it's more hectic, but most of the time they are more silent than in practice games or studio environments. They talk less but other than that I think they are doing a really great job.
As a more experienced guy, do you feel like a role model to these younger players?
I don't want to be in that position, but I think I am, kinda. Back in the days, I was the youngest player on the team, right now I'm the second oldest player on the team. I don't feel like that, I feel like they are really young in how they behave. I see myself in them sometimes, when I was younger. I think they are really nice guys.
I mentioned the crowd, when you came into this tournament were you expecting it to be as loud as it was?
No, we didn't expect anything like that, I didn't even search up the arena before the tournament. I just came here. The best-of-one format feels so random that you feel like it's a really small LAN and then you come here and it's a really big arena. Like LANXESS but smaller, looks exactly the same, just in small [form]. Many fans are here, it's really nice.
When you are on the stage does it affect you now or are you experienced enough that you feel collected?
I think I don't have so much stage experience. When we played FURIA at the Major, it made a click I would say. I was stunned by the crowd there, we came on the stage and there was already one game going live and they were so loud. I have never heard anything like that before. They said "you can't be scared now, you need to enjoy this now, enjoy the moment and play," and I think since then I play much better and also I don't feel so nervous. I feel nervous but I know how to deal with it much better than before on stage.
In terms of experience, how would you say tabseN and gob b, the two most experienced players on the team, have affected your game and you as a person?
It's not been so long that I've worked with gob b, it was just in the beginning that he swapped to VALORANT and now he is back again. I think he is really good at seeing why you are playing bad, how you can improve, how you can improve your aim, and how can improve your game in general. He's not like a normal coach who just says "okay you did this wrong, you did this wrong." Or "you missed this grenade, you missed this grenade." It's much deeper in how he is thinking and how he wants to help you. I think he's doing a really good job.
Also tabseN, I think it's hard for him because he has so many inexperienced players around him, so there's no one who has an aura like he doesn't give a fuck, everyone is a bit nervous and that makes him nervous as well, probably, if he feels like his players are nervous. I think the more we play these tournaments, the more of them we go to we will get much better.
For you personally, when you were coming into this tournament, especially when you found out you had a stand-in, were you expecting to make it to the final?
Not to the final, but we expected playoffs because we saw the groups and it's best-of-one, so you can beat everyone. Then we started 3-0 and then, in the end, it wasn't sure if we qualify but we did it somehow. We played against 500, I think we needed to beat this team even with a stand-in and now it was Sprout, I think they are a good team. I think they just need a bit more time maybe and then can get much better, but now I think the next game is Astralis or fnatic. They are both also with stand-ins, so I think we can win it now, everyone can win it now from these teams.
You mentioned it there, every team that is left has a stand-in, why do you think the teams with stand-ins have been able to so successful at this event?
I think you have no pressure, you just enjoy the moment, especially these young academy players. They want to show "okay, I can play at this level," they also have fun and they don't tilt in these games, they give 100% all the time. I think then if you have a good mood you can hit some shots, you can go really deep right now with this meta, with this M4. It got nerfed now, but in this tournament, obviously, it's still the old one. Everyone can kill everyone in the server.
Do you have an idea of what BIG is going to look like going forward?
I have no idea myself. I want to be in this roster, I give everything that I will stay in this roster and I think everyone is feeling the same, everyone is giving 100% and we will know how it looks after the break.
Who would you rather play out of fnatic and Astralis?
I don't really care so much. fnatic, we lost important matches against fnatic, we lost important matches against Astralis. I think it was in Cologne last year we lost the last one against them, the third map was really close, Overpass I think it was. So I want to get revenge against Astralis and win in the small LANXESS arena here against them.
How are you feeling about the final, what are your expectations and how are you going to approach it?
We want to win obviously, but we prepare the same against everyone. Probably we don't know so much about them because they also play with stand-ins, so we don't have so much to look into and there's always a bit of randomness in the games, but play some DM before and hit some shots and we can do it.
How are you feeling about the new update for CS:GO that just dropped?
I think obviously we are known for our Dust2, so people think that we are bad now that it was nerfed. In the last year, we didn't really play so good anymore since the big change with the suicide. The map was not our 100% win like it was before, we beat every team before on this map. I'm happy that there's something new because gob is really good at finding new grenades and creating new executes, so Anubis will fit us. I think we'll play it from the beginning.
The AWP change, I'm not sure if it does anything, especially the good AWPers, they don't miss anyways. If they miss, they're either dead or they are at a good position, so they can reload if they want to. The M4, I think it's maybe enough, this change, we will see. We checked the range, I think it's good with the few more bullets now. Then we also said how often there are people at 90hp so the change maybe doesn't matter at all, but we will see.