apEX: "Now Spinx understands that he is a star and he has to perform"
In HLTV.org's second interview from the IEM Katowice group stage, Dan "apEX" Madesclaire speaks about Vitality's performance in 2022 and Lotan "Spinx" Giladi's recent uptick in form.
Vitality made the trip to IEM Katowice fresh off their strong 1-3rd place run through BLAST Premier Spring Groups, redeeming themselves after a relatively lackluster 2022 by taking down the likes of Astralis and Heroic en route to a BLAST Premier Spring Final berth.
apEX and company immediately impressed in their debut game at the Polish spectacle, brushing aside Ninjas in Pyjamas in a two-map series to sit one win away from a guaranteed appearance in the famed Spodek Arena.
HLTV.org spoke to the often vocal in-game leader shortly after the team's 2-0 win over the Nordic ensemble. The Frenchman touched on Vitality's performance throughout 2022, how the side has been working to unleash Spinx's raw potential, as well as the seeding for IEM Katowice and how the new ESL setup helps the 29-year-old thrive.
Going back to the BLAST Groups, where you started the year successfully, even beating Heroic who have been on good form, tell me about your start to the year and how it warmed you up for 2023.
Well, obviously, for us let's say that 2022 was really disappointing. It was the most disappointing year I had for a while individually. We had big talks after BLAST Abu Dhabi just to see what we really wanted and how we could also improve for 2023. We had a lot of ideas, and obviously we tried to see our weaknesses, what happened in 2022, just to get better. It started well in BLAST and I think we did well, we started well here as well, and it's really important for us to start well because the main goal for the team is Paris. We want to be ready there.
We saw Spinx on quite better form compared to the last few events of the year...
That's exactly what I'm getting to, the end of the year wasn't great from him, especially considering the expectations everybody had for him. Has there been something that you have worked on with him specifically?
Of course. After the Rio Major I started to see that he didn't perform that well and I wanted to talk to him why and how he felt. The main thing is that Lotan is really talented, but he's really young in terms of experience. He played with one in-game leader before and one playstyle. He played with ENCE, they played a bit faster than us, let's be honest. Obviously he had way more space and it was way easier for him to lurk.
After some time, he tried to play more for the team and I was feeling like he didn't lurk how he wanted. I tried to speak to him and told him that we need him as a really good player and we need him to perform at some point. But first of all, he needed to think about himself and not the team. I can do that, Magisk can do that, but not him. He kinda understood that and played more for himself. Also, on some positions, let's take an example of Overpass, we put him in the best CT position you could ever have on A. We put him there, but he was playing with hades before, and obviously hades was playing for him, but now he's playing with ZywOo and he was kinda scared to play for himself. I told him, 'I don't want you to do the same because it's ZywOo, but play also for yourself. Ask for a flash, ask for ZywOo to do setups to put you in good conditions, because it's important that our A player is playing well on this map.' And since that he has performed on Overpass and he understand the way we're playing.
He came to this team with kinda big legends, ZywOo, I mean four years in the pro scene and top 2 twice and top 1 twice, Magisk and dupreeh, three and four-time Major winners, so obviously it wasn't the same as it was in ENCE. Now he understands that he is a star and he has to perform. We tried to put him in the best condition possible.
NIP came in with this change to k0nfig very last-minute and they already played at the BLAST Groups with a different lineup. How good of an idea did you have of how to approach the game?
Well, kinda no idea, to be honest. We felt they were picking Mirage, because they won Mirage against Spirit in the Play-in. Also, it can be a puggy map, easier than others, so obviously we knew that they would pick it. We got ready, not in terms of what they would do but more about how the puggy playstyle can be done, and we thought about that. Then Inferno was more a good pick for us because we're just feeling it.
How are you guys feeling about your group in general? fnatic and Outsiders are on the other side at the moment and you're waiting for that result, still, but generally there's been a discussion between Group A, Group B, how do you see your group?
Obviously, people say that A is the group of death, but I never really take into consideration any groups, I don't really care. I know that any opponent can beat any team, most likely in the group stage, so let's be honest, I don't really care. I just want to qualify for playoffs. Next game is against fnatic or Outsiders and we're just gonna give our best. But no particular opinion, no. Sometimes we had a group of death at some tournaments and it was like that. It's life and I'm not thinking too much about that.
The setup ESL have brought for this tournament is obviously different. We have seen you get to your usual antics, shouting across the venue, get into the other team's faces as much as you can. How much have you been enjoying that?
Well, obviously, it's the best for me because I can really see the other team. That's something I really like. When we're in a studio with a big thing around us and we can't see each other, it's really different. Here, I can really feel like at BLAST, I can see the other team, I can yell, I can be more myself. I think it's good for the team. I just think it's tough to say, but I don't play CS to be in like a small room, a practice room, and just playing officials. I'm here to show my emotions and to also show my teammates my energy, which is one of my biggest strengths. Obviously, it's really good to have this kind of setup here.