Pre-IEM6 WC interview with xek
In our final pre-IEM6 WC interview we talk with Moscow Five's Alexander "xek" Zobkov about his team's chances, their opponents and much more.
Moscow Five has been a team on the rise in the past six months, recently winning Kingston Trilogy Tour over Natus Vincere and placing 3rd at IEM6 GC Kiev. We caught up with their member Alexander "xek" Zobkov before the IEM6 World Championship to hear his thoughts and expectations.
Since November 2011, Moscow Five has been in impressive form, winning MSI BEAT IT Russia, ASUS FBotY, and most recently Kingston Trilogy Tour. In addition to that, you achieved 3rd places at the last two major events, WCG and IEM6 GC Kiev. Thanks to those results, most people now consider your team one of the world's best, although still not naming you one of the main contenders for a major title. Do you think the time has come that you are able to move on to the next level and win one of the biggest tournaments, such as IEM6 World Championship?
Can't say that we had an impressive form throughout the year, we had really bad performance on some tournaments with some really unlucky games versus "main contenders". I believe that our lineup doesn't consist of all 5 big star\aimers players, that's why we can't shine like NaVi did from the start i guess. So we are improving basing on experience from tournaments and we should be better at least than previous time.
Moscow Five on the rise lately
Two teams stand out as Moscow Five's biggest executioners in the past year or so, Natus Vincere and SK Gaming. You finally defeated the Ukrainians in the final of Kingston Trilogy Tour, but the Swedes still have your number, as you were never able to defeat them under the Moscow Five name. Since there's a solid chance you might meet them during the playoffs in Germany, do you have a plan on how to finally stop them?
Well we changed something but not too much, SK had also changed a player, we are hoping to play from a clean sheet and forget about those stupid losses.
Same as many of the other teams, you are spending the final days before the event bootcamping at your training base. How long have you been preparing and how much time are you spending on Counter Strike on a daily basis? What are the things you are working on the most as a team and individually?
We've been bootcamping for like 2 weeks, playing CS for like 6-7 hours per day mostly at midnight on local time, because of +3 hours difference from CET, since there is no praccs before that.
Mostly we were working individually with some tiny new team things.
Everyone agrees that your group is the easier one on paper, and with your recent form in mind, you are expected to secure a spot in the playoffs without much trouble. What exactly will you be aiming for, is the 2nd/3rd spot in the group good enough, or would a direct spot in the semi-finals and an extra day of rest mean a lot to you if you finish 1st?
We will aim for the 1st place of course, though i think playing 3 days in a row will be better than having one day of a rest between 2 playdays.
xek feels they'd be better off without a day's rest
Let's dissect your group a little bit, starting with one of the underdog teams, Brazilians semXorah. Four of their players were actually in the compLexity team that defeated you exactly one year ago at the IEM5 World Championship in a direct duel for the third spot in your group. You did manage to get revenge on them at WCG in a tight quarter-final match, so tell us what can we expect from that matchup this time, how hard are they to play against?
We had really bad shape at IEM5 World back in the days, i think we lost to almost everyone there without much resistance. Brazilians are pretty tought opponent, they have their unique style. As i recall, mostly they play standard camping game for like 1 minute of the round and then they execute their strats when it is 20 or 30 seconds left in the round. So It will be a really nervous game as always versus them, i hope we can manage.
M5 during match vs Mandic at WCG 2011
You also have a tiny bit of history with the French team Electronic Sahara, as the last time you met on LAN, they knocked you out from the Lower bracket at GameGune. Although they are not expected to make any headlines in Germany, what do you think they are capable of? Do you expect to defeat them as easily as you did recently during TechLABS group stage?
I don't know much about their two new players, so the match will mostly depend upon their performance.
WinFakt didn't provide much resistance in your last matchup at IEM6 GC Kiev, do you think they can challenge you this time?
It will depend upon them i think, their lan results with the new lineup wasn't great lately.
Lions are probably the least known opponent for you, as you've never met in an official match before. Do you see this as an advantage or a disadvantage for your team, as this could be the crucial clash of your group?
It's a disadvantage for us i think, since they have their unique style aswell and they can surprise us with their cool strats.
Lastly, fnatic is the team you have the most experience playing against out of those five, as you've met on numerous occasions in the past year. Both teams came out victorious at some point, but most recently, you defeated them in the 3rd place decider in Kiev. Is it their time to win now, especially since they added Andreas "MODDII" Fridh in the mean time?
They will be harder to beat with MODDI for sure. We must play really our game to overcome them, lots of things will depend on the map choice.
Natus Vincere, SK Gaming, ESC Gaming and fnatic are considered to be the main favorites to win the title, but which of the remaining teams do you predict will surprise by at least reaching the semi-final in front of one of those four?
Mousesports and us i guess can be a surprise to this four teams. I think mousesports can be 2nd or 3rd in group A tomorrow.
You probably have some idea which map you are likely to play against each opponent in your group, so are you preparing for each match separately or you are covering all your bases for every possibility?
We don't really prepare antistrats or something, we had bad experience with doing this. The maps to be played are mostly known, we would probably just play our game.
Before the December update of de_forge, your team seemed to have been one of the few willing to play the map, especially during your winning campaign at MSI BEAT IT Russia. However, in almost three months since the update we haven't seen any international matches on that map. What do you think about the changes on it and do you expect we will see the new de_forge played at least once in Germany?
You can't rush B that hard anymore :(. But that's a nice change, since it gave advantage for T's. The only thing that looks ugly on the map right now is that you can't rotate fast from B to A and from B to A on terrorist side, they patched the wall in main completely and you have to run all the way back to T spawn to go to A or B.
Most of the teams will veto it, but i guess it will be played at least once.
Without revealing much about your map selection tactics, what is your approach to practice in that regard? Is it possible preparing all 7 maps and would that bring a big advantage to a team? Or is it better to focus on 4-5 maps and perfecting them over time?
Preparing all 7 maps is an advantage of course, since you will have an advantage in vetoing.
Lots of teams work on 4-5 maps and veto others. Having no maps to veto will give you a better choice of a maps versus certain opponent. Lots of things depend not only on how you play the map, but how the opponent plays it aswell..
Speaking of practice, how do you choose who you will play against before such a big event? Do you also play against teams beneath your level, or is that unproductive so you only test yourself against top teams?
We mostly played vs Group A and since we don't rely much on the strats we don't play against the teams beneath our level because you only need that to test or execute newly worked strats\tactics.
Moscow Five is one of the rare teams that utilizes three different AWPers depending on the map and side. How do you explain this, is that an advantage compared to the other teams, or is it a disadvantage due to not giving full faith to one person to handle the task?
Well if one person is better on some certain positions than another person then why not. Other than that it is a disadvantage of course, since main awper in the team can shoot better if he will concentrate on AWP mainly and not on rifles\awp.
CS:GO has been receiving a lot of publicity lately, and there are rumors that major tournament organizers will replace CS 1.6 with it. Have you had a chance to test it yet and if so, what is your opinion about the game and the future of CS 1.6?
I've seen my mates playing CS:GO, but didn't test it myself. I played Source back in the days and CS:GO is almost the same as Source. I don't have anything against it, but the game looks just easier than 1.6 because of recoil, wallbangs and hitboxes, plenty amount of nades should make the game more tactical. CS 1.6 will die when Valve will say so.
The next event after Hannover is Copenhagen Games in a month's time, will we see you there? What plans does Moscow Five have for the future?
There will be a tournament in India at the same dates i believe with a better prizes, i don't really know where we will go yet..
This was our final interview before the event, and in next days you can expect complete coverage directly from CeBIT, Hannover.
Moscow Five start their campaing at the IEM6 World Championship on Wednesday at 10:20 , when they will face the French team eSahara. For the schedule of all matches, check out our viewer's guide.
If you missed our pre-coverage interviews, then click on the interview you wish to read, via the links below.