Johnta: “Staying at the level between tier 1 and tier 2 isn’t our goal”

Johnta: “Staying at the level between tier 1 and tier 2 isn’t our goal”

After a big roster change, Hellraisers are on a mission to secure their rightful place amongst the best in the world, according to team coach Ivan “Johnta” Shevtsov.

Although Hellraisers managed to secure a Legends status at the FACEIT Major London 2018, their overall performance throuout the year was less than impressive. It was time for a change.

Last month Hellraisers brought in Abay “Hobbit” Khasenov in place of Vlаdуslаv “bondik” Nеchуроrchuk. With the new roster Hellraisers finished fourth at the SuperNova Malta 2018, finishing behind the likes of Team Liquid, NRG Esports, and BIG.

There are two more LAN events before the winter holidays for them — ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals and PLG Grand Slam 2018. And according to coach Ivan “Johnta” Shevtsov the goal there is to learn how to play as a team again and get ready for the 2019 season.

Vie: You swapped bondik for Hobbit roughly a month ago. Did you part ways with bondik on good terms?

Johnta: I hope that yes and he does not hold a grudge. After all, we all felt that he could have more impact and play a bigger role in another team. For me, Vlad (bondik) was always a carry-player, such as Magisk, rain, etc. For some reason, this was not possible in our team. I hope he will find a team in which he can realize himself completely.

Vie: Did the contract run out and you just decided not to renew it? Why? Whose decision was it?

Johnta: Yes, sort of. The team needed a replacement for several reasons. Mostly to refresh the atmosphere. There are different stages in the life of each team, in our case, the next stage just didn’t come and changes were needed.

I will explain in more detail. After some losses, the key mistakes that were made should have been corrected. They were not corrected as time went on and after a series of defeats, the belief that this team could win was lost. And staying at the level between tier 1 and tier 2 isn’t our goal. In such cases, the longer you delay with a replacement, the worse it will get.

Vie: Have you considered swapping other players? Many were surprised because they expected you to swap Deadfox.

Johnta: Yes, in our roster there were three players whom we could replace. We thought for a long time before making a decision. The main factor was what role the newcomer will play, and how we see the composition in the new format.

Deadfox is a very cool support player that remembers all the tactics and grenades, is not nervous on LANs and does not mind taking on difficult roles. If we replaced him with a player who does not play such roles, it would be the exact same thing that happened with Mousesports and Snax.

Vie: A year ago there was a similar situation between the organization and bondik. How is this time any different?

Johnta: In some ways the situation was similar. But this time the choice to change Vlad was based on the distribution of roles in the team. Previously, he played the role which ISSAA now takes. On some maps he just felt uncomfortable. We could not change this, and eventually Vlad didn’t find a comfortable position for himself within the team.

Vie: Why did you choose Hobbit? Who else was considered for the vacant seat?

Johnta: Hobbit is a very capable player, ideally suited to the role that Vlad played. We discussed this and realized that we would be perfect for each other. Considered a couple of players, our second option was Cromen.

Vie: Is it true that you already trained with Hobbit before officially signing him? How did he show himself in training? 

Johnta: We discussed the roles and talked about what he would like to do in the game. After all, he has changed a lot of roles during his last days at Gambit Esports. For us, Hobbit looks like a better choice, if only because he is more comfortable with the roles that he wants to perform. We had a whole month to prepare. It shows itself well, he adapts very quickly.

Vie: Was a month of practice enough for you to get in shape?

Johnta: We have three LANs in a row now. Our goal is not to get in shape, but to play and understand what we can do with this composition and form the basis of team and communication. And with this go for a winter holiday, and after that begin preparing for the Major and set the form as early as next year.

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jR: “How far can we go in the official games even we don’t know”

jR: “How far can we go in the official games even we don’t know”

Vega Squadron have been plowing their way through the Faceit Major, but not even the team captain Dmitriy “jR” Chervak knows how long that will last.

This being a third CS:GO Major in a row for the Russian team, most of the players are well accustomed with the pressure of the most important event in the game. Even though the Squadron managed to secure a respectable 9th-11th finish at the ELEAGUE Major earlier this year, they could not avoid the roster change that followed.

Vega Squadron, which for years remained one of the longest-running rosters in the game, had to let go two of their players earlier this spring. Sergey “keshandr” Nikishin and Nikolay “mir” Bityukov were replaced by Igor “crush” Shevchenko of pro100, and Anton “tonyblack” Kolesnikov of forZe.

The roster change left a lot of doubts in the team before the Faceit Major, but the Russian Sharks proved the doubters wrong. After a very impressive comeback, they overcame Team Spirit 16-14 in the opening game of the Major and further increased their lead by defeating BIG 19-16 the following day.

Team captain Dmitriy “jR” Chervak revealed in an interview, that not even he knows how far their team can really go.

Note: The interview took place before the game against BIG and was translated from Russian. 

Vie: You had a strong showing at a previous Major, but you really struggled to find your game since. Even after a roster change, your performance remained shaky. Why was that?

jR: We ourselves are still looking for answers to that particular question. (laughs)

Photo via

Vie: You had a roster change a few months back. Your performance this Major looks really solid, but was it enough time to get used to your new teammates?

jR: The atmosphere within the team is much better right now, we can freely discuss our mistakes and look for ways to fix them. How much time will we really need to minimize the number of mistakes is still unknown. Scrims have been going really well for us lately, but how far can we go in the official games even we don’t know.

Vie: What did your training look before the Major?

jR: It’s the same as usual, actually. We practice a lot and we work on minimizing the number of mistakes both as a team and individually.

Vie: So it must have been a busy time for your coach, Fierce?

jR: He’s the one looking for mistakes and helping us fix them. It’s just so much easier noticing these faults from the sidelines, than when you’re the one immersed in the game.

Vie: What are your goals for this Major?

jR: Top 16 and that’s the worst case scenario for us.

Photo via

Vie: What do you think about Winstrike? Will they be able to repeat their performance from the previous Major?

jR: They are a pretty good team. Lately, however, their performance was less than stellar, but that’s something they know best themselves, what they have to work on and what they have to fix. I think the repeat of the last Major is possible, even the upgrade, everything comes down to how well they will play themselves.

They proved that it’s possible once before, you just have to tryhard the best you can and trust your team.

Vie: Let’s talk about your game with Team Spirit. They looked really strong in the first half, but then they just collapsed. What do you think happened there?

jR: Team Spirit have gained a lot of momentum before the Major and they are in their best form right now in the history of this roster. The question always was whether they will be able to properly deal with the nerves and close out games. If they can find a way to do that, I could see them easily making it to Top 16 and once they’re there they would have a serious shot at Top 8.

It all comes down to whether they will be able to get ahold of their nerves before the rest of the games.

Vie: A few teams had some issues with the visas. Did your applications go well?

jR: It did, no issues whatsoever.

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Who’s who in CS:GO: November

Who’s who in CS:GO: November

A lot of impressions resurface with the final match of Esports Championship Series Season 6 behind us, both good and bad. We take a look at what the scene looks like after the tournament.

ECS brought us a lot to talk about. Among those things are the excellent game between NiP and Astralis, and the complete opposite performance of them in the face of Cloud9, as well as the first three millionaires in the history of CS: GO.

Danish excellence

Let’s start with the winners of the tournament. For the second year in a row, Astralis has dominated the CS: GO scene, and few people can beat this team. MIBR were very close to victory over the Danes, finishing both cards with the closest possible score – 16:14 on Inferno and 22:20 on Overpass.

Who knows, maybe if Fernando “fer” Alvarenga did not perform so poorly in the finals, maybe Made in Brazil and could take one map. Or maybe even win it at all, as they already did in the match of the winners bracker of group A. By the way, after this tournament, fer will take a short pause in performances due to health problems. Who will replace him is unknown.

Where is Cloud9?

Surely, many have noticed how “cloudy” come out after winning ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018. The best result for Cloud9 this year, after winning the major, was second place in cs_summit2, where they lost to compatriots from Team Liquid with the score 3: 2.

What can help C9 again become a threat to top teams? It is hard to guess. The team has repeatedly made changes in the composition, and recently acquired a top Frenchman Fabien “kioShima” Fieu, but he could not help the team to return to their positions. Maybe in the future, the guys will play, but so far the game Cloud9 delivers causes extremely mixed feelings.

NiP can still perform

Throughout its history, Ninjas in Pajamas have been a top team, it’s hard to deny that. Many will disagree with me, because they remember the time when the guys went to the finals of each major, and believe that the quarter-finals or semi-finals for them is not a significant achievement.

Even at the time when NiP could not reach the major, they consistently took top places, or even won at other tournaments. The same happened at ECS – NiP under the net carried NRG and North but lost in the semifinal against Astralis with a score of 2: 1.

After the game, the captain of Astralis Lucas “gla1ve” Rossander noted that the games against NiP are always difficult and they have become stronger since their last meeting. I wonder what will happen next?

For device — MVP medal record

Speaking of the rivalry between Ninjas in Pajamas and Astralis. The previous MVP medal record from HLTV was held by Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund with ten medals. Eventually Kennis “KennyS” Schrab and Nikolai “device” Reedtz caught up with him, but after the latest tournament the title of the most MVP holder belongs entirely to device.

For the player, who is only 23 years old, winning the ECS brought him the eleventh medal overall. By the end of the year, Astralis will play in two more top events — BLAST Pro Series Lisbon 2018 and ESL Pro League 8 Finals tournaments. Who knows, maybe Nikolai will be able to replenish his MVP piggy bank with two more medals.

Unless someone like Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev can step up at those events and snatch the MVP medal for himself, another title for device seems very likely.

Money money money

The victory at ECS made three veterans of Astralis — Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Nicolai “device” Reedtz became the first players in the history of CS:GO, to earn a million dollars from prize money. Xyp9x leads the group with  $1,038,721 USD, followed by dupreeh with $1,035,922 and device with $1,033,423.

Nikolay “device” Reedtz sometimes takes breaks from the game due to his health problems, this explains his lag in prize money from his teammates.

What is yet to come

December will hold several top-tier events, two of which — BLAST Pro Series Lisbon 2018 and ESL Pro League 8 Finals, will feature most of the best teams in the world. Astralis have been looking very dominant throughout the year, but if any team is looking to challenge that in 2018 that would be their shot.

Natus Vincere, while missing the ECS finals, will attend both of the events and are aiming only for the highest position. So will Made in Brazil. While NiP will miss ESL Pro League Finals, they will try to keep the momentum and redeem themselves at BLAST Pro Series Lisbon.

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flamie: “We are concentrated on improving teamplay”

flamie: “We are concentrated on improving teamplay”

Egor “flamie” Vasilyev is ready to dethrone Astralis and take that number one spot in the global rankings for Natus Vincere.

The Ukrainian team will have two more shots this year to climb the rankings — the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals in Odense, Denmark and BLAST Pro Series in Lisbon, Portugal. The former will begin next week, with 16 best teams of the regular season from Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, and Asia fighting it out for the lion’s share of $750,000 USD.

BLAST Pro Series will once again feature six invited teams, battling for $250,000 USD over two days of competition. Both Astralis and NaVi were invited, alongside Ninjas in Pyjamas, FaZe Clan, Cloud9, and MiBR. Egor “flamie” Vasilyev’s NaVi will be entering the tournament in Portugal as the defending champions, after their convincing victory over NiP in Copenhagen earlier this month.

Natus Vincere had a fairly lackluster season, with “only” three championship winnings, the other two being ESL One: Cologne 2018 and StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 5. What made it truly spectacular was a series of second place finishes, usually behind Astralis.

For Egor “flamie” Vasilyev and his team this will be their last chance to finish the year on a high note and maybe even claim that highly coveted number one spot.

Vie: In anticipation of ESL Pro League S8 Finals and BLAST Pro Series Lisbon, you have set up a bootcamp. What goals did the team set for this training period? What are you planning to work on first?

flamie: First of all — work on our weak maps. And also concentrate on improving team play.

Vie: S1mple in a recent video said that the priority for NAVI is the finals of the ESL Pro League S8. What is the reason? How important is the Intel Grand Slam challenge for the team?

flamie: This is one of the last top-championships this year, so we want to show the best result. If we manage to win the Grand Slam — nice, but if not — it’s not a big deal. So, we do not prioritize Grand Slam and for us, it is more important to win the tournament.

Vie: During your career, you have already played in three finals of the Major tournaments. In which of the defeats you suffered the hardest? What was the reason?

flamie: I think, it was on the second Major (MLG Columbus — NAVI vs Luminosity), because we felt confident in our success. We lost the first map in overtime, gave away our game, which was quite painful.

Vie: Continuing the theme of victories and defeats. Maybe you had a loss more painful than the Majors finals?

flamie: No, I do not think that there were more unpleasant defeats than the Major finals.

Vie: Regarding victories — which success of a tournament brought the most bright and intense emotions? Why was that victory so significant?

flamie: ESL One Cologne. It was a Major tournament with a prize pool of $ 250,000. We beat Astralis, which was almost at the peak of their shape. Additionally, the importance of this championship added the fact that there were represented all the best teams in the world at that time.

Vie: In the second half of the year in the games of the Born to Win, a certain pattern can be observed: if the team participates in tournaments for two weeks straight, then in the second case an unsuccessful performance follows. What causes this? Is it just fatigue or are there other factors?

flamie: It happened twice when we were flying from Europe to America: it was a long flight, we didn’t take a rest, and maybe it was just hard for us to immediately switch to another schedule. I think we need a more competent approach to this issue.

Vie: After the off-season, NAVI participated in six LAN tournaments. You showed the best result on FACEIT Major (1.18 rating), and the worst — on IEM Chicago 2018 (0.74 rating). What was the catalyst for success in London, and what was the reason for not quite the best performance in Chicago?

flamie: I can not name the exact reasons. You can never know in advance how you will play. It seems to me that we just got into a good shape before the FACEIT Major and as a result, the game was going smoothly. And in Chicago, we very quickly dropped out of the tournament, in fact, the whole team performed poorly, including me. Thus, when you play two maps badly, it seriously lowers the rating.

Vie: It is interesting that the most successful map for you in the last three months is the Train (1.10 rating), and the worst is Nuke (0.92 rating). Is this related to your role in the team? And are you satisfied with your position or would you like to change something on some maps?

flamie: Yes, I think it’s correlated. I have a more flexible role on Train, which is pretty easy to play in terms of statistics. At Nuke, I have such a role that i have to look at “ramps” where rivals do not particularly often go, and on the offensive side, it’s not that easy to find a frag. In general, you can always perform better and improve your game.

Vie: Do you have the most beloved and most hated map in the game? Name three positions where you like to play the most, and three — where you only dream that the game ends faster.

flamie: Train evokes the most sympathy. As for the positions, a supporting role on Train, the plant side B on Overpass, and on Inferno, I liked to watch “five,” and also play on a supporting role.

Vie: Do you like the recent changes in the economy of CS:GO? What other changes would you like to see in the game?

flamie: Economy — yes, the changes have brought some new and interesting rounds. Now, finally, the teams practically do not force buy in the second round. And after the score 2 : 0 there is a chance to see the AWP in action.

Vie: Recently, you have begun to be more strict about the food you consume. Tell me, please, what is included in your diet?

flamie: I’m not particularly strict about the food. I just consume it in smaller quantities. So the most common diet, just need to eat less. And do not abuse junk food.

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kane to step in for electronic at EPL

kane to step in for electronic at EPL

NaVi coach Mykhailo “kane” Blagin will stand-in for the team in a ESL Pro League Season 8 match against the German BIG in place of Denis “electronic” Sharipov.

The concluding round of ESL Pro League will see the number two team in the world, Natus Vincere, facing off against the German powerhouse Berlin International Gaming (BIG). NaVi has already secured themselves a spot in the $750,000 USD LAN finals that will take place in Odense, Denmark in the beginning of December.

In their 24 games, Natus Vincere came out victorious 18 times and tasted defeat only six times — enough to secure a second ranking overall, just behind Astralis.

Following the Ukrainian team in the rankings are their next opponents — BIG. The German team secured 15 victories and nine losses, same as the fourth-place team North. Owen “smooya” Butterfield’s BIG will be looking to take down NaVi in the final match of the regular season and secure themselves a third spot overall coming into the global finals.

Due to a family emergency, Denis “electronic” Sharipov will miss the fight and the team’s coach, Mykhailo “kane” Blagin, will be stepping in for the two games.

The last time kane played in an official match, which was a year ago in a ESL Pro League Season 6 match against North, he managed to get 14 kills over two maps and the average of around 30 ADR.

While NaVi has secured their position, North is only three points behind BIG and still very much in contention for the third spot. Since seven teams from the European league move on to the global finals, both teams have earned their spot in the LAN finals in Odense.

The last time these two teams crossed swords was during the elimination match at IEM Chicago, where the German team claimed a 2:0 victory over their more experienced opponents.

The match will begin on November 14 at 20:00 CET and will be held in the best of two format. The maps are yet to be decided.

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Aikas sets new record for amount of kills in regulation

Aikas sets new record for amount of kills in regulation

26-year-old Edvinas “Aikas” Žemaitis sets a new kill record in regulation on a single map in a WINNERS League Season 1 match against Nexus Gaming.

The previous record was set by a Danish star player Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke in their match against Renegades at the DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018 North American Closed Qualifier final. OpTic won the match, and k0nfig scored a whopping 47 individual frags. He beat a record previously held by Henrique “HEN1” Teles, who held the crown at 45 kills.

Yesterday night, in the $15,000 WINNERS League Season 1 match, 1337huania’s Edvinas “Aikas” Žemaitis scored a colossal amount of 48 kills in regulation in their game versus Romania’s Nexus Gaming. Even though the Lithuanian team lost the first half 6-9, impressive plays by Žemaitis and the team allowed them to score a comeback and a 16-13 victory.

Edvinas “Aikas” Žemaitis flaunted an impressive 3.20 KDR in the post-game stats. During the 29 rounds of regulation, he managed to pick up one penta kill, one quadra kill, six triple kills, and nine MVP stars. He ended a match with a subpar 21 headshots or only 44% of his all kills.

Aikas is now the unofficial record holder for the most amount of frags in regulation on a single map.

WINNERS League is a minor event organized by World Intersports Network and it features several well-known teams, including regional champions — Bulgaria’s BPro Gaming, UK’s Team Endpoint, Russia’s Quantum Bellator Fire, Turkey’s Royal Bandits, and others. The debut season has $15,000 on the line which will be split between the eight best teams.

The victory against the Nexus Gaming, who currently hold the #58 world ranking, puts 1337huania 4-0 in their group. The Lithuanian team previously claimed wins against Team Endpoint, ex-Fnatic Academy, and KQLY’s eFrog.

Aikas’ 1337huania were previously representing SkitLite and Team Refuse, but currently, they are looking for new opportunities. Any organization interesting in picking up this squad should get in touch with Aikas via email.


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