Spiidi: “I was really itching to play against mousesports”

After a series of disappointing results, Timo “Spiidi” Richter and the rest of Sprout find themselves in a struggle to close out their games.

It’s been a tough few months for the German team. A much-needed roster change failed to deliver the kind of improvement the team was hoping for. The team let go Dennis “sycrone” Nielsen and brought in Josef “faveN” Baumann — an 18-year-old star from EURONICS Gaming.

However, that didn’t help by much in Kiev, where Sprout finished dead last at StarSeries i-League Season 6 finals. They suffered three straight losses against mousesports, Vega Squadron, and HellRaisers. Interestingly, every match ended with a round difference of less than 4 for the German team.

One of the founding members of the team, Timo “Spiidi” Richter, explained their situation within the team and talked about his past with mousesports.

Vie: The tournament didn’t go so well for you. What thoughts come to mind after such a loss?

Spiidi: It went horribly. We are like a new team, we didn’t practice that much, but this is obviously not the result we expected. Every game was really close, 16:14, 16:12, even over-time. So I don’t think we had no shot at the playoffs. We just lost. And that’s the worst feeling in the world.

Sprout. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: In every match, you came really close to winning. But then you just couldn’t go all the way and lost. Do games like these bring your team down?

Spiidi: In our last tournament, in Poland, we lost in a very similar fashion. It was 0-2, with scorelines like 14:16. And this was a repeat of that. When everything comes down to the small things it becomes really important. You have to learn to overcome your issues and to fix these mistakes. We can’t keep making the same mistakes.

Because every game comes down to the wire it doesn’t mean that we have to change the whole system. People have to understand that. We have to motivate each other. We have a good structure, we just have to give it our all. It’s something we have to overcome.

Vie: You lost your game against mousesports 14:16 too. Was that a grudge match for you in any way?

Spiidi: I was really itching for this game. It felt like I never had an opportunity to play against mousesports ever since I left. I knew we could beat them. Even if all the odds were against us. It’s the kind of thought that appears when you play against your old teammates. Even if it’s just subconsciously. Plus, we were somewhat of a dark horse in this match.

Spiidi. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: Did that help you at all?

Spiidi: It’s possible. Maybe in a few rounds that they played in the same style. But in general, it wasn’t that helpful. They have three new members, it’s a completely different team. It mostly came down to motivation.

Vie: What’s the next goal for the team?

Spiidi: After we return home, first things first — win MDL and qualify for ESL Pro League. That’s our main goal right now.

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S0tf1k: “We are dying to get to the top and fight for the big titles”

Eight teams entered IEM Katowice CIS Minor to compete for $50,000 in prize money and two slots in the preliminary stage of IEM Katowice Major 2019. Before the Minor we talked with S0tf1k, captain of Team Spirit.

Team Spirit successfully overcame the hurdle of the death group. In the opening match of the tournament they overcame Nemiga Gaming from Belarus in a 34 round thriller. Although Syman Gaming surprised many by defeating Gambit Gaming in their first match they couldn’t keep up the momentum and fell behind Spirit, losing 2:0.

Dmitry “S0tF1k” Forostyanko and his team faced AVANGAR in the first semi-final game. The Russian team couldn’t find their game and were completely lost on both Overpass and Dust 2, losing both 16:6 and 16:5, respectively.

In a battle for survival Team Spirit will face off against another CIS giant in Gambit. With ticket to IEM Katowice Major 2019 on the line neither of the teams is going to give up the fight easily.

S0tF1k talked about their preparation for the tournament and their coach Nikolai “Certus” Poluyanov helped them get here.

You were in Group A ( Gambit Esports, Syman Gaming, Nemiga Gaming, Team Spirit), what can you say about the group?

A strong enough group, though I guess all the teams in the minor are. I can not distinguish uncomfortable teams for us, since we have not played with anyone from the CIS recently.

How much did you prepare for this Minor?

10 days that we spent on the bootcamp.

S0tF1k

What did you think of group B (AVANGAR , pro100 , Runtime .gg, Winstrike Team)?

I expected Avangar and someone from Runtime / Winstrike go through.

As you know, on CIS Minor Championship – Katowice 2019 has changed the system of the tournament, and now almost all matches will be played until two victories. Do you like this system and what will it change?

Yes, I like it, less randomness, experience decides more, for my team this is a plus.

How did you prepare for the upcoming minor, is there anything special, maybe you changed the approach to training, changed positions?

We prepared a couple of new rounds and combinations, we changed positions before qualifications. But even so everything is the same as always.

Recently the CIS Faceit League opened, do you think it will help young talents to get into esports?

Yes, it is wonderful that the CIS players have a league in which you can play every day and look after the young guys who are able to become the best in the world in the future, if directed correctly. So, without a doubt, this will help in the development of our region.

Team Spirit

You have a very interesting composition that has not changed at all since the founding of the organization, and for 2 years you have been able to sit firmly in the top 5 CIS teams, tell us the secret of your stability?

We have a coach, Nikolai “Certus” Poluyanov, who solves many of our problems and helps us keep afloat. If not for him, the composition could be quite different.

What are the plans and goals for the team in 2019?

We are dying to get to the top and fight for the big titles.

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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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Fallen: “Astralis is the best team that has ever existed in CS:GO”

Fallen: “Astralis is the best team that has ever existed in CS:GO”

Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo talked about MiBR’s run at the last Major, the reunion with Epitácio “TACO” de Melo, João “felps” Vasconcellos, and Wilton “zews” Prado, and the evolution of AWPing throughout the years.

Today marks the start of BLAST Pro Series: São Paulo 2019 — a $230,000 event, headlined by the likes of Astralis, MIBR, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and ENCE.

On their home ground, MIBR have a great chance to reclaim their throne as the world’s best, but according to Fallen, with the way Astralis have been playing, defeating them right now just might be an impossible task.

First of all, let’s talk about the Major. Do you feel satisfied with the result you got there? 

I think it was a good performance from the team. Top 4 is always a good result at the Majors. Of course, we wanted to go further but that wasn’t possible. We didn’t play that well to beat Astralis, but we had some good moments. Overall, I think it was a good performance from the team. And from myself, I think I can play better. I’m trying to get back to my high-level shape, but it’s shaky sometimes. I’m already working to fix that.

Now that you are with Epitácio “TACO” de Melo and João “felps” Vasconcellos again, what has changed in terms of tactics, roles, and approach to the game? 

I think that the approach is pretty similar to what we did in 2017. The roles are pretty much the same. TACO came back as an entry-fragger, felps is a bit more into the lurker role, but it changes a lot depending on the maps and situations. It’s pretty much the same as it was in 2017, but we are trying to integrate greater tactics and have a better understanding of the game because it has changed a lot since then. We had to update ourselves for a little bit.

What can you tell me about the reunion with Wilton “zews” Prado? What kind of ideas did he bring when he joined the team?

I’m always saying that zews’ speciality is creating new stuff and coming up with new features we can use in rounds during the game. He is a very good person to be around as well. He created a good atmosphere for the team. He is always making sure that our pracs are efficient, he is always calling out mistakes, and he is a great guy with a great vision of the game. And that’s important: sometimes you need a pause, sometimes you need to change the strategies a little bit, and zews has always had very good ideas to change the game a little bit. Zews is just a very good coach who can do everything.

Right now you have the very same lineup just like back in the SK days. Why do you believe that it is going to work this time around?

It is going to work the same way if we manage to keep working as we did before. Right now, we can’t know for sure if it is going to work or not, but what do we know for sure is that we are going to put the same effort and mentality that made us winners in the past. We know the path to get there, and of course, there are a lot of things you need to become the best team in the world. We are going to do our best to achieve that.

You also started working more on your Nuke?

Yeah, we have been preparing ourselves to play Nuke on the boot camp before the Major, but it’s still a map where we need a lot of experience. In this match, we thought that they would not pick it because AGO don’t play that much too. We just felt that if they are going to go with that map, we can play it. We thought about it and they went for it.

It surprised us as well. That is probably because they know that we don’t play Nuke that much. We have a history of not playing that map a lot of times, so they just wanted to see if we are good on that map or not. Luckily for us, we did a good job and won 16-5.

It has been more than a year since you won a premier CS:GO event, which is EPL Finals in Odense. Does it add more pressure on you? 

I definitely think winning a super good tournament would help the team a lot in terms of gaining the confidence. It would be a confidence boost for sure. People start believing more in what they are doing, people start playing better, and that’s why sometimes it is hard to stop a team that is winning a lot. We are looking for making it happen, but at the same time, we are not too anxious about getting it soon or not. We have in our minds that we are doing our part, we are working hard, and results are just the last part of our work. It’s going to come, sooner or later.

Right now, Astralis is the most professional team in the world, both inside and outside of the game. Have you borrowed any things from their approach? 

I think we are not doing anything special. We don’t try to copy anything outside of the game. Of course, there are some tendencies in some way they play the game. It’s a bit greater than what the other teams are doing and we are trying to catch up with their style to understand how they approach the game.

Outside of the game, we are just doing our own thing. That’s relative: what works for them might not work for other teams. For sure, they are doing a very good job, it’s working for them. We need to keep thinking what works for us. That’s how we approached the game in the past, so we have the same mentality for now.

There is a debate in the community. There are still people who don’t agree that Astralis is the greatest team of all time in CS:GO. What do you think about that?

I think we can say that they are the best team [in the CS:GO history]. They won three Majors, they’ve already started well this year. I think they are the best team we have ever seen in CS:GO. It’s going to be up to the other teams to try to catch up to their level. Let’s see how long they can sustain performance on that level. For me, they are the best team that has ever existed in CS:GO.

Let’s talk about AWPing. In the past, we had a lot of AWPers like Jesper “JW” Wecksell, Kenny “kennyS” Schrub, who used to own everybody on the server. These days, we have a lot of newcomers who are capable of going toe-to-toe with them. 

I think JW was first to dominate the scene because he was a very aggressive player. He was doing plays people wouldn’t expect from an AWPer. He had help of a good CZ-75 at the time because it was easier to switch the gun, so in case he was in danger, he could just bring the pistol and save himself. He was very good at doing those things. People didn’t expect those plays so he was catching people off guard.

But then, CS kept evolving, players kept getting better, running away from those plays. It started to be harder and harder because people in some sense knew which play he was going to go for, paying more attention to it. Finding those kills became harder and harder, even for JW to be honest.

Having a style of an aggressive AWPer, it’s not super consistent if you are playing on a top-level team and having very good performances over a long period of time. Every time an AWPer goes for an aggressive kill, he is kind of trying to win a game by himself. Sometimes it’s going to work, sometimes it’s not. You need to try to find this balance, and that’s why I think all the AWPers now are looking for finding this balance instead of being super aggressive, for example.

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juliano: “Last year was very bad for us in terms of training and roster changes”

juliano: “Last year was very bad for us in terms of training and roster changes”

It was another disappointing event for Julia “juliano” Kiran’s Beşiktaş, where the European girls ended up third in Intel Challenge Katowice 2019 — just behind their North American rivals.

After a good start in the group stage, where Beşiktaş defeated both Australia’s Carnage and NA’s Counter Logic Gaming Red things turned sour. In a semi-final match, juliano and her team lost to the would be winners of the event, Dignitas.

In the third place match they managed to overcome their rivals Assassins in a three map thriller, 3:16 on Cache, followed by two 16:13 finishes on Inferno and Train respectively.

You defeated both Carnage Esports and Counter Logic Gaming Red in the group stage. What can you say about both meetings?

The first game is always the hardest, right? We had light problems, but after some time we caught the rhythm. As for the second match, it was fine, choosing Inferno we knew it was our strong point. For this year we have a very strong team, we have been preparing a lot and we have shown everything that we have worked out during training.

Who do you consider your greatest rival right now?

It seems to me that there are several such teams. At the tournament there are teams with amazing individualities composed of players who work well together. One of such teams is of course Dignitas, we have always fought side by side with them. Actually, every team is decent, all teams are on a similar level.

Missa joined your team just last month. Are there differences between the style of the game between her and vilga?

Missa acts as an entry-fragger, the same as vilga. Missa is a team player, she moves with the team and communicates well. She is very helpful and brought a lot of positives to the team. I think that is the biggest difference between her and vilga.

You had your bootcamp in Katowice as well. Why did you choose Katowice as your pre-tournament venue?

Because we were here a year ago and it was very good. There is good food here, and besides, it is close to the tournament and hotel venue. We like Katowice very much.

What do you think about the conditions for training at Katowice Gaming House?

Computers, internet and location are very good. Everything is perfect.

In the women’s Counter-Strike, there are not as many tournaments as in men’s. As far as I know, your last offline competition took place in July last year, and therefore it is difficult to maintain adequate motivation and high form. Did you think you were well prepared?

A year ago, before the tournament in Katowice, when we were playing with Potter as RES Gaming, we had nine days to prepare. Before Copenhagen Games, I took part in the WESG, which lasted for a week. We had to find two new players before Portugal. Last year was shitty for us in terms of training and team changes.

As four of us we are together since July, in the meantime we have added one new player. We trained very hard. I think that for the first time in a year or even two years, we are really well prepared and have enough time to do so.

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qikert: “I was surprised that everything went very well”

qikert: “I was surprised that everything went very well”

After winning WePlay! Forge of Masters Season 1 with AVANGAR, Alexey “Qikert” Golubev talked about the event, the game against the highly accomplished HellRaisers and taking home first place as an underdog.

LAN Finals WePlay! Forge of Masters Season 1 was held from 3 to 5 May in Kiev, Ukraine, following a lengthy group stage online. AVANGAR dominated in the online group phase, finishing only behind HellRaisers with a single loss.

At LAN Qikert and his team quickly established dominance. In their opening match, they easily overcame DreamEaters, who had to play with Sergey “starix” Ischuk as a stand-in, winning 2-0. To secure their spot in the grand final they had to battle and overcome HellRaisers — the only team they lost against in the online phase.

In the decisive match, AVANGAR defeated the heavy favorites HellRaisers with a score of 2:0. The team from Kazakhstan received $20,000 dollars in prize money and earned themselves a much-needed win. This marks a second first-place finish in a few weeks for the team, following their success at DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro 2019.

What was it like playing at the WePlay! Forge of Masters right after finishing first at the much bigger DreamHack Rio?

I can’t say that anything was worse. I was surprised that everything went so well, without any problems, without delays, except for the final, there was a technical delay of 20 minutes during the decisive match. But we couldn’t even feel the delay.

At the same DreamHack or ESL, they usually are. Here, at a tournament in the CIS, it is very nice that there were no hickups. Considering that the offline tournament is being done for the first time. In general, everything turned out cool: practice areas, hotel, schedule, media-day.

One of the AVANGAR players mentioned that the team is no longer training against teams from the CIS. Forge of Masters is aimed specifically at your region. How was it to meet again with representatives of the CIS?

We came from a two-week rest, and immediately on the first day we had an official match against Vega Squadron. We thought it would be hard to play against the CIS now, but everything went well. In fact, we very often played against teams from the CIS on qualifications online and on LAN tournaments. There was nothing unusual, we are used to playing against them.

As for HellRaisers …

Yes, the CIS team itself (laughs).

You played with them twice in this tournament, both matches ended with the score 2:0. How do you like the current form of the team and how different is this composition from the previous one?

Now their roster looks much stronger, precisely on the individual level. But if you look at the structural game, then they are a little inferior to the previous lineup. They have gathered recently, and they lack some kind of banal teamplay: everyone is from a different region and communication in the international teams can be very wasteful. Therefore, in the near future, they will definitely have problems with communication and team play.

Replacement of Aydin “KrizzeN” Turlybekova to SANJI: first left inactive due to illness, and with the second one you’ve already won two tournaments in a row. Are you even considering returning Krizzen to the lineup?

I can not say for sure, but the probability is always there. This esports thing is not friendship, but more of a business. If you, for example, play badly, you are thrown on the bench. In the case of Aydin, it was more because of his health — his back and arm were very sore, we had to temporarily transfer him to inactive.

SANJI came on as a substitute and played very well in tournaments. So far, we are not looking to change something. So far everything is going well: we win tournaments, win against very good teams and show ourselves well.

How do you like the potential of SANJI? He independently made his way into the FPL before moving into your team.

He made his way to the FPL from Uzbekistan, where there is a very bad ping. This proves a lot — he is very strong individually. That was our starting point. It was necessary to give him the experience of our team so that he quickly picked it up and understood how we play our Avangaresque Counter-Strike.

So that in some moments he would become more structured, and in others, he would play the role of the “X-factor”, who can simply run out and carry you with headshots alone.

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