OG's Aleksib on EG, NiP, mantuu, And Finding Consistency
Tomorrow, we’re seeing the return of BLAST, as well as the return of North Americans facing off against international opponents. In the run up to their match versus Evil Geniuses, we spoke to OGs IGL Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen.
To start off with I’ve got a fun fact, it’s been 252 days since you last faced off against an NA team, in the build-up Cerq has said around how, whilst in NA, they’ve faced off against so many of the same teams, with the likes of 100 Thieves, Liquid, etc, you guys are a bit of the unknown, do you think that will play into your hands come tomorrow?
I think it can, but at the same time there’s the effect of confidence, because I see them farming a lot of NA teams. When you watch our previous games, like we play against top teams all the time, so it’s not free win games for us, but I’m not saying all the NA teams are free, there might be a couple, that are just some that are in the some tournaments that just aren’t at the level EG is. That brings up your confidence if you are just smashing everyone in officials, but at the same time, what can happen is the fact they just travelled and suddenly they face tougher opponents, or they see that some of the stuff that might have been working previously just isn’t working now. Could be wrong though but I’m just saying that it could go both ways, but I think for us we’re ready for everyone to be honest, we’re playing against really good teams from day to day, really doesn’t matter to us.
And another really good team you’ve been facing off against recently is NiP, obviously they unfortunately got the better of you at Dreamhack, how do you think the match will replay should you face them again, will we see a Nuke ban?
I would say that NiP is the toughest opponent for us in the group, only because I feel like nawwk [Tim "nawwk" Jonasson] just came back in the starting lineup, and I think the players have this kind of motivation boost for the fact nawwk just came back. Overall they play really agro on CT side and they caught us by surprise on the previous BO3, but maybe in the next game we’ll be more prepared, and more ready fore all of their stuff. So I think the next series will be much more competitive at least from our side, as we lost a straight up 2-0 against them last time. I cannot say against EG, against Na’Vi I know both those teams very well too, I’m still going to pick NiP as the toughest for us.
You guys have had a pretty hectic schedule as of late and especially coming up as well, do you think that will have any impact on the team at all, positive or negative?
I think this hectic schedule will not have a positive… well, there’s always two sides of the coin, like if we play really well it’s obviously going to be positive, but at the same time lets say we are playing mediocre or not at the level we want to play in and the next tournament is just around the corner, it’s really hard for us to fix our mistakes or even half of it right. For example now we have one day off, although it’s practice day, but it’s only one day and we go to the next tournament so obviously we cannot go through everything that happened on the previous one.
When we have to go through stuff that needs to be fixed, that needs some time to be fixed, maybe positional changes, or I don’t know what, we’re obviously going to do it. At times it’s going to be really difficult and we have to work with what we have and we have to build up the whole teams confidence and we have to grind those wins right against really good opponents. It’s hard at times but lets say we manage to do well, obviously it’s gonna affect the group in a positive way, there’s always two sides to it.
You mentioned confidence there and I’m sure a big confidence boost is moving up to #8 in the HLTV rankings, do you think we’ve seen the peak or can we see you as a top 5 team?
Getting into the top 10 feels good obviously, I would say we’re around the top 10 mark until we find a bit more... people talk about consistency and everything, sometimes it’s way too sloppy compared to a day where we are just smashing everyone, so it’s like that comes down to consistency but at the same time, something else might be off at times. I don’t know, it’s hard to say because you are playing in the team, I could talk about another team more better, but we need to find the consistency and we need to find those small details to fine tune and have those good days way more often, or even like decent days and nail our own stuff and remembering what we’ve talked about, remembering all the setups, all the strats. It’s really hard at times but if we manage to fine tune it a little bit even, it’ll be much better, and then I could see us breaking the upper rankings.
Recently, even in losses, mantuu [Mateusz "mantuu" Wilczewski] has been shining, what is it like for you as an IGL to see him come into his own?
I feel really confident about mantuu, even though at times he might be lacking experience, especially since he didn’t play the AWP role before us. So all the angles, all the reactions he’s still learning but what I like about him so much is the fact there is. people don’t know it but there’s a really tiny player base of players I’ve played with that take feedback really well, and not only taking feedback, but you can actually see I’m like telling them something in practice, or after a practice day, or an official, and then you watch the VOD or you play the game and you can see him doing exactly what we spoke about or exactly what he told me he was going to do. It’s two different players, some might take the feedback but it might take them a while to even execute it, but mantuu he can take feedback and execute it the same day, or the day after, or when he does a mistake he’s not going to do it again.
Those kind of things not all players can do and I’m going to give props to mantuu for that. He’s kind of inexperienced but at the same time he’s learning so fast, bringing up crazy numbers and winning many clutches. So to me it’s like one of those perfect players to have in a team because you can never lose trust to this guy.
Back in Feb we actually spoke to Nathan who gave a bit of an insight into the communication within the team and he mentioned back then around in-game specifics, and talked about how that would be improved. Would you say that’s kind of been ‘perfected’ over the online period?
It’s difficult for us obviously because of not seeing each other in a while. I think what this season has provided us is the fact that we’re playing a lot, like really insane amounts compared to the season we had where we were travelling to LAN, because with those we have travel days, we have media days, we have time to spend together, we have off days after we’ve finished a tournament, you have those times where you can breathe, but as of right now it feels like “okay, we lost in this tournament, next tournament is coming in 4/5/6 days", we cannot have time off because obviously we’ll be rusty and not be any better by the next tournament.
It’s consistent playing, playing, playing, and that has helped us in a way that when we play all the time it’s obviously easier to speak about mistakes, speak about communication - all of these things, and to fix it and get comfortable with each other. But I think at the same time, our mental health and mental focus is at an all-time high in terms of stress level, so I can feel at times where people just wanna maybe have a night out with their loved ones, or with their families or whatever, and sometimes you really need that in order to have the same focus going day after day. It’s a tough situation and hard to answer your question perfectly but for us I think this period has helped us in a way.
Lastly, moving on to the fact that, I mean, hopefully the Fall finals will be the first global LAN that we’ve seen since February, do you think we’ll see similar performances from teams who’ve shined in the online period or do you think that LAN will switch up the top teams that we’ve seen so far?
I’ve spoke about this with the team and other players as well, but for me I feel like yes we will see some changes, I think the better-end teams will always prefer to play LAN I think they have what it takes to be really calm and win those tight situations, but at the same time I feel like for example you could pick a team who are big or heroic, and both of those themes made a really huge leap in the rankings and cementing themselves on this past season, and people are waiting to see them play on LAN because they want to see if they can do the same things. But for me, because I feel we’ve been playing online for so long already, that I feel like these teams when they played so much it’s not only one tournament played online right?
It’s been like 10 tournaments played online, I feel like they’ve built enough confidence and enough fundamentals in their game that they could easily do the same things on LAN, at least I feel like so but I don’t know each individual. Maybe some of the players feel a certain amount of stress to feel badly on LAN but I always give teams the benefit of the doubt. Some teams could really pull it off on LAN and become a really good title contender.
Hopefully we can see that again sometime soon, Thank you Aleksi and best of luck tomorrow!
Images via BLAST