It’s the third and final week of the BLAST Premier Spring Series in London. Before their opening match vs G2, 100 Thieves’ AZR spoke with GGRecon.

21:28, 13 Feb 2020

It’s the third and final week of the BLAST Premier Spring Series in London and the content doesn’t stop here at GGRecon, before their opening match vs G2, 100 Thieves’ AZR spoke with GGRecon.

We’ve managed to get our hands on the leader of the 100 Thieves. AZR, you’re here in London, it’s time to go into the 2020 with the first match being up against kassad’s former players. You’re doing up against G2 Esports. You’re facing nexa and huNter-. First and foremost, how are you feeling about it?

I think heading into the match we’re quite confident. We obviously know they’re a good team. We know there is a little bit of Serbian rivalry. I, myself, have played with nexa like three years ago. There is definitely a little bit of rivalry going around, but I’m confident in our players and our coach, and I think heading into the match we’re feeling pretty confident. I’m hoping for the win and I think we will.

So when you’re going over demos of G2 or you’re going over any vods, do you ever have kassad go like ‘yes! I taught him that! Keep an eye out for that, he always makes that mistake since back in the day.’ Do you ever have that feeling?

Not so much mistakes but there’s definitely been times if we’re watching G2 or a past team with the Serbian guys and we recognize the same strats because they sort of play off each other, the Serbian guys, they have similar strats so we see that quite a bit but other than that not so much.

Well other than that I also had to ask you about you guys. So, G2 is a team that has had some inconsistency, but you guys are a team that has had ridiculous consistency. Unfortunately, though it’s generally been around that top 4 mark where you guys sometimes flounder, you know getting that title seems to be evading you guys a little bit. How do you deal with that as a team?

So, to start off, I guess we make goals for ourselves as a team, and the first goal was to make top 8 at the major, we did that. Our next goal was to make top 5 in the world and we did that, and now obviously the next step is to bring in trophies, so that just comes down to us being on point individually, teamwork, everyone be on the same page. Just making sure we’re all playing peak CS I guess you could say. We’ve been close a couple of times, obviously, like you said. We get close but we haven’t hit that mark yet, and hopefully heading into 2020 our goals are to bring in trophies, so that’s the goal for this year.

Well, for you guys as primarily an Australian core, you’ve always had this issue of a comparatively limited pool of talent to draw from. Liazz and Gratisfaction that you guys have got absolutely fantastic. But, the question still is over there is that, as a team that doesn’t really have the ability to draw from new talent in the same way as other teams do, and as a team that there is only so much your stars can do, in the sense that jks is a very good player. You know, jkaem is a very good player, but it is unlikely that they are going to become another s1mple or another zywOo there and then, where they practically break the game. How do you as an in game leader have to deal with the process of getting into the top when you have two seeming bottlenecks?

I mean, for me personally, I think my team is great. I think we have all the pieces to be the top. I mean, you can say ZywOo and stuff but I feel like when we versus them in the past, especially against ZywOo, we’ve been able to shut him out of the game just because of our teamwork alone. I think our teamwork is a strength for us, and I think we can lock out some of the star players of the game. So, I think we have a great team in general.

So is the focus on structure more specifically as a result of that?

Yeah, definitely the structure and making sure we have the right fundamentals and making sure the basics are on point, and from there we will fix our strats and teamwork and whatnot. And once we have those things right we’ll be able to the top team for sure.

AZR 100 Thieves
Image via Starladder

Well, the other question I’m quickly going to ask you was that you guys might potentially be facing G2 thrice, because obviously in this tournament you can face them twice and then in the Katowice opening match up they will be there as well. Does it get a little bit dry for you? Does it get a little bit worrying for you because obviously they’re the underdogs in the match up. So are you always worried that maybe they’ll figure something out when we have to focus on a lot of different teams because, maybe G2 isn’t quite at the very top of the Counter Strike echelon right now where you have to focus and put all your hours in for them.

I think for right now, just because we’ve come off a huge break and teams have had all this time to practice and bring up new stuff. I think we’re mostly just going to be focusing on our own stuff and making sure we’re drilling that stuff into the ground, because we could look at the demos from like a month and a half ago but everything could change, positions could change. So, heading into these matches, obviously the first one that we’ll be doing our own game, and whatever happens in the future in the games, we’d be able to watch their games and prepare for that too.

Going into the tournament we’ve got two other teams ahead of you. We’ve got OG and EG. And OG is a relatively newer roster. They’ve done fairly well at the ICE challenge right now as well. What do you think about the team overall?

I think they’re quite a dark horse from what we’ve seen so far obviously they haven’t played many tournaments because they’re a very new team but they definitely showed some good stuff. They beat Alexsib’s former team ENCE at ICE challenge. I’m sure he would have been happy with that one, but they have a lot of good players. Valde is a star player. ISSAA is underrated I feel like, and you’ve got NBK who’s the experienced rock of the team, and also Alexsib is a good caller and you’ve got mantuu, before he joined OG I didn’t really know of him but from what I’ve seen so far he seems like a solid AWPer. So, they seem like a pretty good team and I’m assuming they would keep getting better from what they are right now.

Well that is a team that you have a few more demos to look at because of the ICE challenge that they just played. How do you guys think you match up against them. What’s the biggest threat in OG to you guys? In terms of you guys had to say we’re deactivating one player from the game. Like you said, you deactivated ZywOo from Vitality. You try to deactivate s1mple from Na’Vi. Who do you have to deactivate?

I haven’t watched all of the games so I wouldn’t know completely. But, just from what I’d say is that valde is a very strong player. I think he has potential. He’s even showed it in the past when he was playing for North. He’s a contender to be in the top 15 players in the world. I think valde would probably be the one.

The other team that you have to deal with if you wanna finish out on top of this group is Evil Geniuses (EG). And EG is a team that has recently been, in the second half of 2019, they have been probably the team that’s defeating Astralis the most consistently or giving them the best run for their money other than, to the very end, mousesports. They are a team that seems to be very well against structured teams. Why do you think that is?

I think that maybe they are very free flowing playstyle does well against teams and catches them off-guard. For us personally, they have been a thorn in our side for a while. We struggle to play against them. Heading into 2020, we want to change that obviously. And I think it’s more so just mental side of things because in the past we have been a little scared of playing them. But, hopefully that changes and hopefully we can knock them out of the tournament. They are a good team.

I’m sure a lot of the fans are also hoping for that same thing. They are definitely the biggest threat for you guys within these four teams. But we have seen a lot of upsets happen so far and maybe 100 Thieves can be compLexity, well compLexity didn’t finish first, it can be the FaZe Clan of this group in particular. But the other thing that I had to ask you about is that you guys are very often playing out of North American regions so you guys have a lot of insights into some of these new teams than perhaps the rest of us do. I’m not sure if you’ve had time to play against them but what do you think of some of the new rosters that are starting off. I’m gonna start off with GenG, what do you think about them as a team?

Yeah, recently they have been over in Europe so we have been practicing them. They have shown some good things. They are obviously still a new team. They brought in Bntet who I think is a really good player. They were automatic, daps in game leader, and s0m  who’s a raw talent. And yeah, I think Koosta seems to be a rock for them also but I feel like they’ve been pretty good so far from what I have seen. It’s obviously a different story when they are playing improv matches or stuff like that. I think they will be good. They will be all right.

Where do you place them in the hierarchy compared to say teams like Liquid, EG, 100 Thieves, compLexity, Cloud 9. Where would you place them?

For me, the tier one CS of NA would be like EG, 100 Thieves, Liquid. I’m just trying to think of anyone else. I guess if you look at it again, there would probably be a tier two team in NA. Obviously, they are still new and they have a lot to learn together and build chemistry. Right now, you’re probably between tier-2 and tier-3 NA. But obviously, like I said, they will get better.

Of course there’s a lot of talent in there as well. We have seen all of their players be fantastic at some point or the other. Next team that I have to ask about is Cloud 9, their new roster. What do you think about them?

I didn’t really know much about them except for a few of the South-African names actually. I only knew sonic in the lineup I’m pretty sure. For them to have the results they have recently, they beat G2 at a Odense  ESL Pro League, they also qualified for Katowice this year. They are showing a lot of talent that I didn’t know the team had. They are quite a dark horse right now and they can build upon that. From what I have seen they are very young players and they can build upon that.

If you had to choose one team at Katowice because that’s coming up soon as well that has a likelihood to upset the top teams. Even if it’s just by surprise, lucky run. You just have to take one team that’s at Katowice. Who would it be?

I think the Australian team Renegades. I think they just picked up hatz in their team and recently picked up before that INS. They seem to be coming along pretty well. They recently had a pretty successful run at Dreamhack where they came second. I think they are showing some promising things and they are pretty sure and have decided to boot camp on Europe also so coming into this, I feel like they are coming pretty strong. So yeah Renegades.

Very last question for you right now. Easy one. Don’t worry. You don’t have to call out anyone for being tier-2 or tier-3 this time. Who’s gonna be the rookie of the year for you? We have seen some fantastic performances so far. Poizon from compLexity is looking really good. Broky from FaZe Clan looking like absolute stud with the AWP. Who’s it gonna be?

I’m really trying to think right now. I’ll go with poizon, just from what I have seen from him so far this year and from what I have from him in the past when he was playing in Bulgarian teams. Seems like a really good AWPer and yeah I’ll go with poizon, he’s a solid player.


Main image via ESL. 

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