Looking at the results, this win over BIG was - no pun intended - one of your biggest as a three-man core in a little while. What did it feel like from your perspective, but also as a new team to get a meaningful LAN series on the board?
I think yeah definitely, we had a good result at StarLadder but other than that we haven’t really done anything on LAN. Online we’ve qualified for both the online leagues and that’s good, but on LAN I think this our biggest result. And for us, I don’t think we’ve beaten BIG in a Bo3. I think we lost the first one which was ESL One Cologne and then we lost to them at the major qual. So this is our biggest win on LAN so far and also kind-of revenge in a way.
You closed that series on Train against BIG pretty convincingly. The T-side looked pretty good for you which has been a sore-point in the past. Have you put a lot of work into that area specifically?
Yeah, in practice, our Train T-sides… We know what to do mid-round and before the round starts but a lot of the time it’s executing it well. That’s a problem because sometimes we’ll get pop-flashed by someone and they’ll take back a position and we’re not in a position on the other side of the map to get any control at all. So that’s kind-of one of our main issues we’ve been working on in practice. But yeah, we know if we can get into the spots to do the strat and get into those power spots then we know we can easily win the round on Train. It’s something we’ve been working on in practice, yeah.
That’s something that’s going to be less of a problem against these more structured EU teams right? I imagine that you’d have an easier time deploying strategies like that here than back in NA.
For sure, but we also had a specific game plan for them. Kassad knew what they did on CT-side and knew that we could abuse ladder a lot. So that definitely helped us and when teams give us ladder that helps us a lot on T-side, on Train.
Switching gears a bit, I noticed statistically before joining Renegades and even during this series against BIG, Gratisfaction has a very high flashbangs thrown per round. Does he feel more supportive in-game? Did you guys have to change anything over from Nifty in that sense?
Yeah for sure. Maybe it’s just him as a player but it also used to be the case with Nifty back when he was in the team. I’m pretty sure he had a really good flash assist ratio or whatever it is. But we also used to put him in positions where he could just throw flashbangs and then hold an angle with the AWP and sit back in position when we did a strat. So I think it’s a bit of both. I think he’s comfortable in that role but it’s also the way we like to play around the AWPer.
How has the integration of Grat been in-general, especially given his similarity in some ways to Nifty as you mentioned before?
I think outside the game I think it’s pretty similar, they’re both chill guys and awesome to be around. They always bring up the mood, they’re never down or anything like that. In terms of in-game, I think he’s been a really good addition to the team. He’s really skilled and he played on Grayhound and got some international experience but he’s still relatively new to European LANs I guess you could say. But he’s doing really well, better than what we expected. We knew he was good before we picked him up but he’s doing a lot better than what we thought he would be.
While Grat and Liazz probably were the two most talented players from Australia when you picked them up - especially statistically - they weren’t necessarily a clean fit for you guys in terms of roles. You lost the IGL, a more forward entry rifling presence, and get two more passive components that can’t call. How has the integration been in terms of roles, in that sense?
Yeah that’s pretty true. Liazz plays a similar role to me, in his old team, anyway. But he said he’s comfortable playing pretty much any role. It’s kind of like, when he first joined it was a little bit difficult for him to adapt to the new role and all that, but over time he’s getting used to it. I think we’re still kind of working it out with how we want to play out the set roles but I think it’s pretty good so far.
Like you said, we lost the IGL and AZR became the IGL. Which he’s doing a really good job of right now. I think it suits him better as a player. He’s always been the person to be really switched on during the rounds. He’s always feeding info to the IGL so him being in that role is sort-of natural I guess. Even though it is a lot of stress. It was a little bit weird when we got two new players but I think we’re doing pretty well now.
In Sydney I remember we were talking about how Kassad was looking for a secondary caller in the team. You talked about how that might be you, or AZR. Did that influence this transition at all?
Yeah I think AZR is really good at being assertive and knowing ‘when’ do to certain things. He’s a great leader just in that role. So I think it’s pretty natural for him to be the IGL. And it’s also like… Noah was a really good IGL as well, but I think it suits Aaron more. He’s always been that type of player who’s always going to feed the info back to the IGL. So now that he is the IGL he can always know what he wants to do and when he wants to do it.
And what about you secondary calling? Has that manifested under AZR?
Not really. I think it’s pretty normal for someone in my position to feed info back to the IGL that’s what my role is on most maps, playing the outskirts. So I just give info on nades, if one is rotating off, or if I hear one extra person there, or if I notice something, then obviously I feed back info to him and make ‘a call’ and then he can decide whether or not we do it. I think that’s pretty natural in most teams and I think Liazz, because he’s on the other side of the map also, in most cases, is doing the same thing. So I think everyone is feeding AZR info and then he makes the call in the end.
Do you think there is more pressure on jkaem individually now that he’s lost that partner he had on T-side in USTILO and is often the role aggressive presence in rounds as an entry? Does AZR taking up the IGL role and not being able to focus on his own game hurt the T-side in this sense as well?
I think Aaron has been fragging really well as the IGL actually, he has less things to worry about on the map individually and can just focus on how the round is going to play out, his crosshair, and that’s it. So I think he’s doing a lot better as the IGL and I think he’d agree with that.
In terms of jkaem, I think he was uncomfortable at first when he had to put in the entry role, but he said he wanted to do it so we gave him the role. He’s one of those players when he has his gun out, 90% of the round he’s going to kill someone. He’s got really good aim and mechanics. So I think the entry role suits him quite a lot even when he first got put into it he was uncomfortable. I think most people are going to be the same when they’re put in that role though, it’s difficult going out and looking at 6 different things. I think he’s done really well at it. I think similarly, he has less things to focus on and he can just run out, aim and kill people. So it suits him great. Likewise for Aaron.
Did you happen to see Bravado’s run at Dreamhack Winter at all?
Yeah, I saw the results.
Because it’s a bit crazy how similar they are in terms of storyline to how Renegades and Vox Eminor are… They fly from an isolated region, come to NA, grind online quals, make EU LANs and find results. Given the shared nature of your struggle from lesser regions, what advice would you give to the Bravado boys, especially since it seems you’re a bit further along this path?
Well, first of all, I’ve played FPL with a lot of the Bravado guys and they’re all nice guys. And they’re really skilled as well, especially when the play in pugsl. You really notice the individual skill. LIke, it’s a bit of a surprise they got that far, but it’s not really. They’re all really good players.
In terms of advice, I think we were in a similar position, we came second at Dreamhack Winter 2016, but that was after we had results here and there. I think a lot of the time what happens with an inexperienced team when they have that good placing is that they kind-of drop off a little bit. I don’t know what it is, maybe they expect more or something like that? Like, since they came second at that event, they might expect to make it out of groups at the next big event or something. I don’t know what it is, but it always seems to be a trend. I don’t know if this is the right advice or not, but maybe… Keep your heads down and work? Be realistic with yourself and don’t expect too much. But keep the hard work up. Just because when a team does have that good placing and they’re inexperienced and they do drop off after, it’s a big blow. You feel shit about it. So don’t let go, keep the hard work up.