Cybersport.com sat down with HellRaisers' in-game leader, Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow, where we discussed the team's series against OpTic Gaming, Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer's in-game leading and team nervousness during matches.
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Kirill, congratulations on securing a spot in the New Legends. Yet another series with an overtime conclusion, definitely not a cruise for you guys. Take us over the series against OpTic.
To be honest the game was very difficult, largely because we lost both pistol rounds and because it's very difficult to win as the offense on Train. When you've won the initial half 8:7, made it to eight, and then proceed to lost the pistol round on the second half it takes a toll. So many overtimes - I even ended up distancing myself from the game a little, so many internal mind-games. When we have such important matches with advancement on the line, I just drop out of the match completely and try to enable my players in terms of peeking, flashbangs, HEs, timings etc.
We won, and that's amazing. The game was very stressful, there were too many clutches. If this continues I'm going to age even faster. (laughs)
When we have such important matches with advancement on the line, I just drop out of the match completely and try to enable my players in terms of peeking, flashbangs, HEs, timings etc.
Don't age just yet man, we still need you around. (laughs)
In recent times OpTic have had issues with showing results, demonstrated on the server, as well as a TwitLonger post from ruggah, for example, where he mentioned "the losses and current form we are in are obviously disappointing despite glimpses of our former selfs." It feels like they aren't able to perform to their full potential. Were you confident going into the match-up against them, or were there certain criteria that needed to be met in order for you to advance?
We were quite confident going into this match, much like all the matches we play, irrespective as to whether it's Astralis, Team Liquid, OpTic Gaming or Gambit Esports - it's doesn't make a difference. We know, or atleast I do, and try to convey to our guys, that best-of-1 matches at a Major tournament are the most random thing that can ever happen in Counter-Strike, period. All the teams are in top form, they're practicing 24/7 in the pracrooms, everyone is analysing their opponents' demos, everyone is preparing for their match-ups. The team to win the match is determined over the course of the game, unless the performance disparity is massive.
We were quite nervous - I have young guys on the team, and they get nervous, despite them being great players and aimers. Sometimes they make mistakes in rounds - forgetting to throw a flashbang, a smoke grenade missed, and this can have an adverse effect on them. We didn't have the feeling of definite victory - I knew that it was going to be a shitstorm, but I'm extremely happy that we pulled through in the end. The guys in our team really need the experience that comes with these stressful games, and I hope that in time, the nervousness will subside.`
You touched on the emotional component - it was apparent from watching the player cams on stream that the guys were very stressed out, and, generally speaking, emotional, particularly the young players in woxic and ISSAA. Further, you mentioned in an interview to Overdrive that this can make it difficult to work with them. As a captain, have you come up with a specific approach that helps them balance out their emotions, or are you still in the process of figuring this out?
I'll be honest in saying that emotions aren't something that is easily controlled. Even the most seasoned players in the scene are subject to them - I also get nervous during important rounds at the Major. I just try to support my players by mostly talking to them about the game, so as to shift their focus exclusively onto the game - which grenade to throw, which area they should enter from, which angle to pre-aim. I do this to make sure that their head is only filled with what needs to happen on the map. This is the approach I use to relieve their stress, even if I repeat it ten times: "don't forget to throw the flash here, peek on Z etc". I try to run the round through the players' heads so that they're preoccupied to a point where they don't have time to be nervous.
I try to run the round through the players' heads so that they're preoccupied to a point where they don't have time to be nervous.
Now that we've broken down HellRaisers, let's return to OpTic. I'd like to get your opinion on Snappi's in-game leading style. Did anything catch you off-guard during the match? Or did you have a comprehension of what to expect?
In my opinion the main issue OpTic currently have is that Snappi is not playing the Counter-Strike he would like to. He is heavily focused on adapting to his players, causing him to lose his way. I remember how Heroic used to play with Snappi as their in-game leader, where they played quite a structured game, particularly on the defence. It was reminiscent of North's style - more structure with a better comprehension of your future actions.
Currently, k0nfig doesn't really align with this style, for example - he needs action, he needs constant rotations, otherwise he feels like a fish out of water. I think, and I'm not sure about the internal situation, that they haven't yet found a style of play that fits both Snappi and the rest of the players. This is the main issue. We know that on paper each of the players is very strong, but they don't have the synergy.
We watched their demos, and we had a hunch that we'd be playing on Train. Honestly, they didn't do anything extraordinary. We lost rounds on the defence exclusively because of our own mistakes, not because they did something outstanding. Sure, they may have surprised us with some sort of a puggy play, but this wasn't some amazing round that countered us indefinitely.
We lost rounds on the defence exclusively because of our own mistakes, not because they did something outstanding.
I think the issue is Snappi being unable to find a suitable play style, leading to his players' current suspended state.
Ok, let me conclude the interview in asking what the team will be getting up to over the course of the coming days. The New Legends kicks off on Wednesday - what plans do you guys have for the upcoming 5 days?
We're going to go on a 3-day bender.
Man I really hope you're joking (laughs).
Are you kidding me? (laughs) I've been on an alcohol-free Major fast for the past two weeks (laughs). On a serious note - we'll take a day off today, tomorrow we'll do some individual training, and finally the last two days we will be preparing for the second stage [New Legends].
It's an absolute godsend that we've been provided great practice rooms, so we'll be making use of them.