By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
Following Natus Vincere’s elimination from ESL One Cologne, we sat down with the teams newest member Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov.
We spoke with the former Winstrike in-game leader about his debut with the team, individual performance, past, and potential future as a leader.
VPEsports: The first question I have is – are you pleased with your performance at the tournament? How do you evaluate your debut?
boombl4: Of course, no one directly says that the goal is to win the tournament, but still everyone wants it, this is understandable.
Our plan was to play as many maps as possible in the tournament, to see what we are, how we prepared on the bootcamp. In principle, we accomplished our minimum task, we reached the semifinals – we performed well in general. Yes, we were a little unlucky in the group stage, we could have beat Liquid, but how it all happened in the end is for the best. To be honest, I felt that my individual game was starting to be on point only in the match with NiP on Mirage. After the pistol round I felt confidence in my game, but in the match with Liquid I was already able to fully open up individually.
Before the tournament I had two tasks: to play well individually and play a lot of maps. I believe that we accomplished with this, now we will work further and prepare for the Major.
VPEsports: On Overpass against Liquid you had an excellent game, and as already noted, you were “unlocked.” What changed?
boombl4: Maybe I just needed to get used to the official matches. In the end, this is my first big LAN. And recently I rarely played LAN. I can admit that I was nervous, even though I didn’t feel much worry during the game, but when I reviewed demos I would never have thought that I could play so badly. I did things that I would never do in my normal state. It was even harder for me to play matches in the group stage because when you step on the stage, you see the fans and you immediately understand where you are and what you need to do.
Therefore, I believe that in the playoffs I played much better. I think that this period of adaptation is happening for everyone. Of course, I want to immediately perform, but it turned out the way it happened and I am glad that it happened. I am glad that I did not leave the tournament without personal merit, having distinguished myself in the match with Liquid and I think that in the future this will give me a huge boost. It is important that my teammates saw that I can do it in official games, because I also did well during practices, but that was not the case in the first official games. So I think that everything is just beginning.
VPEsports: When you first appeared on the stage with Na’Vi, what were you feeling?
boombl4: I felt proud of myself that I was able to achieve this new step in my life. Yes, it was pride for the team and for myself.
VPEsports: In an interview with electronic, we indirectly covered the topic of your in-game communication. How do you cope with not being a coordinator anymore? Do you catch yourself thinking that you need to remain silent now, so as not to create too much noise in the game?
boombl4: Sometimes it is such a mess. We first encountered this during practice. Now we are working with a psychologist and he helps us not to create this confusion in communication. We have only one leader in our team – Zeus, who gives calls. Everyone can offer something and Danya can support the idea or not. Just need to understand when it is needed, and when it will be superfluous. I, of course, had the habit of talking a lot in the game and this sometimes filled the communication, but there were moments when it was useful.
VPEsports: For example?
boombl4: There were moments when I guessed how it would be necessary to play, but we didn’t. It was in the first match against Liquid, during group stage on Overpass. We broke the economy of our opponents, they had only one player survive with an AWP. Then we won another round and realized that they had low money: only FAMAS and Colts without a sniper rifle. I offered to go to A, because if the opponent does not have AWP, then it is easier for you to take the necessary positions. Unfortunately, we went to B and lost the round.
And then we once again broke the Liquid’s economy, I realized that since we did not work on B last time, Liquid will strengthen A and offered to go to B. In the end, we went A and met a stack of players there.
I also point out the weak points of the opponents, where it is best to go. Now all the moments and I do not remember, but they are more than enough.
VPEsports: Talking about the match with Liquid in the group stage, when you almost won 2:0 …
boombl4: This isn’t necessarily true. You see, the result on the second map depends on the result of the first map. The rival could be more consistent, focused, and we, on the contrary, more relaxed. So we can not say that if we won Dust2 that we would have won Overpass. Honestly, I felt very good on Mirage. How focused Liquid was on the game, even during the warm-up two minutes before the match, it was clear when nitr0 started to get crazy shots. Therefore, we can not say that we would have won 2:0.
VPEsports: Your confrontation with them in the playoffs was very different. First of all, you didn’t look so confident. Is it all about the stage or what made the difference?
bumbl4: Liquid just began to push harder. They also knew us well already. Let’s say that we had a game plan, but their plan worked faster because we could not complete ours. And when they began to push, we got confused. Twistzz hit hard, nitr0 too. They simply showed a very strong individual game. We need more structure, then we will play better.
VPEsports: Now you get a vacation! How long will it last?
boombl4: Two weeks. Then we can practice online for a week and gather for the bootcamp. I can not give details about exactly how everything will happen. We will work both on our game and on the team’s relationships.
VPEsports: Let’s talk about when you just joined the team. You already knew the players, but when you yourself became part of the team, did your opinion of them change?
boombl4: I did not have a special opinion about them before. I knew that they were strong players, I understood what was in their heads. But when I joined the team, it was very interesting to study them because they become more open with you – you are their new teammate. It helped in the beginning that Denis (electronic) explained a lot about how to play, what to do and what not. Every player was involved in this process because the team received breath of fresh air and everyone was eager to play. I think that for the first tournament our result is good.
VPEsports: From social networks I saw that you spend a lot of time with Zeus. For example, you visited the presentation of his book together; you often appear in his video blog. From the outside it looks as if you are becoming his apprentice. This is perceived in the context of a teacher-student relationship. Is it true?
boombl4: I do not know, maybe he thinks so. The fact that we are doing so much together is due to the fact that I am a new player, many people find this interesting and he is trying to promote me. The fact that I learn from his experience is understandable. But I never want to copy anyone, I’ll just take the best and do it my own way. This is exactly the principle of the teams like Liquid and Astralis. They come up with a game in which they are comfortable to play and emphasize the strengths of other teams – as a result, a unique style is obtained. In my case, it works the same way – I want to learn the strengths of Dani, but if in the future I have to become an in-game leader, then I will still do it my way.
VPEsports: An important clarification on one word that defines everything: “if you become a leader” or “when will you become a leader”?
boombl4: I do not know how to answer you. It does not depend on me. When we talk about it with him, Zeus just tells me that I need experience. And I get it right now – but honestly, I have no fear of becoming an In-game leader, in the depths of my heart I want this.
VPEsports: And now somewhat of a sad topic…Winstrike, without you, failed to qualify for the Minor. How do you feel regarding that?
boombl4: (sighs noisily) I feel guilty. Everyone around me says that it is not so, but deep down I feel guilt. This is the team that, let’s say, I gathered. I was a captain, made decisions and people believed in me. We went to the Major, won the LAN in Poland. We worked with Bondik and Johnta … By the way, I really enjoyed working with Johnta, I learned a lot of new things.. Johnta is the person who primarily follows the meta closely and looks at what works and what doesn’t.
I think that in the near future my guilt will not go anywhere. At the tournament, I did not think about it because I was completely focused on the result. You know, I usually answer in the social networks, but at ESL One Cologne I just have a lot of requests on Instagram, VK and I did not answer anyone. We trained and prepared for the opponent.
VPEsports: Have you spoken to the Winstrike players after leaving?
boombl4: No, we haven’t. When I went to Na’Vi, some guys wrote to me, they said that they understood me and everything was fine. And after we did not communicate.
VPEsports: But you were so friendly…
boombl4: This is understandable, maintaining contact is normal, but they and I have things to do. Building a team, solving problems – it seems to me that first of all you need to think about yourself, and when the time comes … I even offered to come to them at the bootcamp and say goodbye, personally. I want to spend time together, to end it on a good note. In any case, I wish them only success and hope that everything will work out soon.
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