By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
Following Renegades’ 2-0 victory over the Finnish side of ENCE in the StarLadder Major quarterfinals, we caught up with Aleksandar “kassad” Trifunović, the teams coach.
kassad spoke about the match, the rough start, changes within the team, and shut down the idea of roster changes.
VPEsports: What was your first thought after taking down ENCE and moving on in the tournament?
kassad: “Oh my god, we are in the semis!” *laughs* Like I said in the previous interview, our preparation led to a high level of confidence for us. The game plan was executed perfectly by all of the players. We had really good calls, really good rounds for us and it translated into a victory – simple as that.
VPEsports: Everyone talks about how confidence can impact your performance in CS:GO – so wasn’t the teams confidence a bit shaken after the 0-2 start?
kassad: That’s a fair point I guess. Confidence in one of the biggest things in CS:GO but it comes from preparation, it comes from being ready for things and just eliminating the randomness in what you do. Like you said, at 0-2 it was scary but we knew we had a really productive boot camp and that our map pool was good.We just needed to do what we did in scrims during the boot camp and it will be fine and it worked, we’re here in the semis.
VPEsports: Can you be more specific about what you were working on during the boot camp?
kassad: First, we had a talk after Chicago when we performed very poorly, finished dead last. We agreed we needed a whole new playbook going into the Major. We needed to work on post-plants, our communication, and those are the things that make confidence come back because you’re then playing better. So in those three weeks we were preparing, we focused on the map pool as well. We did everything step by step, fixed everything step by step and just came to this tournament.
VPEsports: Following the big result at IEM Katowice, there wasn’t a whole lot of success for the team. Did you guys debate making changes following the poor results?
kassad: Roster changes were never a thought. Not a single moment.
After the Major we had a pretty good tournament in China where we made it to the semis and lost to Na’Vi I think. After that we ran into some visa issues that slowed us down completely and then we started getting bad results and not playing with the full lineup that we had everything already set with. Our confidence went lower and lower but at no point did we discuss roster moves. We just kept believing at some point we were going to come back and we did.
VPEsports: So can you explain what changed between IEM Katowice and here in Berlin?
kassad: I think we just grew more as players and gained a lot of experience. At Katowice we played great CS but we were inexperienced in the super large stages. Here we got that experience from a few other events, we lost a bunch of close games and learned from and came in at full force for this Major.
VPEsports: The ENCE game was supposed to be tougher than it was. You dominated on Mirage and then came back on Nuke. How did you guys manage that?
kassad: I mean people think that our Nuke is a weakness for us, especially after our devastating loss against FaZe. To tell you the truth, we were never afraid of Nuke. We were practicing it a lot in boot camp, we were playing really good especially on the T-side which we showed today.
Even at 6-9 in this game, we just talked about executing the pistol like we wanted to and if we won the first couple of gun rounds then we’re in the driving seat. We did exactly like we said and it worked. We did exactly what we practiced and it worked.
VPEsports: Nuke is typically a CT-sided map so what happened for you guys to go down at the half?
kassad: If you look at the game, you’ll see we just missed some shots. We lost an eco, which is a classic Renegades move *laughs*. They won the pistol, so they won multiple rounds off of that. But we never stopped believing in the comeback on Nuke at all.
VPEsports: Do you think it gave you an advantage that ENCE is looking to make a roster move and perhaps played inconsistent? Could you feel that in the game?
kassad: I don’t think that it felt that they were inconsistent. It felt like – I’m going to be super blunt about this – I thought that we were just better in this game, especially in this best-of-three we just felt that we were better.
Obviously they’re in situation where they’re changing a player and it’s not easy for them to deal with. It’s a weird situation, but like I said in this best-of-three we were more prepared, more focused, and we just played better in this best-of-three. That doesn’t say that they’re not a really amazing team, especially now with the addition of suNny who’s a great player. Just in this match-up today we were better.
VPEsports: Going into your next match you’ll be playing either Vitality or AVANGAR. Who are you hoping to meet?
kassad: Objectively, Vitality is the better team, especially because they have so much experience in this stage. NBK has won Majors, RpK is a great player from source, ZywOo is a god in the server. They have all the advantages. AVANGAR on the other side played six tournaments so far, they’ve managed to beat the best team in the world, they beat us in a close game. They got into playoffs with a 3-1 and I think they have a similar map pool and it’s gonna be a great match between those two.
Personally I kind of hope AVANGAR will win, it’s a better match up for us. Realistically I think we should expect Vitality.
VPEsports: You have a good history against ENCE, so is it a comfortable match up?
kassad: I mean, we love playing ENCE because we match up really well. I don’t think they like the style we’re playing. After the games at the last Major when we beat them in a best-of-one and a best-of-three, it felt like we like playing against them because we feel good against them.
Every time we play them its a close game, but we won so far in this important one so it feels good.
VPEsports: You mentioned that the players have grown since IEM Katowice – which players do you believe have grown the most?
kassad: Every single one of us has grown a lot in these months since the last Major. Obviously everybody in a different way. I’m not going to go deep inside it, but everyone has grown in a way that they needed to and when you have that people start thinking more as a team and less as an individual. When you have people putting the results before everything else it clicks together and you start performing better and better. You start winning and with wins comes confidence, and with confidence comes everything else.
VPEsports: When national teams start to do really really, it seems to cause a boom in their region. The MIBR lineup in Brazil, many teams from Sweden, Astralis from Denmark…do you think massive success for Renegades will lead to another boom of talent from Australia?
kassad: I guess that’s a better question for the Australians since I don’t really know their region. But it should spark something, I kind of hope it sparks something in my country back in Serbia and the countries around it.
After this kind of result and wherever we finish at this Major, it should spark something in Australia.
VPEsports: After big results, some players lose their motivation. Do you think this could happen to your team?
kassad: No, I don’t think that’s going to happen with us. We have young players, we haven’t had much success in the past, we just had potential. So I think people are hungry and will continue to be hungry.