Image Credit: PGL Esports
BLIX.GG sat down and spoke with NIP’s newest addition and in-Game leader, Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, after their 2-1 victory over Natus Vincere in the Quarterfinals at BLAST Premier Fall Finals 2022, setting up a Semi-Final clash against FaZe.
BLIX.GG: So, let's start by asking you about the Major. You guys were one of the favorites to make it to the Legends Stage. Now you've had some time to reflect. What do you feel went wrong for you guys over there?
Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen: I mean, honestly, we had all the keys before that, we had some good practice, we had some good confidence from the RMR. We felt like everything was going in the right direction, we had a good map pool and all these things, and then reality hit us. So, if we're not there as a team, and we're not doing things together, we can really be the worst team in the whole Major, as we showed.
And, I felt like we played with blindfolds on, kinda, like only focused on our own game, we didn't think about others, we didn't think about the team aspect. We were nervous because this was like, everybody of us, like, wanted this so bad. We wanted to show that we were there mentally and everything. And I felt like it was just the nerves hitting us completely when it came, came down to, at least, the first day. Then the first day ended, and we, unfortunately, had to play two games, so we couldn't just play one game and maybe think about it and turn up the next day, so we started 0-2.
Then we faced Sprout. At times, we played well, but not up to our standards, I felt like. And, yeah, obviously, individual and team-play-wise, we didn't step up. You saw no players in our team. I felt at least like myself, that no one really showed any glimpses of hope. Like we didn't have any multi-kill rounds, and as a team, it was just poor CS and, honestly, like the other teams. I mean, a lot of good teams failed, but maybe they had the same problems but yeah, I mean, you just have to live and learn.
BLIX.GG: Okay, so talking a little bit about the mental side and the nerves at the Major and coming into BLAST. How has your practice been? Have you been able to like mentally reset from the Major and come in with a clear state of mind?
Aleksib: I think so. I think we had a huge, long discussion, obviously. We ended Rio on a good note. After all, we spent some days together there and spoke for a while about what our plan was for coming here. Unfortunately, I got sick after; we still grinded and played CS, but I wasn't 100%. But I really, really badly wanted us to perform here, and now at least, finally, we can win a match, it feels good, and now we're, I mean, we're playing only good opponents now or like rank-wise, really good opponents and we need to show up like we did today.
BLIX.GG: So, you've been with the team now for a while, since about the RMR. Would you say that you're happy with the progress that you've made so far as a team?
Aleksib: I mean, yes and no. I feel like it was a huge bummer that we were trying our best for the Major and we could deliver there. I think that's where it all mattered in a way because that was the most important tournament for us this year. But then again, bouncing back and getting this win helps us a lot moving forwards, I think, with confidence and just getting to play in front of a crowd because we couldn’t do it in Rio.
BLIX.GG: And you have been with this team for a little while, as mentioned; what would you say is the difference between the old G2 team that you played in and this NIP side?
Aleksib: Like, obviously, it's a bit different considering the players and us moving like one of our strongest players to the AWP role and having all the staff changes, but I think the NIP stuff and I think the people around us, Phillip (Philip Caserta - Team Manager), Troels (Troels Robl - Director of Performance) and our coach, Danny (djL), are doing a great job for us players, making me feel super comfortable leading this team and I think that is like a really important thing.
BLIX.GG: hampus was the IGL on the team before you came. What would you say are the differences and similarities between your IGL and calling style?
Aleksib: I mean, hampus is really good at calling with feeling, when he’s really feeling it, you know, just dominate the game by just calling random stuff that he knows is gonna work. I think we can talk to each other in a nice way. I feel like every time before games, and we're always coming up with plans together, sometimes.
He's always giving me input, but once we actually go into the game, he doesn't interrupt me, and he trusts me fully, which is super nice to see, especially when you, when you come to lead a team and the previous leader is still there, right? So I'm just glad that he is giving me all the space.
BLIX.GG: Would you say that he made the right choice by stepping down from the IGL role and focusing more on fragging and playing?
Aleksib: I think he made the right choice at the right moment, but if he's leading a team in the future, I don't doubt him for a second; I think he's a really sick player.
BLIX.GG: CS recently released a new update, putting Anubis in the map pool instead of Dust2. Have you had any time to play it and try it out?
Aleksib: I did try it out on matchmaking with my friends. I mean, it's been out for a while now, so I've played it maybe once or twice randomly. I feel like the map easily has the potential to be better than Ancient and Vertigo because I feel like Ancient and Vertigo don't really feel like CS maps to me. It's just, I mean, I have mixed opinions on the map, but Ancient, I really feel like it needs an overhaul to some of the positions because if you go A fast, it's risky.
If you go middle fast, it's risky. If you go B fast, and the CTs decide to throw all their needs, it's risky. So, I just feel like there is little to no room for the Ts. And obviously, if you're a good team on this map, you can still perform, but I just feel like compared to the other maps, it's, I would hope for a fix there.
BLIX.GG: Would you have rather seen them remove Ancient or Vertigo for example, instead of Dust2?
Aleksib: For sure, I think, I don't want to go into a future with CS where suddenly all the legendary maps are gone because I think that is one of the things that keeps the game that has such a high skill ceiling. Mastering a map like Dust2 mastering a map like something else. Maybe they could use some updates on the maps. I don't care but I just feel like, I don't want a map pool where five of the seven maps are new maps rather than these old legendary maps.
BLIX.GG: And they also nerfed the silencer. Do you think that it will affect your play style? And do you think that it was the right thing to do with the silencer because it's been going off and on with a lot of changes to it?
Aleksib: I mean, there might be some changes. I haven't played with the new patch, really, only on FACEIT. I haven't played any practices, so I don't know what the other pros are doing currently, but I mean, we're all going to figure it out, I think, in just a few months.