A new top team has emerged in Brazilian women's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene. With the decline of FURIA Esports Female, B4 Esports has risen to take the top spot in the region on the back of an undefeated regular season and a semifinal run at ESL Impact Katowice 2023.
Following the team's day one win over Black Dragons Female match, BLIX caught up with B4's Nadjila "poppins" Sanchez on the team's form heading into Dallas for the Season 3 Finals, her emergence as a top prospect in the women's CS scene in 2023, her parents' support towards her pro career, and more.
Adapting at a young age
Pedro Romero, BLIX: You finally got your first match done in Dallas against BD. Did you have any nerves coming into this game, and how did that go?
Nadjila "poppins" Sanchez: I've been working a lot on my mental health. It is difficult to keep a strong brain. I think I was really nervous, but that happens a lot, and I like this feeling of adrenaline. I love playing, so I was nervous, but I didn't care about it. It's a normal feeling. Everybody feels it, so you just have to learn how to control it.
BLIX: This marked the third time you appeared in an international LAN after last being in Katowice. How have you prepared for this event compared to how you approached the event in Poland?
poppins: I think I'm getting used to it because it's on LAN, and it's really different compared to when you play from home. However, even though I played for what I think is my third in a LAN, I know that I'm improving myself to control my nervousness here. It's been really difficult to control it because I feel really nervous. However, as I said before, I love playing, so I'm embracing this opportunity because that makes me feel good. I also have my family here, and they are helping me with that.
BLIX: Is the fact that you started your career at a very young age, at around 14 years old, the biggest reason you had mental difficulties?
poppins: I started playing really young. I was 14 back then, and I think I was still a child. I didn't have the mind that I have right now because when you become an athlete, you mature more, and you improve yourself, so I think I'm evolving in that sense. When I became this athlete, I had a lot of responsibilities, and that made me feel like an adult sometimes because it's my job. For sure, I have some fun, but it's my job, and I have to take this as such –and the girls help me a lot, too, because I have school, and it's really difficult between that and [my career].
BLIX: What has been the biggest thing you learned in playing with this team since joining?
poppins: I think it's the girls and my coach helping me a lot. When I first came to LAN in Sweden, they helped me a lot in controlling my mind because, as I said, I had some difficulties with that, but I also have my psychologist that helped a lot, too, so they gave me support, and I'm learning a lot with them in addition to the strategy reading that we have in CS:GO. I'm learning a lot because they have more experience.
BLIX: I want to return to earlier this year when the Impact League was starting again. I wrote a "Bold Predictions" piece about the emergence of notable young talent in women's CS. It listed people who are seen as likely to break into the scene, and you mentioned it a few times. It speaks to the level of attention the scene has given to players like you, so how have you dealt with the pressure of being known as a promising prospect?
poppins: There's certainly a lot of pressure, but that makes me feel hyped. I feel like I'm on the top of the mountain because it feels good when people say positive things about you, especially when you're improving each day. One dream of mine is to be one of the top women's CS:GO, players. That's why I didn't give up [in this game] because I'm too young, and I know I have the talent, and I don't want to waste it. I want to be the top player one day, and I hope that comes true.
BLIX: In this moment, are you close or far from being the top you aspire to be?
poppins: There are a lot of players that are really good and have so much experience, like vilga. She has a lot of experience in CS, and she is a big inspiration [to me]. I think I'm still far, but with each day, I'm getting closer.
BLIX: You mentioned the support of your parents during your career. With them being present in this event, what has that been like? How has your parents' support helped you improve as a player both in and outside the game?
poppins: For sure, I'm really grateful to them because their support is really great. You feel more confident, and when I was [on stage], I felt really strong. Seeing my mom watch me play feels really good. Sometimes, I'm sorry for the people that don't have the same support from their parents because they think games are something dumb, but actually, it isn't. I'm winning a lot of things, and I'm really grateful for that. I think the parents should open their minds to that. She didn't open up to that once, but when I proved myself to her, now she's totally open, and she became my number one fan. That's why I think parents should open their minds to their children about anything they want to do.
BLIX: What has been the biggest piece of advice you received from your mom for your career?
poppins: She has a lot of work experience, so she always tells me to do what makes me feel, so that's why she supports me. She didn't do that before, and she regretted it, so she made me feel like I should do something. If I want to do something, I should do that as long as it makes me happy, in addition to never giving up.
BLIX: I've read in past interviews about this team's confidence in taking that next proverbial step and seriously contending to be champions of the Impact League. Have you felt the same confidence in looking to be champions for this LAN?
poppins: For sure, because now it's not our first time in a LAN, and we've been practicing a lot. We've gained a lot of experience with past tournaments, so the entire team is confident, and we want to be the champions. We want to get there because we are doing our best, and we feel like it's our trophy. For sure, the girls are pretty confident, and me too. Sometimes you get nervous, but we're controlling it, like I said before.
B4 Esports would go on to finish their run in the ESL Impact Season 3 Finals following a semi-final loss to eventual champions Nigma Galaxy.