Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: Congratulations on the win and qualifying for the Spring finals. What do you think went your way today?
Justin “jks” Savage: I think we just had a really good game plan before going into the game. Everyone put together a good game plan. Mostly HooXi and Swani, but everyone else chimed in as well and I think we all followed it really well. I think we're a really good team and we just follow what Rasmus [HooXi] wants to do and in the middle of the round and stuff like that. Obviously, we'll give input and stuff but whenever we listen to each other and we play off each other, we're a really good team.
So, I think that's what we're doing more often and it's working out. And we did the same thing at Abu Dhabi, and I think we're just kind of riding on that momentum that we had from the previous tournament.
BLIX: You mentioned Swani. How has it been so far having him as a coach?
jks: It's good. It was pretty much like a seamless transition. Like, he was an analyst before, and of course, he's been in the team for way longer than I've been in the team. But he gets along really well with all the other guys who were on the team prior to me joining. And I think he's still learning a lot as a coach. But I think he's a very smart person and I think on top of all that he just gets along with everyone else on the team really well. So, we have really good chemistry together and we always trust what he says, and he always has a good game plan for us.
BLIX: How would you say that he differs from the other coaches that you've had so far in your career?
jks: It depends because I think every coach that I've had is different but he's more analytical, I guess you could say. And that makes sense because he was an analyst beforehand. I think he does a good job at keeping everyone together as a team and just like having that chemistry between us, which I think is really important. At least for now, I think that's what he's been doing really good. And of course, he's only just become a coach. I think he can develop a lot more and just become better in all aspects.
BLIX: You've been with the team now for around six months and came in at the same time as HooXi. What words would you use to describe and summarize your tenure so far?
jks: I mean, it's been pretty up and down so far on the team. I think we've had some good showings in the past then we also had some really bad showings in the past. But I think in the last few months, even before we won Abu Dhabi, I think we've been showing like a lot of improvement compared to the first few months. And I think it just takes time, obviously, to become a really good team. It doesn't happen overnight in the first month or two. I don't think anyone really expected us to be super good, especially because they changed IGL and my role as well.
And I think just recently we've become more comfortable in-game with each other and knowing what we're allowed to do, what we're not allowed to do, and things that work for us and things that don't work for us. And I think people [...] We're synergizing really well together as a team. Like, everyone's listening to each other, we know how people are going to react and I think that's the stuff that comes after a few months of playing together.
BLIX: You guys won BLAST World Finals. Now, you've been continuing the new year the same way you ended last year. Do you think that that win was what you guys needed to get the machine running?
jks: Yeah, for sure. It always helps when you win a tournament and you're a new team. It kind of gives you that confidence going forward into the next few events because it's one of those things where once you just get it over the line, everyone starts to perform that little bit better. And on top of that, as a team, everyone has more confidence and just knowing, like, we can win games like that and win tournaments like that, why can't we do it at every other event? So, yeah, it just gives everyone else confidence, for sure. It was a massive momentum boost for everyone on the team and I think you can see that now.
BLIX: At this time, can we expect a more consistent G2?
jks: Yeah, for sure. I think if everyone just does their job and everyone keeps up doing what they're doing right now, it's obviously going to be like a really good G2. But it obviously just depends on everyone on the team because right now we have like, individuals who are playing super well. NiKo, m0NESY, for example, and of course, huNter- as well. And I think if I just do my job and Rasmus [HooXi] does his calling that he's been doing for the last few months, I think there's no reason to say that we can't keep this up. I think it's just up to us as a team together.
And I think just recently we've become more comfortable in-game with each other and knowing what we're allowed to do, what we're not allowed to do, and things that work for us and things that don't work for us. And I think people [...] We're synergizing really well together as a team. Like, everyone's listening to each other, we know how people are going to react and I think that's the stuff that comes after a few months of playing together. — Justin “jks” Savage
BLIX: I remember you saying in an interview back at Katowice last year when you were standing in for FaZe that you were living in Copenhagen. What's your situation now like?
jks: Yes, I wasn't really living in Copenhagen. I had a visa, but I had nowhere really to live because I got benched. So, it was kind of hard to find somewhere permanent and I didn't want to find a place and then settle down and then not get the team, you know what I mean? So, it was a really difficult time, but I was just hopping between hotels. But right now, I'm living in Germany and G2 has been really supportive of that. And they've helped me find a home pretty easily.
BLIX: You won the last Katowice with FaZe. Now, coming into Katowice, do you feel like you have that feeling that you had last year or maybe even a better feeling that you had when you were with Faze?
jks: No, I think the tournament has always been pretty good for me. It's like a historic event and I've played there for a lot of years. I've made playoffs twice and of course, the third time that I made playoffs, I actually won the event with Faze. So, it's a good tournament for me and it's nice going back there. There's like a lot of memories there. I haven't really thought that far ahead, honestly, but I think we'll just take it one game at a time and hopefully we can make the finals because I know NiKo has been in the finals like three times now. m0NESY has been in the finals one time. huNter- has been in the final like twice.
So, I think we have a pretty good team going into that event in terms of people knowing the tournament. But, yeah, of course, the storyline would be really good if we made the finals or did anything relevant at that event.
BLIX: You've previously played with mostly Australian players. Now you're in a team full of European superstars How has it been so far? Was it a big adjustment at first when he came in there?
jks: Yeah, kind of. I think in the past I've been the star player in my teams and in this team, obviously, we have such good players and such talent on the team that there's not a lot of space like there was in the past for me. But, I mean, I have a lot of freedom in the team. And I can do pretty much whatever I want. It just has to make sense around what everyone else is doing on the team. But of course, for me, I just do what I need to do, and yeah, as long as I stay consistent and I perform pretty good, I think it should be all good on the team.
Considering the players that we have on the team. It is really nice having such skilled players on the team because they can pull rounds that we would probably lose normally. They could win those rounds, for example, because they're so good. So, I mean, that is kind of a luxury for me to have such good players on the team.
I don't think you can live in Australia and just go overseas to European events and then go back home for two weeks or a month or something like that and then play another European event. Like you need to live overseas or somehow make it so you can bootcamp for a few weeks, go to event after event after event kind of thing. It is just really difficult to play from Australia because the level of teams are just way, way less than what it is in Europe or even America for example. — Justin “jks” Savage
BLIX: And my very last question for you, I want to pick your brain about the Australian CS scene. A long time ago since we saw success with you and the old Renegades/100T in Starladder Berlin and since then we haven't really seen as much success. What do you think needs to be done for us to be able to see the Australian CS Magic rise again?
jks: I don't know. It's a really hard question, honestly, because in the past when we played, we lived in America for like two or three years and I think we got better by doing that. And then of course, at the same time, we were playing a lot of European tournaments, so we weren't really living in Australia, even though we had an Australian lineup. And on top of that, we were bringing in like international talent. A few times we had like an international coach in kassad and we had an international player in jkaem.
But I think the culture of Australia were still in the team considering we have a dominant Australian and New Zealand lineup and I think we kind of just kept that throughout the team the entire time. And for other teams to be good like we were, I think they would need to do something similar to what we did. But I think it would make more sense for them to try and move to Europe somehow. And obviously, it's going to take some time because they need to practice, they need to grind, and stuff like that, but I think if any team were to do it, I think that's what they would need to do.
I don't think you can live in Australia and just go overseas to European events and then go back home for two weeks or a month or something like that and then play another European event. Like you need to live overseas or somehow make it so you can bootcamp for a few weeks, go to event after event after event kind of thing. It is just really difficult to play from Australia because the level of teams are just way, way less than what it is in Europe or even America for example.
BLIX: Can you give some tips on any Australian players or any Australian teams that we should be on the lookout to see?
jks: Honestly, I haven't really watched too much Australian CS, but of course, there's Grayhound too, they have a lot of talent on the team, but they just need to make it work together as a team. I think Vexite is the up-and-coming kid that I think if he keeps going the way he is and he has some good guidance, I think he'll be a really good player. And of course, that team has a lot of experience as well. I'm not too sure how they're going recently and I'm not too sure on what they need to make it work, but hopefully, they can pick it up at the next few events and perform good. Other than that, I'm not too sure because I don't focus too much on it, to be honest.
Feature Image: Copyright BLAST | [@jakhoward]