IEM Katowice 2023 was almost a fairy tale story for North America’s Complexity. Finally seeming to overcome some of their past struggles with closing out games, the team took down a host of top European teams on their way to becoming the last team standing from the Play-In stage.
After their unfortunate loss at the final hurdle versus Outsiders, we caught up with Michael “Grim” Wince to discuss their time at the event and how far they have come as a team.
Sam “AN1MO” McKenzie, BLIX.GG: You were unlucky not to make the Playoffs. What do you think went wrong in that final series?
Michael “Grim” Wince: I honestly think it comes down to the clutch situations. When it was getting tight in the game, at 14-14, they won a lot of the rounds that just came down to clutches and basically playing the time well. I think they're really good at having a buy every round so it's really hard to play against them. But honestly, I think we had a really good showing and made a lot of progress at this event so I'm proud of everyone on the team.
BLIX: So despite the result, you’re happy with your performance here at Katowice?
Grim: Yeah I'd say so. Most people wouldn't have even expected us to come close to even making playoffs at an event like this in the past, and we proved everyone wrong in that we can actually take it to the next level. I think that all of our practice is paying off, so I'm just excited to see where we can take it from here for the next events and see what we can improve on from this event.
BLIX: Do you think people's expectations of you now will be changing, or do you think people will see this as a fluke?
Grim: I think people definitely should change their expectations because that wasn't a fluke, and we're just going to improve on what we have so far and continue to the next events. We're a really good team and we tried our hardest in a close game like that, so expect more close games and even wins like that from us.
BLIX: It's starting to feel like this team is coming of age, what do you think you guys have changed to reach this point?
Grim: I think for us the biggest thing we've changed has been our practice, we practice now ten-plus hours a day. Before we weren't doing as much, and now we just go through everything, we go through our reactions, we review pretty much everything, and iron out all the little things. I think when we do that and build on top of all that it helps a lot and I think that’s what’s taking us to the next level in these games.
BLIX: Do you think there’s also the element of general experience and playing against European teams more?
Grim: Yeah I’d say so. It definitely helps to play against European teams, and when you get all that experience you build upon it. Our team was very inexperienced when we made the team but a year on we have so much more experience that we can use in these games, and I think that if we can keep building on the practices we can win one of these tournaments eventually.
BLIX: So is that the expectation then, winning a tournament this year? What are the expectations if not winning this year?
Grim: I wouldn’t say it’s to win a tournament, I’d say expectations for us are definitely making Playoffs at a big event and then building upon that. I think for us making the two Majors this year, Paris and I don’t know what the other one is yet, but definitely making the Majors and just improving. Definitely getting more wins, especially in close games and bringing them over the line, we had one the other day against ENCE that was a close game and we won the other day as well in a close game. I think against these better teams we just need a bit more experience and a bit more time, and we’re gonna be able to take them over the line.
BLIX: You’ve played some close games against ENCE, MOUZ, Fnatic and now against Outsiders, you pushed them closer than you would have previously. What do you think it’s taken to get there against these teams, just repetition?
Grim: Repetition definitely helps, especially match experience. Match experience at the end of the day is gonna help you the most, especially in these close games. I think we are really good now at putting our 120% focus into every game and making sure that whatever the outcome, whether we lose or win, we make sure we gave it our 100% best shot. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, if we give our best and fail we can build upon it and improve, but if we fail at 90%, we’ll be unsatisfied and disappointed in ourselves. I think us giving it our 120% every game has definitely helped us in taking it to the next level.
BLIX: The Liquid players have spoken a lot about YEKINDAR coming into the team, the EU presence, and what he brings. Would you say there’s something similar with you guys and hallzerk?
Grim: I wouldn’t say so necessarily, he definitely has some stuff he brought from Dignitas when he was playing with f0rest and friberg, but I think he’s the most American European you can possibly get. It’s been awesome having him but I wouldn’t say there’s too much insane European experience he’s brought. Although he definitely has some stuff up his sleeve that he got from playing there and we love having him around.