Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: Congratulations on the win, Grim! I want to start by talking a little bit about Anubis. Now last time you guys played Anubis was against your old team, Liquid, where you guys lost 16-2. What was different today against EG compared to Liquid?
Michael “Grim” Wince: So, I think when we lost that game, we had a huge team talk we went through and we were like, "guys, we all know we need to be better", especially on Overpass because we easily could have won that map. We lost like four anti-eco's which screws over the money completely. On Anubis, we got blown out, but on Anubis, we watched a demo back and we figured out exactly what we were doing wrong, and we've just been putting in a ton of work. We're doing like 11 to 12-hour days now and really making sure everything's ironed out and specifically on Anubis, there was a problem for mid-take with me and Fang, but we ironed it out and went through it and now we know what to do better and made a ton of protocols on that map.
So that's why today it was a lot easier to play compared to the other game. And I think that in terms of our practice, we've really stepped up a lot all seven of us, coach, analysts, everyone, and I think that helps a lot going to the games because we can fall back on our protocols that we practice over and over again.
BLIX: On Inferno, you guys were up 6-2 and it looked like it would be a pretty comfortable win for you guys. Was it nerves coming into play that led to EG taking the map?
Grim: I wouldn't say it's nerves, I'd say that is easily our worst map right now. As many people know, we're struggling on it, but that is one of the maps we've been heavily practicing and going into depth on it and I think that if we didn't do that, I think the score would be a lot worse than what we showed. Obviously, there's some improvements, but I think we lost like five or six clutches, and I think that is a big factor. I think easily like in another day, another timeline, we could have won that game for sure because if the clutches went our way, obviously we're going to win.
But I think we got, honestly, I'm not too mad about it because we're improving a lot on that map and I'm excited to see what we could do in the future games on it once we go back and review what we did wrong here and what we could do better. But for me, it was mainly the clutches. They had a ton of clutches, and it definitely helped them win the game.
BLIX: And finally, Overpass was a pretty straightforward affair. Did you guys come in with a vengeance after Inferno?
Grim: I'd say we had a talk after Inferno. We were like, "guys, that game was mainly just pretty unlucky for us". We were playing well, all things considered, and we just need to step it up and keep going from our Inferno and Anubis into the Overpass game. I think we did that. We came hot off the gate. We got 3k on pistol. I was making some silly mistakes in the first CT half and my team picked it up, but I picked it up at the end on T side. So, I'm just really proud of our teammates and individuals for stepping up when we should've needed. Like if someone's having a bad game, we can rely on other players to step up when needed.
I think that definitely helped in the moment, especially on our Overpass. I think we're really good at keeping our heads cool now compared to sometimes in the past we lost like a full USP round. We're like just "unlucky, screw it. Let's see what we can do now and reset", and I think we do a really good job of that, and I think it helped a lot.
BLIX: You’ll be playing Na’Vi in the Gauntlet final. Do you feel more confident now after this win going into that matchup?
Grim: I feel I definitely have a lot more confidence now that we have a win on the board. I think that Na'Vi, even with their new roster, is still a really, really good team. Like, they're still major winners, the three-time number 1 HLTV player of the year on the team, so we definitely do not need to underestimate them. I think they are definitely a bit weaker compared to their previous form when they were top 1, winning everything. Just probably because of the electronic IGL change and the player change are still getting a lot more comfortable.
But they're obviously practicing hard and improving hard every day and all of their players are such good individuals, so we shouldn't be counting them out. But I think that if we come in with a solid game§plan, go over our mistakes in this match, even though it's limited time because we play tomorrow, we can have a really good chance of winning and just like, follow our protocols and what we've been doing. And I think that the game would be a lot closer than most people think and we could even take it.
BLIX: I want to talk a little bit about you now. It's been about a year now, pretty close to the dot since you left Liquid. Can you talk me through how the last year has been for you?
Grim: So, for me on Liquid, I was playing different roles than I am on Complexity... getting back into these roles at the start and for us as a team, I'd say we definitely had to grow over the years because even me from Liquid, I'm still inexperienced. I played like a year and a year is not enough compared to a karrigan or a device who's been playing this game at a top level for multiple years now. So, we were upcoming from the tier two scene and the NA scene. So, we definitely had a learning curve and I think that helped a lot for everyone and especially me because I feel like I iron out my game a lot better.
And especially recently after our win, I feel like with our new practice, I think that we go over so much stuff that it's easier for me to play because I know everything that's going on and every possibility, so I know how to react, and I think that that takes a while to learn. You need years sometimes to learn that. And I think that our team is good at keeping a level head and just looking over our mistakes in-depth and figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it for next time.
I think that over a year or two of doing that, it helped us a lot. And you can see in some of these games that we're probably going to be putting off the better performances and hopefully, the fans will get support.
BLIX: Speaking of performance, your performance right now is pretty similar to what we used to see in Triumph. Have you gone back to some of the roles that you used to have in Triumph when you were more the star?
Grim: I've been playing a lot of those roles, actually. When we first made the team, JT told me I can like, pick any role and any spot I want to play. So I picked most of those. But over time and with our team developing, we've changed some rules. Now on banana, I think I used to play banana, actually on Triumph on both sides. So, it's good to be back there. I'm a lot more comfortable on Inferno. I think it was just like having me just go back to those roles from Liquid and over time our team developing. Like when everyone plays better like it's a lot easier to play. I know that sounds weird, but like if you're playing worse, sometimes it's hard to do things because, like, people are dying, you have to say.
But when everyone is on point, and you're put in the more close situations like that's when individuals can shine. I think today you could see that that was a factor, especially in some of our clutches on Overpass. And I just think that I've had a lot of player development. I've got a ton more experience. Obviously, I had some on Liquid, but I got a ton more and that's helped a lot come into these games and I just have to keep learning and keep improving.
I think one day I can eventually be a top 20 player and I just have to keep learning and putting my head down, learning from all the mistakes, and improving the best I can to get there.
BLIX: Do you have any regrets or like decisions that you feel you could have done and would have caused a different outcome than what we saw?
Grim: I don't think I have any regrets at all. Obviously joining Liquid was a bit different for me because I had to change all my roles and at the same time play against better players, but all that did to me and helped me become a better player. You could be more versatile once you understand each and every role, so it helps a lot, like, understand like [...] I can even help my teammates now with some of the knowledge I gained on the team from FalleN, EliGE, and Stewie[2K], so it helps a lot that I learned.
I wouldn't say I have any regrets, and I took the experience I had on Liquid and tried to bring into this team and help out some of my teammates in the situations, but obviously, I'm not perfect and I have a lot to learn as well, even though I already learned a lot from Liquid. So, I think it only helped and I have no regrets personally.
BLIX: Last year you played five games against Liquid, and now this year you've already played one. Do you feel like you've gotten more used to playing against your old teammates now?
Grim: I'd say so. After playing with EliGE and NAF, you kind of know some of their plays that they like doing or reactions they like making based off what goes on. But they're still a really good team, especially with YEKINDAR, and I think osee is very underrated. The numbers, they definitely don't show what he does and brings for the team.
So, I think that they're still a really hard team, especially on T-side. I think they're one of the best T-sided teams in the world just because YEKINDAR entering and nitr0 supporting EliGE and YEKINDAR is really powerful. So, it's definitely not easier to play, but you get more of like an understanding. I'd say for sure how to play against them.
BLIX: You've played with hallzerk for about six months. How has it been so far for you? Have there been lots of changes compared to when you had Junior on the team?
Grim: I'd say so, but I think the changes also come from the experience that we gained playing all these matches together. I'd say that [...] Obviously I don't want to put Junior down, but I think the team really likes Halzerk better than him, and we had really good chemistry with Junior. He was an amazing friend, and he was a really good teammate for us as well. But hallzerk like, his personality. He fits right in with us, and it helps a lot, but I'd say he's just really good at supporting as well. He's very fast.
I've noticed for one of them, I think he had, like, the fastest reaction time for us, it's crazy. But I really like playing with him, and he lights the mood a lot. I say that helps a lot sitting next to me, that he's always getting the fists bumps and stuff and lightening the mood. It's really nice just to keep my head in the game, and I really like playing with him.
BLIX: Are the expectations that you guys have within the team different now compared to last year when you came in?
Grim: I'd definitely say so. We want to qualify for more playoffs. We want to be contending for more events, but that's just because of all the experience. Again, and I keep saying that because it actually helps a lot, but because of how much we've been practicing and reviewing now, it's like when we lose, it's on us, right? The other team can have a good day, but at the end of the day, if we do all of our protocols and reactions right, we can win any game against any team. Sometimes we mess it up, but you have to go and review it and be better for next time.
And I think now that we've gotten so much experience and we're practicing harder than we ever have before, the expectations are definitely raised higher, and people need to perform, like, to a higher standard, even me. So, I think, like, expectations for sure are raised a bit.
BLIX: My very last question before I let you go. Now, looking at the NA scene, there seems to be quite a big gap between Liquid, Complexity, and EG. What do you feel that you guys need to do to be able to climb a little bit closer to get up to Liquid's level?
Grim: I think for us, I would say the Anubis game isn't like a big telling point for us. We were close on Overpass, but I think we just need, like, a bit more time, and I think we'll be good. Because right now, if we keep practicing how we are with some time, we can iron out the mistakes that cost us against Liquid. On Anubis, it was our first time playing the map in a match, so we had no idea. Some of the mistakes that are punished in scrims are different from matches, based on how teams react. So, we just have to go to the drawing board a bit and I'd say we are definitely closer than most people think. And I think that in the future matches, we could even come out on top.
Feature Image: Copyright BLAST | [@Vexanie]