As the fifth-ranked team in the world, Complexity Gaming were seen as one of the favorites to win the ESL Challenger tournament in DreamHack Atlanta following decent performances in BLAST Premier: Fall Final and IEM Sydney. However, two consecutive losses to Asian upstarts The MongolZ signaled their elimination from the competition during the group stages.
Following Complexity’s elimination, BLIX talked to IGL Johnny "JT" Theodosiou for an interview about their performance in Atlanta, facing The MongolZ, reflecting on the 2023 season and much more.
Facing The MongolZ
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Thank you so much for the interview despite the heavy loss against MongolZ. I want to start off by asking what's going through your mind after that result.
Johnny "JT" Theodosiou: Obviously, we're really unhappy with our performance today. In my opinion, we should be beating those guys with the performance at some of the events recently where we've been playing really well. We know the limits of our team and we can win a big tournament, but we just need to get over these little hurdles like the stupid rounds that we keep losing in these games. And also just the inexperience that we have, I think, is biting us on the ass because I truly believe that we should be winning these games.
BLIX: And that was the expectation from the outside looking in, with Complexity beating MongolZ since they are ranked fifth in the world. But diving into those two matches in the group stage, what did MongolZ do that made it difficult for you guys? Or was it just you guys making it difficult for yourself?
JT: I do think they're a good team. They are actually a really good team, in my opinion. It's not like we were playing against a bad team or anything like that. They caught us off guard in a lot of the rounds today with relentless aggression. They were just getting in our faces and then were winning those duels. Especially on Inferno, we weren't really able to answer any of the aggression.
And I think especially yesterday--but also in some of the rounds today--we were just losing rounds that we shouldn't be losing. We were in position to win, and we knew what they were gonna do and we just end up throwing rounds away just in stupid ways and that's the inexperience that was getting to us. We need to make sure that we win those rounds because if you lose those rounds in games like this, you're just gonna end up losing the map.
BLIX: So it's just more of those mental errors that you felt the team experienced, right?
JT: I think it's lapses of judgment or lapses of our mental because we know what we should be doing, but then we just do something stupid and just lose the round. And it's obviously super frustrating and it's also really frustrating for an experienced player like EliGE [Jonathan Jablonowski] to lose rounds that he's not used to losing like that. So I think coming into next year, we're just gonna try and focus on our fundamentals and make sure that even when we're under pressure, we're just playing to the best of our abilities and not losing these stupid rounds.
Looking at Complexity’s 2023 season and beyond
BLIX: These kinds of lapses happen sometimes within the top teams, so it's not really that much of a surprise. But even so, to take this sort of result in Atlanta, what kind of takeaways, if any, do you feel you and the team are going to make from this experience for next year?
JT: It's difficult to say. I'm gonna have to watch the games back and stuff, but I think we know we can beat any team, but we can also lose to any team. In most of the rounds that we lose and in most of the games we lose, it's not really about the other team completely outplaying us. It's just us messing up on what we're supposed to be doing. It feels like most of the time, we have an answer for things, but we just need to actually do them in the matches and bring the results in the games to actually show that to the world.
BLIX: Despite the obviously disappointing result in Atlanta, it doesn't take away the progression that this team has had especially in the second half of the year. Reflecting on this year overall, what are some of the biggest positives and negatives that you've seen from the team from your perspective?
JT: Like you said, we've had a big improvement over the last few months, especially in CS 2 and then at the beginning of the year, we weren't really doing so well. We had massive loss streaks constantly and were not really going to LAN tournaments. For me, it's just making sure that we keep somewhere to a level where we are winning games and are able to make deep runs at least semi-often.
Obviously, I want to make sure that we're consistent, but I don't want to go back to the old Complexity where we're just losing all of our games and not having any answers. So, for right now, we're still in a good spot, but we're just facing some inconsistencies, and I'm hoping that in the future and for more events, we will be able to iron things out.
BLIX: That said, with an eye towards 2024 and competing with the world's best teams in the Major and beyond that, what is the one big thing that you feel the team has to address in general?
JT: It's actually a difficult question to answer because, like I said, it feels like, for a lot of the mistakes we make, we know what the real solution is, and it's just lapses of judgment or inexperience. It's hard to just fix that overnight, so we're gonna look back at the games, keep harping on the things that we've been speaking about in practice and just trying to iron things out whenever we get back to practice.
Obviously, it's now Christmas break, so we're not going to be practicing for a little while until probably the beginning of January maybe the break will help us freshen our minds and we can get back into it. I think it's difficult to fix the issues that we're having right now because it's mostly mental, in my opinion, but I'm just hoping that when we come back, the game's start going well, and we start flowing nicely going into the RMR, the Major, Katowice and all those other things. We'll have to see how it goes.