One of four tier two teams to rain on the tier one parade at the BLAST.tv Paris Major, there were high hopes coming into IEM Cologne 2023 as to what Apeks could achieve at the tournament.
Reinforced by Aleksandar "CacaNito" Kjulukoski after the lost of Justinas "jL" Lekavicius, the team unfortunately couldn’t bounce back from a narrow defeat against Astralis to take down OG in order to advance from the Play-In stage.
Following their loss to OG, we sat down with IGL Damjan "kyxsan" Stoilkovski to discuss the recent roster move, their elimination from the event, and the expectations the team has for their upcoming tournaments.
Sam "AN1MO" McKenzie, BLIX: It's disappointment here for you guys in Cologne after being eliminated by OG, how are you feeling?
kxysan: Of course, we are disappointed. We were close to going to the next stage in the game against Astralis. We were one round away and now we're out after two lost games. So yeah, it's disappointing and we expected more than this, it's sad.
BLIX: Given your successes at the Major, does that make this more of a disappointment?
kxysan: I think so yes. We saw at the Major how good we can be, but unfortunately we couldn't repeat the same playstyle or same performances as at the Major. That's the main reason why we went out.
BLIX: When you say you couldn't replicate the playstyle, is that because you no longer have jL? How big of a loss has that been?
kxysan: jL is an insane player and of course it's a loss for us, but I don't think we lost here because of one guy. Today we all played pretty bad. The communication was off, we didn't play even 10% of how we normally play. Everyone altogether is the reason why this happened, not just one guy.
BLIX: You may have lost things with jL then, but what have you gained with CacaNito?
kxysan: Individually they are on the same level, so we haven't lost firepower. It might still be too early to say with CacaNito as we've only had three matches at this tournament, we still need to work on the communication, we're still not where we want to be. But the atmosphere, even though we lost today, is good.
BLIX: Into the Breach players were saying this tournament came too soon for them, would you say the same about yourselves?
kxysan: I wouldn't say so. We had two weeks of practice, enough time to prepare, I don't think that's why we played bad today. We had enough time, we had our map pool, we had enough things, and practice was okay, so I think we just couldn't play as we normally do.
BLIX: What's the plan for the rest of the year and events you'll be competing in?
kxysan: We have a few online cups so we'll be practicing while we play them. The next LAN will be Gamers8 in Saudi Arabia, so that's the first step and then we have ESL Pro League, and hopefully we can keep playing at these kind of LAN tournaments because we want to be here.
BLIX: What's the goal for Pro League, is it to make at least playoffs there?
kxysan: I would say so, yes. Even though this tournament was pretty disappointing for us, I still believe in the team and that we can play how we did at the Major, so our goal should be to go to the next stage at Pro League.