Handed a difficult opportunity in his first tier one team, Sanzhar "neaLaN" Iskhakov still managed to impress during his time with Evil Geniuses. Now a member of GamerLegion, he and Sebastian "volt" Malos have the hard task of replacing Kamil "siuhy" Szkaradek and Ivan "iM" Mihai.
Following an opening loss to fellow BLAST.tv Paris Major surprise package Monte, we sat down with neaLaN to discuss his transition to his new team as well as the difficulties he faced while with EG.
Sam "AN1MO" McKenzie, BLIX: A tough opening game, how are you feeling?
neaLaN: I'm sad that we lost, but we're still trying to find the balance in the team. I think we're going to rewatch it, see our mistakes, and recover for the next game.
BLIX: How's the transition from Evil Geniuses to GamerLegion been?
neaLaN: The style is different, NA style is different to EU and I'm swapping a bit right now. It's the same structure, but just different.
BLIX: You weren't on the team with iM, but he was the star of the team, how do you replace someone like him?
neaLaN: I don't know, but I'm feeling fine about replacing him. Yeah they were a good team, but we're different people, I'm not siuhy and volt isn't iM, so we just need to find a new game for us.
BLIX: Were you disappointed with your time with EG?
neaLaN: No, I got a lot of experience in EG and I'm thankful for that. I don't think I wasted time there.
BLIX: What do you think were the issues at EG? Was it players or just down to how hard it is in NA now?
neaLaN: I don't think it's the region, to be honest. It's more that we had a young team, but our first season was still good. If you look at when I joined, we qualified for the Major, we won two ESL Pro League games and almost qualified from the group, but getting young players who aren't experienced in tier one is really hard because you need to give them a lot of experience. I wasn't experienced in tier one either. The biggest difference is that if you're a tier two NA guy, it's not like being a tier two guy in EU.
BLIX: Was it more difficult for you as IGL because you were trying to learn tier one alongside those players?
neaLaN: Yeah, I was learning with them, but it depends who is learning fast, you know?
BLIX: NA coaches have been very critical of how hard it is to practice in the region, how big of a factor is that in NA at the moment, from your perspective?
neaLaN: I think when CS2 comes out, a lot of NA players will come back and the practice will come back, but when we were in NA and while we were practicing, it was really hard to find scrims. We were basically just playing against the same teams on the same maps, so you can't find something new or the mistakes.
BLIX: In terms of the rest of this event then, is there a worry the event might be too soon for you as a team?
neaLaN: Yeah, we haven't had a lot of time to practice because of how it is when a new IGL comes in and you need to find the balance in how the team is going to work. Me and volt both swapped a lot of positions and everyone needs time.