We sat down with Nemanja “nexa” Isaković before OG’s opening match of the BLAST Premier Fall Finals against FaZe.
BLIX.GG: Let's talk a little bit about the Major, obviously it was a bit of a disappointment, not making it through to the Legend Stage. Looking back at it now, what do you feel went wrong in that tournament?
Nemanja “nexa” Isaković: I think we kind of choked a bit, we were unable to close out some games that should have gone our way. You know, we had a chance against fnatic, we had a chance against FURIA, you know, and even in the last game, you know, it was a tough draw, like, we got Vitality, you know, and we actually could have beaten them 2-0 but again... we messed up on the first map. And, and yeah, I mean, reflecting on that, I think we only have ourselves to blame.
All the games were in our hands, we could have closed it, we could have went [sic] to the next stage now. And who knows what would have happened then. But yeah, the blame is on us.
BLIX.GG: Have you been able to talk through it now, obviously, there was some time between the end of the Major and BLAST. Did you get a break? Or did you find some time to like, talk through what went wrong and try and mentally reset for this event?
nexa: We took some time off after the Major, but we practiced from home for, like, a bit over a week. And yeah, we talked, we talked a lot about what went wrong, you know, and like, why it was like this. And I think a lot of the younger players said that you know, the stage and the crowd, at some matches, you know, got to them. And it wasn't like, it was something they were experiencing for the first time, you know, and they, it was tough on them, but with experience, they'll learn, you know.
And that's also something for me, too, that like no, I should have maybe understood better or like, done more to help them get through it, or maybe even, like, lower, lower my expectations, kind of knowing that they will be under a certain amount of pressure and maybe take more responsibility on myself to help push them through the games. If I was seeing that they were not feeling that great, you know, but obviously, hindsight is 2020, right?
But yeah, knowing that for the future is something that I'll keep in mind. And also, like making sure that they are open with like the rest of the team, if anyone is feeling a lot of pressure or like not feeling like themselves or not feeling like they can play to the best of their capabilities, you know, to just lay it all out there.
So we know what we can expect, right? And coming into BLAST, obviously, we were playing the Group Stage first. And when we get to the Royal Arena we will, if we get to the Royal Arena, like we'll be in front of a crowd again. So, it'll be another test to see if you know that we still have the same problems or if we're able to actually learn and move past them.
Becoming the guy with the experience
BLIX.GG: So previously, when you played in other teams, you were young, and pretty inexperienced. I remember when you played in the Berlin Major it was a pretty young team. Then you moved onto Renegades again, a still kind of young team, G2 a little bit more experienced.
Now on OG, you are the more you know, the older experienced with all of these young guys around you. How's that been for you? Has it been a little bit of an adjustment period to have three younger and more inexperienced players under you?
nexa: Yeah, like in Renegades and even in G2 I was always the youngest person in the team. So coming into OG, at the beginning, we had like valde and niko, so I was not the oldest guy, we still had like some experience in there. But now with the full young roster, I'm basically the guy they all look up to, right, I'm the guy with experience. I'm the guy with all the answers, you know, and they all look up to me and come to me for everything. And yes, it's been a bit like it took me some time to adjust to it.
But I actually feel comfortable, like sharing my thoughts and visions and seeing, like, you know, seeing things click in their heads or like, you know, them coming on board with like, what I think is the right play and trusting me and believing in me. I think it's something that I haven't felt in quite some time, you know, and then it just makes me really happy to see that someone is like, Okay, I understand, you know, yes, I want to do this, like, I want to make this good. I want to follow your vision, you know, it just makes me happy.
BLIX.GG: Also, we talked a little bit about coming into this event. I would like to ask how the preparations have been because degster tweeted out that he had caught COVID after the Major a couple of weeks ago, has that affected the preparation coming into BLAST?
nexa: Yeah, our assistant coach also had COVID. Our manager had COVID, I had COVID and Degster had COVID. So right after the Major you know, that's why we took a lot of days off. I mean, today we were feeling better, you know, so I don't think it affected our preparation that much. I think overall since we signed degster we've been on the right path in terms of preparing and like working on things that we need to fix. And I'm not gonna say we're like 100% ready for this tournament, but I know that we can show good CS.
Working with kakafu and ruggah
BLIX.GG: We touched a little bit on the coach and the manager that you have, obviously you have kakafu now, and you have been having ruggah as a coach. How does it work for you being with those two, how do you share duties like do they form a triangle with you? And then you talk and try and fix everything with the team?
nexa: Yeah, I think that that dynamic between first between the two of them between kakafu and ruggah is really good, and then slotting me in as well. I feel pretty comfortable talking to both of them. I think Alex (kakafu) is really like more about like, strategic guy, you know more about in-game stuff like flashes, positioning strategies. And Casper (ruggah) he is mainly like, making sure we have like, very good relationships between each other, there's no like toxicity or any negativity, he's always calm, levelheaded, you know, like making sure that nothing ever escalates, right?
Like, basically is the guy who's the father of the team, basically. And so I think that dynamic, in general, is really good, I feel, I feel like safe in the sense that, like, I can speak to both of them about anything like, you know, I know, I can go to kakafu, if there's anything in-game related, I need this, I need this, I need this guy to play this position now. Like, I need him to play it more safely. Bla Bla Bla, I need you to do something like a workshop and watch some demos with this guy for this position, you know, like everything that I need, I relate to him.
And then if there is anything like on the human side, like, you know, I find it difficult working with this player, you know, I think we need to speak about it, you know, can you be the buffer in between, you know, like, he's always up for setting up talks, right? And everything is pretty smooth and comfortable in the team so far.
BLIX.GG: We talked a little bit about the younger players, the Major, and everything. What would you say the confidence is right now, in the team? Obviously, you'd like to go into the arena. Do you feel that you're confident enough to say that you will be able to get to the arena?
nexa: I think looking at our BLAST track record, I'd say BLAST is a pretty good event for us. So yeah, I can definitely say we're confident coming in here and playing.
BLIX.GG: A couple of months ago, there were many players that were tweeting out about the Player Break scheduling that the CSPPA had put out, many players were unhappy about being able to have an impact on them, or say, otherwise, I have this instead. Now coming into the end of the year, what's your take on that?
Do you think that the CSPPA are right, and the Player Breaks should be as it stands right now? Or would you rather have it in on another date or you know, at another time of the year or in the calendar?
nexa: To be honest, from my perspective, I think the changes is fine but obviously I don't have like some of the problems that people who were actually complaining have you know, with like taking days off for the family and whatnot, you know, and like going to vacation so I think I like to change because basically the first part of the year like the first season you know in the year is like there's not enough tournaments basically there's like always like two-three weeks gaps between tournaments and then the second part of the season I've been like five days home out of five months you know, so I think that the second part of the season was too packed.
So, I think then changing the player break to be a little bit earlier to give like an extra month for a better-balanced schedule throughout the year. I think that's actually good because I remember the year before and the year before always coming after the player break you know, after the summer after the summer break. Basically, you don't see your home. It was like it was a bit easier now in OG because we don't play. For example, we didn't play Pro League, but if we actually played Pro League, I would have not seen my apartment for the whole duration of the year.
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Thoughts on Anubis and the new update
BLIX.GG: A new CS update was released recently putting in Anubis instead of Dust2 and reducing the M4 range modifier from 0.99 to 0.94. Have you got to give it a try yet?
nexa: Yeah, I mean, I've tested that I've seen Anubis a bit. It looks really bad. I think it looks worse than Vertigo did when they first put it in. I think there's going to be a lot of updates and a lot of changes to the map in general. Yeah, I think it's a weird decision anyway. I don't think anyone expected Anubis in the pool. I think the M4 nerf was needed. I think it was too overpowered, the silencer. And it gave a lot of free kills to the CT sides.
You know, and maybe like, we will not play BLAST on the update, so we won't actually get to see it, like the change in how it actually works? And does it actually have that much impact and effect on the game? And as for the AWP nerf, I don't really think it was necessary. I don't really feel like the AWP is that overpowered anyway in the game, you know? And I think yeah, I don't think that nerf was really necessary.
BLIX.GG: So, you talked a little bit about you haven't had time yet to try the AWP and the M4 in-game. But looking at the M4 change, do you feel like it is what's needed right now? Do you feel that Valve could do a little bit more to, you know, balance the A4 and the silencer?
nexa: I think the silencer needed this nerf. I don't know how much it's going to impact it. But I think now, like looking between both M4s, they seemed pretty balanced. Like, obviously, you saw like, maybe two, three players out of fifty use the A4, right?
So now maybe we get to balance it out and see, you know, player players play what they prefer, you know, because even though for example, I prefer the A4, I was still not playing it in the old patch. Because playing the silencer is just like a laser. So now hopefully it's a bit more balanced.
BLIX.GG: Let's say that you're the Valve CEO of the CS department, you can do whatever you want for one day, you can add whatever map you can remove whatever map, do whatever changes you want to the guns, add any effects to the game. For example, we had some Christmas chickens once. What would you want to do to make the game perfect in your opinion?
nexa: I would fix the hitboxes. Like first I would remove like all the agent skins like I would remove that completely from the game. And then I would fix the hitboxes basically in the game so that when you shoot someone in the head, it actually hits the head, right? Or when your AWP scope is on him and you click mouse1, it actually hits right. And the bullets don't disappear. So yeah, those are like the main things.
BLIX.GG: Is there any map that you would like to see rather than Anubis?
nexa: Yeah, I mean, I'd definitely like to see Tuscan and I played at once on the Showmatch, I think against FaZe, I think and it was really fun. And I think the map was 50 times better than what Anubis is now. But it is what it is.
BLIX.GG: Do you think that they made the right call to remove Dust2? Or would you rather have seen another map go out?
nexa: I think that Dust2 was the most random map out of all the maps in the pool. I think. I don't mind the decision to remove it, right? Because it's just like with AWP wallbangs on middle every round or a lot of your T sides depending on whether you're getting long spawns or not, you know, I think it was a pretty, pretty random map overall, you know, and I'm okay with it being removed.
Cover-Credits: PGL Esports