NiKo: “The map pool has never been worse”

Reading time  ~14  mins

Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: So you have been a member of G2 for about 18 months, and you have been so close to winning a trophy multiple times: Katowice, the Major, etc. And now, after this long drought, you have won the BLAST Premier: World Finals. How does it feel to have a trophy under your belt after all that time?

Nikola “NiKo” Kovač: Yeah, it's not been easy since I joined G2, but I would say it has been a good learning experience. There were some moments we should be proud of and some moments we were disappointed about. But, as you said, we were close a couple of times in the previous lineups, and if we had won certain rounds, the story would have been very different. But it felt good to win a trophy at the end of last year and to feel like that again. I think it's gonna help a lot with the team's confidence, the atmosphere, and all the other things. So yeah, it felt good winning after all.

BLIX: You have been through so many roster changes both in FaZe and G2, and it seems like you have finally found stable ground with the team. Do you also share the opinion that you have found the team that you will stick with a little bit longer than G2 would in the past?

NiKo: I mean, it's something we looked into and something that we wanted to do, but in previous lineups, it just didn't click at all. We want to find a stable five players and establish a system to be more consistent. We want to keep working on the system and keep improving it.

It's something we want to do. It's just unfortunate that the previous lineups failed but it was the goal from the start to create a system and work on it all the time. But like you said, it looks like we have established that right now, and we can see that we are much better as a unit. This team, for example, would never fail a tournament like the RMR again because we have better chemistry and we have better team play and communication. We know each other better, so something like that will never happen again. So it feels good to now have a system and work on it.

BLIX: Do you feel like it has given you so much experience with the roster changes that it has become easier for you to handle than most players?

NiKo: Yeah, as I said, it was all a learning experience, and I think we all learned a lot from it. You learn the most from your mistakes, so we learned a lot. Hopefully, it will all be worth it and pay off.

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BLIX: I talked to huNter- just before, and he said that Swani is the coach, at least for now. How is it to work with him, and what made you stick with him instead of finding a new coach?

NiKo: I think the main reason we stuck with him is that he has already been in G2 for a long time, and he already knows the players and how we work. He knows what we need from him, he understands the game well, and he knows how to talk to us. He knows us.

I think that was the best reason for him to stay as a coach, and as you mentioned or I mentioned, we want to create stability in the team. Once you bring a new coach, it's still a big change for the team, so we didn't want to bring a new coach, and then you will have to go through something new again. So, it's also why I want to give him a shot and let him try to coach us and do his job, so that's the decision we took, and so far, it's working out.

BLIX: You used to be an IGL both in FaZe for a while and in G2, and now you have a guy like HooXi. Do you work with him and Swani to help the team share your experience as an IGL, or do you focus on your performance?

NiKo: I was never an IGL in G2; I was an IGL in FaZe. But yeah, I work with HooXi and Swani a lot, especially on, like, as I said, I have a lot of experience, and I want to share it with them and help them as much as I can, and I always try to give my opinion if it is needed on some situation on how we should play it out. HooXi always comes to me if he has some doubts about something, and we have a discussion about it, and we try to find the best answer for it. So yeah, I try to help them as much as I can with the experience that I have and with my knowledge of the game as well. I'm not trying to do too much. I think I have a good balance now with HooXi, and we are working very well as a team.

BLIX: How do you think HooXi has improved so far as an IGL, and do you think his arrival has positively affected the whole team?

NiKo: I think that his arrival had a positive effect on the team. Both his and jks; I think, as I said, we are just a better team right now. We are a good unit, and we are all just working very hard; he is one of the most hardworking players I have ever seen.

But yeah, he has improved a lot since he joined. He is much more stable. I think he was a bit doubting himself when he joined, and he lacked confidence. But I think now that we are showing some results and we are even feeling better as a team, he is also feeling better as an individual, so I think it benefits him greatly. So I think he is improving a lot, and he is doing a great job.

BLIX: How do you practice coming into this event since we had the holidays?

NiKo: Everything was fine. We started the year with two weeks of boot camp before this event. The practice was smooth. It's always nice to play after we win a tournament. The atmosphere is better in the team. The confidence is there. The practice was productive, and it was just very enjoyable as well. So hopefully, we will also do what we did at the practice here at the BLAST.

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BLIX: You speak like you now have a target in the back after winning World Finals?

NiKo: We don't have a target for this event. We are here to secure a spot in the BLAST Fall Finals. But we don't care if you will be first, finish shit, or qualify as third. We want to secure the spot, and we just want to use this time as practice for our next tournament, which is super important as well.

So yeah, we want to secure the spot. How - it does not matter, but we want to see improvements in this tournament for the next tournament.

BLIX: Katowice is pretty close. How does it work with prioritizing/saving strategies for the next tournament?

NiKo: I think when it comes to showing strategies, we don't think too much about it. All the teams are doing similar things nowadays. Maybe you have a trick or two up your sleeve for the biggest tournament, but it's nothing crazy. It comes down to hidden strategies. You are not going to win a game because you have something up your sleeve.

It's mostly about the teamplay or the communication and all these things. This event is just a kind of learning experience for us as well. We want to expand our map pool and work on things. I think this event could give us a good view of what we need to work on before Katowice. So hopefully, it will be a smooth event for us but also a good learning experience.

BLIX: Have you guys been able to practice Anubis? Do you feel confident coming into this event knowing that it is permanently in the map pool?

NiKo: We feel good on Anubis. I don't think any team has found something crazy on this map to be better than the other opponents. So I think a lot of teams are very similar on this map. I think a lot of teams are going to do very similar things. I think the map is very easy to play right now.

We did work on it, but we did not come up with anything crazy or something new. We found a couple of things to make our game more smooth. We were also ready to play it in Abu Dhabi when we played versus Vitality. So we can play the map. I don't think it's the hardest map to play. And I'm pretty sure we are going to see it more often here.

BLIX: You feel like it has the potential to be a good map for riflers like you?

NiKo: Honestly, I think that's hard to say. I think it reminds me of Inferno, where you don't need the AWP too much. I think playing with five riflers is very doable. It's hard to say; I haven't figured out the map yet as an individual. It's hard to say if it's one of the best maps for riflers.

BLIX: Do you already see some changes that you would like to see added to the map in the future?

NiKo: I mean, they have to change something for the CT side, I would say. When you are on the CT side, you need to be able to fight for some areas. As of right now, you are not able to fight for anything. We saw that it was very T-sided in practice. It's even more T-sided now, but I think they need to change something for the CT so they can fight more for certain parts of the map. Then the map should be fine.

BLIX: They replaced Dust 2, which was your guys' favorite map. Minus HooXi, because it was his permanent ban when he was playing for Copenhagen Flames. Would you have liked to see them replace some other map for Anubis?

NiKo: I would remove a map like Vertigo and bring Dust 2 back in. I would not mind that at all. I think the map pool, in my opinion, has never been worse, but it is what it is. Dust 2, as you said, was a very good map for us, even though Hooxi wasn't playing it with Copenhagen Flames. He has still managed to be very good at it, and it just sucks that they removed it.

I think Anubis is fine with a couple of changes, but a map like Vertigo is finished. They have tried to work on it for so long, but it was just never nice to play, and I think it's also hard for viewers to watch the map. So yeah, it's one of my least favorite maps right now.

BLIX: Do you think the M4 update has impacted your playstyle? I heard you mention playing around smokes, where you feel like you have to play more cautiously than before. Or is it more situational where on some maps, you use the A4, and on some, you have the silencer?

NiKo: Yeah, as for myself, I use the M4A4. I don't switch from map to map. But you need to be a bit more careful when it comes to spam. It was much easier to spam with the M4A1-S. It was just more useful at the time. But right now, when you look overall, the M4A4 is better. It's a bit more expensive, so sometimes you have to play with the FAMAS. But I don't think I see any benefits apart from the economic situation. So yeah, I am just using M4A4 full-time right now, and I like it.

BLIX: Do you guys have any expectations for the new year and the new season, or are you taking it a few events at a time or one event at a time?

NiKo: I think we are taking one event at a time. I think we need to see how we are going to start the year. Are we going to start where we finished? Are we going to work differently as well? The goal is to always win a tournament, and Katowice is a big tournament. We would like to have a deep run there and potentially try to win the tournament. We lost the last final last year, and then there is the Major as well, which we failed to qualify for.

We are not missing in the next one, or this one rather. We are always looking to win the trophies, but sometimes we have to be realistic and see our situation as a team. And it's what people will have to see now, how we started the year and how it will work out. We are doing everything we do with the hopes of winning a trophy.

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BLIX: My very last question before I let you go. Valve recently came out with a new ranking. I don't know if you have seen it. So now they have a ranking for RMR instead of all the qualifiers and everything. Do you think it's a good change?

NiKo: Honestly, I am not too familiar with the changes they have made. I know that we will not have to go through RMR qualifiers, which is our most important thing. But I think it's good for tier-one teams and bad for tier-two teams. It's good for tier-one teams because they don't have to play all the qualifiers to get to the Major. I feel like it does not feel right that you are playing all year long, and you have to qualify from zero. It's just weird.

For tier-one teams, it's better. For tier-two or even tier-three, tier-four, it's probably even worse, but they still have a chance to qualify. And, for me, it's also stupid that you have teams that only play two tournaments a year which is the two Majors if they get lucky to qualify, and then you don't see them for six months. While all the other teams have bigger brands and bigger players, everyone wants to see bigger names play the best tournaments of the year, right? I think it's hard to find a balance.

I think what Valve has done is a step in the right direction. I think this could be a decent balance.

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CS Virtual Trade Ltd, reg. no. HE 389299 Registered address and the principal place of business: 705, Spyrou Araouzou & Koumantarias, Fayza House, 3036, Limassol, Cyprus
Copyright © 2024 BLIX.GG. All rights reserved.