Following Into the Breach's qualification for the BLAST.tv Paris Major, BLIX’s Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier sat down with veteran Into the Breach's rifler Karol "rallen" Rodowicz to discuss their final match against B8, his career and the Polish scene, among other topics.
Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier, BLIX: Into the Breach qualified for the Major! It was a close game, we thought you had it in the second map but you finally pulled through on the third, Vertigo. Can you talk me through the whole series?
Qualifying as Legends
Karol "rallen" Rodowicz: Before the game, we knew it would be a hard game because both teams want to go to the Major, it’s the most important tournament in CS:GO. It’s the last Major, so for all of us, it was very important to finish with style or something, our time in CS:GO, you know? Because we spent so many hours, and if you have your signature in-game you feel like you’re part of the game! I said at the start, we had a speech, where we said we knew it would be a very hard game and we need to go round by round. Every round would be mega important so we were trying to keep hyping ourselves, but we needed to keep our comms on a higher level and the whole series was so stressful.
It wasn’t that stressful when we were facing NAVI or VP because it was the start of the tournament, and when it comes to the end you know what’s on the table, you’re stressing so much. It was a hard game for both teams, but after the second map to be honest we were full mad at ourselves because we knew our mistakes. We were making lots of mistakes due to the length of the game, in the second OT we were out of ideas, we played that game for two or three hours. We were so tired and were like “What the fuck is going on?”. We don’t know what to do!
BLIX: What about the third map? How did it feel to finally get that 16th round after being so close in the second map?
rallen: First of all, we faced them in the RMR Open Qualifier for seeding so we knew that no matter how many CT rounds we got, we could always come back on the T side because it’s one of our best maps. We knew what we could do, we are playing some good Counter-Strike on this map. I had in mind that situation, like some photographers were coming in front of us from previous maps, and I was like “Oh my god, they’re coming again, it’s almost over!”. For every single kill at the end of the game, we were trying to be fully focused and calm everyone down and after we did 16 rounds it was like “boom!” for everyone! We knew it was over and we also heard that BNE won the first map, so we can even get a spot for Legends. It’s like unbelievable emotions for us!
BLIX: You’re a true veteran, you started playing in 2014 and have been around the Polish scene for many years and made it to the Major at DreamHack Winter 2014, ESL One Cologne 2015 and DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015. What was it that made you venture outside of the Polish scene and come to ITB?
rallen: Back in the days, when I qualified with Polish players it was nice because when you’re playing with a stack of your country you have kind of… I’d say we have the same goals, but it’s something different like you have the Polish community and you want to deliver them something special. I had a lot of offers from top-tier teams and I was obviously like “I believe in my boys”, I didn’t want to leave the Polish scene because, like Virtus.pro or something like that, I wanted to be on the front of the Polish scene.
If I check it maybe it was a mistake, maybe I should have moved to international teams much faster. Finally, I’m here, I’m back to business, so let’s see what the future brings! I’m pretty sure I can compete at the highest level in CS:GO.
BLIX: You’re probably the most experienced player together with Thomas “Thomas” Utting, while the rest of the guys they’ve not been in the tier-two scene for that long. How do you guys manage it? Are you mentors to those guys, calm them down when things get heated like today?
rallen: To be honest we’re trying to build team chemistry and team spirit, but also I need to support Thomas and Thomas needs to support me. It’s like cooperation, everyone needs to support everyone, so even if you are inexperienced sometimes you need help, to talk with someone and stuff like that. I think our team chemistry and team spirit is on a high level, even if we didn’t have much preparation, we’re playing together for eight or ten weeks. After a boot camp with each other, we saw that we are on the same page, everyone wants to put their whole heart into the game and sacrifice everything they have to do crazy things in CS.
BLIX: What were the expectations like coming in? I can imagine coming into the event as a huge underdog, maybe you didn’t believe in qualifying entirely?
rallen: At the start, we had other expectations, then we qualified and we had others. Before the event, after practice, because we had a preparation of eight days, we knew how we could do our things. We were winning against top teams in practice, we can do the same in the officials. For me, for example, it’s much easier to play against better players and better teams, when it’s offline because I know their faces! They know me, and I’m the type of guy that likes to talk, throw some spicy things toward them, some eye contact, so I am trying to get this advantage also. For me it’s pretty decent, I prefer offline for sure.
The State of the Polish Scene
BLIX: It’s been a long time since we last saw a full Polish team at a Major or going far in tournaments. Other than 9INE, just individual Poles like you, Kamil "siuhy" Szkaradek and Paweł "dycha" Dycha can qualify for the Paris Major. What do you think the Polish scene needs to do to go back to its glory days and bring a full Polish team back to the Major?
rallen: 9INE has a chance because they are in Group B. They have a high chance to qualify but this group is very tough, it will be so many crazy games, so many upsets, I believe. It will be nice to watch, I am super happy that for now I’m off these emotions and I can just take some cola and enjoy watching! It’s very nice. But the problem with the Polish scene is we don’t have that many IGLs, like back in the day it was like: if someone was struggling in the game, even if they were IGL, people wanted to kick him, change him. It wasn’t… maybe we have some organization that can manage the team, instead of the players. If players do, there is some “friend” stuff and blah, blah, blah, so I think it’s the biggest problem, we don’t have IGLs.
Overall we have good, high-skilled players I think, I can say like ten names instantly who can play tier-one CS, but I hope 9INE will do a lot of damage at the RMR and then we’ll see. Maybe after we’ll see that they need some changes or something like that, you never know, but they’re kind of the hope of the Polish scene right now.
BLIX: You’ve been in the scene for a very long time, obviously there’s more to come, but would you say this is the peak so far in your career?
rallen: No, the highest peak of my career was probably in Kinguin, because [we played] a lot of good events, we were for example in seven finals in a row, so that was the crazy run. It was always disappearing over time because people lacked ambition or something like that. In Poland we also have the problem that if someone signs the contract, he doesn’t give more from himself later. Young players, they’re going to school and they’re starting to wear Gucci things or something like that, and it's kind of killing them in my opinion.
rallen on CS2
BLIX: Talking about CS2, it’s going to be a while and we’re still going to have tournaments in CS:GO. Have you been able to play the beta yet
rallen: Yes, some players were even mad at me because after boot camp we had twelve days, and after some struggles with the game I was going into CS2 and spending eight-ten hours! People were like "Why are you playing this game?" and I was saying I feel like there is no input lag, it’s kind of a nice and new game. When something is happening, like changes and stuff like that, I don’t like how everyone knows everything, it’s killing the game, because then you’re watching the game and everyone is doing the same.
BLIX: Now that you’ve qualified for the Major, how will you spend your time? You said you played quite a bit of CS2, unlike most pros I’ve interviewed, but what will happen now? Will you play way more CS:GO and just put CS2 on ice until after the Major?
rallen: Probably I will play maybe five hours a week or something like that, just to feel the game and see what’s going on. But I will put all my time on CS:GO for sure, because it’s probably one of the last tournaments for us. I will ask our coach and players to just not accept any online tournaments so we can focus on the Major, it’s like the most important tournament in the year. We have more than one month to get our preparation, maybe we will go for a smaller boot camp, ten days would be nice, that’s the plan.
BLIX: This is the last CS:GO Major, you’ve been around since 2014, does it put a little bit more pressure on you knowing this is the last chance of getting your name in the history books, having won a CS:GO Major? After this we’ll only have CS2, starting next year.
rallen: Of course, you never know what will happen in CS2, maybe you will not follow the meta and you will not be competitive. So, of course, everyone from us has to treat it like the last tournament even for our whole career, so I’m pretty sure we will do everything we can do to just do our run, game by game, go through and prove to ourselves that the time we spent in CS:GO was worth it.
BLIX: So it doesn’t put more pressure on you, knowing it’s the last CS:GO Major?
rallen: No, not really. I love to compete with others. I think I will try to have as much fun as I can, because it’s the most healthy thing for me. If I think too much about stress and pressure, the last Major, I will just take it out and put it on the table. Just do our best, that’s it.
BLIX: Some players were very vocal about some aspects of CS2, like Nikola "Lobanjica" Mijomanović. You have played quite a few hours now, is there anything you’d like to see changed before the official release?
rallen: To be honest I will just give Valve everything, let them do it, CS:GO was… they were super slow with these improvements, but they’re leading that so perfectly. It’s nice because even on Tuesday and Wednesday people are waiting for these updates and you never know what will happen. One day they are putting in Vertigo and everyone is fully mad, "What’s going on?" For me, I will spend ten hours and I won’t sleep to just see what’s going on right there!
Our interview with rallen marks the end of BLIX's coverage of the BLAST.tv Paris RMRs. Be sure to check out our hub page to read all of the interviews from throughout the RMR!