Following FaZe’s qualification for the BLAST.tv Paris Major through the last chance qualifier, BLIX sat down with FaZe rifler Robin "ropz" Kool to discuss the team's win over Cloud9, the team’s packed schedule with IEM Rio taking place right after the RMR and the Intel Grand Slam, among other topics.
Note that the following was recorded before IEM Rio 2023.
Qualifying for the Major
Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier, BLIX: Congratulations on qualifying for the Paris Major. On the first map, Mirage, you were down 13-4 and you came back to win 19-15 in overtime. What do you think most helped you guys able to turn it around and win the map?
Robin "ropz" Kool: They had a good start, that’s for sure, Cloud9 is a good Mirage team and that’s why they picked it. We had some trouble against them previously on this map. We didn’t win a single pistol round on Mirage, so that made it even tougher, but yeah we had a rough T-side, we would expect to win a few more rounds. We only got four rounds I believe on the T, and after that, you’re going to have a tough CT side if you want to win the map. They won the pistol round and they were three rounds away, it was 13-4 I believe, really a tough comeback for us.
I think the key was that the energy, the mood and the communication didn’t change even if we were down. Sometimes you end up losing the match, maybe in the RMR groups if we played this Mirage they would just steamroll us, but as long as you keep the energy and you keep fighting for every single round there might be a slim chance that you can come back. And that’s what happened I believe, we just kept our composure every single round. We obviously made mistakes, but we made a lot less because we were all really directing our focus on every single round. We were trying to find solutions, play the right setups and etcetera, for every single round. It was a slim chance and we just kept believing.
BLIX: Inferno was a little bit more one-sided in terms of the score, ending with a 16-9 in your favor. Did you feel more in control on Inferno? Did knowing that you had already come back to win the previous map help your mental state in any way?
ropz: Coming into Inferno I think for Cloud9 it was going to be devastating to lose Mirage, and the only way is to play, reset and try to win the next map. We just kept steamrolling, I think that’s what you expect to do once you win a map like that, you just completely surprise your opponent. We made a really insane comeback and kept the momentum up, we tried to carry it on Inferno even though they won the pistol round once again. We forced back, we won the second round and then it was really tight rounds in the beginning. We just kept forcing and in the third round we broke them, so we knew we had them by the ropes and we could just grind out the rounds. We reset them and the next round they had no money, we could get a good early lead and build on that.
I think what happened today is we played some of the defaults really well, we kept playing in our defaults. Just make no mistakes and punish any plays which they might do and earlier in the year that was where we had trouble. We played default, then we got to the late rounds and sometimes it’s really hard to execute against Cloud9 because they are a team that also plays the defaults really well and does the basics extremely well. Today we managed to find the right timings on the executes and all the gaps that we could go for were there. Once again they are a really good team but I think we just needed our basics today.
BLIX: I spoke to Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken yesterday, and he told me some of you went home between the RMR Group A and the Last Chance Qualifier. Do you think that’s what helped you guys get back to where you wanted to be to clinch the last Major spot?
ropz: Only half of the team went home, some of the guys after the first day had some responsibilities and we top teams have a really tight schedule this year. When we need to do some appointments at home, go to the doctor, or do some important documents at home, we try to schedule it ahead of time. This was a week in which we knew we were probably going to have free time because we expected to qualify for the RMR. People made some appointments for the week and they had to go home, so me, broky and karrigan, who obviously live here, stayed here. I’m not sure, I think personally for me it helps with my individual level because I feel a really big difference when I go from different setups to […] changing setups. So when I play at home, then I come to LAN and go back home, it’s changing all the time. For me, it was more comfortable to stay, and I didn’t have to go home. I just kept believing and if I really wanted this, really wanted to qualify, I knew I had to stay.
BLIX: Do you feel like you can finally take a big breath and release some of the pressure you have, now that you can focus on looking at the Major and fixing the mistakes you made last week?
ropz: For sure, it’s a sigh of relief! We’re going to fly to Rio tomorrow and play the next day. I could not have imagined what it would feel like to fly to Rio, I believe that’s the situation Cloud9 is in now and you must feel destroyed after a game like this. But yeah, the pressure in the RMR in general for us and some other top teams is insane. I don’t think we even felt this during the Grand Slam final, there are just such high expectations and people expect you to live up to them. CS is getting bigger and bigger, there are more people watching every day and it’s really tough sometimes when you have your backs against the wall and you have to take the last chance. I’m glad we did.
FaZe's Packed Schedule
BLIX: You talked a little bit about your schedule, and the issues concerning having to fly to IEM Rio on such short notice. How do you tackle scheduling, especially in situations like this one, to prevent fatigue inside the team?
ropz: For sure we have some problems with scheduling, especially this week and this weekend with the Last Chance Qualifier and Rio almost clashing. We have to fly between continents and last year I think partly we had a really bad result at the Rio Major due to the five-hour difference, or whatever it is. Obviously, it’s not the only reason but it was one of the reasons. The only way to evolve is just for the scene to grow in general, like you can accommodate players in tournaments earlier. I guess we’re not there yet, maybe in the future or in a few years, but nowadays you’re just a professional and you have to keep your head in the game and do your best. You’re feeling tired from traveling, it is what it is. This is your life and we have to accept it.
BLIX: You also mentioned the Intel Grand Slam, which meant you won basically every trophy there is to win in CS:GO. Naturally, you’d want to win the Major again, but do you play with a little bit less pressure knowing you’ve already achieved that goal before? Especially as it’s the last CS:GO Major.
ropz: I think it’s a hard question to answer right now because it’s not so clear to us what the next goal is. Obviously, CS2 is around the corner, we won the Grand Slam and we were all talking about how nice it finally is to take a breath of air and relax a bit. That pressure is off, and then we come here, we put ourselves in this situation and have even more pressure! It’s just funny how it turned out, and I’m glad we managed to make it in both scenarios.
In general, of course, it’s hard to say. I think for sure we want to make the most out of this year, which is going to be quite a strange year with the change of games. We have to see, I don’t even know when CS2 will be in actual tournaments. Maybe after the summer break, maybe later, no one knows right now. So just make the most out of this year and keep building on what we have achieved.
ropz on CS2
BLIX: Speaking of CS2, have you been able to play it yet?
ropz: Yes, I’ve had a few days of playtime, a few days to play. It’s something we never really touch when we are at tournaments and we are at home practicing, only when we have some actual free time to do some stuff on our off days I think some people may play it. I think it’s obviously extremely good compared to when CS:GO was released, it was absolute garbage. I think what they have done with CS2 is identical to CS:GO currently and there’s a lot of room to improve still, so I think they will build a great game. It’s just a matter of time before everything gets fixed.
BLIX: You said there is room for improvement, is there anything, in particular, you have noticed that you would like to see changed or implemented before the official release?
ropz: I think the most controversial topic in CS2 would be just the tick rate because they have a no-tick rate system. I don’t exactly know how that works, but when I play it doesn’t feel as good as CS:GO does right now. But it’s also something that I hope they can improve, I don’t know if they need to just make some tweaks, or if they need to completely rewrite the system. I don’t know how that works, but that’s one topic of interest there. I think another part is how they’re removing a lot of commands, I don’t know if this is for the beta or for the full game.
I think that’s not so great for the future, you have so much freedom to customize your gameplay in CS:GO right now, and you’d wish to have that carry-on to CS2. I’m hoping they bring back the commands and it’s just a beta thing right now. Other than that, it’s just going to get better.
BLIX: Was it the right time for Valve to release the beta, or do you think they could have waited until after the Major cycle so as to get more feedback from professional players?
ropz: I think there is no perfect time to release the game, everyone is in a tight spot in terms of scheduling. I think if you want to release the game after the summer break, I’m sure half of the players won’t even take a vacation; they'll just grind out the game. You have no vacation, and you’re overstressed for the whole year! There is never a good time to release a new game. It’s the first time in my lifetime, my career, that I’m experiencing this but I think in general after the summer break, any time after that would be fine.
BLIX: You must be extremely relieved after securing a Major spot, but you have a flight to catch tomorrow. How will you guys celebrate finally making it?
ropz: I’m not sure we will celebrate! We’re probably going to have a good time tonight and get our minds off the games. Obviously, it was a rough last two weeks that we’ve been here. I’m just happy that we’re into the next tournaments, once again we can go there with a sigh of relief and just stop worrying or stressing about this. I think this was extremely stressful for all of us and it’s taking a mental toll. I was in shock for like three or four days right after we went 2-3 and we lost to MOUZ. I was just sad the whole week, I’ve never felt so sad in my life, so I’m just happy that we made it.