Elias “s1n” Stein made his debut for BIG’s main team while standing in for the team at the RMR event for the IEM Rio Major. Now a fully-fledged member of the team just under a year later, the team have endured a difficult start since their roster rebuild in the off-season.
Having been eliminated from the IEM Cologne 2023 Play-In following losses to Apeks and Liquid, and failing to qualify from BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2023, fans might be down on the roster, but s1n couldn’t be happier with their progress so far.
Following their elimination from Cologne, we sat down with s1n to discuss confusion related to the IGL situation in BIG, playing with Efekan “S3NSEY” Topaloglu at the event, and the adaptation of himself and David “prosus” Hesse to tier one.
Sam "AN1MO" McKenzie, BLIX: Sadly it didn't go as you would've wanted here in Cologne; how are you feeling?
Elias "s1n" Stein: It was a rough exit, but we fought until the end. We won a map but didn't win a match, and now we're out of Cologne. It was my first time playing here, and the history of BIG and Cologne, everybody knows it, and as Germans, we wanted to play in the arena, but we didn't make it to the main tournament this time. It's all good, though.
BLIX: What's your take on the team so far? You're a new team. You and prosus are just making the step up to the main team; how's it going so far?
s1n: Honestly, I'm super proud of how we're handling things right now. We've had to play here with our former teammate S3NSEY from the academy team in this tournament, but in BLAST and also here in Cologne, it wasn't like we played a new game, but we played our game, and you can really feel the inexperience sometimes, but overall, I feel like we're making progress. We might make a mistake on a map one day, but we play the same map on another day, and the same mistake is fixed so we can focus on another mistake. Overall, I'm really proud of the progress, and we just need to keep working and get better every day so we can compete in these tournaments and make it far eventually.
BLIX: What was it like playing with S3NSEY here? He seems like a fun personality to be around.
s1n: [laughs] Yeah, everyone knows now that S3NSEY is pretty hyped up all the time, and he's been showing it for sure. Of course, he's also hyped to play with the main team this tournament. He's a gun guy, a cool dude, and a really good AWPer as well. I feel like he only showed glimpses of what he can really do because we didn't really pracc with him, but overall he's just a super nice guy, I hope he can keep up everything he's doing.
BLIX: You were playing with S3NSEY because of the absence of mantuu; was that a big loss to the team? It seems like he's been key so far.
s1n: mantuu has been fitting into the team really well so far. In the boot camp before BLAST and at BLAST, every map he is getting better, and that's nice to have when you have such a star AWPer who can carry games and rounds alone. It hurts that we couldn't play with him here, but we're looking forward to the future, as I said, mantuu is fitting in really well, and he's learning just like the rest of us, so I'm just really excited to get back to work. It won't be a long break before we start practicing again, we have a lot to achieve, a lot to learn, and a lot to practice.
BLIX: You did an interview with BLAST.tv about taking over the IGL role, a move that took many by surprise. Banks asked you a question about it at the event and you explained a bit about you and tabseN sharing the role, could you give us more insight into that?
s1n: Yeah, of course, maybe I started some confusion because of my second language being English [laughs]. We started the practice season with me IGLing, but after a few games in the BLAST event, we noticed that we need to value tabseN's experience more. He's done such a good job in the IGL role, and I still need to learn a lot. For the results of now, both short and long-term, I think it's just a case of everyone benefitting from it. Right now, we get to value the experience tabseN brings, and I can learn from that, learn from his calls, and that's why we switched it up. So right now, it's tabseN, but long term, it should be me. For now, it helps me focus on my game and also helps me see how he handles the games and certain situations. It's a good learning experience.
BLIX: So, are you IGLing at all at the moment? Or is that just going to be in the future?
s1n: Right now, tabseN is the IGL, but we spoke about what was always missing from past BIG teams, and that's a second voice. When he's on one part of the map, my responsibility is to take over and call on the other part of the map. Right now, we're doing that because I was the IGL in the academy team and I learnt to speak a lot and coordinate. That's what was missing and now we have the perfect pieces. I'll learn a lot, and eventually we can get tabseN back to a star fragger. As I said, though, he's doing a really good job, It's all about the system, and we're improving game by game.
BLIX: If you were meant to come in as the IGL, that means tabseN would have been intended to go back to being the big star for BIG. It seems that in some games, he struggled so far in that sense, do you think you guys won't be at your best until you do take over the IGL role and he can just focus on frags again?
s1n: No, not at all, I feel like everyone can step up, and I feel like I've also shown some good maps so far. It's also tough for tabseN because we started practice, and as an IGL, you need to get into the flow of calling and focusing on your crosshair in certain situations while also coordinating the map and telling your teammates how to end. I feel like that's a lot about the game flow and the flow overall as a caller, so without a lot of practice, he will get better game by then. Now we had to switch up AWPer that wouldn't have been a positive effect in that sense, but it's not like we'll be waiting for me to IGL so tabseN can step up again. We get better together, we're showing good progress, and it's less about individuals and more about the team.
BLIX: What about Krimbo? He used to be your IGL on BIG Academy, back then, did you ever think he would become the player he has for the main team?
s1n: Honestly, I've known him for five or six years, We started playing back then when we were like 13, and I'd noticed the jump he had in skill and understanding of the game during his time with the Academy and other German teams. He keeps growing as a player, so I wasn't surprised at all that he would keep getting better and better. I feel like he will still keep getting better, he hasn't reached his peak yet, and he will be on top of the world. I think he belongs with the best riflers in the world, like Ax1Le and ropz, but it just takes time.
BLIX: You and prosus, you're both to tier one, How are you both feeling about your performances so far?
s1n: I feel like in terms of getting used to the flow of playing games again, getting used to playing in these kinds of tournaments, setting up in the practice room, and going to the games, but I still feel like I can step up a lot more. Every time I watch the game, I try to recall my thoughts, and while I feel like there are no open questions, the solutions need to come faster, so that's what I'm improving at the moment. If I make a mistake in one game, I try to fix it for the next game and combine it to get even better. I'm really confident right now in my performance and that I can step it up and go further. As for prosus, I feel like he's only shown glimpses of what he can do. It's not like he's not showing up at all, he's playing really well in practice, and he had a really good map today on Vertigo. He has a lot less experience than me because this was his first two tournaments, whereas I've played in front of big crowds already, so I'm not too amazed by these setups, but for him, every game is a learning experience, and he just needs to adjust to tier one. I can relate to him because I was in the same position where you think something has happened, and when you watch it back, it's completely different, but these are just small mistakes that, over time, get fixed.