Heroic entered IEM Cologne 2023 as the number one ranked team in the world, so it would’ve been a huge surprise to both them and viewers to see them struggle to victory against TheMongolz.
After the game, we spoke to Martin “stavn” Lund about TheMongolz’ unorthodox style, coming close to winning events, and cadiaN’s penchant for trash-talking.
Sam “AN1MO” McKenzie, BLIX: An intense opening game there, was that not the game you were expecting from TheMongolz?
stavn: It definitely wasn't what we were expecting, no [laughs]. I mean, they did beat FURIA and they looked pretty good. I think they play some unorthodox CS and they hit good shots, but they don't play the style we're used to playing against and that caught us off guard a bit.
BLIX: Are you impressed by what TheMongolz have shown so far here in Cologne?
stavn: For sure, I'm really impressed. I think we definitely could've played a lot better than we did today, and usually it would be a very different match if we hit our top level, but they play some interesting CS and I have respect for that.
BLIX: What about your top level then? We've seen you win tournaments, but we've also seen you fail to find that level in big games; what's the most important thing you need to do in order to find that top level in these big games?
stavn: It's just about trying to hit the A game and believe in what we do. At the end of the last season we managed to win Spring Final, and even though we were so close sometimes and sometimes we could maybe lose the hope a bit because it felt so hopeless when we couldn't win all those tournaments, we showed that the things we are doing are still correct and we still need to keep believing in them because then we can win the trophies.
BLIX: Why do you think you struggle in those big games sometimes? You said at BLAST you've started to make a joke out of it to see if it counters it.
stavn: Yeah, we did make a joke out of it at BLAST, that was pretty funny, actually [laughs]. But obviously we always believed we can win those tournaments, right? I think what was going wrong was a lack of initiative, and maybe sometimes we were too quiet in our communication. When we play our best it's always when everyone is on point with their communication, offering grenades, offering ideas of what we can do in the middle of rounds, when we play like that it's hard to beat us.
BLIX: So in terms of being too quiet, you can never say that about cadiaN, he certainly had a few loud moments against TheMongolz. As someone on his team, what does him having those hype moments do for you when you're sat next to him?
stavn: It just makes sure that everyone is hyped and laughing as well, sometimes he's just standing up and that's just funny and it also gives us a lot of energy. He just really wants to show the emotions and I have enormous respect for that. I've played with him for many years so I know him very well and it's just a pleasure to see.
BLIX: Is that where it's helpful to have xizt to calm you down if you maybe start to lose composure because you're too hyped?
stavn: Yeah, for sure. He's really good at, for example, if we have a really big round, he'll always stay calm in his voice so that's a good balance him and cadiaN have in their relationship. He's great at taking timeouts, staying calm, and telling us what we need to do next.
BLIX: On the flipside then, in a setup like this where you can see each other in freeze times, if a guy is doing what cadiaN does, does it affect you?
stavn: No, I wouldn't say so. We're used to it. Even back in the old days where you would take your own PC to local LANs you could see the opponent, so for me, and for the others guys as well if I can speak for them, it doesn't really touch us at all. We're just enjoying playing the game.
BLIX: Cologne last year was your first tournament with Jabbi, it didn't go so well, what are the hopes for this time around?
stavn: If we just bring our A game, like we can, it will be very difficult for any team to beat us here, to be honest.