During the BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023 Europe RMR A, we had the chance to talk with Martin "STYKO" Styk of Apeks Esports about his experience with the new lineup, their goals as a team, and their recent roster changes. We also got his opinion on the release of CS2 and how he’s liking the game so far.
Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: So you guys have been playing with this lineup now for about four months. How has it been so far?
Martin “STYKO” Styk: Well, it's been quite an experience. I'm glad that we decided to do it towards the end of the year, we decided to do a pretty heavy trial period, so we get really good options to choose from and I think kyxsan was a standout player during that period when it comes to individual skill and understanding of the game and as an IGL overall. So, since then we've been working really hard, grinding obviously, to get here through the closed qualifiers. We were almost required to go through the Open Qualifiers. We've been grinding a lot of official games because it's really hard to get into the top 30, which is a goal for all of the tier-two teams without having any partnerships and tournaments going on. So we have to grind a lot of online cups and yeah, that can be a hit or miss. There's really no team that is consistent in those. So, yeah, it's been a roller coaster, but we're working hard and hopefully, we can show it here.
BLIX: The team announced that you would be IGL'ing at the end of last year, I think around Autumn or so and then you guys got kyxsan. What was the reasoning behind you stepping down as the IGL and you guys getting kyxsan in?
STYKO: So, first of all, having the IGL role was kind of out of a necessity because we were not really able to sign a good IGL during the Player Break in the Summer, and therefore it was suggested that I could try it and I was open to it. We signed shox then as well, and that didn't really go as planned, but I feel like when I was trying out the IGL role, it wasn't really clicking. I felt more comfortable in my old roles and therefore it was suggested that IGL should be the role of the new signing and the whole trial period was the point of it. So, that was the main reason, it was just finding the right fitting for the team. I wasn't really enjoying it. There was a lot of grinding and a lot of restructuralization in the team and laying the foundation for everything. So, I felt that anchoring and lurking and supportive playstyle is where I feel comfortable and I should play that. If we aim to get to the Majors, every player should be as comfortable as possible.
BLIX: Now that you've tried out IGL, is that something that you might be open to doing in the future if the right offer comes?
STYKO: I don't know, it's really hard to say in this team. It's probably not going to happen. Maybe in the future, if I get to IGL some youngsters and develop them a little bit, then maybe my expertise can come in handy. But there is no point talking to these guys about basic stuff when they've been attending Majors themselves, jkaem and others. So, they're super experienced, I think. I'm not throwing it into the bin, the idea of it, but as I said, I would have to find myself in a completely different mindset before I actually tried because it's not something I feel comfortable doing.
All in on the last CS:GO Major
BLIX: So the core has been playing for like one and a half years now. Now you have a pretty new team at the Major, finally getting over that hump. What are the goals that you guys have set as a team for this year?
STYKO: We’re definitely getting to the Major. Apeks as an organization made it very clear that they want to be part of the Major circuit and we're doing our best to get there. It could be obvious from the previous years as well where we just failed to qualify for the RMRs and we were kind of forced to make changes in the lineup to make it work somehow. So after every RMR there was some kind of roster change happening and it shows you that Apeks is very devoted to the Major circuit and this is where we want to be playing. I understand that even here, we are just at a qualifier for the RMR, I mean, a qualifier for the Major. We are already an underdog, so you can imagine how big of an underdog we will be in Paris. But still, it's a goal of the organization and I like that they have the ambitions to do it and all players match these ambitions. We all want to be part of the Major, even more so as its the last CS:GO Major.
BLIX: Do you guys have less pressure on you now that you reached the RMR compared to before you managed to qualify?
STYKO: Well, the pressure it's always there, but it's healthy pressure. I would say that motivates you, like we try to turn this pressure and the nervous moments into excitement. This is our best bet, the best thing we can try to do. If we would be worrying about every result, every round, we would not get far because it's just constantly anxious in our mindset. So yes, obviously we feel some kind of nerves, but it's mostly like only trying to help us.
BLIX: So Apeks went pretty big with signing you guys compared to their previous rosters. What do you think has been in your way of reaching tier-one? Do you think that you'll be able to reach it before the end of CS:GO?
STYKO: I mean, we're hopeful that we can do it. The first step is already done and that's why we're here. But when you look at the players like, yes, we are experienced players, playing on good teams. But three of the players, three of my teammates, have never really played in the Major. So this is the first one for them. Yes, we have experienced guys in the team, but at the same time, we have to understand that the circuit in tier-one is so stacked and it's even exponential with the partner teams that they get to play every single tournament throughout the whole year. So they gain experience much faster than we do. And you cannot compare the online experience with the offline experience, it is a completely different game. So, yes, we're experienced, but I would say still we are probably one of the least experienced teams here.
BLIX: And for this Major, you guys brought in mithR from the academy team and removed Polly. Why did that happen now right before the Major? And how has it been so far working with mithR
STYKO: It was really hard with Polly and mithR both on board with the team because there were, you can say, too many chefs in the kitchen, too many coaches, and having opinions and voices. So we decided to put Paul [Polly] on the bench, so to speak, or make him step back a little bit. And mithR is just being more valuable to us right now with motivation, with the speeches, with analyzing and being helpful during the practice, during the tournaments. He uses the methods he had with mousesports and when he used to coach North, Renegades and even Apeks Rebels. He has provided so many new things to even the already experienced players. So it's really good that we try to experiment with it and it works really well so far for us. I don't know if it's going to be a long-term change or if it's going to continue helping us like this moving forward, but at least for the Major, which is the main goal for us in the organization, he's going to be the guy behind us together with Kuben. And that's why Paul was moved to the side.
BLIX: I just want to talk to you a little bit about CS2 before I let you get back to your team.
STYKO: I didn't play it.
BLIX: You haven't played it?
STYKO: No, I played like 40 minutes of it because it isn't the main focus. So I don't want to play any other game.
BLIX: Okay. Do you think that it was the right time to release it?
STYKO: I think anytime would be great. Even in the middle of the Major. Like, I wouldn't mind. The sooner we get it, the better. I would say the best time to release it was yesterday.