Since Jan "Swani" Muller was promoted from Assistant Coach to Head Coach of G2 in October last year, the team has won both BLAST Premier World Final 2022 and IEM Katowice 2023. Now in a trophyless spell after starting the year looking like they would become the dominant team, he’s charged with helping G2 get back to winning ways.
Following his team’s dominant 2-0 victory over FaZe at IEM Cologne 2023, we sat down with Swani to discuss the lack of changes, failure at BLAST Premier Fall Groups, and the team’s new Mental Coach.
Sam "AN1MO" McKenzie, BLIX: A great win for you guys versus FaZe, how are you feeling?
Swani: I feel amazing, I get to play in front of my home crowd in the LANXESS and we still get to play tomorrow against Vitality for a spot in the semi-finals. It's good to play officials to play against probably the best team in the world, so I'm feeling good.
BLIX: How much would it mean to win that game and be able to advance straight to the semis?
Swani: It would be really good, but we wouldn't be too disappointed. Our main goal was to make it to the arena, and we've done that, so it would be a nice confidence booster but we won't be too sad if we lose.
BLIX: In terms of confidence then, there was disappointment in Paris and then you failed to qualify for Fall Final at Fall Groups, how was confidence coming into the event and how is it now?
Swani: Obviously our confidence wasn't at it's highest, but we knew that we were really close. We lost all the maps 16-14, 16-12, so we knew that if one or two clutches went our way, if we gave two to three percent more, then we would win and we knew exactly what to work and we're all on the same page. I think we did a really good job at focussing and working on a few fundamentals and only two or three things, and it showed because we were really good at focussing on a few things rather than the big picture. I think it certainly showed that it made us improve on a few areas and it made us win the games.
BLIX: How disappointing was it to not qualify for Fall Final at the first time of asking? Are you confident of making it through the showdown?
Swani: We kind of took it as a bootcamp, so we didn't really care too much about the results and only about the progress because we can still make it through the Showdown, which should be possible, so we didn't really care too much, to be honest.
BLIX: Do you feel like huNter- is the key to G2 finding success?
Swani: huNter- has always been stable for us, and I think he's very underrated. People always talk about NiKo and m0NESY, but huNter- is actually insane when it comes to consistency and turning around games for us. If he's shooting good, then we are just a lot better.
BLIX: You guys didn't make changes, can you give me any insight into why you chose not to?
Swani: We think everyone deserves a second chance, and we had really good results at the start of the year, and we just had one or two events where we fell down, but we saw that we were losing to ourselves. We had really shit moods, we had bad energy, and we just reminded ourselves that when we get back to the form we had in Katowice and at World Final, we are still a good team. You can see that now when we are clicking, we are definitely one of the best teams in the world and there was no need for us to overreact to a few results and make changes for no reason.
BLIX: What about other teams? Who out of the teams that made changes do you see to be the biggest threat?
Swani: I think Vitality is the strongest now. They play insane Counter-Strike and flameZ was the perfect fit for them. He's young, he's really hungry, and I feel like he is definitely key for them now. They are the best team in the world at the moment.
BLIX: You recently parted ways with Edward Cleland [Mind Body Esports], is that a position you'll be looking to fill very quickly?
Swani: We already have, we have Luca who is our new mental coach. He was working with CR4ZY, with NAVI, and with Olympic athletes. He's having a really good impact short-term already, we definitely needed someone and he's already here helping us.
BLIX: Was it a case of needing a new voice?
Swani: Edward was really good, but we just needed something new, someone who can help us in the short-term rather than the long-term, and how to deal with pressure. He's doing a really good thing implementing things that help us short-term. He's just helped us a lot in getting on the same page and viewing the game in the same way.