Prior to FaZe's game against Cloud9 for the final spot in the BLAST.tv Paris Major, BLIX caught up with Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken to discuss the team's bumpy road to the Major, Twistzz's legacy in CS:GO and his thoughts on CS2, among other topics.
Note that this interview was recorded prior to FaZe qualifying to the Paris Major.
FaZe's shaky RMR
Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier, BLIX: Congratulations on beating Aurora and getting one step closer to the Paris Major. The game seemed to be pretty one sided, although Aurora have been on point individually and have surprised quite a few high-ranked teams. How was it from your side? Did they surprise you in any regard?
Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken: Not really, we even told ourselves before the game they’re going to play a very different style of Counter-Strike now that they’re in this position against us. We just needed to work on our mental game, keep strong and kind of show dominance inside the server so they were less likely to do these surprise puggy things. That’s it, in general, we looked way better on the server today compared to our previous games and I think the morale and team feeling was a hundred times better than where we were before.
BLIX: Many thought that you would go through with a 3-0 or 3-1 record, but here you are in the Last Chance Qualifier. What do you think went wrong last week?
Twistzz: I think a lot of things went wrong with ourselves. I don’t think we were ourselves at all, maybe we didn’t show our best, or display as much passion as we wanted to. There were some tiring feelings inside the team that needed to be discussed after whatever result came about in the MOUZ game, so we had a big team talk to flush things out and I think a lot came from it.
Some of us went home, either way, we had practice online, and it was feeling pretty good. I’m happy that the way we practiced and what we showed there was showing inside the server here.
BLIX: Do you feel like there was a difference in terms of practice here in Copenhagen compared to what you were able to achieve online in the leadup to today?
Twistzz: No, I think we’re getting pretty good at trying to make our practice as beneficial as possible for everyone. Sometimes it’s hard to keep focus and sometimes you play teams that you may never even see again, but either way one thing you can always take from practice is the way that you play as a team. That's what we’ve been focusing on and I think that’s all we need to do going into the future.
BLIX: You guys recently won the Intel Grand Slam at ESL Pro League, the second for you after your win with Liquid. Now that you’ve won everything there is to win, what do you think is next to cross off on your list?
Twistzz: People always say that we have won everything there is to win, but at the end of the day there are still tournaments going on, we didn’t complete Counter-Strike! Maybe accolade-wise, if you counted every trophy, but those trophies still exist fifty times more, and they’re going to be there every year. That’s kind of what hunger is, there are plenty of things to focus on and want to achieve. It starts here with qualifying for the Major, we need to take it step by step and the job isn’t finished obviously, we still need to win a best-of-three tomorrow and it could be against Cloud9, a pretty tough competitor.
But yeah, it’s what keeps us going as a team, CS2 is around the corner and it’s motivation, we don't want to drop off from CS:GO into CS2. We want to have a dominant showing going into CS2, have a lot of momentum and have fun playing the new game. It’s going to be a little bit different again, you need to find your nade lineups and stuff, and I think it’s a very fun, motivating feeling to kind of rediscover the game again. Yeah, there are plenty of things to look at and want to achieve.
Twistzz on CS2
BLIX: Speaking about CS2, have you been able to play the beta yet?
Twistzz: I only played it on the first night that it was released, and ever since I understood that CS:GO is still the main game at the moment. There is not even a set release date for CS2, it’s all there is, we just have to stay focused on what’s in front of us and take it event by event.
BLIX: Have you been able to notice anything that you would like to see changed before CS2 officially releases to the public this summer?
Twistzz: Maybe some buggy movement stuff, a lot of quality-of-life commands need to be put back in, and at the moment there is no viewmodel customization, it’s just the default ones. I’m not sure if there are some HUD things, but just quality-of-life commands.
There are a lot of commands that are missing from the current version and I think they’re going to work on putting them back into the game. Other than that I think they’re on the right path. For some people, the FPS is a bit buggy and the servers need to be tweaked a bit, but other than that the game is looking good at the moment.
Legacy and Future
BLIX: You’re the only North American Counter-Strike player who moved to Europe and achieved this much success. Do you see yourself as an inspiration to NA players to start seeking out opportunities overseas, be it EU or Asia, to get recognized and play at the highest level as you have?
Twistzz: Of course I hope to be a role model and an inspiration for younger Counter-Strike players, specifically in North America. But at the end of the day you need to have something that you can show that players in Europe won’t have, so you’re more appealing. It’s not easy, trying to go above and beyond and overachieve when you don’t have a foundation, some NA players don’t even have a paycheck at the moment.
At the end of the day, it comes down to work ethic and trying to become a player that isn’t in Europe yet, if that makes sense. You have a very specific playstyle, the way you look at the game is just different, and you have to bring something that someone over here is not going to bring into their teams. It’s kind of just it, at the end of the day it just comes down to how badly you want it, how much you’re going to work and take advantage of every opportunity you can get.
BLIX: You are playing tomorrow at around 2 PM, then you have IEM Rio on Monday, clearly a very tight schedule. Does that change the expectations for you guys somewhat due to jet lag and traveling, or do you still go into the event with a win-no-matter-what mindset?
Twistzz: Of course, we want to qualify for the Major, feel good on our flight going to Rio and be happy together! Missing out on the Major is not an option at the moment and we know that ourselves. We’re just trying to work hard to make it there. Regardless of the result that comes out from here, either way, we’re going to have to prove to ourselves that we’re still a top team, and that comes with winning Rio.
BLIX: There have been some rumors about FaZe’s financial situation in the past few months, has that affected the team in any way or did you guys manage to just focus on the game and the preparation?
Twistzz: Our team itself is a family and I don’t think anything on the outside could impact what we have on the inside, we stay strong together. I don’t have a comment on the organization, the organization is doing whatever it wants to do and we just work as a small unit inside of it and do our job as well as we can. That’s pretty much it.