A Major winner with NIP, Richard "Xizt" Landstrom is now one of the best coaches in the world with Heroic. Winners of BLAST Premier Spring Final, having booked their place in the LANXESS arena, they look to win their first LAN IEM event here in Cologne.
After their game Monte, we sat down with Xizt to discuss advancing to the playoffs, the growth in the team over the past year, and the debut of his former rival Filip "NEO" Bubski as FaZe’s coach.
Sam "AN1MO" McKenzie, BLIX: You've made it to the LANXESS, how are you feeling?
Xizt: It feels amazing to finally be back in the LANXESS Arena, we failed last year quite brutally, so it feels amazing. It's one of my favourite arenas, there's a lot of good fans who are just there to watch good CS, you know? I think it fits us perfectly.
BLIX: Cologne last year was your first event with jabbi, it didn't go so well, are you in someway surprised by how good and how consistent you've been since then?
Xizt: No, not really to be honest. We saw in practice when we picked him up what kind of player he is and how much potential he has, I think he has really lived up to that, he got the MVP of the last tournament we won. I'm not surprised by how good we are with jabbi, it just took some time for us to gel as a team and get everyone comfortable with their new roles because you have to remember that stavn changed a lot of roles to make jabbi fit in the team, and it took some time to get used to that.
BLIX: You won at Spring Final, is that the moment that you guys will break through and stop having those chokes in big games?
Xizt: Yeah, obviously getting a win in a big game like that, and especially against a team like Vitality, is really important for the confidence of the team. The plan is to build on that, we are the number one team in the world and with that, comes a lot of pressure. We have a really young team as well, but I think we get better and better at every event. We want to win some IEMs, we want to win a Major, and that's the goal.
BLIX: What have you guys been doing differently to deal with that pressure?
Xizt: The first step is to admit that it is happening. It is a mental thing that means we didn't play as well in the finals that we lost, and we're working through that, but it takes time. You can only get better at it by trying again. It's not enough to talk about it though, you have to actually do it. We've been working a lot with our mental game and not tilting. It's okay to have a bad map or a bad half, but we know that we can just flip the switch and play great CS if we just keep our heads cool, have a good mentality, have good body language, so that's something we've been focussing on a lot.
BLIX: In an era that so many teams are inconsistent, why do you think you've been able to find consistency? Is it maybe down to speaking one language against so many international teams?
Xizt: No, I don't think so. I mean, it obviously helps that everyone is speaking English, but we practice very well, we always have a goal when we're practicing so we're always evolving and coming up with new things that make us harder to read than other teams. We prepare really well no matter who we play. If we play TheMongolz then we're going to prepare for the same amount of time as if we're preparing for FaZe. We take everything very seriously, but we're also having a lot of fun at the same time. We do everything together, so everyone is very comfortable and we've gelled really well as a team.
BLIX: Finally then, one of your old rivals from your playing days, NEO, has just been announced as the interim coach for FaZe; what's your thoughts on that?
Xizt: He's been around forever, when I started playing professionally in 1.6 he had already won everything, you know? He's someone that I've looked up to a lot as a player. We're just going to have to wait and see how he does as a coach, but he's a great person and he's a very good guy. I have nothing bad to say about him, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do as a coach. I wish him the best.