Heroic lost their in-game leader and what many in the community considered their best player, Benjamin "blameF" Bremer, to Complexity in September. Since then, Heroic have been on an insane run both online and at LAN. They secured first place in their ESL Pro League group and have won multiple online qualifiers to top tier tournaments in the coming months.
You went out earlier than you would have wanted at Starladder, but beat Na’Vi and took EG to a third map as well. What are your overall thoughts on how the tournament went?
Yeah, we qualified for the tournament instead of being invited, and when you do that, you will always have a tough road because of the seeding system. We faced three top 10 teams, including Evil Genuises which is now number 1 in the world.
I actually feel like we played a pretty good tournament. We played a great game vs Na’Vi taking train despite being down 5-0 on both sides. Then against EG we pushed them to a third map, but in that game, we once again faced terrible starts on every map. I actually feel like we could have won Nuke despite the 16-10 scoreline, had we had a better start on either of the sides. We went down 8-1 and 3-0 as I recall, and that pretty much settled that match.
After that, I believe EG didn't drop a single map in the tournament. So I feel like we had a decent showing, despite ending 9-12, which was obviously disappointing for us.
You’ve also secured a spot at the ESL Pro League Finals in Odense after beating NiP, losing a tight series to Vitality, and overcoming Sprout in another close match. Walk me through Nuke vs Vitality. I know you feel you should have won that and that you beat yourselves in the end. What went wrong from your point of view in the late rounds?
We were up 13-9 with full money control on CT side nuke. It felt like they didn't really do anything special, but we just made some key mistakes in key situations. Lost some advantages situations and made mistakes we don't usually do. Then again, we haven't had a lot of time with borup and me + cadiaN, so we also have to accept that this can happen.
We looked at the VOD, and tried to talk about what we could have done differently. Some of the stuff came down to lack of setups due to time, but there were also some brainfarts.
Let's talk a bit about the end of your time in OpTic. When OpTic bought MSL and NiKo from Rogue you weren’t originally supposed to stay on the team, but you ended up playing in support role for a short while. How was the experience of taking a step back from being the in-game leader and just focusing on your individual job?
Yeah, I wasn't the first nor the second choice and I ended up on the team because they couldn't get the players they wanted and felt like I would suit the role best out of the remaining OpTic players. It wasn't really a good time for me, I was obviously very insecure knowing they were looking for other players, and I couldn't really get clarity if they wanted to continue like this or find another solution. It put me in a really awkward position, where the first bad result would pretty much result in me getting removed and me being insecure because of the position I was put in.
I think I actually did pretty good considering all of this. I pretty much only got tough roles, had to drop weapons when we forced and buy grenades in pistols, etc., so I think I worked with what I had and showed a pretty good individual level.
Coming into the Heroic lineup led by blameF you again took up a more supportive role in the team before blameF left for Complexity. How was your experience under his leadership in the short time you two had together?
In Heroic it was pretty much the same as OpTic. I had to play the tough roles nobody else really wanted. I'm fine with that to be honest, it won't show on stats, but as long as my teammates know what I'm doing for them I'm happy. I think blame had a lot of good ideas and Heroic in general had a pretty good play style on most maps.
He is a hard worker and puts in a lot of time which is awesome. He is a different caller than me though, as he probably takes up more space regarding positions and roles, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as you have players that are willing to accept tougher roles.
Overall I had a good experience with him, and I’m sure he is going to have success in Complexity with the hard work and dedication he showed in the short time I had with him.
Reading the community’s reaction to blameF’s departure was a bit strange. A lot of them seemed to think that Heroic lineup was essentially done and wouldn’t be making any sort of progress. Is that something the team reads and is motivated by or is it something you can just ignore?
I don’t think we care too much about this. Obviously we want to show the best version Heroic has ever been, but that would have been the case with or without blame. People and analysts read too much into HLTV statistics, when the reality is, that statistics are very much determined by roles and how certain players are set up in certain strats.
You don’t compare attacker’s with defenders in football, and you should not compare anchors with AWPers and riflers playing central positions. One will in most cases, have a better baseline in terms of how their numbers look. To sum it up, we weren’t too worried, because we knew we had more room for other players, and if anything, it only motivates people to prove it.
After your release from OpTic and while cadiaN was benched on North there were rumors you two might put together a project while you waited for new teams. Is cadiaN a player you’ve wanted to play with for a while? What about him made him the right fit for this lineup?
Yeah, cadian and I talked about joining a team together. We also talked about starting something from scratch, but joining a team we believed in was our priority. I had good experiences with him, I think tgrwis posted that he and I have never lost a qualifier together. We get along pretty well outside the server, which is also a key factor. Initially he wasn't a perfect fit, as es3tag had picked up the awp and b0rup, with es3tag going back to rifles, would have to play a new role because es3tag works the best in taking map control and creating overall chaos inside the server.
However, I think that es3tag picking up the rifles again has elevated him, and with Casper wanting to main awp and bringing a lot of good communication to the team, he was made the right fit both by himself and other players having a positive mindset about playing new roles.
I understand you’re the main in-game leader of the team. How does the calling work for this lineup? Do you make all the mid-round calls as well as the freeze time strategies or is it setup to where anyone can pitch ideas In the mid-round?
I think people have a lot of freedom to contribute with midround calls and our playstyle overall. I try to listen to the ideas people have, and if the round is calm and someone sees an opportunity they are free to give an idea. I still have my playstyle I want to enforce and in freeze time, for the most part, I control what we do, but cadian, es3tag and other players pitch in with ideas that worked for them in the past.
Usually I will listen if I don't have a great call I want to do first. So yeah, everyone is helping within the rounds. That's how it should be. If there are too many voices, it's my job to do a call that everyone will have to listen too, making sure we don't execute two/three different plans at the same time.
Lastly, talk to me a bit about about b0rup and stavn. These are two young players you’ve never worked with before and both have played well under your leadership so far. What are some good things about them that you’ve noticed so far in your short time with them?
Both are super talented and have a lot of drive to become better. They also play a ton outside of practice. They make sure that their nades are on point and overall have great attitudes. They didn't develop egos, and for their own sake and future teammates, I hope they never will. They are willing to do whatever is expected of them in-game even if it's a tough role.
It makes my job a lot easier as the in-game leader, having two young players that I can trust to always do what's best for the team combined with them putting a ton of work in, to make sure we can play a pretty strategic style without it limiting their play because they know the nades on their backbone.
I'm super happy that I play with them and I have a lot of faith that with time, they will get even better than they already are.