refrezh: “It’s a dream to win the cup on LAN, it’s not the same when you do it online”

Heroic ended day one of their PGL Major Antwerp Legends Stage campaign with a 1-1 record which they opened with a 16-11 win over Liquid. They seemed poised to run away with their second map of the day and take an 8-1 lead with Nuke against Spirit, but stayed on the backfoot as Leonid for the rest of the map “⁠shredder⁠” Vishnyakov’s side fought back to five rounds at halftime before putting up a steadfast defense in the second half to take the map 16-12.

We worked to improve our game in the playoffs

After the loss, we caught up with refrezh to get an insight into how Heroic’s first day went from his perspective, what went wrong against Spirit, and how the team was preparing for the Antwerp journey. The 24-year-old also spoke about Heroic’s tendency to falter deep into tournaments and shared what they’ve been focusing on to avoid the same situation in the event of a playoff run at the Major.

Here we are at the end of day one, you finished it with a 1-1 record. Follow me through your day, starting with your match against Liquid and ending here against Spirit.

We started the day playing Liquid and it was a game we really wanted to win because the last time we played them they beat us and we really wanted to prove we could beat them and that we’re the better team, because that’s how we feel. In the end we won but not in the most convincing way, we had some sloppy rounds due to stressful communication and lost some weird rounds that didn’t really make sense like a 2v5 and stuff like that.

Although we didn’t do our best in the end we still managed to finish the game and it’s a great feeling to know you could have played this game so much better but in the end you still win, and you’ve been fixing things and making things better.

Going into the next game we felt confident against Spirit, we had a good idea of ​​how they were playing. We started really well with CT, but we managed to get only nine rounds, or ten rounds…?

Yes, you were up 8-1 and then ended up 10-5.

Yes, they have some good T-rounds where we just struggled to play the mid-round, we lost some duels that cost us the round and they just managed to capitalize on our mistakes. They just stuck to their own game plan, we know Spirit is a dangerous team because they’re the underdogs and they just played well on their T-side.

Then when we switched to our T-side and their CT, they were getting so many multi-kills and we just couldn’t trade in the turns we were supposed to. I think our spacing wasn’t the best at times so the trades got really tough and we didn’t really get going on the T-side which is really sad because we know how good our nuke can be.

You were really good at RMR before, and then you missed out on qualifying for BLAST because the showdown was played online. Between the end of RMR and now, did you bootcamp in preparation for the major, or what was your preparation for it?

As preparation we played the BLAST online tournament just to test some stuff and get some games and also get a chance to qualify for the LAN. But we also had a great boot camp leading up to this event, it was really productive, and we still feel confident going into the Legends phase, so we’re still ready for it even though we lost that best of one.

It’s part of playing this format, we won 3-0 at RMR and now we’ve lost a best-of-one – not bad if you look at the bigger picture, but we’re feeling unhappy at the moment, yes.

Spirit and Liquid both played in the Challengers phase so they had some time to acclimate here and play some matches. Do you feel that coming fresh into the environment today was a disadvantage?

No I don’t really feel like that was key because it’s basically the same setup as the RMR and also the last major so we feel pretty confident with that setup. It’s nothing new, same PCs, same monitors, same tables, so it’s not because they’re more comfortable in that environment, but of course that could be a factor.

They also played more games and maybe they are in better shape, but the reason we lost this game was that our own communication wasn’t the best and we didn’t manage to take the chances and get the trades.

If you play in these big tournaments you can usually make it pretty deep, group stages are usually not a problem for you. But once you get to the playoffs there’s usually some issues, you might make it to the semifinals or something but then fall around there. Is that something you want to actively work on during this downtime, for example a mentality issue or a game specific thing you focus on?

Yes, we worked to improve our game in the playoffs because we had some games where we weren’t playing at our peak or our usual level.

It’s easy to say, but it’s mostly down to communication because we play a really dynamic style and everyone has to get involved and do their thing. If people don’t do that, we kind of lose our identity and we still have to help each other, take initiative and things like that that involve communication and movements, that’s our biggest problem. It’s something we’ve talked about and it’s a process, we’re trying to take that final step.

As I said at the beginning, you end the first day here with a 1-1 record, you will have chances to make up for it in the future. Haven’t won a major event since last year’s EPL so now looking forward to the rest of the Major, how badly do you want that trophy here?

2021 started with a trophy, our first tournament together and we haven’t won one since, but it’s also been a journey. Experiencing the world’s largest LANs, which is fairly new to us, was seen as a learning curve and I think we’ve slowly improved. A lot of people doubted we could even make the playoffs, and we’ve done that on a number of occasions.

I think it will happen sooner rather than later that we will lift the trophy. We’re really just trying to take it one step at a time, we’re not focusing on the trophy until we can reach the playoffs. After that, we focus on reaching the quarterfinals, reaching the semifinals, reaching the final, but before that we don’t focus on the cup, but it’s a dream to win the cup on LAN, it’s not the same to do it online.

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