Hiko: "I think we proved a lot of people wrong with the new roster"
Michael "DuckMoriarty" Moriarty had a chance to talk to Rogue's Spencer "Hiko" Martin about the team's progress with their new roster ahead of their opening matchup against Dignitas for the Americas Minor.
You're coming into this event as one of the teams that are favored to go through as one of the top two. With your preparation and all these expectations, does it add any pressure or is it just a comfortable ride for you and your teammates?
We're coming off of pretty mixed results, the last tournament we went to was DreamHack Austin where we made it to the finals. I think we proved a lot of people wrong with the new roster, limited practice, all that stuff.
We actually were bootcamping in Las Vegas at the Rogue facilities for the past week, and we played the Minor qualifier and the DreamHack Stockholm and ESL One New York qualifier. We ended up making it to the Minor and then losing the other two qualifiers, and that was a pretty big blow to us. I think that was a wakeup call, especially after making the finals of Austin, that we still definitely have work that we need to do, so we took the last week very seriously.
I don't necessarily think there is more pressure, I think there's maybe even less pressure since we lost the last two qualifiers. People were pretty tense in those qualifiers and we had a lot of mental errors and individual mistakes that we were making, so I think we have ironed that stuff out, and I think we'll be back to our good form again, hopefully.
This is your first LAN event after your fairly good run at Austin where you only lost to Space Soldiers in the final. Having that good LAN performance, has that come from an improved level of practice since your last adventure in Copenhagen which didn't go as planned?
We had a different roster in Copenhagen, and we had made that roster change going into Austin. We tried to just fit in Rickeh, our new fifth, into gMd's old roles, and it was working pretty well in Austin, and I think it got a little bit stale right after Austin. Like I said, those two qualifiers that we lost, things were not clicking and people were not liking some of the roles they were put into.
Since then we have been focusing on improving both as a team and individually, so I think using the experience that we got in Austin and taking the losses we just had, we put that into a positive and I hope we're gonna be able to show that in the Minor.
Speaking of bringing Rickeh into your team, how has that changed your general playstyle? Do you rely on him more in terms of AWPing, or has it allowed you to just increase your level an extra step after taking out gMd?
The meta always changes, and I think we're trying to look into maybe making a double AWP meta come into play. I'm not going to say that Rickeh AWPs every single time he can and we're always double AWPing, but if things aren't going well with our normal setups we have enough depth that we can change a lot of things up on the fly.
Rickeh is comfortable AWPing, cadiaN is comfortable rifling, they're both comfortable AWPing the different sites, the different spots. If cadiaN is not feeling it one day playing outside on Train, Rickeh can take that over, so it adds a lot of depth to our playstyle and adds a lot of randomness, you never know who's gonna be AWPing, where they're gonna be AWPing, we have a lot of things to play off that.
With that in mind, Rickeh also is very good at helping in the midround situations, which is something we didn't really have before. We replaced gMd who was, by far, our least experienced player with somebody who has one of the higher experiences in the scene that we could have gotten, so that helps in terms of helping in close situations, helping with problems, having ideas on how to fix stuff. I think it only improved us.
Coming with this mixed online form, after securing the Minor qualification and then only narrowly missing out on Stockholm and ESL One New York qualifiers, did that drive all your focus onto this one event or are you focusing on anything else in the future after the Minor?
I think the Minor was definitely our main focus, going to Stockholm, going to New York would've been great, but making the Major is definitely the number one thing that we all want, and I think most players would want too.
You're in a group alongside compLexity, FURIA, and Dignitas. Are you well prepared for these teams as you've played against compLexity and Dignitas in North America numerous times before, are you expecting to have a good performance in this group and finish top two?
Definitely expecting to make top two in the group, like you said we've played Dignitas and compLexity a lot, lot of qualifiers, a lot of scrimmages where we practiced against them.
FURIA is kind of the dark horse team, not really sure what to expect from them. I know they looked pretty good in the ZOTAC Cup, which was last weekend, so not really sure what to expect from them. Sure we've watched their demos and we have an idea of how they play, but with teams like that if they come out firing... it's generally just the scene these days, sure there are top teams but any team in the top 30, top 40 if they're on a heater they can beat any team.
It's cool to see that because back in the day, it wasn't like that — there was pretty much clear cut winners, every once in a while you'd get an upset but now there's so many upsets, online matches, these little LANs, all these qualifiers, so many different teams are winning and beating teams that they shouldn't beat. I'm not going to come in and say that "oh yeah, we're 100% going to make it through the group" because nobody can say that, but I'm pretty confident that we can do it.
Imagine that everything goes right and you go through your groups and finish top 2 in the Minor and secure a spot at the Major. What would your expectations be there if you got to the Wembley?
It's a hard one to ask because anyone can sit here and say "oh yeah, we're gonna expect to win, we wanna win." I think realistically, if we get a good group and we get some teams that we play good against, I can see us making it out of groups, possibly.
That being said it's not going to be easy, you have the top teams in the world there, these teams that are a lot more experience than this roster that I'm on. I don't wanna say that we're gonna win the Major if we make it, but I think we would be that dark horse team that can maybe upset some of these teams and make it out of groups.
Rogue's opening matchup will see them take on Dignitas, with the match set to kick off around 8:15 AM EDT following the conclusion of the compLexity-FURIA matchup.