FalleN: "They said a lot of things about us and we're proving everyone wrong one at a time"
After Imperial managed to book their spot in the Legends stage of the PGL Antwerp Major with a dominant 2-0 victory over forZe, Dust2.us' Ryan Friend was able to sit down with team captain Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo. The two spoke about what it means for FalleN to silence the critics, Imperial's preparation for their elimination matchup, and the captain's expectations for the roster moving forward in the event.
So, first off congratulations on coming back, I think most people thought that forZe would go through after their hot start. How does it feel for this new roster to have your backs against the wall and to prove a lot of people wrong?
It feels awesome. I was expecting a harder game as well, in terms of score, but it wasn't easy at all. I think today we were able to perform the best CS we've played so far, I did a bit of the CS that we've been displaying in practice, so the match got easier because of that. But, props to forZe, we've practised against them and it's not easy, they've been beating us in a lot of practices as well. They're a good team, they almost made it to the next stage, so I'm very happy that we've, once again, been able to prove a lot of people wrong and show ourselves that we've still got it.
What was your game plan coming into this, with the map picks and the vetoes? Mirage, coming through, you seemed so strong on it, but were you ready for that?
Yeah, so, because of the practices we've been playing against them, we've been playing a few Nuke games against them and it wasn't going too well for us. I was expecting that there was a chance that they'd play Nuke, but at the same time, I knew that they knew that too and that they could come with something different. And when I looked through their maps, I saw that Mirage was their favorite; they're playing so well and ours hasn't looked that great. So I thought "They're gonna come in with Mirage". And then it was between Inferno or Overpass for us to pick as they're our best maps at the moment. But Inferno is one of their best maps too so I was like "Well, it's one of their strengths or one of their weakest maps" so that's why it went like this. And then, they removed Nuke later so I was kind of surprised about it because of the practice, so they had us go to Inferno.
fnx coming back into the team, he hasn't really been on a Tier 1 team in a while, how have you been impressed with his performances considering he hasn't really been at the same level you've been at in recent years?
fnx is a maestro and he's also played this game for a while, but there's a lot of stuff he needs to improve on just like me, and everyone else in the team, but to be able to come back like this and help the team go to the Legends stage, today he was insanely good. He got four kills on the pistol, he was playing his game. I'm very, very proud of him, one of the reasons I wanted to make this project again was because of him personally. I know he had a lot of personal issues, even financially, he needed to be back playing. I knew that with our project, that he'd have a chance at something as big as we have right now, so it's like a personal achievement for me too to be able to help the guy get back and he's putting everything he can into being the best player he can. So it's great to see.
Looking ahead to Saturday, you guys are scheduled to play against BIG which is one of the more easier matches. What's your immediate reaction knowing this is who you're going to play?
I've been playing against BIG in practice. They're looking good, they're looking hot. I think this new addition of Krimbo is very, very good. One of the few talents that came from Germany lately so it's not going to be an easy match. I think they're still favorites for it. I mean, we're not going to be favorites against any team in this bracket, but, we can still do some damage, let's see how it goes.
Realistically, this is already a major achievement from when the team was created to this point. What is your realistic goal? What would you walk away from this tournament and be really happy with?
I'm very happy that we're able to display our maximum performance today. As I said before, the team has been playing like this in practice, but when the matches are coming, we weren't showing up as good as we showed today. But today was proof for everyone that we can still play super well like we did today, that's a big takeaway. I think we are proving everyone wrong, one step at a time, first they said we couldn't be competitive, second they said nobody would get this team, that this doesn't make sense. They said a lot of things about us and we're proving everyone wrong one at a time.
I think I was definitely one of the critics at its inception and you have absolutely proven me and everyone else wrong in what you have achieved - it's amazing to see. I was talking to VINI earlier and he was saying there's a much more relaxed environment, is that what helped you when your backs were against the wall in these elimination matchups, just trusting yourselves?
Yeah definitely. Yesterday, I was very stressed with personal issues, I have a lot of back pain at the moment, I wasn't feeling too great. It's a lot of lower back pain, so yesterday I was very stressed. I won a clutch and I was flaming my guys, so everyone got stressed because of it and then the game was tense against IHC. So today, lesson learned. We came to the game and we said "It's gotta be very different than what it was yesterday, we gotta have much more cool vibes". Even since our early days back in SK in 2015, one of our rules was that during the game, there's no negativity, no "You shouldn't have done that" in a bad way, all those things we just don't do it - game time is game time. Sometimes we forget about the principles that we have, but it was great that we had a game like that yesterday because we knew why we had to change for today and today was the best we can play.
Thanks for everything, is there anything you want to say to any of the American audiences that have doubted you from the beginning?
I just want to say thanks to all the North American guys, it's great to have you guys watching the games and I really hope NA CS is gonna get on better form as soon as possible. I'll be here to help as much as I can, if I can, but thank you guys for supporting me on Liquid as well and thank you tuning in and watching our games here. I think North America did great at this Major as well, Liquid qualifying was extremely good and I was cheering for them. And now we've secured some extra spots for next Major which is great for our scene. Let's keep working to get NA CS where it deserves to be.
Imperial are scheduled to kick off their campaign through the Legends stage with a matchup against German squad, BIG, on May 14th at 11:45AM.