Ax1Le: "We did not expect Cloud9 to be interested in us"
Following their triumph against BIG in the semifinals of IEM Dallas, Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov of Cloud9 sat down with Dust2.us' Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore to chat about their run at this tournament, the NA fans' support, and where the team could be based moving forward.
So coming into this event, you have recently signed with Cloud9 and it seems like the Cloud9 fans have really embraced you. Prior to this, you were with Gambit who are a very storied CIS brand and now being at Cloud9 which is a very storied NA brand, how does it feel to have the fans in NA embrace you, especially with your jerseys selling out at IEM Dallas for example?
The fans are very supportive and when the crowd is cheering for you, it is really important and it gives us more confidence when we are winning rounds and clutches. When the crowd gets really loud and they are screaming it is really nice and it feels incredible.
At the Stockholm Major, you personally had a slight underperformance but ever since that event your LAN performances have gotten stronger and stronger, and now you're the highest rated player at this event coming out of the match against BIG. Can you tell us about your development on LAN and what it means to be one of the main stars on Cloud9?
I just really like to play on the stage when the crowd is screaming because it helps me. I don't know why and I don't know how but that's how I feel. I'm just trying my best to get some good kills and good trades but I do think the crowd does help me.
This is your first LAN final for you guys since the V4 Future Sports Festival 2021 which was a studio LAN. As you said, you enjoy playing in front of the crowd, so do you think you guys are ready for the BO5 final against ENCE?
I think we are ready to play ENCE in front of the crowd because we have played a few tournaments now in front of a crowd and we have more experience. We have experience now because of the pressure so I think we are ready.
Coming into Dallas, a lot of people expected this to be an easy event for FaZe and now they haven't even made the top four. With the field seemingly wide open for you to take over post-Dallas if you win this event what does that mean for you guys as a team who will have proven yourselves on LAN?
If we win this tournament it will be important for us because we will feel more confident on the stage like how we did in the studio. We will work more and more and try to get good results and play good Counter-Strike.
When the team was announced by Cloud9 there were questions about where your future home would be. Is the plan moving forward for you guys to be an NA or EU-based team and has there been any discussion about a permanent home for you guys?
We did not expect Cloud9 to be interested in us and we were a little bit shocked when they made us the offer to join them. Now that we are in Cloud9 it feels like our second home or even our main home. They're always cheering for us and helping us, like giving us merchandise. So they help us with everything and we are so happy.
So with the Cloud9 headquarters in Santa Monica, and players from the CIS moving to Belgrade, has there been a discussion about where you will be on a permanent basis?
Yes. We will practice in Belgrade I think, so we have been searching for bootcamps in Serbia so we're ready to play in Europe.
Ax1Le and the rest of Cloud9 take on ENCE in the grand finals of IEM Dallas today at 12:00PM.