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FalleN: “We don’t feel too much pressure on winning. Before we started winning tournaments, we (kept coming up just short) as well.”

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn talked to Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo after SK Gaming’s 2-1 win Wednesday against Dignitas in the ELEAGUE quarterfinals. SK will play Astralis in the semifinals on Friday.

Vince Nairn: What went through your mind in the third map when they started to make that comeback?

Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo: We had to stay calm. We had a very big advantage off the first half. They did some pretty good rounds. They managed to change their set up on the round after it paused. They caught us off guard. But we knew we could beat them, so we just changed the way we were playing, changed up the strats and started playing a little different.

VN: Obviously, I’m sure you expect teams to ban Train on you now. What was your strategy today on the map selection knowing that?

GT: We know that teams are not going to let us play Train. Maybe if they have a weak map that we are strong on, then they won’t be able to ban it. But right now every team that is close on (the other) maps is going to ban Train against us. We’re prepared to play the other maps, and we have other strengths as well, but we knew we wouldn’t play Train this time.

VN: With that being the one map teams are keying in on for the most part right now, how has that forced you to explore other maps and try to see if you can get one up to that level?

GT: We used to have a very good Mirage, and suddenly we did not make the change necessary to keep being good on it, so we’re working on that. Nuke itself, we have a very good preparation for nuke, but in the end it didn’t pay off (at IEM Oakland). Facing good teams, we are not able to succeed on Nuke. So that’s a map that right now we are only playing against teams that don’t play it. So if we have to play a good team, we don’t play it. Cache is a map that we have been missing in the past, but we felt like it was necessary to make a change. It was a pretty good match against NiP (at IEM Oakland). We lost 16-14. Could have been worse. We have been working the last week on this map, so we are gonna be ready if teams start picking this against us.

VN: You guys got through the first part of a brutal half of the bracket. What do you make of the way that all shaped out?

GT: I think when it comes to playoffs nowadays, there’s no easy bracket. Back in the day, you could think “this path would be easier,” but right now, every team is difficult. If we have to play FaZe, or we have to play — all those teams would be very difficult as well. Even OpTic and mousesports. I think mousesports is not good recently, but they used to be very good, and OpTic is doing great despite the fact that people don’t believe too much in them. There’s no easy path in my opinion.

VN: So you’re going to be in the semifinals against one of the two teams you played on LAN just two weeks ago. Any preference to who you play? What are you expecting either way?

GT: Both teams, it would be revenge. If we face Astralis, they are waiting to beat us this time. NiP got us in the final. They got us very closely. Both matchups would be interesting. I don’t have any preference. Both teams would be super difficult.

VN: You guys have been consistently top two, three, four at almost every event you’ve attended, but you’ve had a bit of trouble getting over the hump and winning one in a while. What do you need to finish off these tournaments?

GT: Being honest, we don’t feel too much pressure on winning. Before we started winning tournaments, we were like this as well. We were always second or losing just before finals, getting nervous. Nowadays, it’s because teams are playing better. We’re making some mistakes. So for us the main goal is to keep getting the top fours because when things go our way, we’re going to win the tournaments. It was close in the last one against NiP. There was 14-12 on the last map and we let it go. Some mistakes maybe were (because) we were tired, but that’s not an excuse because other teams should have been tired too. But we made some mistakes normally we wouldn’t commit. So just working on that because next time we’re gonna be ready.

VN: Having won the last two Majors, does that enable you to not feel as much pressure to win?

GT: Yeah. Winning the Majors gave us a lot of respect and a lot of confidence, and it also boosted us in terms of prize pool. People are winning tournaments up to $100,000, $250,000, but we won two tournaments of (winners share) $500K. So we know it’s an awesome year for us already. We can’t be crying because we lost one tournament or another. We just need to work harder and have the same mentality we had in the past of improving. Because we can build more, and we expect to win ELEAGUE.

VN: What did you think of the changes to the ELEAGUE format? You were in the situation last time not being able to play in the playoffs because of the change in orgs, but has this been a better format for the players?

GT: I think this was a very controversial point. Season 1, taking us out of the playoffs was very controversial. I don’t know who’s wrong or right. There’s no wrong or right, I think. It just didn’t work our way. But this season, we think it’s awesome. They treat us very well. It’s a very good atmosphere. So we are very excited to be here and very proud to be here.

VN: does having it a little more condensed make it easier at all as a player?

GT: I think it’s the format TV needs. I think they need a lot of teams changing up so they can keep (things fresh) for the viewers. For me, it’s fine. You have the first challenge, which is getting out of group stage. And then you can prepare for the playoffs later.

Cover photo by Helena Kristiansson/ESL,