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Tarik on reaching ELEAGUE finals and progress in NA Counter-Strike

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn talked to OpTic’s Tarik “Tarik” Celik after Friday’s 2-0 win against FaZe Clan in the ELEAGUE Season 2 semifinals. OpTic plays Astralis at 4 p.m. Saturday in the finals.

Vince Nairn: How would you sum up your feelings after winning the match and getting to the finals?

Tarik “Tarik” Celik: I’m super happy. It’s awesome for us coming this far. We didn’t expect it. Making it to quarterfinals was a big goal for us alone, and it’s big things coming for us.

VN: What did you expect from FaZe, because they have been following a similar path to you guys as of late?

TC: FaZe is definitely a scary team. We didn’t underestimate them at all. I’m not sure if they underestimated us. Going into the match, we’re always the underdogs, and playing as underdogs, it’s easier. You don’t have the pressure. If you’re expected to win, people are going to give you that pressure, and it’s going to be even harder to play. So we just have to play our game, and we did that. And it worked out for us.

VN: You guys have had an interesting few months, between winning Northern Arena, group stages here. DreamHack was kind of a stumbling block. How badly did you want to get that bad taste out of your mouth?

TC: Yeah, DreamHack Winter was definitely bad for us. I don’t want to blame jetlag or anything. I just feel like we had a bad tournament and we weren’t together. Communication wise, teamwork wise. We just felt off our game. It’s not good. But obviously we can learn from that LAN, though. Every LAN we go to is a learning experience for us, so being able to play there was good for us.

VN: And you didn’t have long of a turnaround at all after that. You had to be back here in a few days. Did that help just putting DreamHack out of your minds, knowing you had another LAN the next week?

TC: It was more like you just brush it off. Don’t think about it. ELEAGUE is a lot bigger and a lot more important for us, so we just wanted to focus on this and make sure we were prepared when we came here. Obviously, we’ve been traveling a lot, but I’m happy that really hasn’t held us back.

VN: Were you surprised when FaZe upset VP yesterday? Did that change anything for you, especially considering VP’s status as one of the best two or three teams in the world?

TC: Yeah, VP is a super scary team. That’s for sure. I would have totally been down to play them, though. It would be sick because if we did beat them; there would be so much hype. But FaZe is also a really good opponent for us because there’s a lot of hype around this tournament too with the whole OpTic/FaZe CoD thing. So beating FaZe was also good for us.

VN: Yeah, do you think you’ll hear from any of the CoD players after this one? I’m sure there was some crossover attention being paid because of OpTic/FaZe.

TC: Yeah, it’s definitely awesome. There are some rivalries in different games and it carries over into this game. Whenever we play Envy (it’s the same). That’s another Call of Duty org. It is fun playing these teams knowing our Call of Duty team also plays them or our Halo team or whatever it is. It’s definitely fun.

VN: It’s been a big couple of months for NA Counter-Strike. Cloud9 won ESL Pro League in Brazil. Now you guys have made a final of another big international tournament. Do you feel there’s starting to be more progress from NA teams?

TC: Yeah, I’d say we’re growing a lot. I’d say Cloud9 is really good right now. They’re definitely on a heater. They’re playing really well right now. Same with us. We’re growing. I joined this team about three months ago, and we made a lot of progress so far. It’s good stuff. Once we get a coach, it’s only gonna get better. So we’re excited for the future, and hopefully we play well in the finals.

Cover photo by Patrick Strack/ESL,