Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Will “RUSH” Wierzba after OpTic defeated Astralis 2-1 to win ELEAGUE Season 2 on Saturday. They talked about the win, proving people wrong and prioritizing events on OpTic’s schedule.
Vince Nairn: You said during the press conference that this win meant for the NA region, but what about for guys as OpTic?
WIll “RUSH” Wierzba: We’re always heavily criticized by analysts, such as Thorin, for example. He predicted against us, but I almost think he did it so we could win. But we were heavily criticized, and it feels good to finally prove we’re not some pushover NA team that has a few BO1 upsets. We’re actually winning BO3s consistently against top European teams. And yeah, we won here.
VN: Is there any particular moment or tournament in the past few months you point to as the moment it all started to click, especially since bringing in Tarik?
WW: For me, it was ESL New York, the first tournament we played with Tarik. We had like two weeks of practice with him, maybe a week, so we went in with decent confidence. We started off bad, but we kept pushing and we won two big games against G2 and Astralis, and we almost should have beat Virtus.pro, and we would have been in quarterfinals. So yeah, New York was the starting point of our run, I think.
VN: Of the eight teams here, I think Astralis vs. OpTic would have been the finals matchup the fewest people thought would’ve happened. How did you give yourselves a chance when it seemed not many others did?
WW: Even though we had easier opponents in the semis and quarters than others, like SK and Dignitas, I think that it just went our way. We got kind of lucky with the draw. We beat the opponents we needed to beat. We got to the final, and we beat Astralis. Nothing more can be said. People can be like, “Oh, we got the easier opponents.” But we beat who we had to beat.
VN: It can definitely be a grind with so many events, and you guys aren’t even done. You’ve got ECS and the Major qualifier. Does being able to win an event like this give you the chance to take a brief sigh of relief, just to know that your insane schedule is paying off?
WW: It’s amazing to win this tournament. Obviously it’s super cool. But there’s never gonna be a moment where we can breathe a sigh of relief like we’re done. We’re gonna keep pushing. We wanna win ECS if we can. I’m not gonna say we’re gonna win it, but I hope we can. Then we’re gonna go to the Major qualifier, and I think that’s even more important than ECS, making the Major. We can’t let up. We gotta keep going for the Major.
VN: Maybe sigh of relief was the wrong term, but even a brief moment of validation. Do you feel any of that?
WW: I guess it’s a moment, a small moment of validation for winning this tournament. Because like I said, people always say “Oh, you can only win BO1s.” Well we won the tournament. You can’t say we’re just some upset team, you know?
VN: What were you expecting from them when it came to map selection?
WW: We didn’t expect them to not veto Cobble. They let it through, and we were surprised because they’re not so strong on it, and we’re super strong on it. So that helped us tremendously in our BO3. In terms of them picking Train, we weren’t 100 percent sure they’d pick Train, but they did, and we didn’t know how they played on Train, so it was tough for us. We had no idea. So it went their way. I don’t think we played bad, but they just played well. And then Overpass, we kind of did some homework on them beforehand, so it helped us. Yeah, we came out on top.
VN: You mentioned that at DreamHack, it’s not that you weren’t trying, but you were more focused on this. When we’re in this time with so many tournaments all the time, is it kind of important to prioritize where your focus needs to be strongest?
WW: Well, honestly, we should have skipped DreamHack because it would have given us over a week of practice for thee tournaments. Not taking away from DreamHack. Their tournament was run really well. But overall, we should have skipped it and focused on these tournaments.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE