Slingshot’s Vince Nairn and Jarek “DeKay” Lewis caught up with Virtus.pro’s Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas during ESL One New York to talk about four years with the same roster, the team’s struggles and where to go next.
Vince Nairn: You guys have played together with the same lineup for four years, and I think the anniversary is this week. Do you have any reflections on what it’s like to play with the same team for so long?
Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas: It’s been a rollercoaster. It’s been a ride. I think its an exciting ride. No regrets. It is an amazing bunch of people, and we just enjoy playing together.
VN: I know you guys have been through periods before where your form fluctuates so violently. Does this particular period feel any different than the others?
WW: I don’t know. I don’t think so. It’s just a different beast, and with this one we need to also treat differently and approach it different, and probably we will manage to fix the things, hopefully sooner than later.
VN: Has Snax been still leading? Are you going to make a change there?
WW: We didn’t change yet anything, so we will see if it will change. For now, I wasn’t doing any calls. There were some miscommunications, but I don’t really think its only about in-game leading. There are many other things. Talking about changing in-game leading is putting everything on one person, which is stupid and a thing people like to do. This connects to everything. This connects to how the individuals play. This connects to how the team prepares. But it’s never one person.
VN: What would you say has been the most challenging part of this stretch to get out of?
WW: I think the schedule. If you are not prepared well enough or there are some bad moments, you need to go with them to the next event and the next event. So you don’t have any free space to breathe. This is the most challenging thing.
VN: What did you think of the timing of the player break? Did it come at a good time for you?
WW: I think this was something good for us. I think we just made some small mistakes in preparation after the player break. We just don’t have time now to do a lot of fixes. But I think we are well prepared to win some events through the end of the year. There are not too many, but we’ll do our best at ELEAGUE and our best at EPICENTER, and hopefully we’ll gain back some respect.
Jarek “DeKay” Lewis: There has been talk about a roster change, and I think some of the talk even came from you guys at Cologne. What will be the ultimate decider in if or when you guys make a roster change?
WW: I think this is something you will probably get from us when we are ready to make any kind of moves. Until we are actually thinking about anything, all the things are rumors and pretty much stupidity and hope of people who actually wish us pretty bad. But if there will be any roster changes, I don’t really see a need for it. Obviously there are reasons for it because we don’t have results. But I don’t see a need to change players to actually start winning.
VN: Have you personally given any consideration to how long you want to continue to play? Having done this for so long now?
WW: I think for me, this is pretty obvious. If we are out of ideas how to fix the team, I’ll be the first one to step down. I don’t like a fight that you can’t win. The thing is that we don’t think about any roster changes. We don’t think about any moves. If things go very badly, if we will be out of ideas about how to fix stuff, I’m the first man to step forth and say “Ok guys, let’s do something.” But I don’t see it.
JL: Do you still enjoy playing?
W: I enjoy playing. I actually think I’m one of the most motivated players in the whole scene. There’s not many people like me or NEO. People think “Oh, good paycheck” or “you earn a lot so that’s why you don’t want to play.” But I was playing when there is no money. Now I’m playing when there is money, and the thing is, I’m not playing less. I’m playing more, and I enjoy it. I don’t get tired. I don’t have any problems if we are about to practice at 10 p.m. I want to play all the time, and my main motivation is always in front of me, which is my family. My daughter. And this is something that inspires me more. We just need to come up with the fixes.
JL: You guys look really comfortable on Nuke. Is there anything you can take from that and apply it to other maps?
WW: Of course. I think there are some things we can take from Nuke. There are some ways our team is structured on this map that we will take from here to other maps.
JL: Are there any players from Poland you have been following or think might be ready to join a top team?
WW: I don’t focus on this. The moment when we will start looking at players, we will start thinking about potential roster changes. I don’t really look into it. I’m just hopeful and happy when I see teams from Poland evolving and playing good Counter-Strike, which we can see from Pride. Kinguin is going down a bit but I think they are still talented enough to get their shit together. I think there is one more up-and-coming team, but I don’t remember the name.
JL: Thinking back to DreamHack Las Vegas, that was when you had the banter with dev1ce and all that. Does that kind of stuff give you any extra motivation?
WW: I don’t need it. I don’t need any extra motivation at all. I just enjoy it. And I think it’s important for the community to have (that banter). When you have some back and forth words exchanged between players, it’s more exciting for the game. It’s more exciting for fans. Only players are getting burned. It’s not good for players because one of them will lose eventually in the game and on social media, but I think this is something people undervalue. People tend to burn players to the ground. People try to burn me to the ground very much since Las Vegas, but I don’t really mind it. I think this is something that is in a way needed in esports. Not pure hatred and pure hate. But just some back and forth.