Q&A: TaZ on winning ELEAGUE, difficult travel and playing until he’s 40

After Vitrtus.pro’s thrilling win in the finals of ELEAGUE Season 1, Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to catch up with Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas. This was after VP’s postgame news conference, and TaZ expanded upon some of what he said there and also the general sentiment of winning a major event for a roster that has been together the longest of any well-known organization.

Vince Nairn: Yesterday, you guys seemed happy to have made a final but also felt the work wasn’t done yet. Now that you actually won it, what’s it like reflecting on the journey it took to get here?

Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas: The correct words are it was a struggle. We weren’t really happy that we needed to go to ELEAGUE and then to Cologne and then back to ELEAGUE if we lost the last game of the week in group stage. But it happened to us, so we knew that when we were flying out to Cologne for the major that we’d have to come back straight (to Atlanta). We didn’t visit home since June 26. This is the first time for any of us to be away from home for so long. So it was a struggle. The trip also, it was hard because we are big guys, so the plane trip with economy is really extremely painful. But I think that’s why we cherish this moment the most. This is the moment we know when this is something we want to do, this is a pain in the ass to be here for so long, so we need, at least, to win it. This is when you see the best Virtus.pro.

VN: Does the travel really wear on you guys a lot? I think that’s something people overlook when it comes to how many tournaments there are and all that.

WW: We are in this hard position that our team is the biggest team (physically) in esports. Our team is the biggest guys, traveling in economy class for 10 hours for at least three of us is extremely hard. Trust me, it’s something we are never happy about, and we are always tired after, and it takes a lot longer for us to get used to the timings, get used to the tournament. So yeah, this is extremely painful, but other than that, I think we are just grown ups. Many of us have girlfriends, wives. Pasha has a kid. This is something we are also missing when we are at events.

VN: NEO said to one of our writers a couple weeks ago, he joked that you wanted to play until you’re 40. And then you made a comment tonight about age. Do you take pride in being an older team and being the veterans?

WW: I don’t know what’s in it, like how it works for me. But I just want to prove that I’m one of the best players. It’s still in my head, and I have this fire in me to compete, and it just feels like a couple months ago, it started to burn even more in me, and I am so hungry now to succeed and win more because when we were winning, the prize pool was really small compared to this one. When we were starting to play, it was playing for the prize pool, or you need to stop playing games. If you win the tournament, you can continue in esports, but if you lose, you need to get a job and do something else. So this is something we also cherish: The moment. We are in a position which we can actually earn money for our families, for our kids and future. This is the second thing that probably gives us extra motivation.

VN: Is that kind of your motivation, too? To keep going and see how long you can hold on?

WW: No. Actually not. I’m not thinking about how long I can do it. It’s a joke I like to say. It’s a joke, I like to joke around with all the teams. But the thing that keeps me going is that I want to prove that it’s not about 1.6 times. Now, we have Snax, who is really doing a lot of great things for the team. We have NEO, who is starting to shine again. I want to go back to how I played in the beginning of CS:GO. I want to destroy my opponents. I want to show the kids that even when I’m 40 I will get to the server and destroy everyone. That’s my main target, and that’s defining me, which provides me motivation.

VN: Last one: This year did not start well for you, especially being relegated in ESL Pro League. Did you think it was even possible to have as much of a turnaround that you had?

WW: There were many hard times, hard moments for us this year, especially at the beginning. But then we won StarLadder, and we came back and we didn’t even have time to prepare for the (ESL match). We had to go to the server and play the game. ESL put us in a position where you play or you are not going in. So we came to the server, and we played a game against a team that was good. But we were not ready to play the game emotionally after winning the event and also we didn’t practice online. At the moment, it’s a lot in ESL’s hands if they want the best European team in their league or not.

Cover photo by Patrick Strack/ESL, eslgaming.com

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