Friberg on IEM Oakland final, Pyth’s return and rounding into form at the right time

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to catch up with a victorious Adam “Friberg” Friberg after Ninjas in Pyjamas defeated SK Gaming 2-1 in Sunday’s final of IEM Oakland. They talked about the win, not banning Train and NiP’s stop-and-start 2016 that seems to be heating up at the right time.

Vince Nairn: What are your emotions like right now after being able to take down such a crazy final tonight against SK?

Adam “Friberg” Friberg: It’s a great feeling overall. We just got Pyth back for this tournament. We haven’t had much practice. We just went back to what we used with him before. So it’s a great feeling, of course. Beating them in the last two maps 16-14 just shows how close it is and how good of a team SK are. That we managed to overcome them is just great.

VN: I think a lot of people were expecting you to ban Train, but you let them have it. What went into your strategy there?

AF: We hadn’t played Mirage in such a long time that we didn’t want to gamble on it. We have played Train and we have been decent on it before. This event, Train hasn’t worked out at all for us, but we still gave it a shot in the final. We knew that if they banned either nuke or cache, we would have a good chance of winning that map and it would come down to the decider. We knew it would probably go to three maps. Train is just one of those maps where it can swing in either direction They’re a super good Train team, but we didn’t want to play them on Mirage.

VN: Both the second and third map were so close. What’s going through your mind, especially in those late rounds — and rounds that didn’t necessarily play out conventionally at all?

AF: Especially on cobble, the last 10 rounds on cobble were so back and forth. I didn’t even know. I had no clue the economy. We had to sit and look all the time when they took timeouts if they were gonna buy or not. So it was just trading back and forth. Getting your frag was so important this game. Everyone just took their frag the last like 10 rounds. Their economy was so bad. Our economy was so bad. It was just down to the wire the whole map.

VN: This event wasn’t a major but it had the firepower of one with so many of the top teams here. What did it mean for you guys to be able to throw your hat into the ring — especially just getting Pyth back — and come out on top?

AF: It means a lot, for sure. It’s a confidence booster that we still have it, especially for me as well. I felt I had some bad games this tournament. I felt a bit shaky the first two games of the final, but I thought I managed to have a big game the third map, which is always a nice feeling. The team, as individuals, all of us, it means a lot for us. More than people expect, maybe. But it means a lot for us to come to this tournament and win it.

VN: What did you think of the group stage format? I talked to a handful of players who seemed to really like it.

AF: In one way, I like it, to have it all in one day. But I think it’s kind of too many maps. I remember the last game in our group stage, I had the biggest headache. I remember being so slow because we played so many games and you have to focus for so many hours. It’s the same kind of feeling when you’re in a final and you play a semifinal and then an hour break and you play a final. I think it should be maybe different days. Spread out the group stage for two days instead of having it all in one, maybe? Because I feel like having more than three maps or four maps in a day, it is hard on you. You really need to stay focused, and it’s hard to do that.

VN: Speaking of fatigue, you guys went from Atlanta to here and are now going back to Atlanta. Is it tough to stay mentally focused after a while?

AF: For sure. We’ve been traveling so much that every spare moment we have we need to sit and play. It’s hard to spend that extra time. That’s what we’ve been doing. If we we want to have a chance of winning this, we need to put in the extra time. So the spare time is rare right now. It’s all CS. Traveling and CS. All the time. It’s hard on you, but it’s still so fun. This is why I sit and play so many hours every day, for this feeling I have right now.

VN: What are the things you do to try and give yourself a mental break when you can? Whether that’s reading, movies, whatever…

AF: Trying to hang out with friends and not talk about CS. I always tell my friends when I hang out with them don’t talk about CS. Maybe I’ll tell them about how everything has gone, but otherwise I’m there and I want to hang out. Don’t talk about CS. Also, playing other games. Just trying to relax. Don’t focus too much on CS

VN: You guys have had kind of a stop and start year, just with who you have had in and out of the lineup. Has it been difficult to just have a little bit of consistency because of that?

AF: For sure. It takes a lot of hours and practice to get the team play up and going, and I think it kind of shows sometimes we are not on point. But we know our biggest enemy is ourselves. We have the ability to play as the best team in the world, we just need to play together as a team. Communication is also very key for us. It’s hard to sit on stage here with thousands of people in front of us and communicate calmly. But I think we did it as good as we could this tournament.

VN: And likewise, you come off ELEAGUE (second in your group) and then come here and win and beat another team in SK that people think might be the best team in the world. How are you guys just kind of riding that momentum?

AF: Every tournament there is right now, I’m excited to go to it. Even though it’s so much, I’m just looking forward to going there and playing all the tournaments. It’s just fun.

VN: It’s funny because there’s a lot of talk of over-saturation, and it seems the players all feel that way, too, but you’re still having fun with all of them?

AF: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s over-saturated. I would like to have less tournaments, but this is how it is right now. As long as we feel that we can go and compete to actually win a tournament (it’s good). If we don’t have the feeling we can go there and win because we’ve gone to too many, it’s not worth going. That’s kind of what we’ve said. We still feel like we can get the practice in. We have practice rooms at ELEAGUE, for example, so we’ll get the last needed hours in there just to compete for playoffs.

Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack