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Rickeh on Major Qualifier, moving to America and becoming a basketball fan

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to talk to Renegades’ Ricky “Rickeh” Mulholland ahead of this week’s ELEAGUE Major Qualifier in Atlanta.

Vince Nairn: First of all, how do you feel being here for the Major qualifier? What are your realistic expectations for the team?

Ricky “Rickeh” Mulholland: This is my second time at the qualifier here, but the previous one was for ELEAGUE. This one is looking really good, so it’s changed. This one has a Swiss format so if you win three games you qualify and if you lose three games you’re out, so it’s pretty straightforward. I think our chances are probably 50-50 at this point based on how we play. If we show up and play well, I think we can make it.

VN: You joined Renegades in July and replaced SPUNJ, who was kind of an icon in your region. WHat was that like?

RM: Me and SPUNJ have very different roles. I take up the main role of the sniper. Filling his shoes was a bit difficult at the beginning. Our results, we managed to come in second at a DreamHack event in Sweden. Just in terms of general improvement, I think we’ve made some strides and have put ourselves in a good position to be here at the qualifier.

VN: How did you guys react to the 16-0 against SK in ESL Pro League? I know it was only an online match and they had a stand-in, but was that special for you guys at all?

RM: To be completely honest, among ourselves we were extremely happy. We tried not to hype it up too much on social media because, as you said, it was only an online match and that doesn’t matter to a lot of people. But SK, even if they had a stand-in, you think one of the most difficult things to do is 16-0 one of the best teams in the world. So we were quietly really excited about that result.

VN: We’re in this state of over-saturation now, right, with so many teams playing each other repeatedly (such as having the same final in back-to-back tournaments). Being a team that hasn’t played a lot of these teams often, if at all, do you feel there;s any sort of advantage to being unknown?

RM: With the current stage of CSGO at the moment, with so many teams having different styles, The top 20 so versatile. I think it’s 50/50. I think it comes down to who plays best on the day and also who plays the best overall. We’ve been definitely putting the hours in. In my personal opinion, probably due to the recent performances we’ve had, I think a lot of teams will be looking at our demos and seeing what we’re about. Taking note of our weakest and strongest maps. Previously, they wouldn’t be taking much consideration into us as a contender. But I think times have changed. We have played those teams in practice as well. So I think they’ll be ready for us.

VN: The Major qualifier is pretty stacked. I think something like nine of the top 13 teams in the world are here. How does that affect your expectations as a team that would clearly be an upset if you made it to the Major?

RM: I think it’s good to keep the rest of the guys’ and my mentality (strong) as well. We’re here at one of the harder major qualifiers to date. Just in general, keeping the mentality that we have nothing to lose. We’re not expected to beat any of the real top teams, but everybody knows at this point that we can. We just have to feel confident on the day and do what we have to do. It’s not the biggest loss for us if we do burn out on this and don’t make it.

VN: With Jonas Jerebko buying Renegades this year, were you a big basketball fan beforehand? Did you have any idea what that was going to be like?

RM: Two of the guys on my team, they were really big basketball fans beforehand. I wasn’t really into it myself, but now I’ve been watching probably every game they’ve played. They’ve pretty much treated us like family. Jonas and his group, they know how hard it is to be a professional. Maybe they’re not gamers, but they know what it’s like to be a professional athlete. They understand what’s going on with us.

VN: And you’ve moved into the team house, right?

RM: Yes, it is in Michigan.

VN: And is this the first time you’ve been away from home for an extended period of time? What has that been like?

RM: We’ve been here for about 4-5 months now. It’s been a big move. Depending on who you’re staying with, it can get tough. But being here with the team makes it a lot easier in general just to cope with. At the same time, it’s taking the opportunity I have to play this game, and that’s really special. For me, the toughest part was probably settling in and getting to know the guys on a personal level. I was still new on the team when this happened, so that took some time. Just learning to always discuss our problems. Once we sort of broke through that point, probably a month in, it’s been really good. Just living with seven different people is (odd). Think about it. Even if you’re moving in with one of your best friends, you’re bound to have an argument sooner or later. But it’s been a good experience.

Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack