We had a short chat with Twistzz before his Cologne semi-final game
Topic: Catching Up With Twistzz - About IEM Cologne, Academy Teams & Esports Psychologists
After a very successful group stage run, not dropping a single map, and starting to look more consistent, FaZe is going into the semi-finals of IEM Cologne. Freddie “GrimyRannarr” Pritchard sat down with Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken to chat about the recent results for Faze, academy leagues, and the support FaZe offers their roster.
In this event, is it a sigh of relief that you have gone through groups smoothly?
"I think it was expected for us, we knew we played pretty good given we had good practice time going into this event. Obviously, we had the easier side of the bracket, there was some big surprises in group A that shocked us. We just had a week to prepare for the semi-finals and are looking to do our best."
Talking about underdogs, did you expect to see teams like Team Liquid and Movistar get this far?
"Movistar played pretty well going into this event, so honestly that was not too surprising. Liquid was a little unexpected, other than that it is just shocking to see so many top-10 teams fail at this event. NAVI and us are the only ones left from the top ten rankings and that did surprise me."
Do you think we will see more orgs taking an interest in building academy systems in the future?
"Yeah I think the academy league is great, I hope it does not get abused in a way that people are always looking to implement a 6- or 7-man roster, trying to push up academy players consistently. I think this can really hurt team dynamics for some people. Counter-strike is a five man game. I think it is great for building a talent pool, especially the CIS scene has a great talent pool, they always have people to pick from. Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov played good for Spirit in his first big event. These are all players who come from the more down under scene and it is nice to see them come up."
Do you think the academy teams create a vacuum within the tier two/three scene?
"In some sense yes, there should be an age cap because you see 25/26-year-old players. There is an average age which I guess is fine because you don't want more experienced players to enter the academy league. When it was on LAN I think it was amazing for the younger players, but I do not think overall it will create a vacuum. Some players do prefer to go back to academy leagues. Looking at Nils “k1to” Gruhne, hopping between BIG and the Academy team, he is just happy to play officials and build onto the German scene. It might suck for a little bit for someone to go down to the academy league, but I know for certain the players around him really learn from him. Bigger organizations are intending that, they are wanting to interchange players and build up the scene."
After winning the Major - did you have more of a drive to grind, or did you get complacent as team?
"I don't think it was either really. It just stayed the same and we didn't have time to play the game. After the Major, like most events, there was an after-party at the end of the event, some celebrating more than others and for longer periods. We celebrated and then you have to account for travel days, still being hungover and then the third day is your only time at home to relax. After that, we had one practice day and flew to Dallas. Not the greatest circumstances to be under to then go play in a tournament. It was the same between Dallas and Valencia, that really hurt us."
Even though FaZe is not a NA lineup - do you see yourself as a representative for the region?
"I hope so as long as the community accepts me this way. I am still trying to help the scene in any way that I can, my manager is always asking me what I would do to help and fix NA Counter-strike. I have been talking to him at length about what ESL can do to build better infrastructure. As long as the community holds me to that standard I will be there."
Looking at NA and EU CS:GO - Is there a gap in the Tier-2 scene? If so, how would you fix it?
"There is a massive gap, there are mixed views within the NA scene with how it looks. You occasionally see tweets from players within the tier-two scene about how it's all a disaster, and then if people just took it more seriously it would be better. This sums up NA Counter-strike as a whole in tier-two, and in some circumstances tier-one. There is a big gap between NA and EU because they feel like they always have that shot and opportunity to go professional. Obviously, you see it in FPL, there are always players coming up and at some point, people will start looking at them for when changes happen within teams, this is not something that NA has."
Looking at the Faze as an org in general, how do they support you?
"As a general thing in Esports, when you're doing well there is more public support and they are proud of the team and want to show it. However, behind closed doors, there has always been support ever since I joined. They always do everything to make the roster perfect. It was no problem buying Robin “ropz” Kool out from MOUZ, their intentions are to win and they provide us with anything we need. If we want a psychologist we can have one."
Looking at MOUZ they have a team psychologist, does your team?
"The team itself does not, I have one personally. He used to be the psychologist for Liquid and we worked together there, he doesn’t work for Liquid anymore and we are good friends so we still work together on my own time."
How important is it for you though to have a sports psychologist?
"I think it is really important to know that there is a person that I can talk to if I ever have any issues, that is pretty much the only time I talk to him. If there is a time when I encounter something I do not know how to handle myself, I sit down with him for a couple of hours and he gives me some advice."
It was a pleasure getting to talk with Twistzz before his semi-final game at IEM Cologne today! We wish him and the rest of his team nothing but the best and look forward to catching up with him again in the future.