"I don’t really care what my role is, all I want is the team to succeed." - Interview With refrezh
It’s been a tumultuous first half of the year for OpTic Gaming’s Ismail “refrezh” Ali. OpTic failed to progress from the EU Minor for IEM Katowice in January and after another run of poor results, made changes that included bringing in veteran in-game leader Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen and Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen for cajunb and JUGi. Since those changes OpTic have barely missed out on qualifying for the ECS finals in London and also will be missing out on ESL Pro League finals in France. The roster desperately needs to have some good results in qualifiers so they can attend these top tournaments and show how much they’ve progressed, but there’s another issue that must be at the back of their minds. The future of the entire OpTic organization is murky. Immortals Gaming Club are widely reported to be leading the chase to purchase OpTic from OpTic’s parent company Infinite Esports and Entertainment. If the purchase were to happen that would leave Immortals with both OpTic Gaming and MIBR’s CS roster under their umbrella, meaning they would need to sell one to comply with WESA’s ownership rules. We spoke with refrezh about the old OpTic lineup, MSL’s structure, and if the rumors of the impending OpTic sale are affecting the team.
Going back to when you first joined OpTic, that lineup never seemed to get its feet under it. You and cajunb seem to prefer the same roles in a team. Did you find it tough to adjust to the new roles the team needed you to play? And do you think that contributed to some of the issues that old lineup had? It was hard coming into a new team with different players, a new role and a new playstyle. So taking all those things into consideration, I think I did an average to decent job. It definitely didn't make the problems easier, but I don't think I contributed to the problems
You seem to have been adjusting well to MSL's style and your role within this lineup. How has his leadership style differed to Snappi's and are you enjoying the structure of MSL's gameplan? In Counter-Strike every style can work in theory, it mostly depends on the type of players you have. Snappi's way of calling didn't suit us very well. MSL is a very good leader and he has so much knowledge about the game that he has given me a new perspective in the game. So yes, I do enjoy playing alongside MSL, because he knows how to utilize his players in different ways.
You're essentially in the Xpy9x position on the T side for this team. You're trusted to clutch the round if needed. Is this your favorite role in CS and if so, what makes you enjoy that role? To be honest I don't really care what my role is, all I want is the team to succeed. And yes, I do enjoy playing clutches and late-round scenarios, but it's not because I hate to entry or do something else. I have always felt confident playing clutches and that is something I missed with the previous lineup. I think I have a good sense about how I want to approach each clutch situations, sometimes you need to be patient and sometimes you need to be aggressive and isolate the duels. It's something I'm always trying to improve and think about every clutch I've just lost and what I would do differently the next time I'm in the same situation. Of course I would never be in the exact same situation, but there are a lot of parallels on how to approach the round, playing time, pushing etc..
The two new additions to OpTic have brought a load of experience to this lineup. I know Niko and MSL are known for being great communicators in game. What do MSL and Niko bring to the game team play wise that's different than before? MSL and Niko are really good at playing smart CS and not just individually, they are both contributing a lot to the team structure and as you said, communicating. We missed more team-players on the team. I know for certain that I'm not the best either, but now I have people on the team to look up to in that sense and learn from. We have given MSL and Niko the spots where we can get the most of them, since they are our captain and co-captain I would say. We're also now creating a lot of new things, instead of merely stealing stuff from other teams, we find solutions on our own. We have a lot of creativity on the roster.
Lastly, I know there's been some uncertainty with the OpTic organization in the past month or so. It must be tough knowing that is out of your control. Is any of that affecting the team or is it just business as usual? I don't think about too much and it isn't affecting the team really. We still focus on what we can change and when something is out of your hands, why even bother?
Interviewer: Will Land