When 3DMAX qualified for ESL One Katowice 2015, Joona “natu” Leppänen was celebrating twice, with xartE having had to take his spot as it was his wedding that weekend. Now he talks to us about qualifying for the next CS:GO major, the team’s chances and why the fans should be supporting them.
ESL: Congratulations, Joona, on earning a spot for ESL One Katowice 2015 at the offline qualifier. You broke a long streak of Finnish absence in the competition. How do you feel about that?
Joona “natu” Leppänen: It feels almost like breaking a curse as we’ve been at the last stage or match of qualifying for the past three majors with our lineups. You always want to be competing in the most prestigious tournaments, so it definitely feels great.
ESL: You had to come back from a loss against Vox Eminor but did well and won your next two matches against ESC Gaming and mousesports. Are you happy with the performance you gave or do you see anything that needs to be focused before attending the main event?
natu: Anything but qualifying for the main event would have been a huge disappointment. We felt we were one of the teams that should be able to qualify – if we played up to our standards. It’s hard to make many conclusions from the performance as we had to play with a stand-in, so we won’t be looking into that too much. There are plenty of things that need to be worked on before the event. We’re a young team so every match and tournament is a great learning experience where you figure out things that work and don’t work, how you need to adjust small details and so on. It’s going to be busy.
ESL: ESL One Katowice 2015 will have a pretty stacked group stage. Are there any specific teams that you would love to play against early on or are you fine with facing a tough group?
natu: We’re going head to head against teams that are expected to be better than us no matter what group we’re put into. Take them as they come, that’s a good way to approach it.
ESL: Now that allu has left the team, you’ve brought in xartE, who replaced you during the offline qualifier. Is he ready for the challenges ahead?
natu: He’s a great player but represents a different type of skillset, so we can’t just have him play allu’s role and expect things to work. The biggest challenge for us is that we’ve been forced to shuffle our gameplay role-wise and have people doing different things at short notice. Thankfully we have an amazing AWP talent in stonde, which enables us to work around good sniping abilities regardless. I’m sure xartE is more than ready for this great opportunity.
Check 3DMAX vs. Vox Eminor and more from the offline qualifier
ESL: The offline qualifier was something new for this major. How did you like the event and do you think this should become a standard for following events?
natu: Offline qualifiers were standard for all the big events ten years ago, so we’ve found it absurd it has taken this long to have that back. It should definitely be the standard for every single future major. There is a significant difference between online and offline play. ESL standards for organizing an event have been high for years already, so everything was smooth and players were given the circumstances they deserved on this occasion as well.
ESL: Only four out of the 16 teams come from outside Europe. Do you think this accurately represents the balance between Europe and the rest of the world?
natu: Teams from different regions are slowly progressing and becoming better and better. I think it’s great that, for example, Vox Eminor proved their worth by going through the qualification process just like every other team. Europe is such a dominant force in Counter-Strike currently, so I think 12 teams being European does probably indicate the current situation between the regions.
ESL: You already got yourself the title of Challenger and will see your team’s logo as a sticker in CS:GO soon. How much does this mean to you?
natu: I think that matters more to our fans than us, but of course it is an honor to have an item in a game that your efforts have made a reality. However, there should be only one goal, and that is to become one of the Legends.
ESL: The growth of CS:GO continues and a lot of organizations known for having teams in other games have entered the scene. How do you feel about this and what do you see as being next on the horizon?
natu: It’s a strong signal that Counter-Strike is in a healthy place and keeps pushing the limits. The game continues to constantly break records, and it’s only natural we have more and more resources being brought in. In raw mathematics, it means more players have the opportunity to become truly professional and have the finances to push more. It also means the competition will keep getting tougher. It’s a great time to be a player and a fan.
ESL: The fans at Spodek have been very vocal the last two years, and Virtus.pro was supported heavily by them during their win last year. Do you have anything planned to win the fans’ hearts and gain their support?
natu: We recently had the pleasure of enjoying overwhelming support from a home crowd at Assembly Winter, so we know what a great crowd can do. Being as lovely as we are, I think we will have no problem winning a few hearts in Poland, too!
ESL: Thank you for your time, Joona. The final words belong to you.
natu: Thanks to all our awesome fans, to 3DMAX and all our sponsors <3
From March the 12th to the 15th you’ll be able to see how natu and his team do at ESL One Katowice 2015 – ESL Counter-Strike will give you all you need to know on Facebook and Twitter!