Being one of only two new European teams at ESL One Cologne, London Conspiracy have successfully made their way into the spotlight at a big event. One of the tournament underdogs, they will be facing LDLC, Natus Vincere and Copenhagen Wolves in Group B. How are they preparing for the challenges ahead, and how do they see their road to Cologne? We talked to Pål “Polly” Kammen about the latter and his opinion on why London Conspiracy are the first Norwegian team at one of the community funded tournaments.
ESL: Hi, Polly! First off, you’re one of the teams completely new to the US$250,000 tournaments. What was your first reaction, when you managed to qualify for ESL One Cologne?
Pål “Polly” Kammen: We were naturally extremely happy! Last time we were one match away from qualifying as well, so it felt really good to finally make it! And beating Na’Vi in the last game to qualify was also a really good feeling.
ESL: Considering the strength of Scandinavian teams overall, why are you the only one from Norway competing at the top?
Polly: I don’t really know, Norway hasn’t had a consistent competitive team for a very long time. We have a lot of talented individuals in Norway, just as in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, but I think we lack leaders and people that want to take the next step and organize things to make a team. Most teams in Norway are usually made a few weeks before an event just for attending one LAN together, and disband after. But we have managed to stick together for a long period, and I think that is what’s starting to show now. We have had a few changes, of course, but the core has been the same. We have taken a lot of time to get where we are now, and we still have a long, long way to go.
ESL: While preparing for the tournament, how often does the US$250,000 prize pool come to your mind?
Polly: Well, as we just qualified a few weeks ago, we haven’t practised much specifically for this event. We had a lot of focus on the Gfinity LAN in London, where we did pretty good, so I haven’t had much time to think about the huge prize in Cologne – maybe that will come more into play this last week before the event. But our focus is on proving ourselves and establishing us as a top-tier team, rather than on the money we can win. Our first goal is getting out of group stage, and if we manage that, everything beyond that is just a bonus!
ESL: What do you think about your performance at G3?
Polly: As I said, I think we did pretty good. The way we went out wasn’t the greatest, of course, getting destroyed on the last two maps against VP, but they are one of the absolute best teams out there and went on to win the whole tournament, so taking a map off them is something we can be proud of. It was a clear indication for us on where we stand compared to earlier, and what we need to work on, so it was really good experience for us, and we hope we can keep the momentum going into ESL One and upset a few teams there as well!
ESL: Over the last couple of months you have made yourself a name within the scene. What is your secret to working your way to the top?
Polly: There is no secret other than playing a lot and learning from the best! The best way to learn is to watch what better players do and try to learn from them. The last couple of months we got to practise against the best teams in the world every day, and that is a huge deal. You learn quickly what works and what doesn’t on the highest level, and you can pick up a lot of small things from good players.
ESL: Looking at the field of teams, which would you love or hate to play against early on in the tournament?
Polly: Well, in such a stacked tournament, picking out a team we would love to face is going to be hard! There are a few teams we struggle with more than others, of course, such as Dignitas and Fnatic, so avoiding them would be a good start if we get out of groups.
ESL: When looking back at DreamHack and Katowice, both saw a surprise champion: could this be you in Cologne?
Polly: I don’t think anyone would call us out as a candidate to win the whole thing, but we have proved we can beat strong teams on LAN, and in a best of one group stage anything can happen. And if we get out of groups, we’ll just have to play one game at a time and hope we do well, but no, I don’t think we are ready to win a major yet, but hopefully we’ll get there with more time!
ESL: You recently added prb to your lineup, who played with some of you a while back. How does he help you bring an even better performance?
Polly: Preben has played on this level for many, many years, so he brings a ton of experience and calmness to the team. He is also a very intelligent player and really easy to work with ingame, so he has given us a new level of teamplay.
ESL: The qualifiers saw some interesting results, such as dAT team bringing down some big names. Do you think this trend of surprises will carry on throughout the tournament itself?
Polly: Well, we have seen a lot of upsets lately both online and at G3, so who knows? The upsets might come from the best teams saving stuff for ESL One or people having had long breaks during the summer, but I think everyone is stoked to bring their A-game for ESL One, so I don’t think there will be many upsets, to be honest.
ESL: How do you plan on getting the crowd to support you during your matches in Cologne?
Polly: We hope to get the crowds on our side by playing fun CS! We play a very aggressive style and I think people like to watch us, so I hope that’s enough for the crowd to cheer us on! And everyone loves a underdog, so hopefully that plays to our advantage!
Picture courtesy of HLTV.org