Grady sits down to talk to kyxsan from Apeks about the pressure placed on them after getting to the major semifinal, the addition of an old friend in CacaNito to the squad, and their thoughts coming into their group stage games at ESL Pro League.
Grady: In July, you guys signed CacaNito, another Macedonian that you played with on BLUEJAYS. What's it been like to get to play with him again?
kyxsan: It feels nice. We have known each other for a long time, I know how he wants to play, how he thinks about the game. Even though the results lately haven't been the best, I still think that he has been a great addition to our team and I think we can improve with him.
Have you seen much change in the last year since you last played with him on a team?
I think so. After I left, BLUEJAYS last year, he has played for a few international teams, mostly as a stand-in. He has gained some experience and I can see that he has already improved from last year to now.
Last week you guys switched up your coach, it's been a really short time, but has anything changed within the team?
I'm not sure if something has changed. I don't want to go a lot in a lot into details, but there's no doubt that kuben is an amazing coach and that he helped us a lot to reach the major semi-final and everything that we achieved. But there were some things that we thought that were missing and we think that we found those things in mithR. So hopefully things get better now.
If we compare the start of the year to now, quite a jump in performance, what can you attribute that to?
When I first joined Apex, we had long discussions about how we want to play the game, basically we call it our identity. I think the most important thing is we are always trying to stick to that identity, even when the results are not good or when we have a bad performance, we try to stick to our identity. That might be the biggest reason why they're here today.
Coming into ESL Pro League, what's the preparation been like for the team?
We just had a one week bootcamp in Kosovo, we are coming straight from bootcamp to ESL Pro League. Before that we also had some online tournaments, so we have been playing a lot, we feel ready for Pro League.
If you look at the rest of your group, uh, what do you think of the field?
Obviously FaZe and NaVi, you can call them the favorites because they're the most experienced teams and when you look at the rankings. I think there are many other teams that can surprise, I haven't watched lot of games of M80 and Imperial, but I think these are two teams that can surprise many people.
In the previous groups some teams have been named favorites, easy example is Heroic, unexpected performance from them. If you put yourself into their shoes, how do you recover from coming into a tournament as favorites and then not having the performance you want?
That's a hard question. I don't think they need to do some roster changes, they should just keep working because they have shown many times how good they can be. They won some important tournaments, so I guess just stick to what they're doing, maybe do some little adjustments or changes and keep going.
Looking at Apeks, what's that x-factor or that difference maker that will break you guys into that top five, top four?
We need to be more consistent. Lately, after the major, when we are playing some online tournaments, we are losing some games that we, most of time, shouldn't lose. It was also a bit harder to play because of the pressure and everything, after you are in the major semifinal, you come back home and everyone expects you to win, but sometimes it's rough, and the pressure is not helping.
Would you say then that you prefer to come into a tournament as an underdog instead of as a favorite to avoid that pressure?
I think that is much better for teams like us. We have some players who, including me, that are not very experienced. Coming as the underdog and not having that high expectations might help us in the future.