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alex: “This feels real now, we’re playing a Major, so there’s more pressure”

Movistar Riders have had a roller coaster of emotions at the PGL Stockholm Major, where they became the first Spanish team to compete at an event of this caliber. They started off with a win against Renegades, but then fell to and Entropiq before coming out on top in a barn burner against TYLOO to make it to the final day of play.

Movistar Riders have started to feel the heat in Sweden

alex sat down to talk after Movistar Riders‘ close series with TYLOO, opening up about the team not performing to expectations because of nerves, but nonetheless taking pride in the fact that the team is still winning or competing all of their matches, what he considers to be an overall good sign for a team focused on growing and taking their next steps in the international scene.

We’ve already gone into detail about what you guys did before the Major, so let’s jump straight into your games here so far. Tell me a bit about how the matches against Renegades,, Entropiq and TYLOO have gone.

We were a bit confused when going into the Renegades match because it’s a team we don’t know at all. One of the ways we study teams is by watching how they react to determined plays, and we couldn’t really gather that data. But we played our own game, and I think it was one of the best maps we played this tournament. We could have finished it much earlier but it took us a long time to get on match point, although we finally did it.

Against we had a very clear gameplan, we were going to play similar to what we did at BLAST Showdown, but better. We didn’t make the right movements then and we knew how to play better. We played our A game on the terrorist side, but then on the CT side with a 10-5 lead we lost the pistol round and then it just all became an uphill battle.

They exploited our mistakes really well and they have a game style that really counters us well. We talked about it after the match and thought it would be solved, but then we struggled a bit against TYLOO, as well. We could have won the game against VP but they’re the better team and they showed it.

You went to Mirage against Entropiq, what made you go into it instead of say, Ancient, a map in which you’ve beaten the likes of G2 and CPH Flames?

The veto against Entropiq is hard for us because they came in and took out all of our best maps. We knew their Mirage is strong, but it’s not one of their comfort picks, so we decided to trust our own game plan. Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to, and the thing is we’re not as resilient on it as we are on other maps in which we can say “ok, we’re losing 0-11 but we know we can make a comeback.”

We need that little bit of extra confidence, but in practice we play the map really well, we just need play like that in the official matches. We have confidence in the map, but just not when things start off rough. Going into the Entropiq match we knew that was going to be the map and well, things didn’t go our way, but we fought the map and lost in the details. Just like we lost 12-16 we could have also won it.

hooch said his team was nervous, a young inexperienced team that still doesn’t know what they’re capable of. How is that for you guys?

This feels real now, we’re playing a Major, so there’s more pressure and I think it’s pretty apparent in the way we’re playing. Today was particularly bad, the pressure really got to us mentally, myself especially, but the rest of the team as well. I now understand why they call this the underdog tournament, I noticed that today going into the match against TYLOO.

We came form playing a really strong IEM Fall and went into the server feeling like the favorites, which was a lot of pressure for us. We were nervous, we made mistakes, I wasn’t calling well… But thank God we were finally able to win. We were wearing the pressure and nerves like a backpack full of rocks. Seriously, I had a bad time.

You had some pretty impactful plays on Inferno that tilted the map in your favor, some cold-blooded plays and good decision-making.

I’m very confident on Inferno and a lot of times if I see my teammates unable to take initiative or if they don’t want to make mistakes, that’s when I get activated and say “that’s fine, I’ll be the one to try and make the play.” Thankfully it worked out, I kind of messed up the T-side but I was able to solve it on the CT side.

On the attack we just went to Banana. Arches disappeared, we went apps once, and short once, that’s a huge mistake on my side, I was fully tunnel-visioned. I felt terrible after the match, even after winning, I talked to my teammates and just didn’t feel good about it.

Do you think you’ll be able to focus back up for the final match?

We’re not playing well, these are the worst matches since the team has been together, but even then we’re either winning or at least fighting our matches when we lose. That means that if we play well, we can be the team that we were at IEM Fall.

That’s something to be proud of, because even through we’re not playing well and making a lot of mistakes and feeling a lot of pressure, we’re fighting. We may lose because of the details or whatever, but they’re close matches. If we can just get everything to click again, we’ll be the Riders we’ve seen before or even better.

This is just part of the learning process, of gaining experience, which was what you came here for in the first place…

When you come out of a match, win or lose, asking a lot of questions, that means you’re going to learn a lot from it, and that’s what’s happening here. So many questions after Even beating Renegades, we came up with a bunch of solutions for things that happened.

The same for the Entropiq match, we came out asking “why did this happen? why did that happen?” And against TYLOO, on all maps, even more than on the rest. So I think that these matches are very important for the team to get experience at this level.

Would you prefer playing Heroic or Spirit in the final round?

We’ve practiced against Spirit at this Major and they kicked our ass, so we were like “oof, careful with these guys on this map.” But we’re still confident with them on the veto. We have very similar maps except they ban Vertigo and we ban Dust2. The maps will be similar to TYLOO’s match, and we’re confident to play against them. It’s a team we know, they’re way more experienced but right now they’re in a similar situation and we we’re not going to be surprised by them.

Heroic would be the perfect match-up because we both have a similar map pool and I think it could be a beautiful game. Depending on how they veto it’ll be a map or another, but we know what it’ll be. This is where they’ll really feel the pressure because Heroic, more than Spirit, are the ones that truly need to be Legends.

We really want to make Legends, but it’s not the same thing, this is our first Major, our second event of this size and we need a lot more experience. That’s what’s in our favor, what’s in theirs is that they’re a huge team that’s ready for everything. That’s it, they’re Heroic.

To close things out, anything that has impressed you at the Major?

Copenhagen Flames, they just keep surprising everyone. They’re a very nice and humble team. I watch them and wonder how they play and what they do to win. They play a simple game, I love their CS because they make it beautiful, and I was again very surprised by their 3-0.

They beat strong rivals, as always, and they were very confident, too. We get along with them pretty well and they were just telling us “Watch, we’ll win tomorrow” and they did. They surprised at IEM Fall with the 5-0 in the group stage and now they’re killing it here. I really hope it goes well for them in the Legends Stage.

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