This week’s interview is with Finnish Aleksi Halsas, who besides being Co-Founder of KOVA Esports is Direct Response Marketing specialist.
KOVA Esports is a Multi-Game organization, with players in several popular games. The organization seeks diversity, doing professional digital marketing in addition to video production. Check out what happened in our conversation with Aleksi, he told a little about the history of KOVA and about the sports they have.
When was KOVA Esports created? Who was the creator of this project?
KOVA Esports was created in early 2019. We were working on this project for a few months before the official launch. The creators were me, Aleksi Halsas and Antti Hirvonen.
Besides Counter Strike Global Offensive, what are the other modalities you have?
Today, in addition to Counter Strike Global Offensive, we have 5 more modalities. Rainbow Six Siege, Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Fortnite. We have a team of Streamers too.
Are there any plans to create new teams in new modalities?
We are constantly open to new possibilities, but nothing is desired in stone.
What about women’s modalities, do you have any intention of creating women’s teams?
Yes, we have intention, if they can compete, it will be created. We really don’t care if the team has women or not. But yes, if they are able to compete.
Does KOVA Esports have any Gaming House for training its athletes?
Not our own, we have a partnership with JAMK University (Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences). We use their facilities for training.
How do you work on athletes’ mental health? Is there a specific area of this within the organization?
We have our trainer Perttu Leppä who is responsible for the general health of athletes. And our General Manager Timo Tarvainen, who is responsible for all the team’s programming.
The CS: GO team will dispute the Closed Qualifier for ESL One Rio, what is the expectation for this qualifier?
A very high expectation, we are looking to qualify, we are the “underdogs” and this situation is good for us. We are very confident and it is a very important qualifier for us. But in the long run, it is just one of the classifieds and we believe that, even though it is difficult, we do not classify the list with a bright future.
What is your expectation of the KOVA Esports brand for 5 years from now?
We are looking to create long-term sustainable growth. Having a global brand that people in eSports in general know about. Long-term planning is one of the heads for us. The 5-10 year window is definitely the right one we are looking for.
The Counter Strike Global Offensive team consisting of players: Samu “uli” Leirilaakso, Lauri “pietola” Hietala, Samuli “Twixie” Herrala, Petteri “peku” Jaakkola and Nikita “Derkeps” Sirmitev played in the Europe Minor Closed Qualifier of ESL One Rio 2020. Was defeated 2-0 in both clashes, against Heroic and OG.
As mentioned in the interview, KOVA Esports had a very difficult path in this qualifier, but Aleksi strongly believes that in the near future they will be more prepared to compete for a Major.
Interview: Eric “Licorice” Ritchie – Professional League of Legends Player
Today’s interview is with professional League of Legends player Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. The player currently plays for Cloud9. Licorice joined Cloud9’s main team in spring 2018, replacing Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong. He spent time at eUnited 2016-2017 before returning to Cloud9, where he has been the main one ever since.
In the past two years, Licorice has gone from being a simple novice to an experienced veteran. In this new formation of Cloud9, Licorice is one of the most experienced players thanks to two participations in world championships and two LCS finals.
With Cloud9 achieving a historic victory for the organization in the LCS Spring Split finals, there is a growing expectation for the team to enter the summer season. We talked to Licorice about what we can expect.
Spring Split and the postseason were dominated by you. What’s the plan for the summer? Will they continue with the same strategy or is something new to come?
Our plan for this summer is the same as for spring. We did a good job, already trying new things, and we hope we continue to evolve. Even as we prepare for summer these past few weeks, we have new things in mind. I am very excited to play with my team.
At the Mid-Season Showdown you defeated TSM in a great performance. Would that be a preview of what is to come?
Yes, showmatch is a fun game mode, but not competitive. When you put ten competitive players to play against each other, no one wants to lose. But yes, I am happy that we won, and that we can continue like this in official matches.
Never Have I Ever, Blind 1v1s and Bob Ross Painting are contents that Cloud9 has been producing. How do you see this action since we are in the middle of a pandemic where there is a lot of stress?
For me, spending time with teammates is very important. Even if you’re happy, it’s always good to do things together as a true team. Bob Ross for example, was a lot of fun in the video and I liked that. I think it’s great to spend time with them.
Cloud9 is taking the initiative called “Presence of Mind”, with the aim of raising awareness about mental health. How do you deal with it?
I think mental health is one of the most important things for us players. I, in particular, have always had very good mental health. It’s like a privilege, because not everyone can make it work. So, I will always support any campaign on this sensitive topic.
Can these latest changes in the team change the way you view your confrontations?
I don’t believe there is a team that is too excited to see what they will be like. This transition from spring to summer should improve competition. For us, we work hard to ensure a good position. We will be dominant in the summer, as if we are in the spring. We want to go to the World Cup and have a great performance there, but first times we win the summer.
In addition to the content of Cloud9, what have you been doing to fill your time? Do you play any new games? Have you tested Valorant?
I played Valorant, but very little, just to test. More than that, I didn’t play. I don’t think it will be the game I would play casually. In multiplayer games I always want to be good, and when you play with other people, it ends up consuming a lot of time.
If that takes away my competitive time in the league, it wouldn’t be good for my career. So I avoid it, stay away from them. But lately I’ve been reading a lot, playing Pokemon Go, which is really fun.
What kind of books are you reading? Any recommendations?
A mixture of fiction and non-fiction. Nonfiction material is like self-help books. But the favorite book I read during that chaos, was a retelling of The Hobbit.
Finally, how have you been during the pandemic? Did you go home and visit the family?…
I think I’m doing really well. I was very lucky, I can still work, even if it’s out of season. But I can still do everything I did before. I am very grateful to have this kind of experience during the pandemic and I know that it has been much more difficult for other people.
Interview: Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen – Professional League of Legends Player
For Esports fans, it is very exciting and rewarding to see new talents emerge. And this season, those who follow the NA LCS will be excited about Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen. He comes from an impeccable solo line and very hungry for victory. The bot-laner has the potential to dominate the competitive landscape in the coming years. However, what are your thoughts on all of this? Well, below is the interview we had with him.
How was the experience of spending Spring Split 2020 with Dignitas on the return to LCS?
I found it amazing! It was very good, I believe I came out much better than they expected me, coming from the solo line. Teammates helped me a lot, I learned and also grew as an individual. I focused on playing better right from the start, so the transition was very good.
As a rookie, how do you evaluate your individual performances during your first split?
To be honest, there were some games that I could have played better. In general, I would give myself a 6 or 7, for 10.
Is there a particular game that you’re focused on, or the season as a whole?
I prefer to focus on performance throughout the season. Individual games for me means that you need to do your best to be consistent.
What is your opinion about the competition at NA LCS?
To be honest, I don’t want to say the word kryptonite, but it’s like every team is your worst problem besides Cloud9. TSM has problems, Team Liquid obviously has problems and we also have our own problems. There are definitely some teams that are getting really good. But they still haven’t given the results because of their own general problems.
You played with 8 different champions this season, what are your thoughts on the current state of Bottom Lane?
For you to be successful in LCS, you must know how to play with 2 or 3 champions. In the beginning, obviously, it was Aphelios, Senna and Miss Fortune. After a while, Varus started to appear as well. You just need to focus on people who were bullies in the laning phase and who were still climbing later.
What are your plans for the offseason?
I’m just trying to relax and spend some time with friends of mine. Because, during the season, I can’t do anything but play and play.
If one day you had to play in another type of Esports, competitively, which would it be?
I think CS: GO. I don’t follow the Counter Strike scene, but maybe that would be the modality that would let me take it.
Three quick questions about other games. Did you play several hours playing this game? Would you like to spend more time in this game? A childhood game that was marked?
I played Fortnite with my friends when I needed to give League of Legends a break. To be honest, I don’t like other games when I’m off. Legend of Zelda.
To end the interview, would you like to send a message to someone?
Yes, for my friends, Aphromoo and some other professional players who have always supported me. Blaber and Santorin are examples of this, always giving me confidence.
You can follow Johnsun on Twitter at @Johnsun_lol, for all his latest updates and thoughts, and follow his offseason until Dignitas returns to the stage for Summer Split.
Interview: Richard “Xizt” Landström – Professional CS:GO Player
Today’s interviewee can be considered a legend in Counter Strike Global Offensive. Swede Richard “Xizt” Landström, 29, had his glory days in the Nip team, where he played from 2012 until 2018. He played just one championship for FaZe where he won the title, IEM Sydney 2018. After this brief passage as a complete, he was a year on the fnatic team, where he was not very successful. But with the presence of former NiP companions, Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg, Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and Adam “friberg” Friberg, represent Dignitas in this new journey.
The player told us a little about how the team performed in the first edition of Flashpoint. In addition, the challenges in relation to COVID-19. How impactful was the replacement of hallzerk by GuardiaN. Check out the interview below.
Now at Dignitas you re-see colleagues who when they played together at NiP were very successful. How is this experience going now?
It’s been great, we had a bootcamp from the first day we started. It was fun to meet Håkon “hallzerk” Fjærli and reconnect colleagues again. We haven’t played together for a few years, all of us. This is being a lot of fun. They all learned a lot from their previous teams. An example was Adam “friberg” Friberg at Heroic and OpTic, me at FaZe and fnatic. Everyone has new ideas that we didn’t have before!
How do you analyze the team’s progress from January to today?
I think we’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the team. We have very strong maps. Now we take the opportunity to play with the newbie Håkon “hallzerk” Fjærli. We are more comfortable and so we can play roles better. Always looking at our strategies and inventing new things.
Is the presence of calls from Adam “friberg” Friberg now in matches new to you?
You can be sure that the idea of calling Adam “friberg” Friberg for the team was very important. I think it is very important to have a secondary call, which has an understanding of the game as it has. Today the best teams in the world have a secondary call. In some cases even more people in this role. This has been very important for us until now.
FLASHPOINT did not end the way you wanted. What do you get out of participating in the league?
We had some problems, Håkon “hallzerk” Fjærli was unable to come with us and we had to call Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács. We had to change our language to English, which made team play a little difficult. But we had general problems, first with Hallzerk and then the whole Coronavirus situation. It was bad, but at the same time we were very close with the goal of improving further after Flashpoint. We learned a lot, but the results were obviously bad.
Did you have to change your playing style after replacing Hallzerk with GuardiaN at Flashpoint?
The characteristics of the two AWPers are very different. Hallzerk is more aggressive, while GuardiaN is as old-fashioned as the rest of us. Not having someone with Hallzerk’s style of play made it a little more difficult for us. We had to change the way we played a little bit. But I still hit the button that the biggest problem was communication. Everyone struggled with communication in English. Small details sometimes went unnoticed. The mind was working at double speed and it didn’t seem to work the way we wanted to.
What went wrong in the decisive match against Gen.G?
Our best map during Flashpoint didn’t do very well. Nuke and Vertigo were the best until the trip to Los Angeles. The two maps are similar in the way they communicate. The radar also changes a lot because of the two different levels. Against Gen.G, we played very well in my opinion, we just didn’t get the extra rounds. We were unable to close, it was small details that made the difference.
Now focusing on RMR events for Major, what is your opinion for this new qualification method due to COVID-19?
I found this change in the qualification system very good. We were looking forward to Minor, but at the same time it was a good time to change all that. The format was old and was not very good. All teams will change the lineup and get different results. With that, I think it’s very good to have the best teams in the Major.
Esports has a privilege to continue working with this pandemic, even with limitations. How does the team deal with this situation?
At the beginning of this we were in the United States, we wanted to go back to Sweden in our homes. Now that I’m here, I feel a strange feeling about not going to LAN tournaments and competing. Everyone needs to have the right mindset to play games online and have the best games. It will be different but at the same time fun, there will be many matches. Many tournaments too, at the same time, the public will love it.