As ESL One: Cologne 2020 is currently taking place online, DBLTAP's Jarek "DeKay" Lewis had the opportunity to speak with Benjamin "blameF" Bremer of Complexity Gaming. BlameF talks about the Major, oBo's development, and what it's been like to play for Complexity.
[The following interview has been edited for clarity.]
Jarek "DeKay" Lewis: How did you feel about the performance of your team during the first part of the year leading up to the player break? It seemed like you were just starting to get the ball rolling.
Benjamin "blameF" Bremer: We started out in a pretty bad state, in my opinion. We had a bunch of bad performances in online qualifiers, we only won like one out of four or something. After that happened, I kind of realized how hard it is to put together a new international roster with people that have never played with each other and don’t know each other.
It’s not just about what happens on the server. It’s about chemistry, communication, talking about mistakes, making sure everyone understands we are all friends, and trying to make each other better. Everyone had to learn that just because you mention a mistake, it doesn’t mean you’re trying to pull them down. I realized early on that we had a lot of work ahead of us.
There were rumors flying around at that point that we needed to be a top 5 team by the end of summer. People had really high expectations for us and I remember thinking that it would be a miracle if we ever met them.
When we went to the BLAST LAN tournament we did pretty well there, beating Astralis and Vitality. Although, almost immediately everyone said how it was a fluke, which sucks because we were only doing what we should have been doing: winning matches. That kind of sucked. There were some ups and downs in the beginning, I guess you could say.
We all knew we had potential, but we also knew we were capable of playing pretty poorly. We lost three minor qualifiers in a row or something like that, so that was rough. The worst part of the year was the stretch where we went out in groups for ESL Pro League and the Road to Rio tournament directly after. That was the point I thought to myself, we better be careful or we can really fuck this up.
I remember thinking about how this is a big opportunity for us all, and that we have everything we could ever need to perform so it’s purely on us as players. That period where we kept losing we had most of the team in Denmark too. I remember talking to RUSH and oBo after every official and I could just feel it wasn’t going in the right direction.
It felt like everyone’s motivation went down and no one wanted to work anymore. During that period we had a ton of team talks, we had two or three players unload their entire backpack in a single week. We had a ton of problems on the team that weren’t getting fixed and originally people weren’t speaking up about them.
The turning point however was when we decided to start over and entered into every online tournament we could. Originally, our plan was to only play tier one tournaments but we realized we weren’t playing well enough to do that. We have players that really feed off of confidence and you don’t get that by just losing all the important official matches. We started grinding those small tournaments and won almost all of them.
At that point, people started to gain confidence and I noticed guys making plays I had never seen before. Some of my teammates were talking a bit more comfortable and cocky, which is good. That’s what led up to winning the BLAST Europe Finals.
JL: How much of an effect do people have on you when they say things like you guys need to end up a top 5 team or when they leave you out of the discussion as one of the better players in the world?
BB: It motivates me when people talk good about me or my team. For example, EliGE mentioned me as a potential top 20 player last year for this year. I remember that I called my mom and said, “Mom, this is insane. One of the smartest players in the world said I could be a good player.” I remember we were celebrating that one on the phone.
As for the bad stuff, I get a lot of hate honestly. I’m sure there are players that get way more hate than me, but I do get called a baiter, that I only play for stats, or that I’m the “budget NiKo” just calling for myself. I get that all the time.
The only thing I care about though is what my team thinks. If my team ever came to me and said, “we don’t like it when you do this” then I would make a change right away. If anyone on the team asked if they can have a role, I would be more than happy to help them switch. I haven’t had any of that happen but if it did, I would be sad that I was doing something that bothered them. When people talk negatively about me or the team, I don’t really care unless it’s someone I appreciate.
When it comes to the top 5 expectations or stuff like that, it didn't put that much pressure on us. Complexity was very good at saying that this is a long term project. They had their expectations but they never said we had to do something by a certain point. Everything they said and still say now was positive.
JL: Tell me a bit about oBo in particular and how he has matured or gotten better as a player and teammate thus far. He is still super young but seems to consistently play well under your leadership.
BB: Ever since we moved to Europe, he has matured and become a way, way, way better player. When I first came into this team, he didn’t belong on a pro team at all. He wasn’t able to communicate, wasn’t able to throw any nades, and wasn’t able to remember strats. We had to change strats so that he wouldn’t be required to throw smokes or anything.
Once we got to Europe and started to grind hard and started adding variety to our game for official matches, he matured way more. One thing you can never question about oBo is his individual skill. He has the individual skill to out-aim anyone. The good thing about him is that he doesn’t get nervous either. No matter what event and even on LAN, I’ve never heard or noticed him having any worries.
In the team, we call him the performer. He plays best when it matters most. You can count on him to always perform. He can keep up with anyone in the world skills-wise, but he still has aspects of Counter-Strike he needs to work on. He knows this as well, nothing I have said here isn’t something I have already spoken with him about. For a guy who just turned seventeen, he is extremely talented and way ahead of the game. If he keeps playing, he will be one of the best players in the world as long as he keeps working hard.
JL: Do you guys have specific expectations for every event, like this ESL One: Cologne event, or are you guys looking at things long term? What are they, if any?
BB: We generally discuss long term expectations or what we expect from this current season until the next long break. We don't discuss tournament specific goals because there are so many of them back-to-back. Our goal at every event no matter what it is, is to make it out of groups. That’s a given, we don’t want to go out in the group stage.
Even with Mousesports and Na’Vi in our group, we still want to make sure we are making it out of the group. Our expectations may shift match-to-match depending on who we meet in the group stage too. At BLAST, we met OG in the opening group stage match and that was pretty lucky for us. There were other times where we met Na’Vi when they were the best team or Astralis a couple of times in a row. In those matches, we aren’t going to get as mad if we know they're one of the best in the world.
No matter who we play, we always want to make sure we are playing proper Counter-Strike. If we play proper CS and still lose, then it’s more like fair play because the other team was just better. If we throw away a 15-12 lead as we did against Heroic recently, then we aren’t going to be happy at all. The biggest thing is always making it out of groups, that’s for sure.
JL: I know you guys aren’t one of the teams that can mathematically qualify still, but I still want to get your thoughts on what should be done with the Major right now. I think everyone knows it’s not possible to take place in Brazil this November. What do you think should happen?
BB: If it was up to me, I would not want to play an online Major. It wouldn’t feel the same and I don’t think it would be justified. I understand keeping all of the tournaments online, I just don’t think the Major should be. Postponing it the first time and giving it a really large prize pool was cool of them. I think it should be postponed until it can be played offline.
JL: You talked about how helpful the Complexity organization was earlier, but tell me your favorite things about playing for them?
BB: I just love how professional it is. I never need anything because they give me everything I need. I felt it the most when I was in America with them because that was when they were able to use their office. So many people were coming to us every day asking if we needed anything. Everywhere we went, they paid for everything. They invited us out to dinner and to do stuff.
I’ve had other organizations, who I won’t name, where you always wondered what they could even do for the players. You were scared to ask for something because you didn’t want to make them mad. It’s not like that here, they just fix anything. I’ve never had any problems that they weren’t able to solve. They have so many people and staff that get us anything we need. Food, gym, hotel, they get all of it for us if we need it and even drive us everywhere when we are in America.
I don’t ever need to sit and worry about anything like if I was paid this month or not. I’ve had moments in the past with other orgs where I wasn’t sure if I should keep playing because I hadn’t been paid. Everything is so professional and top-notch, I never have any questions. They always answer immediately, I never have to sit and wait for one. I’m told how much I’m appreciated, it’s nice knowing Jason Lake and the entire staff appreciate us.