Renegades had a rocky Week 7 performance that left their post-season fate in the hands of Evil Geniuses. Renegades went 0-2, and for them to still make the Summer Finals, EG had to lose their series against Counter Logic Gaming. Fortunately for Renegades, CLG was too much for Evil Geniuses to handle, sending Renegades to Los Angeles as the final seed in the Summer Finals. We talked to Hamza “Commonly” Abbaali about his season, and asked for his feedback on how to defeat CLG.
ESL: Commonly, talk to us about how this Renegades roster came to be.
Commonly: As all of you know, I was dropped from EG after worlds. Ninja contacted me after and asked if I wanted to run games with him and Victory. At the time, I had a few offers and I wanted to try them all so I gave it a go. I asked Penguin, a player I’ve wanted to team up with since January, if he wanted to try out this team. We ended up breaking up a couple teams and not losing a single scrim for our first few days together, so we decided to go all in with the roster.
ESL: So bringing Penguin into the picture was your doing?
Commonly: I'm pretty sure Penguin had a team offer from every team outside of CLG and EG, so I did have some convincing to do, but yeah, it was my doing for this specific roster.
ESL: How did Symbolic come into the picture?
Commonly: Symbolic has been in the scene for a very long time. He has been friends with Victory and Ninja for years and he has been coaching Victory since H2A, so it only made sense to keep him on board as coach.
ESL: What is the chemistry on the team like? Was there a rough patch where your roster had to get used to each other?
Commonly: Well, like every new roster, we had a honeymoon phase where we all loved each other because we were basically not losing at all. After that, we did have sort of a rough patch where we started losing and getting more annoyed which each other. However, those periods are the ones where teams grow the most. As of right now, the chemistry on the team is pretty good. Could definitely be better, but considering we were in sixth place two weeks ago, thinking about not even going to finals, we’re pretty happy with how things turned out.
ESL: As you should be! You dodged a bullet late in the season, but your play throughout the season got you to that point. Would you say there is a leader in game and out of game? A voice that keeps your team calm when you get down?
Commonly: I try to be the leader in game. I try to call plays and direct people what to do. I wouldn’t say I keep the team calm, but I try to keep their minds clear and to try and focus on the objective, rather than just trying to go for kills. An example comes to mind during our match vs EG. Game 4 Plaza Strongholds. We had lost control and were on a pretty bad spawn cycle. We died like 3 times because we were just playing on auto pilot and not really thinking about what we needed to do. I yelled out that we need to stay alive and coordinate a push. Our coach does a good job out of game saying what went wrong and we need to do for future games and trying to keep us as “non tilt” as possible.
ESL: The Renegades roster of last year was notorious for having an emotional ebb and flow to their gameplay, with their reverse sweep at the hands of Team Allegiance at the Halo World Championship as a culmination of that. Would you say your leadership has helped reel some of that in?
Commonly: Well I definitely do not want to take all the credit for that because both Ninja and Victory have improved their mental games after that heartbreaking loss. I have helped though.
ESL: It is common knowledge that you fasted for a good portion of the season. Can you share a bit about that time with us?
Commonly: Well it was one of the most frustrating times of my Halo career. I knew I was not performing as well as I could and should have, and it was obviously taking a toll on our record.
ESL: How did you and your team remain resilient in that time?
Commonly: It was definitely hard but we knew our toughest week was Week 6 with us playing EG and nV and I would be done fasting by then. We just knew we were a lot better than our record was reflecting.
ESL: The last week of the season was tumultuous to say the least. Evil Geniuses was on your heels for the final spot at the Summer Finals, and your team went 0-2 including a loss to the struggling Team Liquid. What was going through your mind in the midst of that uncertainty?
Commonly: I was actually really nervous after we lost to Liquid. Our fate was in the hands of EG. Then I remembered EG played CLG, a team they hadn’t taken a single game from in tournament play since the X-Games. After CLG won the first game, I knew we would be going to finals.
ESL: What happened in that series against Team Liquid? The first time you played against them, you swept them. What was different?
Commonly: Well, Danoxide is definitely an upgrade over Assault. From the formation of that team, Liquid always had the capability of being top four, they just didn't click, until about a week before our match. They were playing really well against some of the top teams. They came in super hot in our match and just overpowered us. They played amazing, we didn’t.
ESL: Was your preparation this time around any different?
Commonly: Our preparation was not different. Only thing different was that I was not at Penguin’s house like I was in our wins vs. EG and nV.
ESL: Speaking of preparation, you have about two weeks before you take on the best team in the world. What are you doing to prepare?
Commonly: Nothing out of the ordinary. Scrimming 5-6 times a week, watching film, playing a lot of matchmaking.
ESL: What do you believe is the key to taking them down?
Commonly: Trying to get them to play at our pace, rather than us playing at theirs. They give teams no breathing room. One mistake, and you find yourself getting triple teamed. If we can get them to slow down, while we’re the ones playing fast, we can take them down.
ESL: Alright, here is a quick little lightning round. You ready?
ESL: Best player in the game right now?
Commonly: I would usually say someone on CLG, but right now, it is hard not to say Huke
ESL: Most underrated player in the league?
Commonly: Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi.
ESL: Who on your team is most likely to shoot a puckett rocket and kill himself?
ESL: Last question: Are you the problem?
ESL: Thank you so much for your time. Anything else you would like to add?
Commonly: Shout out to Penguin’s AR, and sidewalks for keeping me off the streets.
ESL: Best of luck to you in the Summer Finals!
These following two weeks of preparation will determine if Commonly and the rest of Renegades can take down the titans of Counter Logic Gaming. You can catch all of the action live from Los Angeles by snagging tickets to the 2016 Summer Season Finals! Be sure to follow along on the ESL Halo Twitter and Facebook accounts for all the #HCS Pro League updates.