Interview

"I hope we will be able to deliver": Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom about ESL One

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Sören Vendsahm
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Titan returns to ESL One as the one challenger that has to win the hearts of their fans back. After a disastrous group stage drop out in Katowice, they are determined to do better than before. We sat down with Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom to talk about the tournament, the French rivalry and what changed after their unlucky end at Katowice.

ESL: The return to ESL One is not linked to a lot of good memories for you seeing as your ESL Katowice ended in the group stage. What is your mindset going into this one?
Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom: Indeed - sadly our journey in Katowice ended at the group stage, but one must also remember that we were put in a really hard group that included Virtus.pro, who won the event, and HellRaisers. But this time it's going to be different. We practiced a lot and learned from our mistakes, and hopefully we have what it takes to win the entire tournament.

ESL: It’s not only the shadow of an early departure at ESL One hanging over your team, but a mediocre performance during the last weeks in general. DreamHack Summer 2014 ended after the quarterfinals, and online competitions have not been won either. What have you guys planned to snap yourselves out of the funk?
ScreaM: After the departure of shox and the arrival of kennyS, we found ourselves making a lot of basic mistakes that weighed heavily on our results. It took us time to resolve these problems, but now we’re able to show a different side of ourselves.

ESL: Looking at the most recent results, losses against a lot of the ESL One Cologne participants are on record. HellRaisers, Na’Vi and Fnatic all got the better of you recently - how do you expect confrontations with them will go in a LAN environment?
ScreaM: In fact, online we’ve lost against all the teams in the scene, but like I said in the previous answer: it's now on us to show a different side. If we play to our level without making those easy mistakes that cost us so many rounds, the results will definitely not be the same as the recent online ones. But when you make such basic mistakes as we did, against teams on this level, you can’t hope to win.

ESL: What does your team usually prefer? The thrill and excitement of a LAN or the controlled environment of online competition?
ScreaM: The answer is obvious! We are always looking forward to the difficult challenges of a LAN, to face our opponents and be spurred on by our supporters. Virtus.pro winning on home soil at Katowice is a moment we all dream of experiencing.

ESL: Earlier this year you reacted to some struggles with a roster change - kennyS returned and longtime member shox was let go. How exactly has that changed the dynamic in the team?
ScreaM: I was saddened to lose a player and a friend such as shox, but in kennyS we found a very motivated team member. With the roster change, we were also able to change our game - the team dynamic and momentum was good. We just needed some time to get back to our old level of play.

ESL: The most successful stretch in your team’s history came off a dominant defensive performance on the CT side of maps. Nuke and Inferno were your forte, with people seemingly bashing their head against a wall. However, recently more and more teams seem to have cracked the code and found gaps in this defense - did you get too one-dimensional?
ScreaM: It’s true, the teams we play against are adapting more quickly. Today, it’s a race against time. We need to constantly reinvent our game if we are to have any hope of keeping the element of surprise.

ESL: Another thing that people have scouted out by now is the P250 and head armor buy that countered an early pistol round on several occasions in the past. Do you think those ‘revelations’ are a big factor in the downward spiral you guys have been on?
ScreaM: As I hinted at earlier, the element of surprise is crucial for winning a round. The P250 and Kevlar buy was for a long time a good way to surprise the opposing teams, but now it’s become expected and we use it less and less. It’s still a tactic often used by others, though, but we can’t say that people countering it explains our own recent results.

ESL: You guys innovated the P250 strat, and now Valve and ESL have gone ahead and introduced innovation in terms of the map pool. What are your general thoughts on maps like Cobblestone or Overpass?
ScreaM: This is a personal opinion, but I think it's good for the competitive scene to have more maps. I love Overpass and Cobblestone, but I still want to see Tuscan.

ESL: Other changes have been introduced to the game as well, like a new damage model for wallbangs, etc. Do you think the game and the competitive aspect of it are moving in the right direction at the moment?
ScreaM: Yes, I think having some extra wallbanging options is a good thing, but it has to be realistic. There were also a lot of inconsistencies with the new wallbanging additions, but thankfully Valve corrects errors quickly.

ESL: We’ve already touched on some of your upcoming opponents above, but now let’s look at them in more depth. 15 of the best teams in the world will be competing with you for a staggering US$250,000 and the prestigious ESL One trophy. Which team do you see as being your biggest rival?
ScreaM: Currently we are cautious of everyone - all 15 teams can beat us if we don’t play at our best. However, if I were to give you some names, NiP, Virtus.pro, LDLC and Dignitas come to mind.

ESL: Two other French teams are also coming to Cologne - are duels against them special or just business as usual?
ScreaM: It’s special, yes! The French players all know each other very well, and most of them have played together at some point or other. The rivalry is greater and the pressure is somewhat
different... it always turns into good battles!

ESL: Not only are there ‘favorites’ at these events, but dark horse teams also have a certain charm. Which team do you think will exceed expectations and maybe cause some upsets?
ScreaM: I could see Dignitas and Fnatic on the podium - they have really strong individual players, and I think this LAN will hinge greatly on individual performances.

ESL: The European qualifier was full of upsets - how can you explain teams like dAT team or London Conspiracy shocking established teams like ESG! or Na’Vi?
ScreaM: Teams like dAT and London Conspiracy are doing really well. They both have good individual qualities and a good game setup. I still see them as below the likes of ESG! and Na’Vi, though - they were simply able to perform on the day and made the most of their roles as challengers/underdogs.

ESL: Another thing that will be significant in Cologne is that the ‘hometown’ bonus won’t be a factor. No German teams have made it through, so who do you think will be the crowd favorite?
ScreaM: It's unfortunate that we don’t have any local teams, but that's just the way it is. I don’t really know the preferences of the German community, but I think they’re fans of truly good games and in that regard I hope we will be able to deliver.

ESL: Final prediction: who will be able to hoist the giant trophy in the end?
ScreaM: For me, the team that performs the hottest individually is the team that will win overall, and that’s complicated to predict in advance... it will all come down to the performances on the day!

ESL: Thank you very much, Adil. Have a nice stay in Cologne!

Looking for more details about the tournament? Check out the official ESL One website. Still want a chance to be part of the action in Cologne? We have the last tickets for the sold-out gamescom 2014, where you can see all your favorite teams in action!