A look at the finalist: Akatsuki
BESL Pro Season 5 LAN finals are set to take place on the 15th of February at the Kipsala exhibition center in Riga, Latvia with the event being hosted as part of the HyperTown urban & esports festival. Additional information about the festival and tickets can be found by visiting hypertown.pro.
The culmination of the €9,000 CS:GO competition is going to feature the four best teams from the online stage. These teams are going to continue playing out the single-elimination playoff bracket with all the games being played as a best-of-three series.
The winner of the event is not only going to be crowned as the best team in the Baltic states, taking home the beautiful BESL Pro champions trophy but will also receive the lion's share of the prize pool in the form of €3,000!
As we’re still waiting for the event itself to come along, let’s take a closer look at the teams that made it to the finals this time!
As we’re moving on in our ‘A look at the finalist’ series, it’s time to take a closer look at the defending champions from Season 4 - Akatsuki! Attending their second LAN finals event in a row, Akatsuki are looking to possibly go down in Baltic state CS:GO history as the first team to win back-to-back BESL Pro titles.
In the swiss group stage, Akatsuki picked up where they left off last season as they cruised through the first phase of the competition with a flawless 3-0 win-loss record by defeating teams such as Team Medieval, alltheRAGE and Team Titan.
In their ¼ final game series, Akatsuki were matched up against deprEST - an international dark-horse team that has the ability to challenge anyone they go up against despite their roster not being star-studded by any stretch of the imagination.
With that being said, deprEST lived up to their reputation as they made things far from being easy for the side of Akatsuki and while the defending champions did kick things off with a victory on their opponent’s map of choice dust2 (16:10), deprEST were quick to answer back with a very dominant 16:6 victory on overpass, a map that Akatsuki picked. In the end, though, Akatsuki pulled themselves together and sealed the deal with a 16:12 victory on mirage, thus securing themselves a spot in the BESL Pro LAN finals in Riga.
First of all - congratulations on qualifying to the BESL Pro LAN finals for the second time in a row! I think it comes as no surprise to anyone that you guys managed to do it again as you coming into this season with the same roster that you won the previous one with made you one of the biggest favorites here. Accordingly, now you have the chance to not only defend your title but also possibly become the first Baltic state CS:GO team that wins back-to-back BESL Pro seasons. Has this been your goal all along, or have you not really thought about it?
Thank you! Yes, of course, after winning the last season our goal for this one was exactly the same - to go all the way to the LAN finals and take the trophy home one more time.
With you not only attending three VALVE CS:GO Majors but also earning a legends’ status at one of them, I was curious to ask - how much does a competition like this mean to you, a player who has achievements that stretch far beyond Baltic state CS:GO realm? Seeing how it plays out and all, how essential would you say a league like BESL Pro is to our scene and its development?
For me, everywhere I compete, I play for the victory. It’s just in my blood, I don’t like losing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tournament, game or any other competition in real life, I will always try to give my best and analyze where I can improve to be better the next time. I would lie if I would say that winning this league means a world to me, but at this point it just helps me to get back into the game after being absent from worldwide competitive CS for some time. I’m still a bit rusty, but playing here as a mix allows me to experiment on certain things, which helps me to see which aspects I need to work on in order to get back to the level I used to play. So right now, for me, it’s more like a training ground.
BESL Pro is a great league for players who want to gain some experience in competitive CS by playing on a stage in front of a live crowd. Even though winning this league will probably not get you into a PRO team at this point, competing here is still a great way to be prepared for what’s coming if you do decide to play this game on a more serious level in the future.
As I mentioned before, you came into this season with the exact same roster that you had in the previous one which is quite unorthodox to see in the Baltic states as for the longest of times we’ve seen teams shuffling around in-between seasons rather than staying together. With that being said - how did you guys decide to not make any changes and just stick together for another season?
It’s not a secret that we’re just a mix and we had no plans on sticking together as a team. So, it all just came down to how much time each of our players could dedicate to competing here. The bottom line was - if BESL Pro league games don’t clash with players having a practice with their team, then we would play it together once again.
Let’s talk about your swiss group stage run. Right off the bat, the game series that sticks out the most is the one against alltheRAGE as it was the only one where you dropped a map and were actually pretty close to losing the series. In an interview with Heccu, jL- told that he feels like they should’ve won that series and his lackluster performance on the second map (overpass) was the reason they didn’t. What do you think - was it their series to lose or did you feel like you are in control the whole time?
To be fair, they actually could've won that series, because my guys came into the game underestimating the opponents and being highly unfocused. Eating while playing, constantly being distracted by other things. All these factors added up and we lost the first map, after which I told my guys that this is exactly what we deserved coming into the game like this. I made a small speech about it in TeamSpeak, maybe in a bit more angry tone than I usually speak, but it had to be done. I hate playing in an atmosphere like that! You always must remain professional and focused no matter what opponents you play against or these things will keep happening. We somehow managed to get through it picking up a victory, but I hope we learned our lesson here.
Other than that, you had a pretty easy run in the swiss group stage as you manhandled two Latvian squads, namely Team Medieval and Team Titan, both with 2-0 scorelines. For me, it was obvious that Team Medieval never stood a chance against you guys, but I thought that the game series against Team Titan was surprisingly one-sided. Obviously, it has to be said that you did not play against them and instead we saw kAliNka in the server, but still, were you surprised by how easily your teammates cruised past the team that won ESEA Main division last season?
No, not really, because knowing the players I play with I just knew that they can only lose if they underestimate their opponents and not take the game seriously. Once I saw the result, it was clear to me that this time around they went into the game with full focus.
In your ¼ final game series, you were matched up against deprEST - a team that in my eyes has always been the ultimate dark-horse team of BESL Pro as they regularly manage to make things competitive regardless of who their opponent is. Despite that, in our prediction game, you guys were marked as heavy favorites receiving 92% of the votes, though, in the server, things were definitely closer than that! Be honest here - were you actually surprised by the level that deprEST showed against you guys? Or were you just underestimating them a bit too much expecting an easy 2-0 victory?
I would say a bit of both. We actually thought that this shouldn’t be a hard match-up for us so we came into the game being very confident. Things didn’t go our way on overpass, and probably it has something to do with the map itself. I personally don’t find overpass to be a good map to play as a mix since it can go either way and some of our players don’t really feel confident on that exact map. So probably it was our mistake to pick it and that’s what gave our opponents more confidence going further since we played it quite poorly. The last map certainly was harder than the first one, but almost everything went as planned and we just closed out a series.
Moving on to the LAN finals in Riga - in your semi-final game series you’re going to face off against your fellow countrymen in the form of Timechasers. Historically, you guys have played against them before in Season 4, but those results have to be taken with a grain of salt as you didn’t have the roster that you have right now in none of the two series that were played. Nevertheless, we have seen Timechasers being a hard nut to crack from time to time. How do you think you match up against them knowing that they are an actual team and not just a mix? Would you say that it makes things harder or easier for you?
I’m glad to see that they’re sticking together as a team and we can actually see them making progress from season to season. This is a good example for everyone else in the league that a team consisting of fairly unknown players with some preparation and commitment can reach the LAN finals and this might only be the beginning.
As for our match-up, it solely depends on how well they will be prepared to counter our individual plays with their team-play. On paper, it should be fairly easy for a team to play against a mix, but if we take into consideration the level we play in, then I would say that they would actually be better off playing against a team rather than us.
If things go well and you do defeat Timechasers in the semi-final, then you would be facing the winners of the 1337HUANIA and alltheRAGE duel. On one hand, I imagine you guys would want to play against 1337HUANIA just to prove that you are still the best mix-team in Baltics. On the other hand, if alltheRAGE defeat 1337HUANIA, then we would possibly see a repeat of the epic 3-map series that you guys had in the regular season. Which storyline sounds more fun to you and who would you rather play against - 1337HUANIA or alltheRAGE?
If we look at these two mixes, I feel like, at the moment, the guys from 1337HUANIA have better individual players than the ones playing in alltheRAGE, though, some of the alltheRAGE players are looking very promising if they keep training. So, if things go as planned and we do defeat Timechasers, then I would like to meet 1337HUANIA in the grand final since I feel like it would be the best opponent that we could test our skills against.
Thanks for your time! I wish the best of luck to you and your team in Riga! Do you have any final words or shoutouts you want to give?
Thank you! I hardly expect anyone to cheer for us, but if there are some, then shoutouts to them. Magician -rep
Stay tuned as even though the online portion of the season has come to an end, our news section is still going to be filled with interesting content such as interviews with the teams that made it to the finals and the big LAN finals preview article to let you guys know what to expect from the matches happening at the HyperTown urban & esports festival!
BESL Pro Season 5 is a seven-week competition between the sixteen best Baltic state CS:GO teams for their share of the €9,000 prize pool and the right to call themselves the best in Baltic states.
The four best teams from the online part of the competition are going to meet each other on the Samsung Odyssey esports stage on the 15th of February at Kipsala exhibition center in Riga, Latvia at the HyperTown Riga 2020 urban & esports festival. Visit hypertown.pro for more info about the festival and tickets.
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Article by: Bruno ‘Gekons’ Gailītis