mantuu: " I got offers from EG, I got offers from NIP. We were in talks [...]"
Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier: First game against Heroic and its the first game for you and the new look team. How is it for you to be back after a one-year break and to play your first game against the current best team in the world?
Mateusz "mantuu" Wilczewski: Yeah, I mean, the first time when I saw the matchup of playing versus Heroic, I thought, of course, we're playing the number one team in the world with a fresh new team, with a team that's speaking English for the first time, with my new teammates, but of course, it's going to be super exciting. That's the first thing I thought that it was gonna be super fun. I didn't play, like you said, for a year. So I was just excited to play. And I think everyone had fun. Obviously, we had a lot of problems or issues; as you know, when you play the best team in the world, you're gonna find problems in the game. So it was just a learning curve during the game, where we just learned a lot about ourselves: how we play, how we play in the LAN environment. Yeah, we just learned a lot from the game.
TheSwedishJoker: And then in the second game against Astralis, that was a real nailbiter, at least the last map. It could have gone either way. How was that game from your point of view? You know, coming from the best team in the world, the best Danish team, to the second-best Danish team. Did you feel like there was a bit of difference in terms of your preparation and how you, you know, approached the match?
mantuu: Yeah, I think we approached the match against Astralis a little bit differently.
Just because it's the first official game, especially for myself, there's always going to be some nerves, and you just need to play the first official and get it out of the way. And then, as soon as you start playing, it shows. We had a different mindset going in, especially after the first Anubis match. When we went into Ancient, tabseN just said, we have nothing to lose, guys. You know, we are a brand new team, speaking English for the first time, and we have literally nothing to lose. So we just [...] had a different mindset. We had a lot of fun. And yeah, we had the ball rolling from, I think, after the first map, and [...] we started playing aggressively. We started to take a lot of risks. We started having fun, people were [...] winning clutches. They were excited. They were shouting. And yeah, we started getting the ball rolling and having fun when we started winning rounds. Because in practice, we knew when we play against good teams that we could win. We just had to convert it into officials. And yeah, that's what we did.
TheSwedishJoker: As mentioned before, you finally found a new team right after one year. How's it been for you so far? You know, coming to a new team, new culture and everything. Do you feel comfortable already within the team?
mantuu: Yeah, it's been a long process for me. I've been trying to find a team for a year. And yeah, I got a call from BIG. And obviously, I played in the German scene before playing in OG. So I knew most of the guys. I knew Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz and I know assistant coach Dustin "DuDe" Großmann for a long time, played with him for nearly my whole career. I also know, like, some German just because I've been playing so many years with them [...], so fitting with them was no problem. They're a bunch of, like, really, really nice guys. And yeah, I'm just having a lot of fun with them getting to know them a lot better. So it's been great so far.
TheSwedishJoker: You said that it was a drawn-out process. Can you talk a little bit more about that, did you have any other offers, or was it just obvious that BIG was the team that you wanted to go to?
mantuu: I mean, at the start. After my OG benching, I took some months off. And then I started looking for a new team. Of course, I got offers, I got offers from EG, I got offers from NIP. We were in talks, but yeah, EG decided to go the American way. They wanted the American roster, and then NIP decided to go with Danyyl "headtr1ck" Valitov. So a lot of times, I had a lot of conversations with a lot of teams, especially after the major when the roster shuffle was happening. But yeah, it never came to fruition. And it was kind of a little bit sad for me just because I have to wait again for, let's say, the end of the next major for the major roster shuffle to happen, right? So I was always kind of sitting on the sidelines, watching the games, stream a little bit, playing. Yeah, but I just missed team CS, that's the part I miss; traveling, checking into your hotel rooms, playing with your team. That was hard for me not to be able to do.
TheSwedishJoker: You mentioned DuDe. You played with him before in Panthers, and you used to play with him in Alternate Attax. Has your past experience with him playing in German teams made the transition easier? And how do you feel that he has changed from when he was your in-game leader to now when he is your coach?
mantuu: Yeah, I mean, as I said, I've been playing with DuDe and, like, hanging around with him on TeamSpeak or whatever, from the start of my career to now. We are really best friends and I think it was a really good transition to BIG because of him. He knows me in and out: what is my character, who I am, and how I play CSGO. So the other BIG guys kind of trusted him. And he basically told them all about me. So I think you have to trust them. And yeah, like everyone knows kind of how I behave. So the transition wasn't a problem going into BIG. With DuDe, I think I think he's, he's the same kind of as he was as a player and as a coach. Of course, he's a little bit more strict now. He obviously has a lot of knowledge in and outside of the game. So yeah, it's been nice because if you have a person as a coach, that is also a person you can trust. It makes things so much easier. Because if you have any problems inside or outside the game, you can tell them straight away without feeling bad or anything like that.
TheSwedishJoker: In OG, things looked great in the beginning. What do you think happened during your time in OG? What was it that made you take the break? Was it you going to OG and saying that you wanted to take a break, or was it them going to you saying that things aren't working out and they'd like you to sit on the bench?
mantuu: So yeah, when they contacted me, basically, it happened when we went to Dubai. And then, I got COVID and couldn't travel to BLAST. I had to sit back in the Dubai hotel for like a week until I could travel back. And yeah, basically, they just told me that they want to try Abdulkhalik "degster" Gasanov as a different approach. They said it is nothing against me or how I play. They just want to change the system. They said maybe there'll make mistakes now, but they want to take a risk going with degster. I just wanted them to be upfront with me a little bit like before. Because when I got the news, I was on holiday, and I got the news from Twitter that I was getting benched. Because I was with them for nearly three years, I just wanted them to just tell me, you know, like, “Oh, we're changing Dexter, for example, you're getting benched.” That's it, then I would have been like, “Okay, no problem. I see what you want to do, you want to change the system, you're gonna go with a different kind of player, like, play around him, for example, degster”. So yeah, that's basically just all I wanted was for them to be upfront with me. That was the only thing that made me a little bit sad.
TheSwedishJoker: Now you are playing with tabseN. How do you feel about the differences between, you know, tabseN and Nemanja "nexa" Isaković? And do you feel more comfortable in BIG, which is more structured, compared to OG?
mantuu: I mean, in BIG, first of all, it's like a really family-oriented organization. There are so many people working, so many people giving you support. So straightaway, as soon as I joined BIG and went to the BIG office or the bootcamp, a lot of people welcomed me. A lot of people were like, "Who's this guy?" Everyone was super helpful. The difference? Obviously, right now, it was the first game against Astralis when tabseN was calling. Before, we tried to have Elias "s1n" Stein calling, and now we changed it up a little bit with tabseN's calling again. So it was the first game we had tabseN calling. tabseN has a lot of knowledge of the game. You can see it when we're practicing after practice; he's constantly [...] I also ask him for advice. You know, let's figure out this position here. How do you think I should play this person here? We're constantly talking, and he has so much knowledge to give. So I'm always asking him questions. And yeah, another aspect is, for example, we do a lot of practice, and we're always given a packet. That's the difference between OG and BIG. At the boot camp [...] we're constantly together, talking about CS. From 9 in the morning until 12 at night, we're literally in the room talking about CS, discussing scenarios. If anyone has any questions or is playing a bombsite with his teammate, we go on the server together and just talk about different rounds or stuff in the game. So yeah, that's the difference.
TheSwedishJoker: Having that long break, did you change a bit as a player, during that break and take a look at what you think maybe went wrong in OG to fix those stuff?
mantuu: Yeah, I think the most important thing for me was the mentality. Because when I joined OG, as it also is for new players, when they join a tier one team, you have a lot of fun. You don't think about anything else, but you just enjoy CS, right? And after playing for three years in a tier one team, you keep saying, “I don't get second places or not qualify for major,” and you, like, year after year kinda, like [...] always been upset by the results. It changes your mentality, you become frustrated, and you stop enjoying CS, right? Because you always want to create, you're grinding and grinding, and then you keep failing, right? So for me, the most important part was just enjoying the game again. You know, having fun with it, having people around you that you want to have fun with. A second thing, of course, I thought a lot about CS, how I played and how I want things to be different. And that's the first thing that I kind of said in BIG when we talked about our philosophy of the game and talked about the problems we had on OG, the problems I had. And how can we fix them, just work on these problems which I had.
TheSwedishJoker: What's the main focus been for you guys right now? Do you see this, as many other teams, as a two-week-long boot camp, or did you boot camp beforehand, coming into this tournament?
mantuu: Yeah, so we had a boot camp for a week. Basically, first time meeting and first time playing with each other. Yeah, it was, as people probably know, super chaotic, right? First praccs. I mean, the whole boot camp, there's a lot of issues to fix. First of all, for me, it wasn't a problem communicating in English. But for the other guys it was. Then we had the new IGL with s1n, of course, and then what philosophy we would have. Been practicing new maps because I never played, for example, Anubis. So yeah, just practicing a lot with the guys trying to fix our communication issues. And also for myself, I just want to, for example, also kind of tell the guys how to improve the fastest. But the most important thing was just to play officials. As soon as we can play officials, we can, which we're doing right now. And just learning from our mistakes.
TheSwedishJoker: You mentioned s1n being the IGL, and he's come to take it over, and tabseN is just going to help and be the secondary caller, right? How do you think that he's doing so far, especially like, he's so young, and I think that it's his first time speaking English? Do you see the potential that he has already?
mantuu: Yeah, so first of all, like, like you said, he has a lot of potential, right? For him. I kind of when I step into his shoes, I understand like, he just got promoted from BIG Academy. Right, he's calling now, next to TabseN, who is obviously one of the greatest German players ever, right? So there is kind of like a spotlight on s1n calling, where he could be a little bit stressed out, but we're making sure that he feels as comfortable as possible. It is super hard for him. After only one week, he's communicating in English, calling in English, and playing in tier-one CS against the best teams in the world, so it's super hard for him. Like I said, he has a lot of potential, and with tabseN, he’s 50% calling right now, and tabseN is calling 50%, and we can see his being more comfortable. Like Friday, when we were playing Astralis, he was putting a lot of input into the games, where we won rounds because of him, because of the inputs he put in, so yeah, I feel like he has a lot of potential.
TheSwedishJoker: The team recently announced the lineup that will be playing in Cologne and sadly, you're not part of the lineup. Do you practice some with the guys who are playing in Cologne, or do you just focus on you guys?
mantuu: No, so we're basically focusing on us. They haven't played with them; basically, they will Cologne play-in seriously. But it's one of those matches where [...] Yeah, it's kind of one of those like fun matches, let's just see what happens. Let's just try our hardest, but they're not going to like super practice. I'm also going to be there with the guys just to watch, obviously observe and do some content. But yeah, we're just focusing strictly on ourselves and not on Cologne.
TheSwedishJoker: I want to talk a little bit about you now. Coming back from this long break, have you set any expectations on yourself and what you want to achieve this season with BIG?
mantuu: Yeah, I mean, for me personally, it's about getting back into the groove and adopting the grind mindset of playing tier-one CS again, while also getting comfortable with the travel and constant gameplay. That's the most important thing for me. Additionally, it's about rediscovering myself and understanding my strengths as a player. Once we have the correct system in place for how we play CS, that's when I'll shine the most. When I understand how the system works and how my teammates react, I feel most comfortable knowing what I can do on every map and how I can adapt. Right now, my focus is on grinding as much as possible, learning from mistakes, and establishing a strong and prepared system. Our current goals are centered around constantly improving and climbing the HLTV rankings. Of course, we're also looking forward to the release of CS2. However, at the moment, we can't afford to stop practicing CS:GO and shift our focus entirely to CS2. So right now, we're putting all our efforts into CS:GO.
TheSwedishJoker: Do you talk about CS2 in the team or play some games sometimes on it just to not fall behind since we do not know when it's coming out?
mantuu: Yeah, I mean, currently, we're not playing CS2 at all. I recall René "TeSeS" Madsen mentioning in an HLTV interview that "when it comes out, it will come out, and then we'll start playing it." The release date for CS2 is unknown at the moment, and although we have received several tournament invitations for CS2, those tournaments will likely take place before Pro League and are more likely to be CS:GO events. It's a bit confusing whether CS2 will actually happen. So, right now, our focus is entirely on CS:GO. We are not directing any attention toward CS2. Once it is released and has gained sufficient traction, that's when we'll make the switch.
TheSwedishJoker: Obviously, now we have, like, six months or so before the major. What do you think that we can look forward to from you guys for this major and the season?
mantuu: Yeah, I mean, the first priority would be to make the major 100%. For our tournaments, I think the first tournament for us, which we will [ESL] Pro League, because I feel like BLAST, after a week of practice with a new team, is going to be a learning kind of tournament, so we're just hoping we learn a lot from this tournament. And then, we try to show our true selves in ESL Pro League. And yeah, after, I think ESL Pro League, that's when we're going to have the goal towards the major and make it, and yeah, we'll see what happens.
TheSwedishJoker: Tomorrow, you play against NAVI. How's the preparation going into them? Do you know seeing your performance against Astralis raise the confidence going into the Navi matchup as well as seeing them get battered kind of yesterday against Heroic?
mantuu: Yeah. When I saw NAVI play against Heroic, the immediate thought was like, "Oh, we did better against Heroic, and they are the number one team," so it's gonna be interesting. Obviously, they are a fresh team, we are a fresh team. We’ll see what maps are played. But I think after the Astralis win, which we had yesterday, we are more confident going in because I think it's super important for new teams to get the first official win out of the way because then we kind of get to our chains unleashed a little bit and we feel more confident going into the games. So yeah, I think going into the NAVI game, we are super confident, and yeah, hopefully, we win.
Photo cred: Blast Premier and Michal Konkol