A newly formed team, a captain with a vengeance, and a result no one could have seen coming.
LeStream Esport surprised everyone this Pro League season by taking second place at the end of the first half. With only an underwhelming performance at DreamHack Winter 2018 to gauge the newly assembled roster, no one could expect the break out performance from the former core Millenium roster. Led by team captain Valentin “Risze” Liradelfo, the European team went 4-1-2 in the first half of Season 9, only behind Team Empire.
Only two members, Théophile “Hicks” Dupont and Risze, from the Millenium side at the start of Season 8 remain in LeStream, meaning that they are very new compared to other European sides as a complete team. However, each of the players have incredible talent on their own, and finally got into groove this season, with every one of them pulling their weight as required.
LeStream appears to be a team of surprises, however, as their performance at the Six Invitational 2019 shocked fans yet again with two straight losses, a particularly rough match against North American team Evil Geniuses, and early elimination. Despite the blow to their record, Risze led the team to secure five more victories in the latter half of the regular Pro League season, losing only one match and drawing another, and LeStream finished just three points behind Team Empire.
After an impressive recovery, LeStream qualified for the Season 9 Finals and is looking to set the record straight on their offline capabilities. They will also be sure to be licking their lips at the chance to settle the score against Evil Geniuses in Milan, though both teams will have to defeat a LATAM team in the quarter-finals to face each other.
To discuss the season’s results, and what to expect from LeStream at Milan, SiegeGG contacted Risze to ask him some questions:
Your team had a hugely impressive record this season, finishing just three points behind Team Empire. How did your team turn things around after the Six Invitational?
Well, I think we just made a good role change by putting Alphama more on a support role -- hard breacher, actually -- and Hicks more like a flank-holder who can still give orders to the team and set up the attacks and help the other group if necessary. I think we just made a good role change.
We also prepared a lot for our next opponents -- because it's a Best-of-One, it's easier to prepare than a Best-of-Three. But, for example, we prepared a lot for Team Empire, which is why I think we won on that one.
How has your team settled in its roles this season?
Pretty well, actually. So, we have Alphama as a support/hard breacher role; he plays mainly hard breachers except Maverick. Maverick most likely will be used by AceeZ, because it's obviously a good flank hold operator. Then we have like UUNO being the first entry fragger, Hicks as flank holder and second support if necessary. He plays a lot of Zofia at the moment; it works pretty well in the meta.
Then we have AceeZ whos the second entry fragger, and the backstabber if necessary. Then we have me as a flex. So basically, the only change we did since the first half of the season was Alphama and Hicks on both support roles, and it's working pretty good.
Your LAN record has, so far, been unimpressive. How are you guys preparing to translate the improvements you have made from online to offline?
I think you don’t really prepare to translate any improvements from online to offline. It's not a matter of preparation; we just need to play our own game. It’s really important. For example, at the Six Invitational we didn’t really play our own game. We made a lot of improvements with the team.
Still, we just need to focus on playing the same we do online. That’s not something you can really prepare. I think it's just a matter of experience, and now we have been to some LANs. I think we can say we are ready to show what we are really of.
You go up against the fearsome FaZe Clan from LATAM. How different or similar is the LATAM play style to EU?
It’s different in some ways, but the same in others. FaZe Clan, for example, they play really classic setups in defence. Like, they play really (on-)meta on defence in general. But on attack, you can see they’re bringing the Finka. That’s an unusual pick for any other team. So, it gives them four grenades, but they don’t really use it.
They don’t really bring a Thatcher with it, so I think of it as more of an aggressive playstyle, which is really similar to the LATAM one. So, I think FaZe Clan has two sides: the LATAM one and the EU one.
A potential clash against Evil Geniuses awaits in the semi-finals. Does the chance for revenge excite you?
Yes, of course! We are actually sad that we couldn’t get the chance to play against them in the quarter-finals. But, hopefully, if we qualify for the semi-finals and so do they, we might get our revenge. But, it will definitely be a great match if we both make it to semi-finals. I’m looking forward to it.
What is your opinion on ESL abolishing the rule that two teams from the same region cannot face each other in the quarter-finals?
I don’t really have a strong opinion, just that I don’t really see the point. Why would you abolish that rule? For now, all I can see is that Fnatic is going to face NORA-Rengo in the quarter-finals. One of those two teams won’t even have the chance to play against a team from another region. They already played against each other the whole Pro League season in their region, so why? But, I don’t really have an opinion about it, to be honest.
What is the one team you think is worth watching out for this event?
I think all teams are worth watching at this event. Everyone is really improving, season after season. But, if I have to choose one I would say DarkZero because they didn’t really play a lot at LAN, but they play really, really organized. I want to see what it looks like at LAN, at full potential. I think they have a really strong team.
We played against them at DreamHack Montreal, with some rougher defences. Still, at that moment they were already really strong and organized as a team.
Who do you think is going to be winning the other three quarter-finals games, and the lower-half semi-final?
I would say Evil Geniuses because we want to take our revenge. I would say DarkZero against Team Empire. If DarkZero does their homework, I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t win against the “Cyborg”, especially in the shape [Empire] are right now.
Then, I would say Fnatic. It’s going to be a really tense match, but Fnatic will get it. The semi-finals are going to be DarkZero against Fnatic. It’s going to be a hard one as well. I would say Fnatic, because it’s my heart’s choice.
The Milan finals are taking place on the 18th and 19th of May, where LeStream will either make or break the impressive run they have built up. To keep up to date on Milan coverage before, during, and after the event, be sure to check back here at SiegeGG.