Risze: "I don't think there is a group of death this year"

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In our fifth article in the Invitational Insights series, we talk to Rogue captain risze about his team’s preparation for the Six Invitational 2020.

After a long history in North America, the Rogue organisation jumped regions earlier this year to acquire the then-European roster of Giants Gaming -- consistently one of the best teams in Europe, but unable to perform internationally.

Since the core of this roster first came together after the Paris Major, the team secured a third place finish at DreamHack Montreal 2018, runners-up finishes at the Allied Minor and DreamHack Valencia 2019, and a quarter-finals finish at the Raleigh Major in some of its highlights. However, much criticism has been leveled at the team’s first round exits at the last Invitational and the Season 9 and 10 Finals. This has given the roster a reputation of being the first team eliminated at each event -- a reputation the players are aiming to change after replacing Léo "Alphama" Robine with Jan "ripz" Hucke last month.

The new Rogue roster. From left: risze, AceeZ, korey, ripz, Hicks. (Photo: Rogue)

With this change, the three-times back-to-back French champions became a German-majority roster and, crucially, have not lost a game since, with four wins and three draws in the Pro League. Now, with the exit of Cryn from G2 Esports, Rogue will be the sole representation for German hopes at the Six Invitational. However, the team will certain find it tough going to continue the lossless streak with ripz and escape a group which includes the reigning Pro League champions of Na'Vi, the DreamHack Montreal champions of Team SoloMid, and the current Team USA -- Spacestation Gaming.

SiegeGG thus spoke to team captain Valentin “risze” Liradelfo about how his team aims to achieve this after a number of rough prior events:

Despite some bumps in the Pro League with the draws, your team seems to be doing just fine in the leadup to the Six Invitational. How has the change from Alphama to ripz shaken things up?

Mostly communication and passiveness when we need it. Ripz is a quiet player who gives structured and sharp information which allows Hicks to have more space in the communication to lead or other people to give calls. 

He's also a very strong anchor on defense and shows up when the round goes wrong. On top of it, he's a cool guy you can rely on and easy to work with.

How has the swap from Giants Gaming to Rogue been like?

I will be very honest, it was terrible. Giants was scared about Rogue’s interest towards us even before any concrete offers and tried absolutely everything to deny us our right to be transferred, including trying to recruit a Challenger League lineup behind our backs to replace us (they didn't know the PL spot is owned by the players, not the org). That led us into a lot of discussions that delayed the inevitable. 

In Rogue, we discovered a great community which actually speaks English and cheers for us (it wasn't the case in Giants). We're feeling at home and are more than happy to wear the colors and represent them!

Your team was upset by a surprisingly strong Aerowolf (now Giants Gaming) roster last time out. What went wrong there and how has your team learnt from it?

The current Giants Gaming roster, then Aerowolf, defeated the former Giants Gaming roster, now Rogue.

They were just more than prepared to play against us. They had been working on the matchup for three weeks while we wanted to focus on our own gameplay for the entire tournament. Preparing a Best-of-Three is always a bit tricky, either the opponents do what you expect and it works, or they don't and you're in a bad situation (us against FaZe in Milan). We missed some key rounds and they took advantage of it. 

Also, we had some technical issues related to TeamSpeak sound and we could barely hear each other the whole game since ESL couldn't fix it before the game and forced us to play in these unacceptable conditions. We are currently preparing for the Six Invitational in a very different way than we used to for previous tournaments and I believe it could be the key to avoiding getting hard countered like in Japan.

Inconsistency at LAN has been somewhat of a plague for your team. Are you confident that these issues have been rectified?

We do not consider ourselves being inconsistent at LAN. I know that a lot of people like to say it, but they obviously don't understand that losing a couple Best-of-Threes does not make a team inconsistent at LAN “because it's LAN”. We're all experienced players who have played at a lot of LANs and performed in the different teams we were at before teaming up together. In conclusion, I don't need to be confident to rectify anything.

Your group has been labeled the “Group of Death” by many. Do you agree with the assessment?

It's all relative depending on your personal view of a team. I don't feel it is that way -- our group is tough but I don't think there is a group of death this year.

Much has been said about the seeding process for the groups. Does your team have any gripes with it?

We could regret the skill-level disparity between groups and a lack of regional diversity, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter which teams we face in groups as the objective has always been the same: winning it all.

How do you think that the double-elimination playoffs will change the dynamic of the event, and what is your opinion of the one-map advantage in the grand final?

It will give us more games and give a team a second shot if it has a bad game or played against its nemesis. Concerning the one-map advantage, it’s pretty classic and it is fair for the team dominating in the upper bracket. 

Do you have anything else to say to your fans?

We love you #RogueNation.

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Rogue plays Team SoloMid as the opening match, with matches against either Spacestation Gaming or Natus Vincere scheduled afterwards. Check back here at SiegeGG for more Invitational Insights and full coverage of the event as it comes.