BIG's tabseN: 'We had to start from the beginning and took the hardest route ... we deserved this Major slot'

by Dennis Gonzales Jul 17 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of BIG

Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz is a rifler for BIG, forming the German squad in January of this year along with fellow former NRG players Fatih "gob b" Dayik and Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninic.

BIG are among the Challengers at the Kraków Major 2017, coming in strong after wins against Immortals and Team Liquid in the Offline Qualifier and an upset victory over FaZe Clan in their first game of the Major.

Ahead of his games in Kraków, tabseN took the time to answer questions from theScore esports about the hard work his team has put in since forming in early 2017 and why they deserve to be at the Major.

Congratulations on making it to the Major. This is your first since EMS One Katowice 2014, more than four years ago. How does it feel to finally be back?

It's a big relief. Some people might have been surprised, but we were sure that we can make it anytime after we put in so much effort in our practice and preparation. Playing my second Major in Poland means also a lot to me personally. After my first attendance at a major I always had the goal to come back. It was a long way, we had to start from the beginning and took the hardest route. I am proud of my team, that always kept believing and improved a lot since we started. We deserved this Major slot!

This is BIG's first Major season. Did you guys expect to find success this quickly after you formed the team? What were the key changes between now and before, when you, Fatih "gob b" Dayik and Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninic were still with NRG Esports?

When we built this team we had high expectations. On the paper we were the best German team, even before we played our first official match, but we needed to prove that first. It’s hard to say if the team you drafted on paper succeeds at the end, there is no guarantee for that. It needs the right people, at the right time at the right place! Of course, we dreamed about qualifying for the next Major, but we knew it would be extremely hard to gain a Challenger spot.

When we founded the team we already knew that we just wanted to play with keev and nex. Our most important request has been the team house, because we knew that if you have the chance to play full time and live together with the right guys, work will be much easier and more effective. I think communication is the most important key for our recent success and made the difference between NRG and BIG. We installed a coach as well, he helps us and Fatih [god b] a lot in preparation. We didn't expect the qualification for EPL and the Major coming in so fast, but we never doubted that we can make it.

You stepped up your own game on BIG and have become one of the team’s big guns, what’s the cause of this? Are you given more priority on this lineup more than before or are there other reasons for your rise in performance?

Well, I feel really comfortable in this lineup but there are several factors for that. I was looking for this kind of team for years now. One important reason is dedication and the will to succeed. Everybody in the team is dedicated and "lives" the game. You need such personalities to keep improving as a team and it also helps you to get better individually. We are pushing ourselves everyday to get better.

Besides that, we get along with each other pretty well outside the game. We are not only colleagues, we are friends and also decided to go on holiday together in August even though we live together in the BIG house 24/7 for months now.

Another key factor is our gaming house in Berlin. Besides having the perfect gaming setup there, we established great practice methods. Staying together helps us to focus on the game. We talk a lot about CS, even when we finish our training sessions after a 10 hour practice day we’ll often sit in Fatih's room and keep talking about opponents and tactical approaches.

And it’s really more than just one team of five players and a coach living in a house. Christian Lenz is a great team-manager who knows what a team needs to get better and our Co-Founder Yilmaz Ozan for example invites us regularly to his place to spend time together and have lunch or dinner with his family. And without his wife Nuran, we wouldn’t survive. Although she has a regular job, she cooks food for six people and her family every day. It's not only us who had this success, without all the people behind us, it wouldn't have been possible to reach our goals and keep improving every day.

All these factors combined helped me to get my game to the next level. Every player has his job during rounds and some tactics really favor my playstyle. It's always easier to play your role if you accept it, [for example] I'm not afraid to go in front. Of course, I also keep playing a lot outside of our practice sessions and I’m still motivated to put in more hours to improve my game, day by day!

Krakow will host three German orgs and six German playersthe most we’ve seen at a Major since DreamHack Winter 2014. What are your thoughts on this? Is this an indication of an upturn for German CS:GO, much like we saw recently for the Danes?

If you count like this it's four German orgs (SK Gaming). For me it doesn't count. If you see the Danish orgs, they all have Danish players. It's nice to see German players like denis [Denis "denis" Howell] or kRYSTAL [Kevin "kRYSTAL" Amend] having success with their lineup, but we are the only full German team here. Germany is still lacking a lot of talents, in my eyes it's the fault of the orgs not trusting young players and not giving enough time to grow as a team. Same goes for our national championship ESL Meisterschaft, which still could be improved in many points.

Any fun rivalries with the other German teams? Such as with ex-teammate kRYSTAL, especially since you guys have one of the “traitors” on your team, nex, and kakafu was a former coach to PENTA?

It's always good to have a rivalry, especially with German orgs. It's nice to watch for the fans and a lot of extra motivation for the players. The good thing is, we have a good relationship with all the other German players. Anyways, the matches versus mousesports and PENTA are something special for us!

Alexander "kakafu" Szymanczyk was added not long after the roster’s formation, why make this addition considering gob b’s reputation as a leader? Are coaches necessary in this meta?

Coaches help to reduce the workload of in-game leaders, which helps them to spend more time in-game to improve their own performance. kakafu is an important part of the team, without any doubts. He brings a lot of tactical input into the team and helps gob b to develop our game plans. Besides that he usually organizes and structures the training sessions and spends a lot of time analyzing our opponents in order to find weak points.

Your teammate Kevin "keev" Bartholomäus is one of the few rookie players at the Major. Is this a factor for the team? Have you guys sought out training from a sports psychologist?

In my opinion a sports psychologist could help, but until now we feel comfortable with our current environment in Berlin. But I think it could be a topic in the future, if we feel it is needed to bring our game to the next level.

Playing the major is something special for everybody in our team. We can feel the pressure, but I’m sure we can handle it. Keev already played many offline tournaments in the past and he gained a lot of experience. I’m sure that he’ll play a great tournament!

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Oracle a P90 my Souvenir NegevDiscipline Priest Pharah a silenced Cavity 9mm. You can follow him on Twitter.