Following Fnatic’s success at VCT EMEA Regional Finals after beating Oxygen Esports, we got to chat with the team’s captain, Jake “Boaster” Howlett. Boaster told us more about his feelings after making it to the Iceland Masters event, which region will have the biggest chance of winning the event, as well as how the team acclimated Derke and MAGNUM.
Interview with Boaster
Run It Back: Congratulations! Fnatic is the second and final team to represent Europe at the Reykjavik Masters event. I need to hear it from you. How hyped are you?
Boaster: I’m so hyped man. I’ve been working so hard. All the boys have been working so hard. Ever since we qualified, firstly it was the anti-stratting, and then I’d get home and prepare our maps as well to make sure they’re up to scratch and up to date and mini (Fnatic’s coach) has been helping with that too. It’s just nice we got rewarded for all the hard work. It just feels so good.
Run It Back: How much work did you have to put in against Oxygen and Gambit, since they came from different regions?
Boaster: So we knew which maps they liked and disliked. I prepared in advance what maps we were going to play. So I felt like I kind of had the decider of which maps…obviously we weren’t sure whether Oxygen were going to play Bind or not, but it was always an option. We didn’t really practice that one too much because we didn’t think they were going to play it, and they didn’t. So then the three maps we had were the three maps we practiced and the three maps we looked at their VODs for.
For Gambit, it was a lot easier to know which maps we were going to play. We knew it was going to be an Ascent, a Bind, and an Icebox. We just didn’t know whether they would pick Ascent first, or Icebox first. And then it was just a case of getting to watch their VODs and just make notes about what they do. And that’s how it came to it. They did some of the stuff which I have seen so I was like “They’re doing this strat,” and things would work out.
Run It Back: Fnatic will be going to Iceland for the Valorant Masters event at the end of May. Which regions do you think will come out as the strongest, and is there any region that you’re most worried about?
Boaster: I think Eu has a really good chance. Both Liquid and us have a really good chance. It’s hard to say because we haven’t actually played against the teams [from other regions]. It’s the same as with CIS and Turkey, we haven’t really played them too much so we weren’t really sure whether we’re going to qualify and beat them or not. Turned out we did beat them, though they were tough games both times. I think that’s going to be the same this international event.
I have no reason to be scared of anyone because I believe that we are creative and we have cool comps. Stuff that they may not have played against and seen before. It’s like NA are just starting to use Viper on Bind now due to the buff. It’s just like that really.
Run It Back: Fnatic came into this event with quite a new roster. You traded out Tsack and Moe, and brought MAGNUM and Derke on board. Strategically-speaking, how has this impacted Fnatic’s playstyle?
Boaster: I kind of slotted Derke and MAGNUM in. MAGNUM was this Sentinel player, Derke was this Jett and he could play Sova and Sage as well. I guess they just slotted in. I said, “These are the strats we have, just get a notebook and start learning boys.” Even in the first week, we weren’t even doing strats and were doing things on the fly, and I was just seeing how they liked to play. But then when it came to us beating Vitality, I started to really step up on the strats. We needed a t side (attack). CT (defense) side we were a lot stronger with those new additions. But t side we were still kind of like… the same. So when we added structure, that was when we became a lot scarier to other teams I think.
Run It Back: Derke is a kind of explosive player, especially when on Jett. Being Fnatic’s in-game leader, did you have to adjust your calls to this playstyle, or did Derke have to adjust to the playstyle of Fnatic?
Boaster: A bit of both! I think Derke adjusted to our playstyle and our kind of like…I’d say “philosophy” of how we play. It’s our kind of style of how we play. We play some situations together and then sometimes loose. It was just kind of him adjusting to us, and then us adjusting to him, and then taking the best of both really. If Derke wants to go a bit more crazy, then I’ll let him go crazy. “You go boy. I’ll do some recons for you.”
Run It Back: Similarly to VCT Eu Challengers 2, you’ll be facing Team Liquid in yet another final. You beat them last time, but this time around how do you feel going up against them?
Boaster: Fine! I’m really happy that us and Liquid made it. The UK lads and I know them. It’s going to be a fun event outside of gaming as well, I know they’re a good bunch of lads. Then when it comes to playing against them, I think it’s fine too. They obviously have that super cheese Haven comp right now, which seems really strong and suits their playstyle massively. I’m just super excited about playing and no hard feelings.
When it comes to the Masters event, then it’s going to be switch on. But for this game we’re going to try our best to win but obviously we’ve qualified now, so it’s not the end of the world. We’re going to try and win though, we want to be the best Eu team seeded-wise going into this event. Like a powerhouse.
*Questions and answers may have been altered slightly for the sake of clarity and brevity.*
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