With only four days of practice, Chiefs, using their newest member Mike “ap0c” Aliferis, qualified for IEM Sydney after a shock 2-0 win over ORDER. The fairytale start for this new-look Chiefs lineup quickly fizzled out at the event, however, with convincing losses to Fnatic and MVP PK sending the team home in last place.

I spoke to ap0c at IEM Sydney about his role coming into Chiefs, the potential of sterling and Texta, and what he learned playing for Winterfox in North America.

When flickz and then yourself joined Chiefs, I got the sense that tucks was looking to create a lineup that’s smart and cohesive. Would you agree? Is that the vision that tucks is carrying out?

I honestly don’t think that was his vision going into it, with his thought process of making decisions. I think, to be honest, I was kind of the ‘guy left over’ type of deal. From talks with him, he’s really happy and he considers me an upgrade. That’s what we’re going with now: playing a bit more strategically and using that to our advantage. I think, yeah, you’re right; we do have that advantage over most teams. In our short time, we haven’t been able to fully utilise it yet.

With tucks considering you an upgrade over malta, what do you think your strengths are as a player? How are you being used in this lineup?

My strength as a player is usually in the mid-round. I think I have a very good read of the game, in general. Just as a spectator, I thought Chiefs really lacked direction in 3v3s and 2v2s before I joined. I think that’s where I come in and help a lot: a little bit more structure. I think tucks is a great in-game leader, but he has a bit more that we need to practice. He’s extremely happy that I’m here.

You’re a veteran in-game leader. How much input do you have on the decisions Chiefs make?

Not so much yet. We were cramming for this event. I joined, we qualified, and then we had two weeks. It was pretty crazy. The plan will be to share the role, in a sense. I’ll probably bring more preparation to the table and it should be good.

At this event, you fell pretty convincingly to Fnatic and MVP PK and finished in last place. While not the result you were hoping for, how much can it be put down to this being such a new lineup?

To be honest, it’s fifty-fifty. We should’ve performed better than we did. I think what really hurt us was the Cobble-Dust2 swap. We didn’t play Dust2; Cobble was probably our best map. We knowingly had to play Fnatic and MVP on their best maps, or risk Dust2. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out well for us, especially MVP. I feel like, if we get rid of Inferno, that’s definitely their best map. But, we had to veto Dust2. I don’t know what the alternative was. That really hurt us in the end.

ap0c and Chiefs at IEM Sydney 2018- Credit HLTV 

Was there no desire from the team to practice and play Dust2 in the lead-up to the event?

There was, but, because we had like no practice on any map, Dust2 was shoved towards the back.

Yourself, tucks and flickz make up Chiefs’ older, more experienced core, but I’m curious about your thoughts on the two younger stars in the lineup. What can you tell me about sterling as an AWPer?

sterling is a really hard worker. You speak to him and, in theory, he understands CS a lot more than his time playing would show. He’s still working on putting that into practice. Since I’ve joined, in the two weeks from then until the bootcamp, he improved threefold, and then he had a really good event. I was really impressed by him. He just needs a bit more confidence as a player. He’s got a good future, for sure.

How much freedom is he afforded in tucks’ system?

Not too much, at the moment. But, I think – and it’s on both sides – you’ve gotta earn the right to have your freedom, based on good decision making. He’s a little bit timid in bigger games, so you kind of keep him a little bit passive. Once he’s more comfortable, then, for sure, he’ll have all the freedom he wants.

What are your thoughts on Texta as a player in this lineup?

Texta’s an incredible player. For 16 years old – I knew what to expect, coming in, aim-wise – he’s beyond his years in terms of gamesense. He’s obviously got areas he needs to work on, but he’s very self-aware and open to criticism from, mainly, Tyler [tucks] at the moment. Once I start giving input, I’m confident that he’ll take it on-board. He’s got a huge future.

I want to go back to your time on Winterfox, which I’m sure is a highlight in your CS:GO career.

Highlight? [chuckle]

Well, a highlight in theory. What did you take away from that experience of living in North America and playing against Pro League teams?

I think that’s one thing that’s kind of gone under the radar. Winterfox came back and diluted into the scene. The majority are IGLs for their teams now. What we learned as individuals was unmeasurable in terms of very, very little, and seemingly basic, fundamentals of the game: whether it’s micro-teamwork, micro-plays, micro-comms. I can tell, when I play with a different type of player, that they’re definitely not up to that level yet. All of us as individuals learned that and that’s why we’ve all made our separate teams better. Just the smallest things, like utility usage, are all really under the radar here in Australia at the moment. It’s getting much better, I think. You can see it with the teams and results all improving.

ap0c all smiles after taking down Echo Fox in Season 4 of the North American EPL – Credit: Winterfox twitter

Winterfox, for the team’s second Pro League season, brought in RaZ to replace dexter. Why do you think he hasn’t found success after playing in NA?

I think RaZ got a bit hard done by. He obviously underperformed, like we all did. But, there were so many external factors that contributed to our poor results in the second season, and I think most people attribute it to RaZ because that’s the only common denominator, I suppose, between season one and two. But, it wasn’t that. We had a horrible setup in the second season. That just hurt him, unfortunately. He’s obviously still a good player. I know he’s hoping to get back onto a good team and prove his worth again, so hopefully he does get a shot. I think it’s hard as well because he wants to AWP and most of the top teams have got their very solid AWPer at the moment. It’s rough to try and break in. Same as me, though. I got benched from Tainted Minds and I struggled to find a new team as well for five to six months. It’s not easy, especially if you do aim high; unless you want to go back and grind a lot, which you will have to do eventually if you want to play.

Ever since you were benched on Tainted Minds, it seems like the team has struggled to close out important matches. As a previous member, do you have any sort of insight into why the team is underperforming at the moment?

Not particularly. From an outside view, I feel like they’ve lost their way as a team, in terms of roles. I don’t know if yam’s IGLing is really catering to all of the players at the moment. I don’t really know. It’s quite disappointing to see them fail so much.

A player on that Tainted Minds roster that you have played alongside for a large portion of your CS:GO career is ofnu. What can you tell me about him as a teammate?

ofnu, pound-for-pound just on skill, is, in my opinion, the best player in Australia and the most talented player in Australia. What lets him down is a bit of his mentality and a bit of his attitude, which he is very aware of and wants to work on. He’s an incredible teammate. He can literally do it all. He just needs to work on his attitude a little. Best supportive player, best lurk player, best entry player; he can do whatever.