Going into the ZEN League Finals, many, including myself, would have predicted Team Immunity to put in a good showing and possibly win the event, based on their recent performance at the Asia Minor. Unfortunately, wizard, who played a big role in the team’s third place finish, which included best of three wins over The MongolZ and Flash Gaming, was unable to attend due to ESL’s roster lock rules. Forced to use cozeh, a scene veteran fresh off a year-long hiatus, a firepower and cohesion-lacking Immunity found their only win over Dark Sided, with two 2-0 losses to MVP.PK ending the team’s run.

At the conclusion of the event, I sat down with the ever-passionate MoeycQ about his team’s performance, erkaSt’s in-game leading and their new fifth player.

JAMES has been a staple of the roster since its inception and was the team’s in-game leader. What was the reasoning behind his recent removal?

The reasoning behind the removal of JAMES was just due to personal issues. There were a lot of personality clashes and things of that nature. It just became a toxic environment and it needed immediate fixing. Since the removal of JAMES – no disrespect to him as a player, he’s a great in-game leader with great fragging capability – the environment in general has been a lot better. We’ve united as a team and hopefully, after this event, we can solidify a few things and get back to work.

Apart from the differences in the team environment, what can you tell me about the differences between JAMES’ calling and erkaSt’s calling?

JAMES was very reliant on the players to adjust mid-round by themselves and use their own playstyle to makes things happen. erkaSt basically says something at the start of the round and makes that mid round adjustment. The rest is all based on info and communication. JAMES also relied on a lot more executes, whereas erkaSt likes to play a lot of defaults and play off the other team a lot. I think now that we can finalise our lineup, I think we’ll go into a lot more depth with our strategy and we’ll have a couple of executes in our back pocket.

cozeh is a player that hasn’t been playing CS competitively for over a year now. Tell me about his dynamic in the team, coming off such a long hiatus.

It’s obviously no secret that it was quite difficult with cozeh. He played great, we just didn’t have any executes to fall back on. Some of the maps we hadn’t even scrimmed on with cozeh. Nuke and Cache we hadn’t played with cozeh before. I think we only played Overpass, Train and maybe Inferno as well. We didn’t have a choice due to the ZEN roster restrictions, so it was a no-brainer cause we had him on as a sub. It was just our depth and mid-round as a team that was broken down by MVP.

cozeh and MoeycQ (right) reunited for the ZEN League finals

wizard had a great performance at the Minor. Is the team, in this period of flux and change, set up so that any fifth player can jump into the lineup with relative ease

wizard played his role at the Minor. We chose not to continue with him after the minor, so we decided to part ways. Our core-4 allows anyone to come in and play properly and play good CS. Obviously, the difference is cozeh’s been retired for a year and a half almost and wizard had grinded out a lot of hours over the month before the minor. I think, had we given cozeh more time, he could’ve done a bit more in-game. But at the end of the day, we were broken down as a team, not individuals.

Coming back from the Asia Minor, how similar was MVP.PK’s playstyle to the other Asian teams you’ve face?

It was quite similar to teams like TyLoo. I think they watched how we were beaten at the minor and just tried to replicate that. We knew exactly what they were doing, but we couldn’t counter it. We knew that they would go as a pack or they would try and bait utility. But when it came down to the crunch, we lost a lot of 1v1s and close round situations. A few went our way, but I think, had a couple of rounds gone different, we could’ve had a whole different series. We should’ve won Inferno yesterday without any doubt and we should’ve won Nuke today without any doubt. In terms of the other maps, we got out played. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to three maps cause anything could’ve happened.

Your team had a pretty dominant win over Dark Sided, despite losing the second map. What do you think went right for you guys in this series? Do you have any insight as to what went wrong for Dark Sided?

I think Dark Sided have similar problems to us in terms of their mentality. They came out swinging on the second map, Cache, with a lot of confidence, but then on Overpass they were playing really scared. They’re a tough team to break down, but, mentally, we were a lot stronger on Overpass. We were making more plays and taking map control off them and they just didn’t know how to answer.

There’s been a lot of hype around BnTeT lately. After playing him at the Asia Minor and seeing him play here with Recca, do you have any thoughts on him as a player

BnTeT has got a really good head on him. He’s always in a position to frag; it’s just an instinct that he has. He gets frags in their most simple form. You do see him do amazing things here and there, but it’s basically him being in the right spots and making the right moves. I’ve spoken to him quite a bit, he’s a great guy, very humble. Teams are shaping around him a bit, he’s free to do what he wants. He’s been playing a lot with TyLoo, I know they’re putting in a lot of work.

Oceanic Counter-Strike is probably in the most busy and competitive period we’ve seen. How hard is it, as a non-salaried team, to juggle practice with work, family and other commitments?

It’s getting harder and harder to continue playing to a full-time level in Australia. We’re not full-time, we’re part-time at the moment. We practice Sunday to Wednesday, 8pm to 11pm, which is considerably less than most teams, without a doubt. It gets hard because the individual practice that I and sometimes others obviously have to put in comes at hours you’d rather be sleeping or doing something else. I think we can prepare a lot better than we did for this event with our current hours, it just doesn’t help when you don’t have a consistent five. You can make lower hours work, you just need to be all on the same page.

Finally, we’ve all been excited to hear news on the team’s permanent fifth. Do you have any news on that you can provide?

We’re picking up prakM. No secret. That should be announced within a day or two. prakM’s a great kid. Very sharp, very up and coming, quite talented, good attitude. It’ll help to have that consistent five and have Alex, MAGIKK, our coach, be a lot more consistent in his role. Put that all together and I think, hopefully, we should have a good performance at our next event.

Young gun prakM is set to stabilise the now ex-Immunity lineup – Photo by Dylan Esguerra / ESL Australia