Chazz: “We knew we were gonna do really well after the first win”
After Riot Games discontinued Oceania’s official league at the end of last year and much of the top talent left the region, hopes were low for the newly founded, third-party organized LCO to achieve anything noteworthy. Yet Pentanet.GG proved the haters wrong. The LCO champions stood up in Group A of the Mid-Season Invitational, becoming the first-ever Oceanic team to advance to the next round at an international event.
With a hectic day behind him, filled with five best-of-ones, including a tiebreaker at the end, Pentanet’s Jesse “Chazz” Mahoney joined for an interview. The squad’s mid laner walked through us the stages building up to his team’s success and how they never lost confidence after day one. Chazz also touched on the champions his team played, many of which Pentanet had not even practiced before debuting them on the stage.
Hotspawn: First of all, Chazz, congratulations on making it to the Rumble Stage! Before we talk about the crazy day you just finished, let’s dial it back and talk about your expectations heading into MSI. What odds did you give yourself of making it out of the Group Stage? Did you dare to dream?
Chazz: Honestly, nothing fazed me the whole time. When we got drawn into our group, people were saying that it was going to be a really hard group and that there was no way we could get out. Then the Vietnamese team couldn’t come and everyone said “Oh that’s amazing for you, now there is just one team less!” Maybe if Vietnam would’ve come to MSI, we wouldn’t have made it out. But honestly, it didn’t change how I felt about our chances. I’m coming here to prove myself. My team is coming here to prove ourselves. We’re gonna play our best and hope for the best. If we make it out, then we will have deserved it.
I guess we definitely lucked out that Vietnam couldn’t come, but I didn’t change my expectations because of that. I was always expecting myself and my boys to make it through. And we did! I can’t give you percentages or something. I just always expected it. This is what we want. I expect great things from myself and I expect great things from my teammates. We were expecting to win. If we came back and we had lost every single game, then it is what it is. We would come back at World and we would do better. But everyone on my team expected it. You’ve got to have high hopes to achieve great things.
Hotspawn: After the first half of the Round Robin, you had taken a game off Unicorns of Love already. Had the mood changed at all at this point for you and your team? On stage, you guys seemed to be pure excitement and happiness all around.
Chazz: Well, I think the lowest point for us, in terms of positivity, was even before we played the first game. We had an absolutely disastrous round of scrims, we had a terrible read on the meta and on what works for us. Obviously, we could see what everyone was playing, but we needed to figure out what was good for us and what we can play. It took us a while to get that figured out—we did not get that through scrims. A lot of the things we were playing, were our first time playing those compositions. We just decided “Hey, this seems good.” We liked the champions and we think they would work well together—we’re just gonna send it.
So, before the first game, that was our lowest point in terms of our mood. But after the first two games, we realized that we could win the games. They were actually not that hard to figure out. We knew where we were going wrong, so we could fix it. We made the same mistake in the first two games. Then in the third game, we came in, we fixed it, we had a good read on what we wanted to play, and we won. After we won against Unicorns of Love for the first time, it was a done deal. It was decided. We were making it out. Once we knew that they were beatable, that the skill gap wasn’t there, it was done. We had full confidence. We just needed to get good champions that we enjoyed.
Hotspawn: What did you pick up on then, to find that counter to Unicorns of Love?
Chazz: I think, in terms of how their mid/jungle matched up against ours stylistically, we probably counter them. The AD mid, the assassin type, with an AP jungle, just completely destroys what they want to do with scaling mid laners and whatever their jungle wants to do. We’re just gonna play stuff that wants to fight. If you don’t want to fight us, then we’ll go clean your bot lane. If they don’t want to die, they’ll lose three turret plates and a bunch of waves. That’s great for us.
It was really easy for us to play this game once we knew how we wanted to do it. It’s just how we play back in our own region. We want to push mid and dive the side lanes. We get that a lot through skill difference there. Our mid/jungle wins a lot of the 2v2s just because we’re better players. Here, it’s still going to be easy but then it’s based on champion matchup. It’s just how they work out. Even if I’m playing against Faker, with our style I can push his lane in and roam. So yeah, we knew we were gonna do really well after the first win. It was a done deal.
Hotspawn: You picked Zed, which is one of those assassins you mentioned. It surprised everyone and might be the wildest pick we’ll see at the whole tournament. Is that a champion that you had up your sleeve already, or was this a decision made on the spot?
Chazz: The story behind Zed… I pretty much play all assassins. I love assassins; they’re my favorite champions to play. When my back is against the wall, I’m going to play assassins. That’s the deal. The two weeks prior to the OCL finals, we were just playing mage, mage, mage, mage, mage in the mid lane. On the day of the finals I was really sick and we played a mage. We lost that game, and I told my team: pick me an assassin. Then we won three games in a row.
I haven’t played Zed in a very, very long time. LS posted his tier list, saying that Zed was S-tier for the mid lane. I had no idea why Zed was S-tier. I then played it one time and realized it wasn’t that bad, I kind of liked it. We came in today having played zero games of Zed in scrims. I played one solo queue game of Zed in probably a year. I smurfed that game, by the way. [Laughs] So I was feeling confident playing it. During the draft against Unicorns today I just thought: “This looks like a pretty cracked game for a Zed. Pick me Zed.” Everyone asked me if I was sure, and then Pabu said “Yeah it’s cracked here.” We won the game and my AD Carry told me: “Chazz, I’m not gonna lie, I really thought you inted the draft by picking Zed.”
It’s a really good champion, I like it a lot. Unicorns of Love also picked a Vladimir in response—you can’t do that. It’s actually unplayable. Even if I didn’t solo-kill him: I had full wave control the whole time and could move wherever I wanted to. I got free scaling—he scales pretty well actually—and the only reason that Zed didn’t explode as hard as we wanted to, was because of their Nocturne. He was pushing all the time and moving into the jungle, so it was really hard for us to take 2v2 fights. We just played to roam and affect the bot lane. It was really free.
Hotspawn: So you win that game and force a tiebreaker. I don’t know how much faith you put into the last game versus RNG, or if you fully focused on the tiebreaker yet, but tell me: even when it was a do or die scenario, did you and the team not feel any nerves?
Chazz: Realistically, the game we played Zed in was do or die as well. If we lost that game, we were out. I felt no pressure in that game. I was just max-chilling. The game against RNG was probably the game where we tried the hardest. We were really mentally trying to win the game, because if we won that, then we were done. We would’ve made it through. After our first game against RNG we realized: “These guys are… really good.” [Laughs] It was gonna be very hard for us to win. We were pretty checked out in that first game, focussing on learning as much was we can. If we win, we win.
After we won against Unicorns of Love with the Zed, I walked out feeling great. I was grabbing some food, and when I grabbed my cup I realized I was shaking. Then I realized I was actually a little bit nervous. So I tried to calm myself down. I played some hype music as well, the music that makes me feel like a beast. We all rallied up and just said to each other: “We’re gonna freaking do this. We’re gonna win.” We get into champ select and all the nerves are gone.
Hotspawn: Then in that final game we see a lot of jungle bans, you guys whip out a Karthus…
Chazz: Yeah, we had no idea what was going on there! We played that Zed game and Pabu later said: “Bro, if we just pick AP jungle and AD mid, they can’t do anything. I promise you. We just need to do this, for sure.” AHaHaCiK was really cracked on Nidalee. So we took that comfort away, we banned the really good junglers. We actually knew that they would pick Kha’Zix. We were telling each other: “If they pick Kha’Zix, it’s done. It’s terrible for them.” So that was probably the only predictable part of the draft.
We had no idea what I was gonna play, we had no idea what anyone was gonna play. We just made sure that the jungle matchup was good. Then Unicorns were gonna pick a mage mid because they always picks a mage mid, and I would pick my AD mid laner and we would be chilling. That was probably the only thing we knew was coming. [Laughs] By the way, Pabu has not played Karthus at all. That was completely random as well. We were just sending it, honestly. That’s our motto these days: just #sendit. Just pick what you want to pick.
Hotspawn: You’re advancing to the Rumble Stage now, where you’ll probably be playing against the likes of DWG KIA, MAD Lions, etc. How are you looking forward to it?
Chazz: Well, I can’t say I was feeling nervous against RNG. So I’m not gonna say I feel nervous to play against anyone else. I think that beating one of these major teams will be really hard for us. We’re gonna have to dig deep and find some new stuff, improve what we’re already doing. Maybe we come in and just get destroyed.
I don’t know what’s gonna happen.All I know is that we’re gonna play our style. We’re gonna send it. We’re gonna pick our champs and we’re gonna do our best. Hopefully, we keep going, honestly. That’s what we want. If we get matched up against Damwon, we’re gonna go in saying that we’re gonna win and beat these guys. If they finish every game in 20 minutes, then whatever. It is what it is. Everyone has got a positive mental attitude on our team. We’re just gonna focus on winning.
Pentanet.GG and Chazz plays their next games in the Rumble Stage, which starts on Friday, May 14th.