bnj: “We have what it takes to win the series against Envy”
KRÜ Esports toppled ZETA DIVISION in their opening series to VCT Masters Berlin. The Latin Americans, whose run at Masters Reykjavik was short-lived, kicked off their second international LAN appearance with much more success. Up next: the North American esports titans of Team Envy. But Benjamin “bnj” Rabinovich isn’t scared.
After KRÜ’s victory, bnj sat down for an interview. He reflected on the chaotic series versus his Japanese opponents, why he’s confident in tackling Team Envy next, and what it’s been like to fly to the other side of the world to compete yet again.
Hotspawn: Welcome bnj, and congrats on the victory! That series felt very chaotic at times, at least from a viewer perspective. Did it feel chaotic to you as well?
bnj: Yeah, especially on the second map. Some things weren’t going how we wanted to, so we started having some issues on the decisions that we made. But on the third map, we started thinking again. [Laughs] And we won!
Hotspawn: ZETA DIVISION is from Japan, a smaller region, which may make it harder to scout them. What was your read on them?
bnj: Nah, it wasn’t anything special. They are a team that plays so slow! It was a thing for us to think slower as well. With tranquility. So if we say “Hey, calm down” when they’re playing slow, and we can calm down, the game is over. They play the same way every round. At thirty seconds they do their entry. They’re really slow. It was just like that.
Hotspawn: Was it difficult for you as KRÜ to learn how to be calmer?
bnj: Yeah, of course. In the first months, let’s say, the team didn’t have experienced players. They never had played a LAN or internationals. So yeah, we started kind of nervous. I was nervous as well. We had to play some tournaments and after four or five months, we started doing that thing of saying “Hey, calm down. We can win this if we calm down.” to each other.
Hotspawn: And then you play against a team that plays it even slower.
bnj: [Laughs] Yeah, so it really was key for us to stay calm. We would always win if we stayed calm.
Hotspawn: KRÜ is fighting an uphill battle in the tournament—I think it’s fair to say that you’re not quite favorites to win it. How do you feel after your position after this win and the scrims you’ve had?
bnj: The team had pretty good results in the scrims. Against EU teams, KR teams, and NA teams as well. Of course, before the trip we scrimmed with Brazilian teams as well, and we had a pretty good result there also. So, the team is confident for these matches. We have to play Envy next, which is an NA team. They have a bit of the same style as Sentinels and 100 Thieves, who we’ve been training with. We have an idea of how to play against them as well. We’re pretty confident.
Hotspawn: Without revealing much of your tactics, of course, what gives you the confidence to take them on?
bnj: I think, as I said before, it’s because of the scrims we had. But also, we just think that we have what it takes to win the series against Envy. We don’t have to depend on them to play bad. We can win ourselves. That’s the thing. If we do the same thing as in scrims, do the same tactics, we’re gonna win.
Hotspawn: Playing on the stage is another factor that can impact teams. How is that for KRÜ?
bnj: This time it was kind of easier, I would say, because we played in Iceland. That was our first time. We were so nervous then and had some rookie problems, you know? But now, I saw our players on the camera, and they were pretty confident. Maybe there was one round or so where they were losing that, but now they are ok. They are experienced players.
Hotspawn: So you don’t need to give an extra motivational speech anymore before the games. [Laughs]
bnj: Motivation is something they always have. [Laughs] The coaches do some of that in the tactical pauses, but nah, the players don’t need it.
Hotspawn: Now for something completely different: you flew in from Latin America, so it’s quite the journey, and now you’ve been in Berlin for a bit. How has it been for you and the team?
bnj: Nice, nice. We did our week in quarantine, which was nice because we had a computer in our rooms. If we wouldn’t have that, it would be a disaster. But it was nice, it was nice. We did a COVID test and took a trip in Berlin. We watched some places, saw the Light Festival. It was good!
Hotspawn: To round up, bnj, is there something you’d like to say to the KRÜ fans?
bnj: I want to say thanks from everyone from Latin America who supports us all the way through. From Argentina, then from Mexico, and now here. They are very supportive people. I also want to thank the KRÜ staff for taking care of everything. All the players are very motivated. So, thanks to them.
KRÜ Esports play their next game at VCT Masters Berlin against Team Envy on Monday, September 13, at 3 PM CEST. You can watch the series live on the official VALORANT Twitch channel.