BONECOLD: “Our team has one of the best synergies going on”
The VALORANT Champions Tour Champions event kicked off with a loss for European team Acend. Though they bounced back from a first map loss against Vivo Keyd by dominating map two, Bind, Vivo Keyd was ultimately too strong on Breeze. Despite the outcome of the series, however, team captain Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi was a beacon of positivity.
After the series, BONECOLD joined Hotspawn for an interview to reflect on the series, why he remains hopeful for his team, and the growth he has witnessed in his squad.
Note: This interview was conducted prior to Riot Games penalizing Vivo Keyd and rewarding Acend with the series victory.
Hotspawn: Welcome, BONECOLD. An unfortunate loss against Vivo Keyd, but it was an exciting series overall. How are you walking away from this series?
BONECOLD: Uhm, I’m actually pretty happy because I feel like, in our communication, in our performance, nobody gave up at any point. We had super close rounds on both Icebox and Breeze, where we lost a lot of important clutches. That heavily snowballed into Vivo Keyd’s favor. Overall, I don’t feel bad at all. I don’t think the team feels bad at all. We still have the lower bracket, so we’re not demotivated at all from the loss.
Hotspawn: It was a surprise to see Vivo Keyd leave Bind open in the pick-and-ban phase, as it is a map your team is renowned for. What’s your take on that?
BONECOLD: I mean, kind of. We kind of felt that it was going to be their ban against us, but we weren’t really sure how the veto was going to go since mwzera joined the team. They don’t have any previous official games with him, so we were just going with the flow and picking our best maps against them. There was nothing really to take from the maps that we played against them.
Hotspawn: The series kicked off with Icebox and it can only be described as “chaos”, what happened there. [Laughs] How was it for you to play that map?
BONECOLD: [Laughs] Yeah, it was really tight. I feel like every single round was won in a 2v2 situation. They just came up really well with the clutches. As I said already, I feel that they snowballed it into their favor well. They had really insane 1v2s and 2v4s, spamming through the smoke and getting two or three kills. It was kind of unlucky for us, but fair to them. They were still playing good positions that caught us off guard.
Hotspawn: As the in-game leader, you’re not someone who’s going to top the kill charts as you’re focused on shotcalling the rounds. Are you happy with how you led the team in this series?
BONECOLD: It was the first stage game in a long while. After the first map, we felt really cozy and we were just playing to our best. As for the calls… It’s always different to play in a LAN setting against a really good team like Vivo Keyd. I feel like my calling was fine. There are some things that I really need to learn from this game. Like, people are grouping up a lot better. The trade is always there. People don’t really lurk that often on LAN. That’s something I noticed. There are a lot of things for me to take, but I was still really happy about my performance and calling overall in the series.
Hotspawn: You’re incredibly positive for someone who, realistically, is one series away from elimination. It’s refreshing to see, since that means you have a lot of confidence in your team.
BONECOLD: I really feel like we have the chemistry as a team. I feel that our lowest performance is having a tight game against the best teams in the world. Our highest performance is the best team. I think I kind of want to say that it’s a warmup game for the whole tourney. We’re not going to get demotivated from one series. We just can’t have that. I don’t know, I just have this feeling in my bones that we’re going to bounce back even harder.
Hotspawn: You mention the great team chemistry you have. The first time we spoke, at VCT Masters Berlin, you told me how that tournament was the first time you actually got to meet your teammates and that you all got along really well. How has that evolved?
BONECOLD: Like all teams, we have the ups and downs. But I feel like our team has one of the best synergies going on. Everyone can take critique really well. We understand each other. Even though we come from so many different countries, I feel like we don’t have these clashes for long periods. We may speak about a practice game and say ‘We should have done that, we should have done this’, but we go over it, we forget it, and we just keep going forward. I think zeek is one of the best at that in our team. He gives critique in a really good manner to push our team forward. I can only be very thankful for that.
Hotspawn: Last time around, you guys started singing Queen in the middle of a series. This time it feels like you’re a bit more serious. Is that a lesson you learned from VCT Masters, where your result wasn’t what you’d hoped for?
BONECOLD: I feel like we just want to use our energy differently in this tournament. Last time, when we played in Masters 3, we spent our energy on the wrong things. We don’t have a crowd here, unfortunately, so we just try to keep the energy flowing only within our team and keep it there. That is something that we learned, and I feel that that’s something that in the long run will give us a better performance. All the energy is just going through the team and it’s not spilling to the other team or to the casters. We can just keep our focus.
We had a talk with our mental coach after the games in Masters 3. I agree that it is a lesson that we learned from that. This time, we’re going in a lot more prepared both mentally and in-game. The lesson has been learned. [Laughs]
Hotspawn: Looking forward, you face either X10 or Envy in the lower bracket. With such short notice, how do you go about preparing for either of these teams?
BONECOLD: You could say that we’re not a team that is that analytical. We have an analyst and he gives us really good insight, but coming into the games, most often we want to focus on what we do. We want to focus on our mental or what the enemy is doing in the game. We don’t want to fall into the trap of overthinking. We really just want to stay in our comfort zone. For me and zeek, who is the second shotcaller, we want the data in a nutshell so we can understand what the enemy is doing.
Hotspawn: Alright BONECOLD, do you want to say anything to your fans to round up the interview?
BONECOLD: We just started the tournament, and we’re gonna come into the next games extremely hot. We promise that you’re going to get very good games, like today. But we’re gonna step it up so we can win!
You can watch VCT Champions live on the VALORANT Twitch channel.