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"We were really motivated to win to shut up the crowd". Chopper on match with FURIA, psychological tricks, and sacrificing his hair to the god of CS Exclusive

Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov spoke with Maria Gunina for Escorenews after Spirit's astonishing win in the quarterfinals versus FURIA at PGL Major Antwerp 2022. He explained how they rebuild the roster after the last Major's failure, shared his opinion on their coach ban, and described his emotions from playing on stage.

— First of all, congratulations. A lot of people are calling your performance on the Major a sensation. Was it an expected one or a sensation for you as well?

— Thanks! Of course, that's a sensation for us. When we came here, we didn't expect that at all. We had our target: get to the next stage. Then it was "win one game", then win another, we went step by step. So yeah, that was unexpected for us, and very cool to go that deep.

— How did you learn about coach ban, what was your first reaction, what was going on in the team?

— We learned about it from the letter. We were playing some scrims, and he said: I got a weird letter. He started to be worried, was saying that he couldn't remember doing anything, all that stuff. A day or two later we were playing scrims again, he is getting another letter. So we are starting the game, and then we understand that he went really sad, so to speak. It was visible on his face how something affected him. After we finished our scrims, he explained what they found, said that he will not go with us to the Major. That's how we learned.

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— So you came here with your brand director and psychologist. How do you distribute these new responsibilities that appeared without a coach?

— We also have OverDrive as our analyst. He is preparing a lot of data, explains it to me, and I look at it and later relay that to the team.

Source: PGL

— What does your psychologist do? He already got a lot of attention for helping the Dota 2 squad to win TI10, what is he doing for you?

— He is working with us for a long, long time. First of all, he is helping every player with their personal issues, if any appear. If the player is feeling too much pressure or stress, if we see that someone is not in his usual form, we immediately advise him to go to our psychologist. That player visits him, they talk, and try to fix the issues.

The second thing, he is giving us energy during games, but also sometimes can diffuse the tension. Like, when he is screaming something supportive in a very high voice, that's a cringe moment, but everyone is starting to laugh anyway. We all immediately relax. So you cringe, but later you think "damn, he is good". And at this tournament, he also took some of the manager's responsibilities.

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— Can you share something that he taught you? Something that can help an average player that lost a match in MM, or is angry at his friend who did something bad ingame. What can he do?

Well, there is a lot of stuff. For example, you need to look at things that tilt you, so called "distractors". Some small things that can affect or tilt you. You need to find them and understand how exactly they change your emotional state. And if you do that, it will be much easier to counter it, to not let it influence you. This trick is a must-have for me.

Was he preparing you for the arena, for facing the public? Is it even possible to prepare for it?

— Overall, our preparation was the same as usual. Nothing too special. We joked more about it, but overall we didn't let it affect us, so maybe he just saw that and didn't do anything special in the moment. He did the same thing, diffused the tension, and everything was ok.

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What can you tell about your current roster? How it was created, who found your youngsters?

Hally, together with our old manager and CEO, decided who will be on our roster. When the players were told that the team is disbanding and the organization is going to get a new squad, our CEO talked with everyone about their plans and their vision for the game. And after that, those three started to rebuild the team. They decided to build a team around degster and magixx.

The third guy they wanted to see was Patsi, and as far as I know, they even wanted to make him a captain. But it seems that he didn't want to IGL, they tried to find new leaders, but nothing came out of it. So they messaged me, we talked about my plans and thoughts a few times, then we met in person, and slowly they came to a decision to get a young guy, s1ren from the academy, and invite me back. As far as I know, hally really wanted to work with me and was suggesting it, while the organization wanted someone new, since I was an old material, a guy from the old roster. But in the end, I got invited.

Let's talk about the match with FURIA. First question, how did you end up on Vertigo?

— Well, that was their pick. We knew that they were going to pick it, and just prepared for it. We looked at their gameplay and countered it. They tried to play even more aggressively and boldly than usual, but they failed.

Source: PGL

How did their fans in the arena affect you?

— We were really motivated to win to shut up the crowd. This is really cool, you sit down first, and then FURIA is going out, and the crowd is going crazy. It really motivates you, gives you the anger and drive to win.

Do you prefer the CS:GO approach to building the scene, with two very important and hyped Majors and stuff, or Dota 2 way with one gigantic tournament?

— I prefer the way we have it in CS:GO. It's cool to have The International, but when you don't know what you are going to do most of the season, it's not that good. CS:GO has a much better structure.

— Last question, both you and magixx once said that you'd be ok with shaving your heads as some kind of a ritual, similar to Yatoro who gave his hair as a sacrifice to the god of Dota at TI10. Would you sacrifice your hair to the god of CS?

— That's not a problem for me. I like to shave sometimes, when my hair starts to annoy me. So no, no issues, and you can also create hype from it, that yeah, I'm shaving my head for something! While in reality that's nothing for me. As for the Dota squad, I think they played so much that they mainly gave their time to the god of Dota, not the hair. It didn't really matter if he'd cut his hair or not. We just need to play a lot as well, and everything is going to be ok.

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Team Spirit going undefeated all the way from the Challengers stage into the major's semifinal against FaZe Clan was one of the biggest surprises of the event. Most of the squad, just like their Dota brethren before the TI10 win, has never played on stage in front of a crowd.

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