Miikaz: “I didn't expect us to do this well”
After three tough weeks of almost non-stop PUBG action, Finnish esports organization ENCE became the champions of PEL Phase 1 Kick-off. Through consistent results day in and day out, ENCE climbed higher and higher and by the end, their win was no longer a surprise.
Ahead of the final week 3, we sat down with the Finns’ captain Miika “miikaz” Kinnunen to learn how the powerhouse of ENCE was conceived, how they were able to dominate a host of esteemed PUBG champions, and what does he make of the latest patch.
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You're leading the scoreboard coming into week 3 and you've sprinted ahead of most of the big teams. How was that possible? What makes your team so strong, so unique?
When we built the team, we found the right four players for each role and therefore we have good chemistry on the team. We are a good fit. We don't argue. Everything is easy and smooth in the game.
The communication is key. All of us have come together and share the same goal: be the best at PUBG. It comes naturally, I guess.
Before PEL, you took third place in the LAN qualifiers in Minsk. Were you nervous or calm going into PEL?
The first games were shaky, especially the very first one. The most recent official games before PEL started were the Minsk qualifiers and that was three months ago. So it's been a while without having proper games with good teams.
I'd say the first day was rough, maybe the second one too, but now we don't really feel any pressure. And when we can play without pressure, we can make good calls and play well.
I didn't have any plans to go pro; it just happened.
Did you predict the results you've already achieved?
Honestly, no. I thought that if we play well, we could get top 4 and qualify for London. But I didn't expect us to do this well. It's kind of surprising, but on the other hand not really. We've been playing our own game, just like we've practised, and it's worked out well so far.
And we've been consistent! We haven't had massive games like TSM have, but we haven't bombed out of many matches either. We set our expectation at qualifying for London and we knew we could be top 4 if we play our own game.
You guys started as team o1ne originally. At what moment, as a player, did you decide to go pro?
I honestly just started playing PUBG with friends and had a lot of fun. Then, I started grinding leaderboards and got on some minor leagues, again for fun. And I ground it out, really. I didn't have any plans; it just happened. I found the right mix of players, I started getting better and better. I didn't really plan any of it.
After about half a year after o1ne came together, you decided to build an all-Finnish line-up. Was the communication factor the main reason why you wanted to go that way?
Yes, kind of. We had two Finnish and two UK players before. When one of the Brits left, we started trying out SKUIJKE and we kind of figured out that if you have three Finnish players, you might as well go for four for communication's sake, because it's so much easier to communicate in your native language. You can play calmer, the calls are more accurate and precise. We gave it a shot and I guess we clicked.
When did you relocate to Berlin? Do you like the city?
Rustanmar has been to Berlin before but it’s the first time for the rest of us. We actually came just before media day and we didn't have a gaming house yet. We've been staying in the PENTA Sports house here in Berlin — they've provided us with a place to practice.
Would you say the lack of such team house affected your performance?
I guess it did on the first week, because we didn't have access to PCs at that time. That's why in the first two days, we didn't play the best we could. After we started bootcamping at the PENTA house, we started playing a little bit better, so it definitely helps.
Can you walk me through your daily routine before you set up the bootcamp?
After Minsk, we’d scrimm six times a week and we'd normally have one day off on Saturday, so people could chill and hang out with family. We'd scrim, cram in some FACEIT, and stream — me and SKUIJKE stream quite a bit — so we've been grinding PUBG a lot coming into PEL.
What do you think about the league's format in general? Do you like it?
I think the eight weeks format [which will be used from Phase 2 and on] is a good thing. You have three game days and you play four games per night — that's really good schedule. In comparison, right now you play four times a week, five games a day, so for some teams it might get a little rough. I don't think it matters to us that much: we don't really have anything else to do because we don't have a house yet.
But I prefer the Phase 2-3 format, where you only have three game days with four matches a day. Teams can focus more on the games and deliver higher level of play compared to what we have now. The first phase is just for people to test stuff out, because you can't relegate down to Contenders yet. It's more of a test phase: you only kind of play for FACEIT Global Summit London and teams haven't played since the Minsk qualifier. There's a lot of testing and a new scoring system so there's a lot to get used to coming into PEL.
What do you think about that scoring system? We've received a lot of feedback from players that the current competitive scene is not ready for such aggressive play, which the system favors.
I think the point system change is good for the viewers. They also cut down the circles a bit — you have 30 minutes now, and before you had 36. They've cut down the game time so that's good. And of course, the aggressive playstyle makes it better for the viewers.
The only problem I see with the system right now is coming 9-12th where you don't get any points. I hope that at some point they look into the placement points and add more for that placement range. Take for example placing 16th or 9th: you have to work quite a bit to come 9th, but you still don't get rewarded.
Now, you can two-shot a level 2 vest with a Kar 98, so you're going to see a lot more Kar rifles in the competitive scene.
Have you tried the new patch on the live server? What do you think about it?
I've tried it a few times. It affects the game but doesn't affect me, because I don't play bolt-actions but of course it's a huge buff. Now, you can two-shot a level 2 vest with a Kar 98, so you're going to see a lot more Kar rifles in the competitive scene.
I think it's kind of overpowered. Especially AWM one-shotting level 2 vest is kind of weird, but I'm sure when people get used to it it'll be like any other patch.