Ismail ‘refrezh’ Ali’s Heroic are out of the PGL Stockholm CS:GO Major, but after a 2021 full of triumph and tribulations, the Dane was “proud” of the team’s top 4 run at their first Major.
After refrezh stepped off the Avicii Arena stage and into the media room, he was coming down after Heroic’s tight 2-1 series loss to G2 Esports at PGL Major Stockholm 2021.
In the moment, it felt like a bitter disappointment — having been so close to a Major final but not having a chance to play on the biggest stage Counter-Strike has to offer.
“If you ask me right now, no. I would have loved a grand final [appearance],” he told Dexerto after being asked about whether he was happy with the result.
However, with a bit of reflection, Refrezh’s tact changed a bit.
“If I tried to look at it objectively, I think this run is amazing. Coming top 4 after failing at the last LANs — we didn’t get the results we wanted — and making a top 4 at our first Major, it shows the resilience of this team,” he said.
Heroic put up an admirable performance against G2 Esports, stunning them on Nuke with a solid 16-12 win to start the series strong.
“We used to be one of the best teams on Nuke and we said to ourselves ‘let’s go out and prove that on the big stage,’” refrezh said.
“I think our T side showed good rounds and we managed to close it out on CT side. We had a really good read on them and people were hitting shots, so the first map was the easiest one.”
Then, it went downhill from there. G2 Esports comfortably got Mirage over the line with a strong second half, and then on Inferno, the nerves started to set in. Order descended into chaos, and as the map pushed into overtime, G2 Esports just had the edge to take the win.
“It’s a Major, it’s a third map, no way better to end it than on Inferno,” he said.
“It was a crazy game, it went to overtime, so many close rounds.
“I think on Inferno we tactically outplayed them in many of the rounds, but many of the chaos rounds they managed to win, especially in overtime. I guess they played better on Inferno, but when it’s overtime you’re always thinking you had your chances.”
Heroic were kept in the series thanks in large part to Rasmus ‘sjuush’ Beck, who laid down the law on CT side with some very strong defenses.
“Sjuush is a really strong anchor for us. Some people might think he’s only good on defense but he can be explosive on the T side. It’s a strong point for our T side when he’s popping off, then the rounds are won so easily,” refrezh said.
While there were some question marks above captain Casper ‘cadiaN’ Moller’s performance on the day, refrezh claimed everyone did their job in the server — it’s just an impossible task to stop an on-fire Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovac, who topped the server with a 1.48 rating and 101.2 ADR.
“[Niko was] really annoying, especially on the last rounds on Inferno. If he didn’t hit some of those instant headshots, the round could have been different and maybe the whole series,” he said.
“Right now, he’s really in-form, and people have been asking this question for a long time from NiKo, and I really think he’s performing at a high level right now and is one of the top riflers at the moment.”
“I think everyone stepped up today though, everyone communicated well, and I think we can only be proud of this team’s performance,” refrezh said.
G2 Esports will face heavy favorites Natus Vincere in the PGL Stockholm CS:GO Major grand final on November 7, and in refrezh’s eyes, it’ll take a lot more than a NiKo carry to topple the CIS giants.
“I would say right now, individually, they’re on point, but they need more than that to win the final. I think NAVI are playing beautiful CS:GO and have amazing individuals,” he said.
“So they either need NiKo playing like a god again or maybe they have to surprise [NAVI] a bit. Maybe in the vetos, maybe in their playstyles a bit, because NAVI is a strong team that doesn’t give up easily.”