Robin ‘ropz’ Kool exploded onto Counter-Strike’s professional scene in 2017 as a rookie for mousesports and hasn’t looked back. We spoke with the Estonian to delve into how the ‘online era’ has affected the squad.
It’s no secret that the online era of CS:GO has had a devastating impact on mousesports’ run of form. Before we entered into a world without offline events, mousesports were cruising in second in the world rankings, bested only by the tour de force that is Astralis.
But mere weeks into the online format, and Ropz and co. began to drop from Astralis’ shadow, before eventually hitting a low of 22nd in August 2020, after a string of underwhelming results.But with Finn ‘Karrigan’ Andersen at the helm, the squad are looking to turn the poor form around.
Most recently, they acquired the talents of rising star, Aurimas ‘Bymas’ Pipiras from FaZe Clan — who has shown great promise in FPL and during his short stint with FaZe. We spoke with Ropz to see how the perfect balance of experience and talent will help the European outfit turn things around.
Ropz: “It got difficult for us to keep our spirits up…”
Q: The online era has been a tricky one for mousesports after such a strong end to last season’s LAN circuit. How do you plan on bouncing back?
“In competition, there are always ups and downs. But I agree the last few months were not up to our standards. We now have a little bit of a fresh start with Bymas and will put in the hours to make it work again.”
Q: What has been the hardest thing about adjusting to the online CSGO era for your team?
“We always had a great atmosphere at live events, so after a while it got difficult for us to keep our spirits up when everyone was playing from home. We always had the ability to turn around games or gain new momentum mid-way through a map — I think that is way harder when you are not at a LAN event.”
Q: As you mentioned, you’ve recently replaced w0xic with Bymas on the starting lineup. What does he bring to the roster, and can you see any similarities to your early career when you burst onto the scene in the FPL?
“Bymas accepts his role in the team. He really wants to learn and is eager to improve. He definitely has all the tools, but needs some time to adapt. Of course, there are some similarities between us — we are both from the Baltics, started our careers in FPL and then joined mousesports.”
Q: You had to fill Niko’s shoes when you joined. How much pressure was that and how do you think your role has evolved over time?
“I never thought about filling Niko’s shoes — it was more about showing my worth since I had no background or history. The team also swapped roles around back then and I got my own start, so it was not 1:1 with Niko.
“But pressure was there for the other reason mentioned, I put in as much hours as possible to get the best out of it. Over time, I’ve learned a lot and I believe my game sense has become world-class. I have become more vocal about stuff in-game and people believe in me, because they know what I say is going to work.”
Q: You were named the tenth best player in the world in 2019 by HLTV, how did that feel? Do you think that was deserved?
“Feels good, of course, to be considered Top 10 in the world. The ranking is solely based on measurable numbers, says HLTV, so I guess there is no “deserving” — just earning.”
Q: Okay, some quick-fire questions… What is the highlight of your career so far?
“Feels like the MVP at ESL Pro League: Season 10. It was a special event altogether and maybe a breakthrough for the team.”
Q: Which tournament victory has been your favorite and why?
“Our victory at ESL One New York. My whole family was there to watch it. That definitely meant a lot to me.”
Q: Which tournament or match do you think has been your own individual best performance?
“I think it was at CS_Summit5. I was unstoppable there.”
Q: Who do you believe will be the teams and players to watch when we get back on LAN?
“I surely hope it’s going to be us!”
After bringing on Bymas into the starting five, mousesports will be looking to regain their form from the backend of 2019, which saw them soar to second in the world rankings. Recent results in the ESL Pro League: Season 12 look promising, but only time will tell if they can claw their way back into contention with CS:GO’s top dogs.