SYDNEY -- In Sydney, Renegades, a team made-up of three Australian's, did what none of its domestic peers had managed in the past -- play on a stadium stage in front of a home-crowd. Scoring a huge best-of-three upset against FaZe, Renegades found its way into the quarterfinals against Mousesports. Against the formerly no. 1 team in the world, Renegades won a triple overtime second map after coming back from an 11:4 deficit before losing the series in another overtime game.
They proved themselves to be an international team capable of contending on big stages. Out of all performances, American AWPer and in-game leader Noah "Nifty" Francis and impact rifler turned secondary AWPer Justin 'jks' Savage drew the most attention. ESPN caught up with Jks in Sydney about his evolving role in the team, expectations for the future and nuance around their Sydney run.
ESPN: Against Mousesports do you think Renegades were playing at a "peak" or optimal level, or do you see it more as an over performance with certain players hitting their ceilings?
Jks: I think in the Mousesports game it definitely helped that Nifty dropped like, 50. He kind of picked up the slack for us. But it's tough to say. Some games for us I feel like we do play really good and Inferno is a really good map for us. But in other games I feel like we are a bit unlucky, with not as many opportunities and stuff.
Things can go different in the game and we suddenly lose two or three rounds and stuff like that. I think Inferno is one of our best maps but we definitely needed Nifty to come out there and play, like, really good like he did. But then again, maybe if he didn't play as good someone else might've picked up the frags... he was killing everyone.
ESPN: What are the biggest takeaways from IEM Sydney for your T-sides, especially on Train and Inferno?
Jks: T-side on Train, against FaZe it wasn't very good and versus Tyloo it was crap as well, actually. But for me, personally, I felt like I wasn't getting very many opportunities against Tyloo. I think I need to watch some more demos and see how I can get more space on the map, see if I can kind-of help the team more.
I felt like we haven't really run through enough stuff to know what we can do and what we can't do. I mean, Tyloo were playing really good, they were hitting some really good shots and that kind of played into it as well. But, I think T-side I just need to watch some demos myself, personally. As a team, I think we need to work on the mid-round. When it comes to the mid-round it feels like we get lost and don't know what to do. We obviously have strats but that only comes in at the start of the round.
On CT-side... actually our CT-side was pretty good. Just need to work on my AWPing and positioning.
ESPN: Speaking of that, what drove you to pick up the AWP?
Jks: I've always wanted to pick up the AWP to be honest. I've always been a confident AWPer. When Keith "NAF" Markovic left the team, he used to double AWP a lot with Nifty and that gave us a lot of room on the maps we used to play. And he would just go "Yeah, I want to AWP" and he'd AWP. Double AWP set-ups, every team is running it nowadays, so it's pretty important to have a secondary AWPer. For us, if we get that first pick it really, really helps us. I'm not sure why.
I'm always trying to be aggressive and stuff, going for those first picks in brown halls on Train CT-side. I think for the next few events I'm going to have to mix it up a bit because people will just watch my demos and know what I'll do. But I think, if we can get that first pick we can get lots of space on the map.
ESPN: So you clearly have a very good understanding of the mid-round, and based on your tenure in the team, even though you mightn't have the most assertive personality, would you consider secondary calling?
Jks: We have actually talked about that to be honest, Nifty and Aleksandar "Kassad" Trifunovic wanted me to start secondary calling just to help Nifty out. Sometimes there's just a lot going through his mind and he can't say everything obviously. I've been trying to work on that as much as possible, but it doesn't come to me naturally as it should because I've never had that experience. But every now and again, if I see someone that rotates I know where they are. I think I have a very good understanding of where everyone is one the map.
If I see something, for example, there is one player on the site and they've over rotating or something, then normally I have the power to make the call and then people listen to me. That's really good [laughs]. But it's something we've been working on.
ESPN: Switching gears a bit, relative to previous line-ups, what has been the defining strengths Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad has brought to this team?
Jks: I think he is obviously a really good aimer. He shoots pretty hard some games. He also fills in that void where we can have three in the pack now on T-side running around together. And I've gone back to my old role where I'm on the other side of the map being the most comfortable. So it's definitely helped me personally.
He's also a really good teammates, brings a good vibe. He's never down or anything, he's always a motivator, funny. And that's something we really need. Sometimes on this team we can get a little dark if we don't have that extra person like jkaem. Having in that team really brightens the mood, he makes us play better. He's brought a lot.
ESPN: So what are your next steps as a player? Based on you picking up the secondary AWP, moving into a secondary calling position, going into a comfortable role with jkaem moving in, it feels like we're going to be seeing an evolved jks. Does it feel like that at all?
Jks: Yeah it definitely is. I feel like in the past I shied away from doing extra things in the team because I just wanted to be that person on the other side of the map doing my own thing. I'm trying to do more just with the input each round. It's just something we have to get used to like I said before. But personally, I want to AWP, I want to secondary AWP, I'm comfortable with that. I want to get my name out there as an AWPer.
Recently I've just been so motivated to get back to my old form. I want to kind of be "the fragger." I just want us to win simple as that. I'm putting in as much effort as possible with the calling and AWPing and working on my own game as well.