With i71 in full swing and playoffs about to start, we saw Invictum sweep through their group without missing a beat. Now as they look to challenge Raptors EC in the first round they are confident that they could cause an upset.
Jack “Sorex” Renton-Cooper who currently plays for Invictum in ESEA Main will be trying to fill the AWP role but is also the team’s IGL.
Looking at this LAN, you guys topped your group. How has the experience been and have you faced many challenges?
Not really, it was pretty disappointing, to be honest. The appearance of teams is non-existent. There was us and a mix headed by Shoobie who didn’t even make it. We were anticipating them to beat everyone in their group and for us to play them. Because there were so few teams [editor’s note: there were 9 teams in total], we expected round-robin, not group stage. We won our first two games 16-0 and then had a three-and-a-half-hour break because of the lack of teams, then we got a forfeit win. And then just went into the last game winning 16-8.
The showing from the UK scene is really bad. I understand people boycotting Insomnia, but it is ESL Premiership. This is supposed to be the best team in the UK and you have three teams here who quite literally don’t quite play anywhere near the level of teams that normally play.
How come you think teams are not there? What is the issue?
From the previous events such as i68 and i69 it was terribly run with the servers and delays no one wanted to come. The ticket prices are also so expensive. We came in today instead of early bird tickets and it cost us £120 per player. That is a hell of a lot of money compared to EPIC.LAN, and even that is expensive. It is just not really worth it unless you are guaranteed to make ESL Premiership, even then you break even. Unless you are contending to come second you are not making money. It is of course good exposure, but because of how poorly it has been run in the past, it has scared a lot of organisations. It would have been so much better if people just went “You know what it is a clean slate because they are working with ESL.” Sadly you just don’t get that, and considering last Insomnia the only thing on HLTV was the final with a mix playing. It really doesn’t bode well with how the tournament system is going in the UK. We have a lot of other events but Insomnia has gone downhill since how prestigious it has been.
You have been around for a while, playing a lot of different LANs. Where can you see improvements made to attract back the teams?
The ticket price is naturally not going to change. But the continued partnership with ESL would be big for people. Having the four teams here funded by ESL is a massive benefit. I have seen a lot of LANs that have been well-run. EPIC.LAN is a perfect example. You might have the odd crash, but you cannot really say a bad thing about the tournament. With Insomnia there is so much. Even when it was being run well, at i65 when PCs died people died for seven hours, smooya was definitely not happy. It is crazy that in 2023 things are being run poorly.
You mentioned before Shoobie’s mix being knocked out. Did you expect them to make it far?
We booked this event a week before we came. When we looked at the teams we thought the only game that would be close was versus Shoobie‘s mix. You have Shoobie has placed well on LANs before and has played Sangal online. He is a renowned player in the UK. Alongside that others who are high ELO and play in Intermediate. We expected that we would have to beat them to get first. We didn’t get to play them, but for them to lose to The Royal Signals is crazy to me. Yeah, they have Freestylazz who is an incredible player, but none of them really play the game regularly. Compared to Shoobie‘s team, they all actively play in teams or mixes. In my eyes, it is a massive disappointment on their end.
Realistically you are the only team that could make a run in this playoffs. Do you believe that you could?
I think that it is important to understand that we are a mix, but we are all playing on a similar level to the other teams. godkU was playing in the UKIC Beyond invitational last week, also Heartles is overlooked as a player. Myself and Focus were dark horses in the UK scene. I know for myself I have a very bad reputation, and I would like to change that and prove myself here. I feel a lot of people overlook me as a player. I have always played against these teams online and it has been close, we could make a good run here but it all depends on what happens in the server.
Maybe an issue with making that run is that your IGL and AWPer aren’t here. You have had to take up both of the roles. How does this affect everything?
I am filling roles here, but they are both roles I have done and am confident in. The LAN environment makes me so much more comfortable. The last Insomnia I was playing at I got a 1.39 rating while AWPing, we only got top eight so it wasn’t a deep run, but I am confident in my ability no matter who is against me. My read on the game is pretty good, but if I get tilted, which is something I have worked on, my calling can get worse, godkU then will take over. What is good about our mix is that myself and godkU have the ability to call, and we have such different game styles. The way he plays is to set up himself a lot of the time as his star player. My team play with a lot of individual freedom because we have faith in each other and know that they can make a round out of anything.
How then do you combine the two? When you speak about getting tilted, would an early start also be almost mandatory?
We have been playing Overpass a lot today and I have been setting him up on A. I basically said, Lake I will set you up, go kill them. I have trust in Tristan [Lake], he is 5-1 on his Main team right now he is a good rifler. I know for a fact that if he goes one for one we can still win the round. What is a good difference between us is that godkU calls in the freeze time, and I call mid-round. It is a lot of me making adjustments while we are playing. Our utility isn’t perfect but we can force rotations quite easily. I think that the best thing for us is momentum. If we get a slow start it will be hard. When we start building up a couple of rounds we will be in such a winnable situation.
Outside of Insomnia, you have competed at a high level for a long time but not with an organisation. How does this alleviate stress?
Now we have a stable organisation it is brilliant. In the past we had organisations that didn’t uphold their promises or last minute say they couldn’t do it. With Insomnia we asked a week before if we could do it, and they said yes. We are here to win. It takes a lot of pressure off you from the standpoint of organising things. If we went as a mix we would have to organise ourselves, but now we are under Invictum they elevate that pressure and just give us a perfect pathway to winning. There is nothing bad I can say about Invictum, there are only blessings. I have played under a lot of organisations, and have played in Main since Season 34. I have been stuck here for a long time but the scene has changed a lot. I have been stuck here because of how I have been in the past. I am a different person, but it is important to remember anything can make upsets in the scene. When we played Ex-Coalesce online, we almost upset them even though it was 0-2. A lot of teams here have made roster changes, and I don’t think there will be honeymoon periods.