Sunday, 12 January 2020

The Final Circle: An Interview With Virtus.Pro's Martin H “Pjeh” Aamyri, Alexander “Noth” Selfwin & Johan “Taylor” Taylor

By Arran "Halo" Brown

The Apex Legends Global Series is only 2 weeks and after an incredible set of Preseason tournaments gave us a small glimpse of what we can expect to see during the ALGS, it's first event of the season will pit Europes best teams against each over the weekend of January 25th - 27th in Online Tournament 1, which is the first tournament to provide access to the Arlington Major. The top 20 teams in each region will gain an automatic qualification and one of the teams looking at one of those spots is Virtus.Pro!

The Final Circle is an interview series that allows you to get to know some of Europe's top teams. This is the second episode the series after I previously spoke with Reciprocity EU (formerly Penta) and in this episode, we will be looking to provide you, the fans, an opportunity to get to know Virtus.Pro who are one of the best teams in the scene right now.

First of all, congratulations on your preseason with a Finals appearance at the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational and your second place at the Global Loot League Finals. Before we get into that, who are you and what are your backgrounds in esport before Apex Legends? 

Pjeh: Thank you Arran! We as a core come from PUBG, where I and noth played together for around a year and Taylor joined us later on in the PUBG scene and we just hit it off straight off the bat synergy wise and attitude-wise

Noth: Thank you so much! My name is Alexander “nothFPS” Selfwin and I am playing a support role for Apex Legends team. I opened up my eyes for esports back in Counter-Strike 1.6. Since then I played PUBG with Pjeh & Taylor

Taylor: Thank you so much! Before Apex I played Pubg with a team called Tinderguld and at the end of PUBG, I joined Pjeh and Noth.

You three have been together as a team since the Apex.Pro leagues, tell us how you formed and what roles within the team you have picked up?

Pjeh: Well funny story the end of our PUBG era I was kicked from the roster due to different opinions. I created a mixed team and competed in the Pro League Qualifier as they went on playing as 3 and picking up a new player p4tric we made it equally as far and then I figured out I was done with PUBG. After a while and around when the next qualifier came Apex got announced and released I started playing and Noth joined up with me and figured out if they didn’t make it into this qualifier he would leave and come play with me and Taylor tagged along as we 3 were the ones that always got the most along with each other. Been playing non-stop ever since. Changing roles was a big thing as we all wanted to play a more DPS role Wraith/Pathfinder so we have gone through A LOT of changes.

Noth: We used to play PUBG together since April 2018 and we failed a qualifier at the end of 2018 / Beginning of 2019. We did some changes in the team when we failed which meant Pjeh was out of the team and we had another qualifier for pro league coming up in February. Just then Apex Legends was released which Pjeh started to play the first day, it was then Taylor and I joined in a couple of days later. I called just before the qualifier to the team that ill continue my dream of becoming a pro player in Apex Legends if we would fail the qualifier for PUBG Pro League which we did. And Taylor joined in on this journey as well. 

About the roles, we’ve been going back and forth a lot due to me and Taylor wanted to play Wraith. We talked through it and ended up with Taylor as Wraith and me as Lifeline, then just before Preseason Invitational in Krakow Wattson came out which I told him I won't be playing because it's not my type of Legend and of course Taylor took one for the team and started playing Wattson just 1-2 weeks before Krakow and I was back on Wraith. Pjeh has always been on Octane/Pathfinder, we actually tried Octane for a while because you could get to high grounds and actually remove the jump pad so people couldn’t come up behind us but he couldn’t be as aggressive with his plays over the mountains at Kings Canyon.

Taylor: Well in the end of Pubg we kicked Pjeh from the team and played a couple qualifiers but we didn't make it so both me and Noth decided to quit Pubg and play Apex, we already knew that Pjeh was playing it and he was the only guy we knew so we started to play with him again. And with the roles pjeh have always played the same kind of role, I stared with Lifeline and Noth Wraith but I felt like I wanted to play Wraith more because I was more aggro then Noth so we changed, and then before Poland, we needed a Wattson and no one wanted to change so I did it. 

Before we get into the ALGS announcement and upcoming tournaments. You attended the Apex Invitational where you were one of the favourites. You had a great run through the upper bracket but had a disappointing final. What were your expectations coming in and was the cause of your Finals performance not being what we are used to in your opinion?

Pjeh: I’d have to be honest here and say our mentality got the best of us. We set our goals high to get a top 5 in the event but after reaching the finale after being top5 all the way in the qualifier beating the same teams over and over again we started underestimating a lot of teams so we didn’t play our “own game” And the heat issue and everything on the event was a struggle for us. So we succumbed to the heatwave and stress (But if you look closely we were top 10 for quite some time in the finale too).

Noth: We had really high expectations about ourselves we had a goal to make it top5 at least and during the group stages we felt it was so doable and we had a walk in the park during the group stages, I think we ended on 1st, 2nd, and 5th during the group stages. In the finals during the first rounds we did pretty well I think we were around top5 the first rounds overall. But the heat took the energy out of us and we had some struggle with our mentality which have been worked out now so it shouldn’t happen again. Even if we made it to the top 14 in the world we were really disappointed and I think a lot of fans was so as well. 

Taylor: We felt really good going in the tournament it felt like we could get top 5. It felt really good going through winner bracket and I guess we were not really ready for the finals, we wanted to jump Thunder Dome but we didn't want to contest Sentinest so we had to loot shit loot and that made it rougher then we wanted, and the circles was not the best for us I think.

Since the Apex Invitational in Krakow, we have switched from Kings Canyon to Worlds Edge. How has the larger map changed the approach you would take in competitive play and what are the biggest gun meta changes relating to the bigger map in your opinions? 

Pjeh: We feel much stronger in this map as we are known for our long-range dominance followed up by our quick decision making and aggressivity. So we feel much more comfortable on this map even though we miss hanging out in Dome in Kings Canyon. 

Noth: I think the World's Edge is a really good map for us since we’re one of the few teams that are running 2-3 snipers every round. With all the open areas we can get entry frags really easy and make a push on that with a high success ratio. About the meta changes, G7 is now one of the most powerful weapons for long/semi distance after they buffed the damage and added double-tap to it although I rarely use the double-tap. We try to run at least 2 G7’s now to be able to tag-team players at long distance (200-400M). I am probably one of the few that have been running G7 since day 1 in Apex, I actually did it because it’s really equal to Mini 14 in PUBG which was one of my main weapons, so I could just take that muscle memory straight into Apex Legends and get an early advantage. 

Taylor: I really feel like we can play our game more on this map, it's better for long-range and that's what we are strong at, and the Gibby change is good for us because we play edge a lot so it helps us a lot.

We have also had the EMEA Global Loot League Finals, which was the first tournament not only on a new map but in a new meta. You chose to take Wraith out of your composition in a move that worked but what was your thought process behind the switch?

Pjeh: We quickly figured out we wanted a Gibraltar for the open space and the way Gibralta can out peek anyone with his Gunshield and quickly save a situation with his dome is too good to drop. We also play Pathfinder so we can take high grounds as most circles have a mountain or a building top where you win from if you own it.

Noth: With the new meta going that we had to play Gibby due to everyone else played it even if we didn’t really like the force of Gibby’s all around. I said I’ll take that role going for Gibby and Taylor was still on Wattson and then it was Pjeh who had to pick between Wraith and Pathfinder. Pjeh kind of never played Wraith before but we did give it a try for about 1 week and felt like he couldn’t be as aggressive in the same way he was with Pathfinder when he always plays the high grounds and often get entry frags by doing so we tried to change back to pathfinder and with 99% of the other teams going for the Wraith meant we could take all the high grounds our selves because they weren't able to reach them without a zipline. So it was kind of an easy choice for us, but as you can see now there are more and more pathfinders running around in scrims as well. 

Taylor: To be honest we tried to play Wraith but Pjeh didn't like it so we just told him to play what feels best for him so he went back to Path and it works out fine for us, we don't really like to play Wraith because the TP is a bit random and you never know if it will work or not, and we like Path more because we like to play high ground so it's easy to take with him

It obviously led to you finishing 2nd overall and putting you in a good place to start in the run-up to the ALGS. Where do you think you are in the scene right now?

Pjeh: I believe we are a top 5 team in the world right now.

Noth: We’ve been talking about this within the team since you released your power rankings as you ranked us 6th. We think that we’re top 5 in the world ourselves and believe we can win majors this Global Series.

Taylor: I would say we are top 5 right now 

Which team disappointed and which team impressed you all at the GLL finals?

Pjeh: Alliance impressed us a lot in the GLL finals with picking up Hakis as their new IGL seeing what they can do with the correct caller. I wouldn’t say any team disappointed us really as we just see other’s success and progress. Everyone has come a long way since the Invitational and we are happy to see so many teams doing well and growing 

Noth: I wouldn’t say the disappointed me but G2 was doing really good in the scrims and I know they had some crashes in the finals which could’ve got to them. I was seeing them as a top5 competitor. I was impressed by Alliance coming in with a new lineup and also was the only team playing with caustic and got it to work in their favour. 

Taylor: I was a bit disappointed to see how G2 and Gambit did but the rest I was not that surprised in.

Speaking of Alliance, they played incredibly well with Hakis on trial. They originally finished 2nd but were disqualified in round 11 for breaking the out of Bounds healing rules, what is your opinion on that situation?

Pjeh: As we said earlier we think they played amazing and did the best they could sadly they broke the rule if it was accidental or not they had to be punished. I hope one day the map will be fixed and the rules will become more simplified as a lot of rules are questioned daily.

Noth: I’ve been looking at the situation and just the same thing happened the night before in GLL NA so we were all noticed about this is strictly forbidden to use out of bounds. They had a corner on the mountain that wasn’t out of bounds but should’ve been so they could keep resetting the timer in that specific corner. 

Taylor: I feel like GLL did the right thing it said in the rules you cant do it and they did

The ALGS has finally been announced as a tournament circuit, with online qualifiers to both the premier and major offline tournaments? Majors will have 100 teams attending and keep the final format we saw at the Apex Invitational. What are your thoughts on the grand scheme of the pro circuit?

Pjeh: I’m super excited to be a part of this and just being here since the beginning seeing how far and fast EA and Respawn work on their competitive scene is truly incredible. I just hope one day we can get the developers to communicate better with their players.

Noth: I am really hyped for these Series to start off and I think it’s good that they made a lot of spots for the Major LAN’s due to online qualifier is always scary to play and afaik it’s a BO3 which means anything can happen. It’s so amazing to see how far this game has come in such a short time, not even 1 year has gone yet and there are big Esport plans. I think it’s a good system for the viewers due to your favourite team can always win in the finals. But it’s really a pain in the ass to play as it might be a lot of games in a short period of time as in Krakow. 

Taylor: I'm really excited to get this started so we can have more tournaments going

The first online qualifiers begin on January 25th, with a few spots in the first season major up for grabs. How have you prepared for this and which of your competitors are you expecting the most from?

Pjeh: Of Course we are prepared for this. Coming 2 in GLL And the creation of the EU private scrim discord will make sure we and the other top-grossing EU teams will have the best practice possible for the upcoming qualifier and we feel very safe in saying “C u in Texas” 

Noth: We’ve had a break since GLL during Christmas to recharge energy and we’ve just begun to practise every day now and we’ll do so until the qualifiers. I am trying to get as much time of my work as well so that we can practice more. I think the top5 teams will be VP, LG, Navi, Reciprocity and G2 for the first qualifier. But anything can happen since it Open Qualifiers. 

Taylor: We have been scrimming a lot and we feel really confident going into this. I don't really expect anything its an open qualifier anything can happen.

With the Open Qualifiers starting in just under two weeks, are currently grinding scrims to be prepared as possible for the tournament. You can follow Pjeh, Noth and Taylor on Twitter to keep up to date with how they are performing. 

(You can find more Apex Legends Global Series related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts) 
(Picture courtesy of EA & Respawn)

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