Our series of interviews continues with CS:GO, and this time I decided to speak with Blink’s Sener “SENER1” Mahmuti about the recent development of the Albanian-Kosovar scene as well as the team’s great recent form. SENER1 along with Genc “gxx-” Kolgeci and Atif “gejmzilla” Mustafa finished second in the fourth season of A1 Adria League, suffering a loss in the final to Juggernauts, but judging by their most recent results, their chances of winning the upcoming edition of the League look better every day.
You as Blink recently won the fourth season of CSadria Clan Championship and now you became the first team to qualify for the upcoming A1 Adria League season. Those two achievements are most certainly the result of your great form in recent times. Talk to me about CSadria Clan Championship 4 and how you managed to win the whole tournament after a shaky start in the Group Stage. How strong was the competition and did any of the teams surprise you?
Just before CSadria Clan Championship 4 we did some roster changes as we were trying to find the best fit possible for the roles that were required for the team. We found our 5th player a week before the qualifiers started and we started practicing as soon as we won the Qualifier. We had high expectations coming to this tournament as we knew we are stronger then any of the other teams that qualified. The shaky start at the beginning of the season was due to the difficulties we had with the gaming equipment of our players or at times having internet issues because of the situation of the lockdown (COVID-19).
Esports organizations aren’t really profitable in the Adriatic region, so most of the teams play in mixes and without being paid. However, you recently got picked up by Blink who are trying to make a name for them in the regional and European scene. For those who don’t know, could you tell us a bit more about Blink as an organization, are they involved in something else than esports and how did you get approached by them?
Firstly I heard about Blink a year ago when they started a new project for a CS:GO professional team with some passionate local players for the game. They had the determination to transform individual talent into winning teams. Blink’s focus is esports, becoming a well known professional esports organization. I really like their vision going into the esports scene as they are trying to create a foundation for other organizations and esports players as this is a path that everybody can follow at creating a gaming culture. We got approached by Blink as soon as the A1 Adria League Season 4 Finals had finished and they expressed their idea of creating a team around gejmzilla , gxx and me. We were really fascinated because we always had this idea of creating a team like this and having an organisation such as Blink to support us is a dream come true.
The core of you, gxx and gejmzilla have been present on the regional scene for quite some time. At CCCS4 you used rigoN as a substitute but you also had newer talents such as xhoci in your roster. How did you come to the conclusion that these new additions are the perfect fit for your team and what makes them stand out from the other players in your scene?
The core of me (SENER1), gxx and gejmzilla have been playing together or at least knew each other for a very long time. Even when were separated in different teams, we would always play together and everybody learned a role that would best fit us, so I became better at being a support player, gxx became a very good awper, and gejmzilla became a good IGL. The new additions to the roster were those of xhoci and bor1. They are two of the best raw aimers in Albania/Kosovo and they perfectly fit the roles that we needed in the team, xhoci being the entry fragger and bor1 being the second entry. We additionaly added a coach as well, stikle-, that has been helping us ever since the beginning with new tactical ideas and improving overall teamplays.
When talking about your scene, it feels like all the players over there play Counter-Strike. There are a lot of new teams who play regional qualifiers and try to gain valuable experience every day. What is the current state of the Albanian-Kosovar scene and how are the players and teams developing day by day?
Our scene is growing a lot day by day. A huge number of talents are showing themselves every day and there are a lot of hot prospects for future teams. A lot of those players are trying to follow the path that juanflatro and sinnopsy did, there are a lot of players who qualified for FPL-C or even FPL like two of my teammates, gxx and gejmzilla. Players that aim high on our region have a lot of talent and I could say that we have some of the best raw aimers in the game, but there is a hurdle everyone of them has to cross before making the next step. They have to commit to improving at the game and keeps their heads down and not be so stubborn when it comes to learning new stuff and being professional players in general.
Tournaments like the XPortal CS:GO Online Tournament really show the popularity of CS in your region with the qualifier for the tournament being filled out with 128 teams in less than a day. You suffered losses to ESK and Gameroids before being eliminated from the tournament. How did two lower-ranked teams manage to beat the favorites and how good was the competition as a whole?
It’s great to see that our scene is growing so much and we hope that it continues at this rate. Going on in this tournament we were confident going foward as our practice was very good and we managed to beat really good high ranked teams in qualifiers and practices. We knew the level where we are at and we took it easy-going. The teams over here at this tournament all use a PUG style and we weren’t prepared for this kind of style as the teams we practice agaisnt are very well versed and stable so we got caught off guard by the randomness of the playstyle. After the tournament we sat down and we worked with the players, coach and management to find the best way to prepare for such teams and now we have worked it out and it won’t happend again.
Now that all the teams have qualified and the team list is finalized, have you begun preparations for the League? How would you rate your chances of winning the whole thing?
As I said before, we have been practicing ever since the CSadria Clan Championship 4 qualifiers so i guess that would be 3-4 months by now and we feel very confident going foward in the tournament. Juggernats are the hotest team coming from the last qualifiers and I think for sure they are going to make it to the playoffs with us. They are the only team that we think will give a us hard time, other than that we feel very confident going foward to the League.