The Boston Uprising had a tumultuous start to their season with the impromptu Gamsu trade and the drama around their owner, Robert Kraft. For Kristian "Kellex" Keller and the Boston Uprising, however, they are unfazed by any external distractions.
After the Boston Uprising defeated the Dallas Fuel in the last week of Stage 1, their win propelled them into a playoff spot for the time being. All anxiety aside, Kellex spoke with Inven Global about how they reverse swept the Fuel, Fusions as the main shot caller for the team, and differences between last year and this year for the Uprising.
Congrats on the win. It was an unbelievable comeback to reverse sweep!
Thank you. I'm shocked myself, not going to lie. We did it and I'm so happy.
I am going to be honest with you. The Fuel was stomping you guys in the first half, but you all came back in the second half. Tell me how you guys did it.
Leading up to the match, we expected a lot of Sombra. We thought we figured out the first two games, but then, we crumbled and got stomped. After the halftime, they were playing a different strategy than we had seen before. Our coaches did a good job scouting and seeing what they did and how we could approach the match. So when we came back to the match for the second half in Volskaya, we had a new idea on how to play against them and it worked. Changing our playstyle would counter theirs, then we went on from there.
What's something different from the Fuel that you noticed in the second half of the match?
Before the match, they would go for rCk would farm EMPs really fast. But this game, he would play more stealth and hack us while we're going in. I think that really caught us off guard. After the first two games, we realized just how he changed his playstyle so we adapted to that. We played differently ourselves and countered their strat. They didn't adapt in the second half and I think that's how we got the win.
What's something you guys discussed in halftime?
Making comebacks is something that we've done before. We've done a lot of reverse sweeps in Season 1. We just discussed strategy like our style and how to approach it in the second half. After that, we just did our cheer thing and just regained our confidence.
So you guys were never tilted during halftime?
After the first two maps, I was upset at myself because I felt I played really bad. I wasn't used to their playstyle. As you can tell, I thought I was bad. After the first half, I was a bit tilted but I realized I need to focus on myself. So I calmed myself down and did what I needed to do.
What kind of things do you tell yourself to regain focus and calm down?
I have ideas on how to approach matches. When playing, especially the first two maps today, I was focused on all these things that I was told to do. Then in halftime, I realized I need to trust my gut and instinct. I would tell myself that I can do this and need to believe in myself.
I played a little bit differently in the first two maps than I did in the last three. I think after I had to change my own style and win with my gut instead, it improved my gameplay.
My teammates noticed and told me it's okay and it happens to the best of us. They always say that to each other -- like if someone has a bad game. Ultimately, it's up to the individual person themselves to regain focus.
If you feel tilted in game, do your teammates say they'll pick up the slack and to not worry about anything?
I usually don't show that I'm tilted. I just tell them that I'm sorry and I messed up here and there. They say it's fine and we can win this. As long as I feel like they're not mad at me, I can be happy and play my game.
The entire Uprising roster went through a rehaul during the offseason besides yourself and NotE. Who's the primary shot caller for the Uprising now?
Mainly Fusions because he has a lot of experience in the GOATS meta while in the World Cup with Team UK. They ended up doing really well. So he had better ideas to play against other GOATS comps and he knows so much about the meta. He just tells us what to do since he knows more than any of us.
During the match today, the stream kept on focusing on Fusions and he was talking non-stop. Can you tell me what things he communicated over to you?
It was general plans. For example, last week when we were up 2-0 against Mayhem, we needed the map wins to secure our spot -- even though our playoff spot isn't secured yet. Every time we won a map, he always said to keep the focus on and don't slack because we need those map wins. He does those things to help motivate us but also knows how we need to strategize. Like when I say what ultimates our opponents has, he explains how to set up. He pretty much micromanages everyone but we also have our own say in it. He comes up with the main ideas and work around those.
Can you tell me the differences in shot calling between last year and this year?
I think shot calling this year so far is because of the meta. It's really hectic and chaotic because it gets really intense. For instance, on the last map today, shot calling gets really chaotic when it's really close. I don't say anything because I'm focusing on what other people are saying. In Season 1, it was about proper setups for dive -- it wasn't fancy strategies. In this meta, the comms can get hectic. Like Fusions can say something, then another person says something different. There's one thing that's changed about how comms work -- there's a lot more talk in between fights.
In Season 1, with the old roster, we only had one plan and went through with it -- 3 people would dive and call out who to attack. Since this meta feels fast-paced, comms can get chaotic. I think if the meta changes in Stage 2 to a slower pace, I think comms for a lot of teams would become less chaotic.
Even though you said that comms are chaotic in this meta, do you feel comms in the Boston Uprising are more organized than it was last year?
I wouldn't say it's more organized this year because in our last fight today, we were so close to winning, so everyone was feeling hyped as you saw. Everyone was screaming in the comms. For the people who don't scream like me, I just target the name who's being called out the most or loudest. I can see where the comms feel organized in a way but chaotic. You're just tunnel visioned in those situations. If you're in a 6v6 fight, and you shot call the way it was last year, you would most likely lose those fights every time. You need to be on the same page and focus on the same target.
When you're winning, it doesn't really that much. You can be so aggressive and confident in winning those fights. For instance, we have a plan -- we can force Zarya bubbles, we focus Brig or Reinhardt, and then win the overall fight. Everyone gets so hyped that they scream anything. A lot of teams have this problem when it's last fight of the map and you're close to winning, you might not talk as much but you should!
In normal situations where comms don't matter as much, people are less loud and focus on listening.
How does communication play a factor when it comes to the team dynamic?
We're used to it now. When we started playing with Fusions, he felt different from our other main tank caller. In Season 1, it was more Gamsu doing basic comms, so it was more structured. This year, Fusions talks non-stop. It's different for us, but we got used to it. At first, it was hard because we can't analyze fast enough on what he was saying. After a few weeks, we got used to things. I think it's his way of calling and it fits into this meta since the meta is fast-paced.
Moving forward, what's something you need to prove?
Like Season 1, people were doubting us. In Season 2, I get it because we're going in with a new roster basically. Our main goal for the team is to be the underdog and prove people wrong. People put us low in their power rankings, which is fine by me and the rest of the team. It's just more motivation to prove them wrong.
Do you feel that there's less pressure on you guys to perform since people put the Uprising low on their power rankings?
I mean in a way, yes. It can go both ways. You have more pressure because you want to win so you can prove people wrong. Also, you have people not expecting much from you, which can be relief in a way. I know if we lose to some team, fans won't be as critical because of expectations beforehand. For me, I don't feel much pressure at all because I know we're the underdogs. I'm used to it by now. It feels like a relief. If we were ranked in the top 3, I would feel more pressure. If we don't perform, everyone will look at us more critically.
What's your personal goal this season?
Play my best at each game. I don't have any individual goals. I just want to be the best I can be. I want the team to shine and show people we are good. I'm more focused on the team aspect rather than myself.
Thanks for the interview. Hope you guys make playoffs and surprise a lot of people. Do you have anything to say to the fans?
I saw that there's a watch party in Boston today for our match against Dallas. I want to thank everyone for showing up and watching our game and supporting us. I was sure it was awesome with the reverse sweep. Thank you for the fans who's supported us through thick and thin.
I also want to say happy birthday to my sister. We won for you!
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