IEM Sydney 2019: LEGIJA Interview

Nikola “LEGIJA” Ninić, the ex-player for BIG and the current manager of the team spoke to Snowball Esports about the visa process, the biggest problem of the German scene and segments of his career.

What happened with the visas in terms of XANTARES and on who’s end did it fail?

LEGIJA: Right after when we qualified for Australia, we applied for the visa. The thing is, obviously, the political situation. It’s a longer process. Because of him, he has a working visa and he’s living in Germany with us. We actually flew him to Turkey with one of our staff. We applied for the visa and I’m not 100% sure, but apparently the German government had to approve it as well. They approved it in Turkey, sent it to Germany.

But then there was Easter in between and Turkey they had a holiday. In the end, it just didn’t work out unfortunately. We did it as soon as possible.

I know that XANTARES is one of the big pieces in BIG, how has he taken over other players’ roles and been integrated into the team?

LEGIJA: I would say so. In general, German terms they have a certain philosophy of the game. It’s a lot of communication and teamwork based, which is what XANTARES is lacking a bit. As in his previous teams, he was the main person, everyone was around him. In our team, everyone has to be there for each other.

He did a great job and he obviously still has to learn a lot. He will learn a lot. The problem is – I think our system is maybe way too structured for him to adapt really fast into it. But with time it will come. He’s doing a really good job and I think we can work around him.

In terms of the overall team chemistry, with Smooya leaving the team, what happened in that situation?

LEGIJA: In the end, it was from both sides. Once you have problems in the team and people get unhappy with each other, the mood is not really the best. It will hold you back at tournaments and online games. It is really hard to say, it was kind of from both sides, we didn’t agree with his attitude sometimes. Not that it’s really bad or anything but sometimes it can be rough. He gets really emotional. Owen is a really good player and a good person. At some point you have to learn how to control your emotions.

I think he learned a lot in the last 6 months since he has been benched and we will see what the future holds. I think he is very talented.

In your personal career what has it been like since your top 8 run at PGL Krakow, in terms of transitioning into a back-end role?

LEGIJA: It was hard. For me it was because I had health issues, I really had a lot of problems with my stomach because of stress. It influenced my performance in the end and I wasn’t happy. Because these guys are my best friends inside and outside of the game.

Maybe it’s on me that I put sometimes too much stress on myself. Sometimes the community too.

Tabsen has been transitioned into the main AWPING role, how has it been for the team in terms of implementing him into the team?

LEGIJA: The good thing about Tabsen, is that I feel like he is one of the players with the best game sense in the world. Obviously with some other people. It helps you a lot if you have an [main] AWP with a good read and anticipation of where the enemies could be. With the AWP it can open the rounds and he’s a very good clutch player. I think the weapon suits him very well. He still has to learn a bit.

Sometimes the aggression he had as an entry fragger causes him trouble in the game. But I think he’s learning very quick and it works on himself a lot.

In terms BIG and your personal career, who has been your biggest mentor in the game?

LEGIJA: I think my mentor was Gob b, which is probably [the same] for everyone else on the team. He has the most experience and he is in and outside the game a really good friend of mine. He taught us so much. How to react to things and how to stay calm.

In the German scene how do you see the scene progressing, is there any one particular problem in the scene?

LEGIJA: I would say the attitudes of the people. I don’t see the dedication that we showed at the beginning of BIG and still show, I would say. The biggest thing is the dedication, how they react and how they talk to each other. It’s more of a rivalry for them. Rather than working together and learning from each other. I remember when back Mousesports and Alternate-aTTaX in 1.6 were the best teams. I know that Gob b taught me before tournaments that when Mousesports didn’t play a tournament they would talk to aTTaX, they talked to each other. They gave each other confidence. They spoke about the games, the enemies, what would they do.

Maybe it could be the case that I don’t see it as much as we are not that involved in the German scene, as we are playing internationally. From what I can see, there is no dedication and I don’t like the attitude.

To close, why did you start playing Counter-Strike?

I started Counter-Strike in 1999 in Beta 7.2, I think it was. Ever since then I started loving the game and was a casual player till 2002. Until I got introduced to ESL and started playing all the ladders and started playing professionally. It took me and I just love it.

Obviously, the thrive to win competitively is really nice. I think it’s the best esport ever.

It’s easy to play on a decent level, but it’s very hard to master, and that’s what I like about it. There are so many components in the game in which many people don’t know about. There is so much to the game. It’s beautiful and it’s nice.


With BIG returning to Europe to compete in the Closed Qualifier for the StarLadder Major and ESL One Cologne over the next couple of months, LEGIJA returns to his usual post as XANTARES returns.

He’ll be looking to get his charges back to the heights they experienced at the FACEIT Major in London last year.

ProducerJosh Swift
Reece Perry
One of Snowball's founders and neck tie aficionado, Reece "Ties" Perry has been in the Oceanic esports scene for years and is passionate about bringing insightful, well-written and engaging content to the masses.

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