It’s no question the Swedish rivalry has been one of the biggest talking points in the weeks leading up to Evo 2015 with the last majors having resulted in three consecutive Swedish winners finals and Leffen in particular being off to a spectacular start having won every tournament he’s attended the past weeks. It’s nearly enough to make us forget another strong European force will be attending Evo this weekend. Ice, ranked 3rd in Europe and Germany’s #1 player, is living proof that if you’re willing to put in the effort and dedication you can make it to the top regardless of what region you start out in.
When he started playing mid 2008 he quickly rose to the top by frequently attending smashfests in the Netherlands with many of their top players in attendance. After two years he was placing well in top 5 and later on secured his first major tournament win at hf.lan 5 in France. For a while he was one of the few players capable of giving Armada serious sets in Europe. When the Beast retired for a brief period, Ice held the European crown for around a year till Leffen started closing in again after his ban. Though after Armada’s return the Swedish players have been the clear first and second of Europe the past years, Ice has firmly held on to a 3rd place position with a solid win record against anyone below him and winning every tournament that didn’t have the top 2 in attendance.
Giving his strong performance in Europe it’s unfortunate Ice has underperformed in America. He got 7th at Evo 2013 but finished 33rd one year later. While he showed some promises, he hasn’t been able to really scratch the 5 gods the past years in the States. With the scene in the U.S. having exploded and many of the high level players closing in on the gods, it seemed like a good time to ask his perspective on the European scene and how he considers his chances this weekend.
As a short introduction, can you tell us a little about yourself that is not related to Smash? What does your daily life look like?
I recently moved back to my hometown Berlin, so right now I’m living at my sister’s place. Meeting up with old friends and grinding some Smash would be a good way to describe my life right now. After Evo I’m probably going to start working again and I would also like to start streaming Smash.
You didn’t join the scene until 2008. Did you have any role models or examples when starting out? How about now, any players you look at in particular?
I was a huge fan of PC Chris when I started, later on I became a fan of Mew2King. These players defined which characters I mained but nowadays I try to be my own hero and don’t have any real role models.
You have very often gone to Dutch smashfests and tournaments, typically winning them. Especially in recent times, many other German players are joining the Dutch events as well, which is a rather unique dynamic for most Smash countries. How did this come about? Do you feel this sort of exchange helps both scenes?
I think so, yes. For the Germans it’s probably good that they get to play against other European top players and through this way get a better view on where they stand in terms of skill and where they have to make adjustments in their play. For the Dutch players it exposes their weaknesses in certain matchups like vs. Sixx and Däumling for example.
You’ve been dominant at nearly every European event that didn’t include Armada or Leffen. However with these two present you’ve usually placed below them. Do you think the gap between you and them has grown or are you closing in?
I’m closing in but I think I need more practise against players in general, not necessarily good players. This helps me a lot since most my time playing Smash was spent alone (about 70% I would say). I’m confident that this shift from playing alone is what will help me break through this skill barrier.
I also want to train Charon, Imperfect and Sodrek from Berlin in particular so I can give myself a better challenge.
How do you usually prepare for events in terms of both gameplan and mindset? Is this any different for EVO?
I usually spend most of my time training my tech skill and watching matches of top players so I know what to expect. This time I’m going for a different plan by playing versus more players, trying to keep a positive attitude and forming a good definition of competition for myself.
Which players would you most like to encounter at EVO? Any rematches you’re anxious for and players you’ve never faced but want to?
I would love to play all the good players like in a round robin. I don’t really fear players but I’m afraid of uncommon matchups like vs. Samus, Luigi and certain Pikachu mains.
What were your reasons for making the main switch to Fox and how do you differentiate yourself from the plethora of other Fox players?
I was bored of certain limitations of my former mains and training tech skill with Fox was always the most fun for me. I don’t really try to differentiate myself. I just keep an eye on the field and pick up whatever techniques I like.
Who do you think has the best shot at winning the title at EVO 2015?
I think it’s either Armada or Mango. I see Armada as the most consistent player right now and Mango because he always tends to cause a surprise and rides the hype momentum of EVO the best.
Most high level smash players have a strong online (social media) presence, while you tend to keep a low profile. Is there a certain rationale behind this?
I’ve never been a big fan of maintaining a big online presence, I’d rather handle stuff in private or in person. Recently though I started to change my mind on the subject and now think speaking in public can help a lot of people. I just lack the motivation to do so. I might start out with posting some gym pics and food pictures for a start (laughs).
You and Amsah are the only top 5 players in Europe that don’t have a sponsor. Are you looking for one and, if so, what do you seek in a sponsorship?
I look for a sponsor that helps me push myself as a player to my limits and makes me feel proud to be a member of their team.
Thanks for your time, any closing comments?
I’m really looking forward to Evo and I’m sure it’s going to be great. Thanks for the interview.
Follow Ice at @ice_fights and catch him and many other top players at Evo15 this weekend at SRKEvo1. For the full stream schedule click here. Pictures takes by Vincent Samaco and Seya. Thanks to Remen and Marc for help with the interview.