After the first round robin at the MSI 2022 Group Stage, DetonatioN FocusMe, led by former support pro player turned head coach Kazuta “Kazu” Suzuki, finished 1-2.

Drawn into Group A, the LJL representatives had to go up against VCS’ Saigon Buffalo Esports, LLA’s Team Aze, and in their biggest challenge yet at MSI, LCK favorites T1, who still hold a perfect match record in Season 12.

DFM last faced off against T1 at Worlds 2021, after they qualified to the Group Stage for the first time in history. But due to the tough competition, they ended up losing all six of their matches and bowed out.

Back on the international stage at MSI, DFM are looking to prove themselves once again. Even though they dropped games to T1 and Saigon Buffalo Esports in an unexpected backdoor, Kazu tells ONE Esports that he’s pleased with their performance so far, and is looking forward to the second half of Groups.

Coach Kazu leads DetonatioN FocusMe, promising a different pace in the second round robin of MSI 2022 Group Stage

DetonatioN FocusMe coach Kazu at MSI 2022 Group Stage in an interview
Credit: Riot Games

Against T1 on Day 3, DFM opted for a safe bot lane by drafting Ezreal for Yuta “Yutapon” Sugiura and Karma for Lee “Harp” Ji-yoong. They also prioritized meta picks Ahri for Lee “Yaharong” Chan-ju and put Mun “Steal” Geon-yeong on Viego, while Shunsuke “Evi” Murase absorbed pressure at top on Sett.

Even though Yatapon’s Ezreal was looking to scale, the bot lane was filled with non-stop action right from the start thanks to T1 support Ryu “Keria” Min-seok, who was playing Pyke, one of his best and most aggressive champions.

Refusing to back down, the bot lane jungle trio responded to T1’s aggression and traded kills to even out the gold five minutes into the game. Unfortunately, Yaharong’s Ahri struggled the most against Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s LeBlanc in the mid lane, and DFM lost control of the map from mid to late game.

Despite the loss, coach Kazu has a positive outlook on the outcome of the match.

“Although we lost the game, we came in with a well-prepared strategy,” he told ONE Esports. “Even though we lost, we feel good about it.”

He shared that the DFM players too have displayed a strong mindset throughout the tournament. Yutapon, Evi, and Steal are very experienced on the international stage, while Yaharong and Harp have experience in the LCK, which means “they’re really relaxed and they’re having fun.”

Going into the second round robin, DFM will not only have their hands full strategizing against powerhouse T1, but also Saigon Buffalo Esports. Kazu shared that even though they’ve scrimmed Vietnam teams in the past, they haven’t had the chance to this year.

“We imagine that their game is going to be very aggressive with a very offensive gameplay,” he said. “We got caught into that aggressive playstyle in the last match against Saigon Buffalo.”

“If they come in aggressive, we will fight back with more aggression, so it’s going to be very fun in the second matchup.”

DetonatioN FocusMe at MSI 2022
Credit: Riot Games/Getty Images

Kazu reveals the greatest challenge he’s faced as coach

With DFM since 2014, excluding two short stints with two other teams from 2016 to 2018, Kazu has been supporting the team as a pro player and coach for a long time.

According to him, the best thing about working with this roster is that they are all very motivated players.

In terms of coaching style, he’s a facilitator who does his best to listen to each of them on how they want to play the game, so he can formulate an overall strategy. Of course, this isn’t always easy.

“I struggle to make decisions when players and coaches have different opinions. Trying to solve that and make the final call is my biggest challenge,” he said.

Group A will play on May 15, starting from 2 p.m. GMT+8. Check the MSI 2022 schedule here and watch the matches live on Riot Games’ official channels on Twitch and YouTube.

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