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You're now part of Heroic. How are you finding your time on the roster?
Pretty good, it's been almost seven months that we've been together and it's been a pleasure to work with the team. Unfortunately, we had to roster change right before these important events, so we're still figuring out some stuff, but apart from that it's been really great. These adjustments are needed and we're dealing with them in the best way possible.
You touched on the roster change, which is the introduction of RUBINO. What do you think Ruben brings to the roster from a teamplay perspective?
I think he brings a lot of experience from his background in CS. He understands a lot about the game and the teams he played in probably gave him a lot of experience on how the game should be played, which is something we were missing before. We have a really good captain, Snappi, but he has a very structured way of approaching the game, which is not bad — it's just the way he thinks about the game — but bringing in a new guy like Ruben is going to help us adapt the way we play.
Right now, to become a top team, you have to mix it up much better than we do it nowadays. Just in general, role-wise, when [Ruben] came into the team, he didn't really fit es3tag's role, because Patrick is really intricate and Ruben is much more passive. Our plan for the future is to make MODDII the entry killer, just like back in the days when he was on Fnatic — finally he can go back to that role that made him really successful. And then we're going to use Ruben in a more passive role, but we needed to play these tournaments like we practiced before, so now we're going to have some time to adjust and see how it goes.
Our plan for the future is to make MODDII the entry killer, just like back in the days when he was on Fnatic.
What sort of interaction do you and Snappi have between matches? How do you prepare, strictly from a coach and IGL perspective?
Basically, from my past teams I had much more input because I was also IGL-ing or we had no real leader, capable of understanding how we should play. I pretty much did everything. That was good in a way, because I had control of everything, but with Snappi it's much easier in that respect. He also understands a lot and he watches a lot of demos.
What we do is sit down, usually what I do is like videos scouting the opponents, their tendencies, strats from our playbook that I think will work and how we should approach that specific match-up. And then I get the vetoes done by myself and ask them if they are fine with it — they usually are.
Right now, I don't believe in heavy anti-stratting.
It's very hard when you bring a new player to think too much about the opponent, when you don't even know how you're going to play yourself. Right now, we're trying to play our own game, and think less about our opponents, but for the future, when we're more comfortable, that's how it's going to be: me and him watching videos, and as long as we're on the same page, that's how it's going to be.
When you look at these demos, what would you say — without giving away too much — are the important things you look out for?
There are different ways of playing CS. What I look for first is where all the other players from the enemy team place, some specific things they like to do. And then I find the weak points based on watching them.
As an example, let's say we have to prepare against Cloud9. Then I see a match between FaZe and C9 and I see what worked against C9 for FaZe, we check in our strat book and if there's anything that fits — we try to make use of that strat. Right now, I don't believe in heavy anti-stratting. Back in the days it might've worked, but nowadays everyone knows that teams with coaches will watch games and they will mix it up, so it's very hard to completely anti-strat a team, apart from Tier 3/4 teams. On top level, it's just impossible. You find the little tendencies and try to find the weak points.
Do you have a preference in regards to anti-stratting versus on-the-fly adaptation?
Right now in our team, we have a hard time with on-the-fly strats, we still struggle a little bit with adapting. I think that was the main problem in yesterday's match against North, especially on Inferno. I'm more of a fan of anti-stratting, I've actually already made a pre-plan, but it's hard to do that now as I explained. We don't even know what we should do. It's a process.
I guess it's a matter of preference too, right? It depends on the way you think about the game. I don't imagine it's easy to get a structure going, but at the same time it almost requires a certain way of thinking to be on-the-fly.
Yeah, it's really hard. The thing about CS right now is that it's in a real rough period. If you look at the top 10, every one of those teams can suddenly win an event. I even made a tweet, saying that being on point individually is much more important. Understanding the basic fundamentals and the strategy part of the game — I feel that's kind of missing right now. When you watch matches, you just see people constantly taking aim duels and then really good individual players usually deliver and then they can win you matches. It's constantly happening right now. Teams are inconsistent after a break.
The individual part and mid-round decision-making right now are much more important than having a lot of structure. That's the way I see it. That's probably why teams like Cloud9, who are really good players, when you look at them they aren't really structured. They do a lot of things on-the-fly but it works for them. If we try to do it with our players, it might not work, because we don't have their firepower. We have to find a way to beat those teams.
I can be wrong, but cs rn looks so much about momentum, confidence, players consistently delivering individually and on point with their decision making. In one perspective its nice to watch, but in the other, the strategic part of the game seems a little less relevant.🤔— Luis Peacemaker (@peacemakercsgo) February 24, 2018
Partly a confirmation of this is the NaVi/mouz final of StarLadder when s1mple went insane. Structure is there, Zeus is good IGL, but they can't deal without the individual firepower. It's a very strange situation and for the past three tournaments we've had three different winners.
What about the hyper-competitive thing? Why don't we have a clear leader in CSGO right now?
That's because the break affects the teams, more mentally than anything, because it's not like we take a month of break, it's usually 15-20 days. But still, just the fact that you don't touch CS and you get away from it for that period — that definitely affects teams like SK, it did affect FaZe. Meanwhile, while some of the teams are taking 15-20 days off, others are just taking a week, so their comeback is already earlier and practicing already.
The individual part and mid-round decision-making right now are much more important than having a lot of structure.
That's a point to be made, but also as you mentioned, the NaVi/mouz match. S1mple can win matches for NaVi, yes. They have good structure, players and IGL. When s1mple has his day, I don't believe anyone can deny he won matches for NaVi. There's nothing wrong with seeing that. The same works for mouz when ropz and sunny go off. The same way for Cloud9, the same way for FaZe. When someone on those teams steps up huge, it doesn't matter if the others are a little bit down.
I think it's going to take 2-3 months more for us to actually see which are the top 5 teams in the world. But after these three months, teams like Cloud9, Liquid are going to have a tougher time to stay in the top. I think it will go back to the normality where we have Astralis, SK, FaZe dominating, always reaching the semis and finals. And then we'll have teams like mouz, C9, Liquid once in a while reaching theirs.
I wanted to talk to you about your experience over the past year. You've been part of many organizations. How has been in different orgs furthered you as a coach? What have you picked from each of these?
The most important thing I learned was to deal with the change of the coaching rule. It was a tough period in the beginning, where I still felt I could control everything — for example, in OpTic Gaming last year — but that wasn't the case. I had a period where I had to find my role again, understand what I am supposed to do and how I can still be impactful.
Especially with Misfits and TyLoo, I learned about dealing with people, with the players. Back then, I was super structured and people were saying I was a dictator. I feel like that was probably the wrong approach, I'm not going to lie. Nowadays, I'm more hands-off, just having their input much more, especially with the TyLoo guys.
TyLoo was an even tougher period, because the language barrier was insane. I kind of had the power to be a dictator again but I would go back to the old struggle, where I didn't want to be that type of guy. The TyLoo period was very important for me to grow up as a coach. I think it's showing: Heroic were top 24 in the world, six months later we're top 11 in the HLTV rankings. That's a pretty big improvement in six months, but to make it to the next level, it's a step-by-step. We're going to get there as long as we work hard and keep the work ethic.
More IEM Katowice interviews
— FalleN: "I always did it because I liked it, no second intentions."
— Magisk: "It's good for me to be back home in Denmark."
— JW: "I really hope it [the victory] wakes up the monsters inside of us."
— KRiMZ: "[Golden is] leading the team really well and that was the thing that was missed in our previous line-up."