What were your expectations going into ESL One NY? Did you think you had a shot at winning?
Our expectations were to win the tournament. I think going into each tournament that should be the goal for a team like ours. Lately we’ve been playing with a lot of confidence, ever since I joined that’s been one of the main focuses, just instilling confidence in ourselves and asserting our dominance over every team. So going into each tournament we feel like we can definitely win.
At the Berlin Major you guys played phenomenally but lost to Astralis, did that loss help you when you faced them again in New York?
Definitely. Losing is one of the biggest factors in winning, it sounds weird to say but you have to learn to lose first before you can win. We’ve played Astralis quite a lot at these tournaments, we’re always competing against each other at the highest level. So we’re constantly learning and adapting against each other, it’s really cool to see. When they beat us we’re the ones who have to adapt and when we beat them, they're the ones who have to adapt so there’s a constant evolution and I think we’re pushing ourselves to be better teams overall. We learned a lot from that loss and I think overall the pressure kind of got to us, which was one of the big factors. We didn’t solidify our identity as much, too. Going into New York we really focused on those two things, making sure we’re confident no matter what whether it’s on stage or the lobby of a hotel. We want to always make sure we’re always playing our own game no matter who we’re playing against so yeah I’d say we learned a lot from losing to Astralis at the Major.
Do you think the learning more about the tactics side of things, or do you think it was more about yourselves as a team and instilling that confidence that gave you the extra edge against Astralis?
I’d say it was more learning about the outside aspects of the team, not necessarily technical stuff like strategy, but more about identity, confidence, personalities, and more about the team itself.
In game leadership is extremely important in CS, how have you contributed to the upward trajectory we’ve seen from the team? What have you brought that the team didn’t have before?
That’s a difficult question because obviously they know better what I bring to them. For me I think I instill a bit of calmness and a bit of experience, I’ve been playing this game for a long time and I feel like I know how to play in a way that suits our team best. We have a lot of fire power on our team so I think some of my previous experiences with some of our teammates, like I’ve played with Tarik before and I’ve worked with Chet before and then the other three guys are just really intuitive and adaptive and it’s really easy to use players like that. So for me it was a really easy plug-in I just came in and I tried to describe my philosophy with the guys and they got behind it and I think we have to continue to make sure we’re working hard and keep that flow going.
Do you think there was an adaptation period or did you hit the ground running the way you wanted to?
No, I think we actually started pretty slow. We entered a few of our first tournaments like Cologne for instance and we weren’t really playing the way we play now. We evolved quite a lot in the last few months and I think one of the main reasons for that is the bootcamp we had right before the Major. I think we started pretty slow, it was just about getting to know each other, our strengths and weaknesses and ironing those out and then once we did that we were left with all our strengths and I think it’s showing right now.
There is a lot of experience among the players on EG, how has that helped you shape the way you want to play CS:GO together?
I think experience is one of the most invaluable attributes each player can have. It’s really cool to see a group of five completely different players come together and then be able to play CS the same way. As I said before we have so much talent on this team and so much fire power that it makes my job a hell of a lot easier. Sometimes I don’t even have to give too much direction. Someone will just take the initiative on their own and they’ll take over the round themselves and because of the amount of fire power we have and the teamwork we’ve been developing — it flows really well. I think experience definitely helps with that. The main thing I want to say is that everyone brings something different to the table and that gives us so many options to be diverse and have different things in our play book.
Yeah, that's great because sometimes you’ll see a team that looks really good on paper but then they have some overlapping roles.
Yeah definitely. On our team we have CeRq as an Awper and he can dominate a round on his own, we have Vincent, Ethan, they can both dominate a round on their own, we have myself and tarik making plays, too. Everyone has the ability to dominate in their own way.
NA was not always as dominant as they are now, you used to hear "NA smoke" and that stuff, all the memes from years ago. Now, EG and Liquid are rising to the top — do you think the entire region will see change?
I think right now we have obviously ourselves and Liquid as the number one and two teams in NA but below that is pretty disappointing. The level in my opinion has dropped quite a bit. I think one of the main reasons is practice is very, very hard to get in North America because you don’t have the teams, and you don’t have the quality there. That’s why you see all these teams travel to Europe for bootcamps because even a Tier 3 team in Europe is probably Tier 1 or Tier 2 in NA. The quality is just really apparent. With the inability of the lower teams in NA to practice against the better teams — because as I said before us and Team Liquid and even C9 just travel to Europe quite a lot for events or travel around the world — NA is left pretty dry so teams can’t practice and develop and improve against better teams. It’s really hard to raise the level of the entire region if there’s no one to raise it there.
What prompted you to make the decision to join EG?
EG showed interest and we were very eager to see and learn more about what that interest meant. For us one of the main things we wanted was more recognition and a bit more reach to a wider fan base. We’re all lovers of CS, it’s why we play the game and EG, they’re one of the most historic orgs in the game itself. We’re just so proud to be wearing their jerse. We all grew up watching those kinds of teams play and compete internationally and it just kind of brings back those memories — now we’re making some new memories with them.
You’ve been so close to winning a big title for quite a long time, how did you feel when you finally accomplished that?
It was pretty surreal. Winning that tournament really put it in our heads that we are a top team and we have the pieces to compete and we just have to make sure we continue to do that. It’s going to be a lot of hard work to keep up a level like that, like we just came here and completely bombed out. I think the circumstances were obviously a lot different and a bit more unfortunate, but yeah the win in New York for us was really huge. It’s been said before but with me joining the team earlier we just never really… I think that pressure was the thing that was holding us back and now that we have that title under our belts we don’t feel that pressure anymore so it’s just going to be about how hard we work and we just need to keep developing and stick it out through some tough losses like this one and we’ll get back to the top eventually.
Do you feel like you have a target on your back now that you’ve won?
Yeah that’s one of the things about winning, as soon as you win something you know people open their eyes a little bit more and study you harder, I think it’s one of the things that happened here in Malmo. We had the likes of Greyhound and Mouz doing their due diligence on us and we kind of underestimated that I guess in a sense. We didn’t have the time to really change up our looks because we just travelled, but we should have still been able to adapt and beat teams like them. So yeah, I think we definitely have a target on our back. It just makes us a little more hungry to make sure we stay on top.
What is the current goal of the team moving forward?
I think we all want to win as many tournaments as possible. I’m sure all of us want to win a Major, we haven’t done that yet (well aside from Tarik) but we also want to win the Grand Slam. Everything is in our sights, we have the potential to do it, we just have to work hard enough to actually do it.