hazed: I'd like to go back to playing
OpTic bowed out of the ECS Season 3 finals after defeats to FaZe and G2, finishing the tournament in 7-8th place. To hear about the team's recent, turbulent months, we talked to James "hazed" Cobb.
The North American side finished the group stage in the last place, which wasn't a big surprise considering their group featured three of the top four teams in the world and OpTic have recently, once again, changed their fifth player and in-game leader.
In Sydney, mixwell mentioned that he really wanted to nail down the fifth for your team and to start practicing. So when you officially announced jasonR, what was the feeling like then? Tell me a bit about that period, from IEM Sydney to a couple of months after that?
It's been a strange kind of time for everyone. We are not optimistic but we are not pessimistic either. We are kind of in the middle, we don't know how the team will fare now with me full-time in-game leading. It definitely hurts having no coach now, because it's very hard for me to see the mistakes when I'm having to play my own game. I can't see what they are doing at all times. Now it's very hard for me to actually fix problems in the team.
We are going to try to resolve that soon, as far as who is going to be our fifth it's still up in the air. I mean, they have three options, either keep me as a player, pick up and in-game leader and I go back to coach or pick-up a fragger and one of them becomes an in-game leader. I don't know what is going to happen and to be honest, I'm not even a part of that conversation. I told them: "I'm not going to be a part of this, you all need to decide". Because obviously, I would be very biased because I'd rather play.
They are going to decide, I don't know when that is going to happen, It's not like we are coming into this tournament saying like "Oh, we lost because we lost our fifth that we are going to play with". We are optimistic about our strategies and how we are going to be playing, but what happened today was a good example, we just weren't hitting our shots, we got outaimed from start to finish. And that is something that doesn't usually happen to NA teams, NA players usually have very good aim and lack on the strategy. If we just hit our shots I think we will be fine.
So you would rather be playing than coaching. Can you tell me a bit about that? Is there maybe a plan to go back to playing? What is the feeling for you, being the coach now?
Whenever I decided to start coaching for OpTic it was something I just wanted to try. I told tarik, I said: "As much as you all are trailing me as a coach I am trialing you because I don't know if I want to coach. I just want to try it." After about a month, the first month I was with them, I told them that I don't think coaching is for me in the long run, just gonna be honest.
You are not involved enough with the team at events. I almost feel useless most of the time. I told them that I'd much rather be a player and I don't mind helping them look for another coach. I've been actively doing that. But as far as my future, I'd like to go back to playing and it doesn't have to be for OpTic. It could be for anyone. And if no one wants me as a player it's not going to hurt my feelings, to be honest, I don't mind moving on.
You said that being a coach doesn't feel productive, we've heard similar stuff from a lot of coaches and people that dabbled with coaching. Do you think that is something that is going to change with CS in the future? What needs to be changed to have coaches that have more impact, more say in the team? Are there teams and coaches that actually have that impact or is it just not possible at this moment?
There are some teams that do have coaching power, this team is not one. I think the biggest problem is that we don't have anything to threaten players with. Traditional coaches have a whole bench. If you mess up, you can get replaced at any moment. And here, you can't replace anyone, that's the biggest problem.
And then, what I was mentioning earlier, when I felt kinda useless was... I have six instances in a match where I can give input, four timeouts, before the first pistol and before the second half. So you don't really feel too involved in it, to be honest, it's kinda boring. You do a lot of prep work, and even sometimes your prep work is ignored by the players. They don't use information that you give them so a lot of times you feel kinda useless.
I think, moving forward, Valve should, in my opinion, make it to where coaches can talk in every freezetime, but they can't talk past freezetime, I think that is a fair compromise. And I think teams should start having a sixth and seventh man on their roster, maybe just up and coming talents, players who haven't been given chances yet but could potentially be good players in the future. That way you have something to threaten these veterans with, because what are you going to say? "Oh, you are benched." -"Replace me." And you can't replace them and then what? "You going to fine me? OK, I'm making this ridiculous amount of money, big whoop." There is really no punishment for players right now so coaching kinda sucks.
Talking about jasonR leaving the team, the whole deal was about him not feeling like a part of a team, in long term. Do you think something could've been done differently from the OpTic's side to have him on the team at this moment?
Yeah, absolutely, I think the running joke within our team, it was even public, was the "timpnasty" kind of meme that was going on. Even though it was a joke, it was a meme, it still had some truth to it and it wore on him. And it was like, he is putting in work for the team, and there are thing behind the scenes that I can't talk about and it wasn't very positive for Jason...
All of this culminated into him taking a step back and thinking: "OK, do I actually want to be a player? Do I want to be on a team from which I could get cut from at any time? They don't think of me as a true teammate. And hurt my stream doing that?" It didn't add up for him and I totally understood, I just wished we could've kept going with Jason because I think he is actually quite good.
Tell me a bit about this tournament, you came here, you had the group of death and you are out. What do you take away from the whole thing?
Well, the takeaway from this was: if we 2-0, we are insane. If we win one BO3, we showed promise. If we 0-2 like we did and it's not close we need to get our asses in gear. I think what happened today was, we just got outaimed and that was kinda a shot to us. And I think we all agree, especially against FaZe, we were doing the right plays and we were coordinating, but we failed post plants miserably.
The takeaway from this is that we have to work on our aim, we will work on that big time, I'm going to keep studying strategies and stuff like that.You know, it's unfortunate that none of the games were close because that really did hurt our morale. That's the one thing we did not want to happen, to get blown out like we did. The next few weeks is really going to show whether or not we have the mental fortitude to continue basically.