steel: "Still processing everything that has happened"
We sat down with Josh "steel" Nissan after Bee’s Money Crew fell in convincing fashion to Rise Nation in the Lower Bracket Final of Fragadelphia 11.
Just like Braxton "swag" Pierce, Joshua "steel" Nissan did not have to wait long after his ESL unban to get a taste of LAN action as a (partially) freed man. He helped Bee's Money Crew to finish third at Fragadelphia 11, where they were able to take down teams like CLG Academy and Complexity, but ultimately fell short to both ownage and Rise Nation.
Read on as the former iBUYPOWER player discusses the last 2.5 years, Valve, and what the future holds for him following ESL's announcement.
This is your first LAN since Fragadelphia 10, how does it feel to be back?
LAN is always fun and exciting, I enjoy the traveling and the competition. It obviously would be better to attend with a proper team and with proper preparation, but I’ve played loads of local events in Toronto whenever they have them, Fragadelphias, iSeries and EPIC LANs. It is just something I enjoy.
I believe you had about a week to prepare with the Bee’s Money Crew guys, what was that process like?
We had about three days of practice, Connor "CONNOR93" Glover has work commitments so he gets up at 5 in the morning. We didn’t play that much, two or three scrims a night. Some of those were against Complexity, and that helped us defeat them here. The rest of the time we were playing Premier teams and only on Overpass [ESEA’s current map of the week], so all of the practice was on Overpass. It was more about familiarizing myself with the team, as well as trying to create some organization and structure, running defaults, figuring out how to play smart Counter-Strike on both sides. Unfortunately we only played Overpass once here.
Earlier this week you were unbanned by ESL, talk me through your reaction to that and what it means to you.
Honestly I’m still kind of processing everything that has happened and what is still to come. Over the last two years or so, I’ve gone through lots of different phases as a person, lots of changes on a personal level. I’ve lost a lot of my optimism and become a little bit of a recluse, I’ve been taking it day by day, figuring out where I am as a person. Ultimately I want to get to the point where I can be happy on a CS team, playing with the right players, who even if they maybe aren’t the most skilled, I’ll be having fun with, and it won’t be a chore to get on for practice. People I can socialize with outside of the game, do things together as a team and have chemistry. That is my overall goal.
You mention team chemistry, you’ve talked in the past about how that was something iBUYPOWER lacked. Is this new direction a result of that experience?
It is definitely something that was on my mind even when I was still playing with them. At the time it was half me deciding to leave iBUYPOWER and half them wanting to replace me. They didn’t feel I was skilled enough, and at the same time I didn’t feel I could reach my potential. Every time we would go on for practice, or play a match, everyone would go their own way afterwards — we never really did anything as a team. swag was always hanging with the Cloud9 guys like Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert, Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham and Keven "AZK" Lariviere were both quiet and reserved. Sam "DaZeD" Marine would always go back to the hotel and watch movies on his iPad, he would be there by himself a lot of the time. Generally speaking, if we were to go to an afterparty, four of us would go, but would do our own thing at that party — and DaZed would be at the hotel.
After leaving iBP I wanted to play with my old teammates, Trey "tck" Martin, Neil "montE" Montgomery, and Mohamad "mOE" Assad at the time. So I wanted to go back to playing with friends and being able to enjoy it, that was my main goal at the time with Torqued, I think it is my main goal now, it has just carried over.
After the ban, you dipped into playing Overwatch professionally. You’ve been critical of Blizzard as a publisher, does that reflect your feelings on Valve as well?
I don’t like comparing the two because they both do a lot of things I disagree with. Blizzard doesn’t communicate enough, they want to control everything, won’t allow talent to talk about players coming from other games such Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike or Quake. They have a big plan for Overwatch League, but won’t talk to gaming organizations, they have a $20 million buy-in to the league, at a time when a lot of pro players are frustrated by balance issues and the stale meta of the game.
Valve does a lot of things right by being hands-off, but at the same time they should be paying more attention to the game, towards balance issues and the Majors. They turn a blind eye to a lot of things and just let the scene run. I think a community manager could help with that.
Do you feel like professional players are afraid to speak out about these issues for fear of retribution?
Absolutely, I think the CS players are more outspoken about Valve, the Overwatch pros are more afraid of Blizzard. There are a lot of politics behind the scenes, and if you tick them off, you might not be invited to certain things. With Valve, I don’t think they are actually listening to you when you criticize them, so it is not like they can do something spiteful to you.
swag has confirmed himself, DaZed and AZK are putting a team together and fielding offers from organizations, where do you think that team can go considering all the external factors?
I think for them it is the best choice, because finding other players at a high skill level that will only play ESL events will be difficult, now they only have to fill in the gaps. Having said that, I think they will run into a lot of the same issues that they had on iBUYPOWER, not a lot of chemistry and animosity between the players. I don’t think they necessarily want to play with each other, it is out of necessity to an extent. I think the issues that caused swag and AZK to want to cut DaZeD, those problems will still exist. They have the potential to be really good and when things are going well for them, they will go well, but as soon as something starts going wrong, I think it will just collapse on itself.
For what reasons did swag and AZK want to cut DaZeD way back when?
It was purely due to how DaZeD was in-game, we had several team meetings to talk about toxicity and in-game leadership. We were trying to have freedom for the players to use their skill, but also have some direction. They were weird meetings, but at the end of the day, DaZeD was too abrasive for the rest of the guys on the team. An issue with the team was there were too many quiet players, there needed to be someone who could pump up the team and focus on the positive. DaZeD definitely wasn’t that, I was the closest to it, and even then I’m not the best it at. There was an off dynamic on the team, it didn’t let us thrive.
Who would be the two additional players you would add in to complete their new team?
They need an AWPer, so someone like Joey "fxy0" Schlosser would be a good option. He’s messaged me, he has messaged them, trying to figure out what is happening. He is open to moving to North America as far as I’m aware, and his English isn’t bad. He would definitely be an option because obviously he isn’t worried about making a Major either. For the fifth, someone who is young and looking to develop their skills. Even if it is for a year in which he can play at ESL events only, eventually that player will have enough skill and can start looking to move to other teams and strive for a Major.