Stewie2K: "[Skadoodle and I] didn't have any arguments or bickering or anything like that"
We sat down with SK's new incorporation to the team, Jake 'Stewie2K' Yip, ahead of their decider match against mousesports.
SK had a rough start to DreamHack Masters Marseille after losing to Ninjas in Pyjamas, but were able to get back on track with a very solid showing against Valiance. Now, the American team will have to face MOUZ for survival in the tournament in their group's decider match.
In the interview, Jake "Stewie2K" Yip wanted to clear out the air about the clashes he had with Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham, and touched on joining a team changing the language they communicate in, the adaptation to SK's structured style, and how the movements in Cloud9 and SK went down, among other topics.
How has the preparation gone for you guys, especially to get the new roster going?
Personally, from my perspective, I feel like we've only been a team for like three weeks, and three weeks seems like a long time but since I'm joining a team with four Brazilians whose first language isn't English, it's kind of hard to progress as fast. I think with the level of the players on the team we're still pretty skilled and we can be a pretty feared team, but right now the thing that hurts us the most is that we can't find our confidence. Once we get the ball rolling and teams start to fear us, it's going to be much scarier for them.
So getting the ball rolling definitely seems like it may be a bit hard because of the communication, right? They've always spoken Portuguese and bringing in a North American shakes that up. How has that gone, adapting the communication, are there still moments when some players speak Portuguese, and then there's also English thrown in the mix?
Yeah, it's kind of hard at the beginning because FalleN and fer speak English the most fluently, and they speak the most to me in-game, but cold has to think in Portuguese and then speak in English when he's in-game. I know he has a lot of good ideas, and I expect him to direct me a lot more, especially in mid-round situations, but since his communication's not as good in English yet I think he's a bit scared to tell me what to do because he can't say exactly what's on his mind perfectly. I think over time he'll fix and adapt it. As for boltz, I think his communication is a bit worse in English, but as long as he has the basics down I think we'll be OK.
How was the time on C9, you guys won a Major which was a bit unexpected and the biggest achievement in North American CS, but that then faded pretty quickly. What happened?
A lot of people keep asking why I left after we just won a Major, but when we won the Major we were very confident and playing without fear. We could feel the fear our opponents had, but after the Major, in my own head, I knew everyone would say it's a fluke. I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong so I played a lot of CS during the off-week, and I was very drained, but I eventually realized it was a hurdle I had to get over. I wanted to win summit which was the next tournament, but when we were playing there it just felt like we were going through the motions.
At the time I think Ska was pretty burnt out from CS and his communication was at an all-time low and far from the high standard he had set at the Major. When he was demotivated after the Major it caused some frustration for me, because he wasn't meeting the high expectations he had set before. At the time the team environment wasn't the best and it seemed like we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win, so adding FNS now benefits them because they have a good relationship with him from the past and there are good vibes running in the team. Also, after a break, I'm sure Tyler [Skadoodle] is back in form. We didn't have any arguments or bickering or anything like that, it was really just performance issues which were frustrating and causing a bad environment at the time.
When we went to Kiev for StarSeries we tried to get everything going again, but Ska's communication wasn't really on point there and that's when everyone started to accept that at that point we were just going downhill. Communication was low, there were several problems we didn't have time to address with tournaments going on, so we just had to go with the flow.
So when did you get the offer to join SK? Because the timeline was that Skadoodle was going to leave, but then you left and they kept him, right?
Yeah, that's how it went. I got the offer when I was at WESG. Once we got eliminated fer messaged me asking if I wanted to join. At first I wasn't sure if it was a serious offer, but he said it was pretty serious. I had to think about it, and he wanted autimatic to join as well. They wanted the duo. Tim had to think about it as well, but in the end, he said that he enjoyed playing with C9 a lot and loves being around the guys in that team, and he said that if I do decide to go without him that he encourages it and that there's no bad blood.
It was quite unexpected for SK to make an offer like that, indeed. What was it that pushed you to think that this is a great chance?
Well, we've always watched SK, especially when they were the #1 team. When I was IGL we always watched their demos and stole a lot of stuff from them as well as creating our own. They've been at the top, they have experience, and they know what they're doing. We practiced against them so much, and after tournaments they progressed so much that it was like playing a whole other SK. That's another reason I decided to join. I also think me leaving C9 will bring good vibes to their new team and I have a different vibe on SK, so I think both teams benefitted.
How hard was it when you and autimatic both got the offer but you decided to take it and he didn't? Did that make you second guess your decision, or did you not care too much?
The thing about Tim and me is we've always worked well in-game. We've had similar styles, maybe not in terms of the way we play, but we think the same way about the game when we play or when we come up with plays or watch demos. We try to think outside the box and create innovative things, and I think Tim is really good at that which is why I think he performs so well, because he's putting in a lot of work on his game individually and he knows how to play every situation by watching demos and constantly improving.
As far as leaving him, I wanted Tim to come with me. When he told me he didn't want to go it kind of stopped me a bit, but that was just because I would be joining a team that speaks Portuguese as their native language and it made me a bit nervous to join a new team like that. I would have liked to go with someone and have the experience together, but even though he didn't join in the end it didn't affect me that much despite knowing I could be stepping out of my comfort zone.
SK is famously known to run a tight ship. There's a system in which every player has his role and his job and it's in benefit of the team. For example, coldzera has become a great star in part by how he is set up by his team, and TACO was famously a very classic support player that did everything in benefit of the group. How has it been, adapting to such a structured way of playing?
Well, when I first joined it was pretty confusing for me because I'm not used to their system, and I didn't get a lot of explanations or direction and it somewhat felt like they expected me to just know how to play in that system. In some scenarios, I know what to do, but there are also other times when I'm lost, so that's what we've been working out in practice. That's is when I get to tell them what I'm comfortable with, or what I'm not comfortable with.
All in all, though, it's going well, but before joining the team I told them I wasn't willing to put myself into TACO's shoes because I don't think I would be the most effective that way. They told me that was OK because they're also trying to create a new system with new roles for everyone, and that's actually something I was really excited for. As of now they let me do a lot of things I want to do. I get a lot of freedom, and on CT-side they let me play a lot of spots that I'm comfortable with and let me do anything I want. For example, on Mirage, I played connector on Cloud9 and I play connector here as well, and they're willing to support me there and they tell me I do a good job, so there's a lot of leeway for both of us.
Coming into this tournament, did you guys sit down and talk about specific goals or certain things you want to achieve or what you want to improve, or something along those lines? Did you have any conversation about that?
We didn't have a specific conversation about this, the one thing that I love about this team is that the only goal is always to win the championship and they always have a great mentality about it. Our only goal is to win championships, and that's my goal as well. I know right now is a tough time for all of us because it can be pretty nerve-racking to bring in a new player that doesn't speak Portuguese. In our first game against NiP we were pretty nervous, but once we broke the lid we started to build some confidence. We all agreed that once we can get that first tournament win, then it's all going to start happening.
To close out the interview, are there any last words you'd like to say?
Everyone can hate me for leaving [Cloud9], but I didn’t want to live feeling regret that I didn’t take an opportunity with a team that has proved that they can be the best, and to live thinking about what could have happened if I joined. Seeing success from C9 without me doesn’t make me feel remorse, but happiness. I’ve been through thick patches with them and there’s no reason for me to wish for them to fail. Call me a traitor, a snake, anything you want, but the decision has already been made at the end of the day. Thanks to all the fans who supported me during my time on C9, and I welcome any fans wanting to follow me on my new journey.