steel: "We want to be a top-five team"
After the match, we talked with the team's in-game leader, steel, about the progress made leading up to DreamHack Atlanta, their youngest addition Jason "neptune" Tran, Matthew "WARDELL" Yu's impact on the team and goals leading up to the ESL Pro League FInals.
The last time we spoke with you was at DreamHack Masters Stockholm and things were a bit different having to use kRYSTAL as a stand-in for the event and so forth. Since then, how has the team's atmosphere been as we draw closer to the new year?
The team's atmosphere has been pretty good for the most part. We picked up neptune since the last time we spoke and he's pretty inexperienced, he's 16 years old, it's his first season in Pro League, so he has a lot to learn and improve on, but he has the right attitude for it. The right attitude is the main thing, as long as we are working with him and he's putting in the time to achieve that progress we want, then yeah, it's been working out well.
When kRYSTAL exited the lineup, what did he leave behind in terms of you being the in-game leader to put together some of the missing pieces with a group of inexperienced players moving forward?
I think kRYSTAL has some different perspectives and ideas from being a European player and an IGL, but at the end of the day, I felt like we needed to go in the direction to make sure that our fundamentals were sound, and that the players know what they are doing, and why they are doing it so they can think on their own. I think that is more important than just being rigged and learning a bunch of different plays. I think he brought a lot of good ideas, but at the end of the day, I felt like we just needed to work on our fundamentals.
If you look at a team like Na`Vi and they are consistently really good, you can easily say that they are a top team in the world, but they have players that aren't the most mechanically skilled, so how do they make it work? Well, they have really strong fundamentals. So if we reach that level with these players, then, we can be more structured with our plays, but at the end of the day, you have to understand what you are doing and be able to think critically for yourself, otherwise, no matter how many plays you make you can still get sh*t on.
Bringing up neptune again, he's a young talented player, so obviously the team saw great potential in him. What has he brought to the team? With him being so young, how can you use that to your advantage in terms of molding him with the team?
I think there is a little bit of a fresh slate with him coming in. It isn't like he has to completely unlearn the game and relearn everything, so I think that can be good. Like, if you get a more experienced player or someone who has been playing for a while, they might have more pushback like, "no this is what we will do now cause it suits our team structure better" or something like that. So trying to get someone who is more experienced and set in their ways to conform the rest of the team to do better is hard. So with neptune it makes that process a lot easier.
Right on. Recently WARDELL was re-signed and has been a major factor for this team. With that being said, do you think he has a lot more room to grow with this team and overall as a player?
I think there is a lot of room for him to grow. When he is in clutch situations he plays his best, like only when he has to worry about himself and take matters in his own hands. I'm still trying to push him to become more vocal and taking more initiative and not be afraid to call for things to happen. I think once he is able to really master being able to communicate and take initiative, he will really become his best.
Let's dive into your first match here in Atlanta against Vitality. Walk me through your opening match against the French and what it was like to play against a familiar lineup again.
It's like I'm stuck back in time, playing LDLC from 2014 at FACEIT Season 2 again (laughs). It didn't feel like they had a lot of depth, but that might just be because they are a new team and haven't quite had the time to build that depth. It just felt really loose and one dimensional being able to read them. I don't want to sit here and coach them or anything cause we still have to play them, but I think that's where they need to start with.
This team hasn't won a notable tournament quite yet, but things have been progressing over the year. What are some of the goals here at DreamHack before preparing for the ESL Pro League Finals next month?
I think we are looking to have a really deep run at this event and use it as a very good learning experience, coupled with the past EPL matches and cs_summit going into the EPL Finals. That's really our next big goal when we go to Odense, so we want to make sure that we learn from our mistakes at this event and stick with the identity we've made.
We want to make sure that we don't repeat those same mistakes. We want to keep our heads up, because if we keep making the same mistakes then we will plateau..we want to be a top-five team. The trajectory is up and that's what our goal is, and for this event, anything shy of a top-four finish isn't good enough.