daps: "Dallas made us look at everything, take a step back and start back from the bare bones"
NRG were one of two squads to secure a semi-final placement in London after just two encounters - a best-of-one against NiP, and a best-of-three against FURIA, both of which were secured by the American-majority roster with flying colours.
Upon conclusion of the team's series against FURIA, we sat down with daps to talk about the team's result in Dallas, how it changed their attitude, discussed some of the general issues in the roster and picked his mind on his coaching stint in late 2017.
NRG had a spectacular run here at ECS, commenced with a convincing opening match against NiP that saw the team come back from a 5-10 T deficit on Train, concluding the map with a 16-11 score. Take us through that performance.
Personally, for me, five rounds on the T side of Train isn't terrible, it is one of the most CT-sided maps alongside Nuke by far. Even though we only got five rounds, a lot of them were close. We lost a few clutches here and there, and I felt like we could've got seven or eight rounds easily, maybe more if we won those rounds. We didn't feel too bad, and we knew that our CT side is insane on that map. We just sort of cruised along on the CT side.
You're fresh off a victory against FURIA, who gave you trouble in the opening match in Dallas. Was there any added significance to beating them, securing a spot in the semi-finals at their expense?
Honestly, losing at Dallas was better for our team in the long run. When you start having good results, or you're placing top four, you're making playoffs constantly, you kind of just coast along sometimes, and you don't have that serious: "We need to buckle down, fix and change some things". I think the Dallas LAN helped us a lot, with our team losing there.
The main thing with our team is lack of discipline in a lot of scenarios. There are so many rounds that you could go back to this year, where we're losing man advantages, people are peeking things they shouldn't peek, people aren't communicating things they should communicate, so we had to talk about all those intricate things that our team was really failing in those mid rounds. I think this event we showed that it helped a little bit, at least.
That's an interesting take, because I wanted to ask you whether or not the loss in Dallas impacted the morale of the team in a negative way, considering the consistency with which you've been able to secure playoff exits in the recent past. You've managed to find a positive in a negative, in a way.
Yeah, I think since we had instant good results with tarik, and there were some maps where we just slotted him in. Dallas made us look at everything, take a step back and sort of start back from the bare bones, because we were a team for over a year with FugLy, and it's so hard to go over a year of stuff instantly with tarik. Our instant success with him at StarLadder and then Sydney was a good thing, but it was also a negative, because we were sort of lax on our preparation, whereas when we picked up Ethan at the start of last year, we went straight to the basics and we went through everything.
We didn't build that foundation with tarik - when he first joined, we just brushed over some maps a little bit more and we were a little more careless in showing him stuff, because it was just so much to show him. I think we're slowly getting to a point where we're getting more comfortable with each other.
In Dallas, the individual form demonstrated barring the series against Cloud9, pales in comparison to your showing here in London. Talk me through how the team managed to reset and show results on such short notice.
That's a good question - I think for me, personally, I'm generally always going to bottom-frag, that's just how the team is set up. I'm generally always trying to support and drop weapons. I think I could perform a lot better than I have, I think this is statistically my worst year in my career. I'm playing better teams than I have in the past, but I think for me, I'm not too concerned about it.
For everyone else, I don't think it's necessarily people missing shots and stuff, it's our coordination. We had poor teamwork and were making poor decisions that were getting people killed; we were taking fights that are unnecessary. I think us increasing and focusing on our discipline, teamwork and little things like that is going to make it a lot easier.
People aren't really whiffing on this team that much, it's just people are getting timing, they're dry-peeking into AWPs - we're just making things harder on ourselves in a lot of the cases if you look back at our matches. As long as we're trying to make the game easier for ourselves and just increasing that discipline, I think the fragging will come with it.
You've been part of NRG since December 2016, fulfilling both an active role and for a short period of time you were coaching. Did the role you assumed as a coach give you an alternative perspective on the team? Would you say it improved your abilities as an in-game leader?
There was a point around that time where I wanted to quit completely, I wasn't even going to coach. I thought I was going to just go back to school and finish the program I was doing, but I think stepping back and coaching for a few events helped me a lot in terms of just evaluating how I led teams and thinking about having more of a regimen and routine. I started doing more research on sports and routine stuff, and I pretty much just told the team: "Obviously I'm not the best fragger, but if you give me a chance to play again, then I'll do my best. I'm not going to be upset if you cut me, just give me a month or two at the start of the year", and we ended up doing well - I'm still on the team.
I was happy they gave me a shot again, because I was going through a lot of stuff in terms of not wanting to play, and obviously you don't want to have an in-game leader that's not motivated or not willing to put the time in, because that's pointless. They gave me a shot and it's still sort of the same thing - if there's ever a time where they feel I'm letting the team down, then that's just how it is, but I will always do my best.