YNk: "Sometimes we're playing in a way that's not best-suited for the players we have"
An early group stage exit from FaZe following an underwhelming showing in the playoffs of ESL Pro League Finals against G2 is a sign of worry for the international roster, who have recently added Filip "NEO" Kubski as their in-game leader.
We sat down with YNk to hear the thoughts of the team's coach, with the 26-year-old revealing details about Nikola "NiKo" Kovač's form, Finn "karrigan" Andersen's departure, and the AUG-Krieg balance.
Continuing on the last event that you had, which obviously wasn't that good for you guys, Niko said something along the lines of it being maybe the worst event going back to when you had AdreN in the team, but he didn't know why. This is kind of a similar story here, do you have any more insight into what is causing the issues for you right now?
I think that it's basically two things - first thing is the growing pains, getting the new in-game leader that has his own view when it comes to some things, and then we also have some of the things have been working very well for us towards the end of the lineup with AdreN, so trying to find a balance between the two and also trying to play in a better way. It's something that's going to take time for everyone to kind of get on the same page, and that leads to the second issue which is that we've been losing some very easy rounds, and we've been making basic, fundamental mistakes in important rounds.
So many times when we would win a pistol, we would lose the second round. In the Inferno game against mouz, in the first gun round we had a 5v2, we lose it when we were supposed to be getting momentum. Those things are really hindering us, because we're still trying to figure out stuff. It's a combination of still working on getting better as a team, but then also making mistakes in rounds, individually, that doesn't have anything to do with how long we've been playing together, it's just basic stuff that we should be able to be doing better. In reality, we just need a good bootcamp, a longer bootcamp, so that we can have some really good and productive practice, and I think once we are able to get that down, we are going to be playing much better CS.
Talking about individual mistakes and just people not being in form as they were before, especially Niko, who seems to always be in form, doesn't matter what. Where does that come from? Is there a part of just having so many changes throughout the last year or so that led to built up frustration and lack of motivation in the team?
There's definitely no lack of motivation or anything like that. When it comes to the individual form, for NiKo especially, he has had to change his role when he was in-game leading a bit, and his focus was more on the team and calling things. Also, now with NEO, he's going back to some of his old positions, some of his old style - that's where the growing pains are for us. We are not really doing things as a team, and that's on me as well, to an extent, you need to create your game in a way that your star players can shine and they can play to their strengths.
The confusion we had a little bit in our game - sometimes we're playing in a way that's not best-suited for the players we have. That's also hard for him to get into the game and do his own thing when he's not really getting the chances that he can take. When you have such a skilled player you don't need to put him in a 70/30 duel, you just can't put him in 20/80 situations - you just need to create something where he wins his kill, and can take it from there. That's something that's also been a bit lacking, and something that we're aware of and we're going to try and do and implement, and try to play in a way where we're playing towards our own strengths. We kind of lost our identity a little bit lately, and it's showing in the games that we've been playing.
Just a general question about CS regarding something you touched on there, about having room for the star players to play. Something similar to that's going on in BIG now when they got in XANTARES, and it doesn't really fit what they did before. Do you think that you have to have a little more of an open system when you have superstar players? Is it even worth it to go for a very hard tactical style? Because some people are expecting you guys to go that way now with NEO.
Yeah, I don't think it is worth it. I think you should always look at the team and the players you have, and see what fits those players and style best, while also looking at the fundamentals of the game, and not forgetting that either. So, if we have players who are very skilled individually, have great aim - what's the point of us playing super slow and using a lot of utility, trying to create advantages? We just need to make it so the players can utilise that strength, and, in a sense, play a more bullying style, because you're able to pull it off, and then just mix it up a little bit when people think you're doing the same stuff over and over again.
That's why I think you need to play in a way with the players that you have; if you don't have players who shine in that sense, but you have players who are all very similar in level, and then teamwork takes them all together to the next level. We have those teams, and that's fine. I think you do need to adapt to the players you have, and you cannot just force things on a team and on players when they're just not built for it.
Touching on NEO, he has been really putting the team first in terms of giving drops and stuff like that. It is hard for him to find his own game individually when he's maybe just trying to facilitate everyone else?
Of course, it always makes it harder for you to play when you're the guy who's always sacrificing himself for the team, but, simply put, that's his role. He's the in-game leader, so his main focus in the game is to coordinate the other guys and see what we're doing and try to put us in a position to succeed. For me, I don't really think it's even necessary, with the other players we have on the team, for NEO to be putting up big numbers, or even for sometimes to be level. It's expected for him to be bottom-fragging in the team.
I know for him, personally, NEO's a guy who's super hard working and he's very committed to winning, so sometimes he's a bit too hard on himself, because he feels like he has let the team down. I don't think that's the situation, especially when in Dallas he played really, really well. I think it's something that is bound to happen with the role that he has, but I think it's something that's normal for a team and I think it's fine as long as the other guys are using what he's giving them, and that's how everything falls into place.
I wanted to touch on this - you've played mousesports twice now, lost both times. Obviously, you're not hitting a great stride as a team at the moment, but there's the storyline of karrigan leaving the team and now finding success with mousesports. Is there a feeling that maybe things could have worked out differently, looking back now? From your perspective, was there ever a chance that you could've worked out the differences and still had karrigan, taking into account that you had all of these issues for almost a year now?
I mean, from my point of view, when I was joining the team, that was already kind of a done deal, and I did bring it up in the sense of: "Are you guys sure?", because, me coming in, I would be involved with the game a lot, and I knew what the problems were with the calling and some of the stuff that they had, and I was like: "I think working together, we can maybe remedy that", but the team really wasn't buying that, they really didn't want to give it a go, in a sense. I understand it - no matter how good of a fit a player is for the team on paper, and no matter how much a team needs a player like that, sometimes a player has just run his course with that lineup.
There's loss of confidence, or whatever it is, I don't know the details of it, but it just wasn't an option, right? Once you realise that, at that point there are no more regrets, just moving forward, and some of the struggles we had are obvious, but also after a little bit of time, we got pretty good with AdreN, you know? Winning Miami, doing really well in Pro League, then in Sydney we didn't have Niko. If we had a full lineup, we were feeling really confident for that event. Now we just made a change again, so there are no regrets within the team with the decision, it's just about us moving forward and trying to find the best solution for our team and just moving along.
Lastly, I want to touch on what happened at the Pro League finals with Niko picking up the AUG and Krieg, and then the AUG being nerfed two hours later. The AUG isn't that good now, obviously, but the Krieg is still the same. Niko hasn't been using it at this event, so what are your thoughts on the whole thing - is the Krieg going to stick around? Are you going to be pushing for him to use the Krieg as well?
I think he actually enjoys the Krieg, especially when the AUG was still there. He said: "Ok, I hated the AUG, and the AUG was wrecking me with my AK. Now I can use the Krieg to wreck the AUG", so that was nice. Now that the AUG is nerfed, the AK works better, and of course, he's more comfortable with the AK. I think the Krieg is now mostly situational for him, right? He's still getting practice with it and stuff, and the team is using it I think, now, people need to find a sweet spot - you cannot play around with four Kriegs and an AWP, it's much harder to trade with a Krieg than it is with an AK. It's much better for entrying though, and taking aim duels, so it's good that you have a couple of players that are comfortable with the Krieg, like the specialists or whatever, and the rest of the guys can just keep playing AKs, and it depends a bit on the positioning and situation as well. I think he's going to be using it as well, but I think everyone is expecting it to be nerfed, especially after the AUG, because now it's becoming a bit too much for the Ts.