daps: "I wasn't initially building the team for Cloud9"
We sat down with the in-game leader in Los Angeles to find out the new lineup came to be, the role he played in creating it and what his thought process was behind each player picked for the final roster.
The Canadian also spoke about the roles, highlighting his wish for Timothy "autimatic" Ta's return to rifling and Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas's commitment to the main AWP, and many other topics connected to the new lineup.
Let's start with the creation of this lineup, a complete overhaul from the previous Cloud9, how was the whole process of choosing this roster?
At the start, I wasn't initially building the team for Cloud9, it was supposed to be me building a team in general and then I had a few orgs that were interested. So the first player is sort of koosta. I always felt he was a very good player individually and I think he's very versatile, I just think he hasn't had the right people around him or the right team to help him reach his full potential. And that's why I really wanted to play with him because even though people don't always have the best outlook on him, I've always felt that he is a player that can be a lot better than what he has been. Early in his career people saw that and that sort of faded away a little bit. I always like to play with players that have room to grow, essentially. I don't want players that are known quantities and are either stuck in the stagnant area or they're declining. That's why I wanted to play with koosta.
And then the next player is the AWPer. mixwell was the number one option I wanted to play with. I know there's a lot of questions about why we didn't want to play with WARDELL. I did talk to WARDELL, a part of it with him is, without going into too many details, he wanted to do a project more so with people he's closer with - I don't want to say friends, but some of his past teammates from Ghost and stuff. I don't know if that fell through or not, but there was a chance that I would have played with a part of the old Ghost lineup. But yeah, it wasn't something that seemed possible, and I personally would rather play with mixwell anyways just because I've played with him before and I know he can play at a really, really high level when he is committed to AWPing. And that is another question that people are wondering - when mixwell left NA, he said he didn't want to AWP anymore, and when I talked to him to pick him up he made it very clear that he only wants to AWP and that he doesn't want to rifle anymore. He made it very clear that he's committed to his role and he was tired of not playing on a big stage anymore.
Picking up TenZ was more... I always like having a completely unknown quantity. TenZ is someone who, in my opinion, if I was to compare him aimwise to every player in NRG, I'd say Brehze is the only player that would compete with him. He's a player that has ridiculous aim and mechanical skill, but he lacks a ton of experience that every player in the top-15, top-20 has. So with TenZ it's just going to be a matter of learning the hard way. We're going to have some losses and those losses will be good to build his confidence up. A lot of the players on NRG, they had lost a lot before they had success, so that's definitely going to be a process there.
Going back to autimatic, like I said earlier, the team wasn't necessarily built just for Cloud9, it was a project I was trying to build for other orgs. Getting autimatic is just the icing on the cake, he's a really, really good player, really smart and has accomplished a lot, and I think he's a good asset to make everyone else on the team better.
So did autimatic only come into the picture when you realized this was going to be for Cloud9?
Exactly. I was looking at other options that didn't involve autimatic because it wasn't necessarily meant to be under Cloud9. And then when Cloud9 approached me to see if I was interested in joining and what I thought, I was already in the process of building a team. I definitely wanted to make sure autimatic wanted to play with the team, too, because autimatic could easily join a better team if he wanted to bench himself like cold has and Tim definitely seemed like he was interested in the lineup and wants to give it a shot.¨
Was it you who sold this entire project to Cloud9, then?
The way it was initially approached was more valens approaching me individually, not for the whole lineup. And then it was me who sort of proposed each individual player and why I think they are good or bad. Usually, when I create a team I just have a pool of players for certain roles and I just weigh the benefits and negatives of each person. So I guess it was majorly me convincing them why I think X person was good for this role, that type of thing.
We have three players who have AWPed in the past and I made it clear when I was joining Cloud9 is that I didn't want Tim AWPing 100%. Let's say Tim is a really, really good AWPer and a really, really good rifler, which he is, it's still more valuable for him to rifle because it's harder to have a good rifler that has that much impact than an AWPer that has that much impact. If Tim is going to play, then I think he definitely should rifle because of the impact he had in the past. Even himself, he has to get back to that level because he has AWPed for a whole year. He's trying to get back to his former rifling glory, and I think with time it'll be really good.
What about the secondary AWP?
Our secondary AWP is map-dependent. On some maps I'm AWPing over TenZ, koosta, Tim. It's kind of funny. It's just that the second AWP, we don't have too much emphasis on it, it's just that if you want to do it then you can do it. And I do prefer that too, I don't want to force someone into a second AWP when they're not comfortable doing it, so maybe one match koosta is really feeling it and he wants to get that second AWP on a map, I'll let him do it. If there's a time where Tim and I are playing a site together and Tim doesn't really want to AWP but it's good for us to have an AWP, then I'll pick up the AWP. We're doing it off feel currently.
Tell me about JamezIRL, as well, who came in as a new coach. How has it been building that IGL-coach chemistry with him, what is he like as a coach?
He's very enthusiastic, very organized, as well, probably one of the most organized coaches I've ever had. Right now, valens is still in the picture in terms of being more of an analyst, in a transitioning period for the team. It's sort of Jamez, valens, and I deciding how we're going to do things. We're still in that process of deciding how we want to run things overall in terms of prep, practice, all that kind of stuff. But James definitely has a lot of good traits, also very good at talking to people, I think that's very important. I think he has a lot of things some coaches lack.
What are your initial feelings after playing together, how are you meshing together?
It's kind of ironic because the way tarik wanted to play in NRG is how we are trying to play. We're trying to play very defaulty and play the proper way of CS and play off information and obviously that's one of the hardest ways to play. We're not trying to play in a gimmicky way or a way where we're just scrimming teams to get wins we don't deserve. We're trying to play the proper way, and when you try to play that way, it's really good to do that at the start of the team. I feel like even if you compare our team versus my last team on NRG, even if you say NRG is more skilled or whatever, I feel like playing on this team for a week or two, people have better communication almost. I feel like it's almost easier to play in a really defaulty, mid-roundy type situation than it was on NRG. There's a lot of good positives I noticed. Most of the negatives are just inexperience, a lack of playing together - there's no core, we have just created a brand new team. The negatives are more so that there are going to be some rounds that look really bad and it's not going to look like there's much coordination because we don't have that natural chemistry yet. It's definitely going to be a process, but we've had some pretty good practice already.
You already touched on mixwell AWPing, how do the rest of the roles look?
The way the team is built the only super-set role is going to be mixwell AWPing. Outside of that, koosta and Tim are sort of the edge players on the map, so in most scenarios they will probably end up being in the lurky situations or part of the back-and-forth type aspects of our rounds. T side it's more leaning towards me, TenZ, and mixwell being part of the pack, essentially, but I'm also a big proponent of every player being able to do everything and that will help us be less predictable in the future and make us more versatile in the long term. That's going to take time to get to that point, but we're definitely trying to avoid having it so things are super set. We don't want to add bandaids to our game that make things better in the short term but worse long-term.
Considering the history of Cloud9, do you feel any pressure on yourselves to deliver results in the short term?
I can't speak for the other players, but personally, obviously Cloud9 has a huge fanbase, but I've experienced that with OpTic, as well. The pressure would be more in the long term. If you just have bad results for six months to a year, that's probably pretty bad. In terms of the short term, though, there's no pressure at all because we're a completely brand new team and we're still figuring out how we even want to play. We've only scrimmed for about five or six days and going over six to seven maps in five to six days is ridiculous. Short-term there isn't any pressure, it's just figuring out how we want to do things.
Have you set any sort of specific goals, or has the organization put any sort of demands on the lineup?
No, there haven't been any set expectations or demands. I guess my personal goal would be to at least be top 15 by the end of the year, I think that's pretty manageable with the talent we have on this team. Obviously, if everyone performs to their peak, I think we can beat most teams, the question is just about getting to that point fast and making sure everyone's comfortable and making sure we're progressing constantly.
What about BLAST LA specifically? How do you feel about the competition here and your place in it, about your chances to go to the playoffs?
My goal for this tournament is to at least be somewhat competitive. I'm not looking at making playoffs, I'm not looking at how many maps we're going to win or lose, it's just about playing how we practiced so that we can learn from our mistakes and not changing how we play for matches just to make get a gimmicky win in a best-of-one versus a team. That's meaningless in the long run. The big goal here is just to learn from how we've practiced and try and apply things we've run over, and hopefully it works. In terms of how I think we will do, we've had some pretty good days and other days we have had some bad days, so since it is just one day of BO1s if we have a good day then it could go really well.