daps: "I wasn't initially building the team for Cloud9"

On the media day ahead of BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles, we spoke to Damian "daps" Steele at length about the new Cloud9 lineup.

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.

daps talked all things new Cloud9

Read on as we delved deep into all things new Cloud9 with daps:

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.

autimatic came in as the last piece of the puzzle after Cloud9 approached daps

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.

JamezIRL, valens, and daps are all working together on how to run the team

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.

mixwell was daps' first choice for the AWPing role

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.

Spain Oscar 'mixwell' Cañellas
Oscar 'mixwell' Cañellas
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
800
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.14
Canada Damian 'daps' Steele
Damian 'daps' Steele
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.87
Maps played:
870
KPR:
0.58
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.15
United States Timothy 'autimatic' Ta
Timothy 'autimatic' Ta
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
951
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
C9 best NA team and only NA team with major 😂
2019-07-13 00:10
#2
Twistzz | 
Sweden Unluko 
Lets go Cloud9!!
2019-07-13 00:11
Who?
2019-07-13 00:15
#23
woxic | 
CIS danch1k 
Only #VAMOUZ
2019-07-13 00:26
#125
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:11
#10
 | 
China Gnikiv 
name doesn’t check out
2019-07-13 00:12
check #2 above you 😂👍
2019-07-13 00:14
#34
device | 
Liechtenstein mary69 
so ez😎
2019-07-13 01:43
#124
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:11
#16
 | 
Reunion 517219141524 
#15
2019-07-13 00:16
#123
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:11
+1
2019-07-13 04:24
#49
 | 
Iceland ashyra 
C9 is far from the best NA team man.
2019-07-13 05:49
#122
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:10
Cry
2019-07-13 05:56
#121
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:10
Better than G2 for sure, #C9WIN
2019-07-13 00:11
#15
 | 
Reunion 517219141524 
He isn't talking about himself but about an hltv user called "unluko" Meant this for #10 lmao
2019-07-13 00:16
#120
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:10
BLAST Backstage when?
2019-07-13 00:11
#17
 | 
Belgium Gloth 
Hey! For BLAST Pro Series LA, we won't have the Backstage stream, as the up-close and personal is a part of the whole event this time! The live stream will be back for Moscow!
2019-07-13 00:17
#19
 | 
United States k3ar 
Is this how they replied to you?
2019-07-13 00:19
#35
 | 
Albania JonZherka 
Gloth is BLAST employee
2019-07-13 02:14
#81
 | 
Belgium Gloth 
Sure i do!
2019-07-14 03:34
#119
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:09
#5
 | 
Norway OlavDinho 
bruh
2019-07-13 00:11
#118
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:09
#6
 | 
Argentina Chief02 
0ok
2019-07-13 00:11
#117
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:09
#7
REZ | 
Czech Republic p0trat 
expected
2019-07-13 00:11
#116
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:08
#8
 | 
United States Kermac 
Nice!
2019-07-13 00:11
#115
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:08
#9
autimatic | 
Poland XERGI 
I have one dream CLOUD9 BACK and od course VP
2019-07-13 00:12
#68
 | 
Romania Kubassafe 
+1
2019-07-13 11:16
#11
 | 
South America FAN_OF_M16R 
tommorow we will see
2019-07-13 00:13
#114
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:08
#12
 | 
United States DervGuy 
GOD Daps giving rise to all the top NA teams. Now he will resurrect C9.
2019-07-13 00:13
#113
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:08
+1 daps great leader
2019-07-14 23:29
NRG will regret their choice in 2/3 months. GL daps
2019-07-13 00:18
#46
 | 
Canada Jonesyk 
+1 Agreed
2019-07-13 05:25
#20
 | 
United States joke_cs 
Daps is such a smart guy. Excited for this team especially with him seeing the similarities to NRG and also him saying he wants every player too be versatile with their roles, kind of like Liquid.
2019-07-13 00:22
#42
 | 
Brazil SecondKS 
+1
2019-07-13 04:04
amazing interview!
2019-07-13 00:23
#41
 | 
Brazil SecondKS 
+1
2019-07-13 04:04
#112
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:07
If they even get back into top 20 by the end of the year I’d call that an achievement Mixed feelings about the line up on paper, but curious how tomorow goes
2019-07-13 00:25
No shit that's an achievement, that's why they made that their goal.
2019-07-13 02:20
Triggered much lawl, if you have actually been reading the article daps said he wanted at least top 15....ooof
2019-07-13 03:45
#64
 | 
United Kingdom zakariin 
Not much disparity between places 15-20 so it would still be an achievement
2019-07-13 09:17
#111
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:07
#24
 | 
United Kingdom VOsskJi 
hhhhhwaaah chhhh, noice
2019-07-13 00:26
#110
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:07
#25
 | 
United States RULE34TRACER 
great insight onto what wardell is doing rn
2019-07-13 00:27
#109
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:07
fucking up his career
2019-07-14 23:29
theyre gonna changed roster after 2events [mark my words] /dab/ /dab/
2019-07-13 00:36
#108
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:07
not going to mark words of random guy with 0 insight. guessing is fun, but no one cares about your mark of words.
2019-07-14 23:31
nt bCKo
2019-07-15 12:38
#27
 | 
India harsh251997 
With enough time anything is possible. They'll be top 10 by the end of year I'm sure.
2019-07-13 00:36
#30
 | 
United States crulix 
I think they’ll make top 10 as well. Daps just has that skill of turning unexperienced players into legends!
2019-07-13 01:04
#107
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:06
#28
 | 
Finland Faust_fSt 
#1 and #2 check out also i kind of can't wait to see this C9 to be ranked above NRG after a while
2019-07-13 00:46
#106
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:06
#105
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:06
#31
swag | 
United Kingdom ez4swag 
Daps is literally the worst igl idk how you can look at daps and think he fits this roster, all other 4 players are far above daps
2019-07-13 01:06
Well sure, if you look purely at the stats. Daps' real strength comes from his ability to lead and develop young talents into star players while also making his veteran players motivated with a desire to win again. His tactics are also very good, and I think with this lineup it will show
2019-07-13 02:24
#75
 | 
United States IWASRUNNING 
+1 I'm so happy that we brought Daps on!
2019-07-13 15:15
#104
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:06
#53
 | 
India MihirX27 
Shittalking daps in 2k19 LoL
2019-07-13 06:17
#103
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:06
I don't get your point either... He bring nrg to a competitive level, which just didn't won the important matches... They will regret benching him for Stanislaus... Also I think this new lineup from c9 isn't a shit one like the others before... I hope they can surprise us.
2019-07-13 13:36
#78
swag | 
United Kingdom ez4swag 
We will see my friend
2019-07-13 19:58
#102
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:04
#80
swag | 
United Kingdom ez4swag 
Ngl they played better than I expected them to, autimatic wasn't fragging as usual, hopefully he gets used to rifling soon and then this can be a pretty high tier team
2019-07-13 22:38
#101
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:03
Team has no chance to get out of mdl
2019-07-13 01:11
Yesss
2019-07-13 01:31
#100
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:03
#65
 | 
United Kingdom zakariin 
bruh they're already in EPL
2019-07-13 09:18
#99
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:03
IM SO HYPED FOR THIS LINEUP LETS GOOOOOO
2019-07-13 02:48
same, + your name came true
2019-07-13 03:46
thank god
2019-07-13 04:41
would you rather have koosta not AWPing or RUSH? I mean both aren't ideal but idk why koosta is on the team as a rifler
2019-07-13 06:56
daps says he wanted to build a team with koosta and he can improve to become a great player so I believe in daps
2019-07-13 07:08
got it
2019-07-13 11:38
#98
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:03
Easy for the #301 ranked team in the world
2019-07-13 04:13
+1 TenZ to top15
2019-07-13 05:39
#97
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:03
#48
 | 
United States @FyreCS 
Very excited to see C9 play! Lots of potential here!
2019-07-13 05:46
#96
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:03
Why koosta if he won't be awping
2019-07-13 06:07
#54
 | 
India MihirX27 
steel said his rifling is good as well. And you really want koosta to AWP when you have mixwell on the roster? Really? It's like saying you want Tarik to AWP when you have Cerq on the roster lol.
2019-07-13 06:18
I would rather have Koosta awping than Mixwell tbh, I don't even think Mixwell likes awping he just knows NA teams have shit awpers so he can easily find a home there.
2019-07-13 06:21
#76
 | 
United States joke_cs 
There's this great article right above you were you can read about how much Mixwell wanted to awp
2019-07-13 16:11
I mean things change especially as people get older, have more experiences and start to mature. I'm talking about in the beginning when he was a really skilled rifler. I think overtime he became more dedicated to it. I think this change will be really sick for C9 in the long run as well, even though Autimatic was doing his job as awper, I feel like he is a way better rifler.
2019-07-14 05:46
#95
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:02
Im surprised koosta isnt the awper tbh mixwell and autimatic has similar playstyles
2019-07-13 06:16
#55
 | 
India MihirX27 
#54
2019-07-13 06:18
#94
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:02
#57
s1 | 
Armenia gr1nch 
from 301 to 15 do u have enough oil daps?
2019-07-13 06:33
#93
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:02
If they aren't going to have Koosta awping then I have no idea why he's even on the roster, like they may as well just have RUSH in his place tbh if they want a rifle.. At least rush can be an impactful player in a stable lineup, and has proven he can perform well even at the highest level of nerve/tension in a major final and not choke. Koosta has looked average over his career so far and isn't even close proven at the highest level of play and biggest games; they'll probably just end up replacing him in a couple months (probably with RUSH again seeing as though they still have rush under contract and technically benched).
2019-07-13 06:48
Good take, I could see RUSH coming back too
2019-07-13 06:55
#92
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:02
#66
 | 
United Kingdom zakariin 
Probably why they kept him on the bench and didn't release him yet.
2019-07-13 09:20
#67
 | 
United Kingdom zakariin 
nvm
2019-07-13 09:20
#91
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:02
#62
 | 
Peru AgentLF 
Hype for this new roster :)
2019-07-13 07:17
#90
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:02
daps noob , but he smart IGL . Good eyes
2019-07-13 08:47
#89
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:01
#69
Sadokist | 
Poland tr1xx 
y not Sonic instead of koosta? :C
2019-07-13 11:20
#88
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:01
lots of CS IQ on the cloud9 side now.
2019-07-13 11:39
#87
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:01
#72
allu | 
Finland Karbonara 
Very potential lineup. If they stay together and can release they potential, i think they can be top 5 team in future. Fun to watch how it's go..
2019-07-13 13:29
#86
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:01
#73
 | 
Finland Tusku 
actually interesting Pog
2019-07-13 13:33
#85
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:01
#77
 | 
United Kingdom Klashnekoff 
gl daps
2019-07-13 17:28
#84
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 14:00
This team has potential and I'm sure they'll be competitive with daps in it. But please, daps. Do something about your aim. Change your mouse, sensitivity, hit that DM 3 hours a day. But please you've to improve in that aspect. Your team needs every player to be able to unlock rounds by raw skill at some point, you included.
2019-07-13 20:10
#83
 | 
France ducktail 
+1
2019-07-14 13:59
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