Eley: "We feel like we could have gone to the playoffs if we were at full strength"
After the first day saw Envy receive a beating from Liquid, the North American side had to use their coach, Eley, for the elimination series against MIBR on day two due to Nifty suddenly falling ill. Despite the situation, Envy were able to take the Brazilian side to their limit in the series, in which MIBR came back from a 5-13 deficit on the deciding map, Train, to win in overtime.
We talked to the coach and stand-in during the playoffs of IEM Chicago to ask about the tough experience and his good showing on the opening map of the MIBR series. Eley also went back to comment on how Finn "karrigan" Andersen's decision not to stay after the last Major cycle impacted the future of the team, who ended up changing four of their five players over the course of the last four months.
It was a rough situation with Nifty missing the second match here, tell me about what this experience has been like for you considering that situation?
Obviously, there is a lot of disappointment. It's not just the fact that we didn't place where we wanted to place, but Nifty being sick, knowing how much of a competitor he is and how much it meant for the team to finally get our first full event together, it was definitely disappointing. But I still took this ultimately as a positive because we still fought back in a really bad situation, s0m played extraordinarily well, he was fragging and he was actually calling, which a lot of people don't even know, he was calling in that [MIBR] series, not me. He kind of brought a little bit of FPL and Rank S to the show and he played really well, so I'm glad that he has confidence on LAN now, can kind of go back to this moment and realize 'hey, LAN isn't that big of a deal' and still perform here.
Talking about not placing where you wanted to place, what was the original goal?
Goals for tournaments I think are good, but we ultimately want to win every match that we play through realistic or unrealistic terms, that's what we want to do. Getting out of groups was important for us, we know MIBR is hurting right now, G2 has had to travel a long way to get here, so we felt like we could get out of groups here. And obviously with that MIBR match being so close, now they're playing on stage, we feel even more like we could have accomplished that goal if we were at full strength. So getting out of groups was the goal, we didn't get there, but again, having s0m get that experience on LAN and other guys to feel that confidence that we could have gone through and that we could have played better if we were at full strength, I think it was still ultimately achieving close to that goal, at least.
A lot of people were surprised by how well you played, especially on the first map of the series against MIBR, are you keeping up with form even though you've been coaching for a while now?
Yeah, I haven't played competitively for I think four years now, but do still DM, I still pug with friends here and there and, obviously, I'm very involved with the strategy of the team, so slotting in is kind of easy, especially in that entry-frag role, I know what I need to do. I think I just got a little lucky at the start there. I didn't even have a chance to upload my config, luckily I brought my equipment to this event, which is kind of a rarity, but I did bring it this event. And yeah, just kind of got fortunate at the start of that game and had a nice little streak (laughs).
You and Nifty are the only remaining people from the team who played with karrigan, before the whole overhaul that happened in March. I wanted to ask about the situation with karrigan, I imagine you wanted him to stay and it didn't work out, so how did that affect what happened later in the year for you where you changed most of the lineup?
Obviously, we wanted karrigan to stay, he's an incredible IGL, an incredible person, he taught us a lot while he was here. I feel very fortunate that I've been able to work with gob b and even karrigan for a short amount of time, I've had legendary IGLs that I've worked with for a while now. It kind of stalled us when he decided to go with the mousesports direction, which I totally respect and understand, it's a great opportunity for him and they're showing great things right now, too. It stalled us a little bit, we had a struggle to find a fifth, we had the temporary break, but ultimately finding Sam, Brad [ANDROID] at the same time, and then bringing in FugLy, as well, we felt very positive about our lineup changes and what we could do with those guys. Nifty is a perfectly capable IGL, I still think he's one of the top ones in North America, even though he tends to AWP and do a whole bunch of different things, he still frags perfectly well. It didn't change too much for us, it was a different direction, but we're still very happy with where we're at right now.
From what I heard, Nifty wasn't really keen on IGLing late last year, what happened from that point, why did he come back to it?
I think that working with karrigan and having a lot of conversations with karrigan kind of brought him back into that zone and realizing what he can do for the team from the IGL role. I think that going into it it was more of a 'I want to discover myself as a player,' that was with the original Envy roster, he was trying to see where he fits in, what his exact role is, because he has done a lot of things in just a very short career. So he realized that especially in NA with this roster, IGLing was the best way for this team to succeed and where he can provide the most impact for the team, and that's why stepped back into it. He got some motivation from karrigan, having good conversations with him, and then realizing his capabilities as an IGL and what his role should be in this game.
From some of the reports from Dust2.us, Nifty and jdm didn't get along towards the end and that was one of the reasons why jdm was replaced in the end. Can you comment on that and what happened with Sonic coming in?
The relationship between jdm and Nifty I think was overblown a little bit. I think it was more of a stylistic difference and just the way the AWP role should be played. Josh wanted more of an AWP-centric role, which can work on many teams, I still think that Josh can slot into a team that has more experience with that type of a style. But for us, with our youth and our team where we were, there was a lot of things that had to be learned in terms of scaling up, using our rifles more actively, and we had a lot of faith in both Brad and s0m, and including FugLy, as well. We wanted to be more rifle-centric and just aggressive in terms of scaling and that's ultimately where the issue was, the idea of how the game should be played, AWP-centric versus rifle-centric, it was just differing opinions.
This has been your first big experience as a team and it partly got disrupted with Nifty falling ill, where do you go from here, what are the long-term plans?
We're stealing a little bit from the 76ers model and just trusting the process and understanding that we've qualified for a big event here at IEM Chicago, we didn't get the results that we wanted, but we still saw a lot of positive things from the guys. Just trusting our practice, trusting what we've been preaching for so long now, just believing in our teammates and focusing on our practice is the main concern going forward.