moses: "I don't think Liquid and EG are the last two teams NA will see at the top; [that experience] will spread out" (Part 2)

In the second part of our interview with Jason "moses" O'Toole, the commentator discusses the state of the grassroots, semi-pro, and top-tier scenes in North America.

moses gave us his opinion on what the issues with the grassroots and the semi-pro scenes in North America are, as well as what has helped the region produce two teams capable of competing for the No.1 spot in the world in Liquid and Evil Geniuses.

He also talked about the state of the in-game economy as well as the second-round SG-553 buy becoming the meta as a result of the changes, and touched on his experience commentating the group stage of ESL One New York from a remote broadcast in Cologne alongside Anders "Anders" Blume.

Part two is largely about the various levels of the North American scene

If you missed the first part of the interview, head over here to find out moses' thoughts on things like the recent push for exclusivity and how it could affect Counter-Strike talent and their influence over the quality of the broadcasts.

Transitioning more into the state of the grassroots scene close to your heart in North America. For a long time, the region has had this one direct path from ESEA Open to MDL to Pro League, which has existed almost since the start of CS:GO, but other than that there's not much of a way for teams to advance through the ranks. What do you think can be done to improve that?

There are a couple of issues with that. Players these days, especially young players, aren't willing to put their own money at risk like in the good old days, as I like to call them. They aren't willing to pay their own way to get there, everyone is looking for that sponsor, for that money to get there, someone to represent, which is understandable to a degree, but I think you're not going to get the big opportunities if you don't have some kind of a risk involved. It's much more difficult in the States, it's so much more expensive to travel to a Fragadelphia, if you're in California and you want to go to a Fragadelphia on the east coast, that's an expensive weekend, that's a long flight, that's hotels, so we need to help there. I think there's some cool stuff going on, it's mostly in Europe, but BLAST having some of those local events that actually feed into the BLAST system, into a qualifier, DreamHack is starting to do things like that where the Open stops can feed towards the Masters. That's kind of the charm of what the ESL Pro Tour is looking to provide, that whole comprehensive system that can help feed the process.

Is that going to help in NA, though? So far, it looks like there are a lot of European competitions that are going to feed into it but not much across the Atlantic.

It does feel like the biggest thing North America struggles with is that it's got to be a cultural thing in my mind — maybe Counter-Strike just isn't as big to the younger generation here —, in NA they're more interested in being a streamer, more interested in playing the Fortnites and the big hot game that is coming up, more interested in going that route of an influencer and going down the marketing route than putting in the time and hours. I think that's going to be scary if the bottom falls out of the North American Counter-Strike talent scene. I don't think we're at risk of that happening necessarily any time soon, but there do not seem to be those lower levels of competition, which kind of sucks. ESEA does their MDL and their all-star weekends where they try and have people out to Vegas and do a tournament where they have captains like Skadoodle and Sean and everything like that.

I don't know the solution because I'm not involved on that level, so I don't know exactly what obstacles they face, but it would be great. We used to have that really cool scene in North America where there was almost a regional scene centralized around Texas, there was like a Midwest scene, an east coast scene and a west coast scene, and that fed a lot of different players into the top teams and just into the competitive mindset. That's another issue we need to solve, not necessarily all the way down to the grassroots, but having an actual semi-pro scene that allows teams to flourish. It's always a cool story when you have a player coming out of FPL or Rank S and being found there, but those systems don't actually teach you how to be a proper teammate. It's very important to have an established route to get to semi-pro, to use that to get to the professional division, learn how to be a team player along the way so that, when you do eventually make it into the pro scene, it's a step up in skill and everything but it's a much easier, much smoother transition, rather than just the jarring difference in team experience. Just the semi-pro scene, in general, is a big step for us to focus on in the future.

The top-tier scene in North America has obviously improved a lot, especially in the last year or two. Liquid became the best team in the world for an extended period of time, EG are now coming up to vie for that No.1 spot, and it hasn't necessarily happened through new talent. What do you think has pushed the top-tier to have two teams vying for the number one spot in the world, something we wouldn't have imagined even two years ago?

Yeah, it's pretty wild, isn't it? In the case of Liquid especially, remember, a lot of that core has been together for a while. They've never been afraid of roster changes, but they haven't done them just for the sake of whatever reason. nitr0 and EliGE have been on that team almost since it began, since 2015, and they've made those changes, but again, it's about playing together. It's just what I said about the semi-pro division, it's learning how to play together. They've gone through a lot of issues, that team has had a lot of personality clashes over the years and they've stuck through it and they've come together. You look at Liquid and Astralis, we've made a lot of comparisons between them, Astralis probably could have made roster changes for a million times. It's not an easy thing to do to keep a core together through so many failures, but when you come out on the other side, look at how much better everyone is in terms of communicating, in terms of working together. I don't think that's a coincidence, those teams learn from those failures together. That's important to go through that process.

moses still has a little bit of hope that Valve will change their mind about steel's ban

This EG and NRG lineup, as well, they've been together for well over a year now, I remember seeing them last year at Pro League in Denmark and thinking "holy hell, these guys actually have an incredible amount of talent on this team and they can become something really cool." It's not going to happen overnight. I said this a few years ago, as soon as NA starts getting a team that has success and is able to compete at the top of the world, it's going to be like a snowball moment, we're going to see more and more NA teams. We've never lacked skill, we've lacked teams in NA that can show how to utilize that skill properly and how to refine that skill into an actual team, an actual unit. We're starting to see those teams come together. Duncan made a really good point with his tweet recently, the theory between the seang@res style of play and the DaZeD style of play, where DaZeD is like a fragging in-game leader with a lot of skill around him, while Sean was more about the Astralis way of putting a team together and all these parts. It seems like in North America, at least, because we have so many talented and raw players, you can go that DaZeD style and you can make it work very, very effectively.

I don't think those are the last two teams that NA will see being competitive at the top of the scene. Eventually, the next thing that happens is what we just saw with daps, the experience he gains from bringing two teams up to a tier-one level. Yeah, he can't get them over the hump, but now he goes to a new team in Cloud9 and he's going to train those guys up. Then you start seeing some of these teams, maybe they make changes, maybe someone from Liquid or EG eventually departs the team, they go somewhere else, and they can teach other teams. Then it spreads out, which is something NA didn't have at the beginning of CS:GO because of all of our 1.6 players retiring, there was no one to pass on that knowledge. And now we finally have those players who can pass on that knowledge. It's just going to get a little bit more widespread and we'll see more players and more teams pop up.

Also, it didn't help that two of the biggest in-game leaders of the scene got themselves out of the picture...

Yeah, that one hurt too (laughs), that one was a kick in the balls. It sucks because steel — and even DaZed, although it's obvious that he's lost all the passion to be a competitive player — is one of the hardest-working guys I know. Every time I talk to him, it's the first thing you can see, every conversation you have with him is "I want to be competing, I want to be back." I can't even imagine how heartbreaking it's got to be because he has probably had so many opportunities that have just been taken from him because he can't play at Majors. And he has probably had so many opportunities to be a coach and he's not ready to be a coach, he still wants to compete because he has put so much into the game, he wants to be able to get onto these big stages. I still dream that Valve is going to wake up eventually and say "this guy has paid his dues." I don't think it'll happen, but I have a little bit of hope, still.

Moving on to the game itself, even though it has been a long time since we have had those economy updates, it is still a big point of discussion, especially now that the second-round Krieg buy has become meta. What is your verdict on these changes, does the economy still need adjustments or are you happy with the current state?

I don't necessarily like the air that the changes have caused. I think the comeback mechanic is still extremely strong, I think it's very obvious that the Krieg second-round buy is a pretty silly thing to be able to do and I'm hoping someone at Valve is looking into that and ways of tweaking it so that it stops. But I struggle to get as upset about the changes that Valve makes in the game these days because, as we've seen, players adapt, teams adapt, it doesn't actually have this massive impact on the scene overall. It's not like we have the best team dropping down to like the eighth place because of an economic change, it's not impacting the game to that level, which makes me happy even if I don't like this "new economy."

It's just a bit scary because the smallest change to the economy can have big implications. Once you start tweaking the economy and really try to mess with it, it's really hard to start reverting things, especially with the way Valve likes to make a change and give it plenty of time to breathe, which I also appreciate by the way, that they don't just snap back at community backlash. It is what it is, we're going to adapt, Counter-Strike is going to survive, it's been that way for CS:GO, we've been able to make this work with these changes. I've come to appreciate the Valve devs a little bit more as time goes on, I actually think they've done a good job at balancing this game over time despite some of the complaints in the moment.

More fun casts like the OMEN Challenge are a nice break, moses says

You recently did commentary for the group stage of New York from a remote broadcast in Cologne, something we don't see very often. What do you think about the way ESL approached that?

I thought it was fine. They've been doing this for New York for like three years, although it was usually not with us, so that was kind of unique. I will say straight off the bat, it obviously sucks, especially that it was in New York, in my home country, because I wanted to be in that arena. I'm obviously also thankful that I didn't have to put up with the travel from leaving New York at 9 PM and coming straight into a broadcast in Malmö, so a little bit of a blessing in disguise there (laughs). It was a weird disconnect, I kind of enjoyed it and hated it in some ways because it's hard to muster up the excitement and the intensity because you feel so disconnected, you are on the other side of the world and you don't feel like you're part of the event in the same way, especially considering we weren't on camera at all in Cologne, which was kind of cool because I got to be in sweatpants and be comfortable, that's always fun.

At the same time, I went into it with Anders and I was like "the only way that we can do this that's going to make sense for us, let's treat this like one of the old 2014 online broadcasts, let's just have a lot of fun with it." I hope the viewers could tell that we tried to do that because you can try to be as intense as you want, but when you're so far away and you don't see the players and you're not part of the event, it is a bummer and you don't feel that intensity of teams getting eliminated because you're nowhere close to it. We just kind of said to have a good time, make the silly jokes, talk about the crazy things, laugh a lot, make sure we're having fun, and if we're not able to match the intensity, let's at least be able to let the viewers feel like they're having fun along with us. I hope that came through. It was kind of cool, those are broadcasts that I'd like to get back to a little bit more here and there. Obviously not every time, I like the intensity, I like the professional style of casting, but it is fun being able to loosen up and do things like that. I think Anders was comparing a match to a greasy cheeseburger at one point, so those kinds of things are fun and it's just a bit silly, we had fun with the dualies and everything like that. Those are things you don't get to do when you're inside the arena, those are things that just come off very weird when you're casting in front of 10,000 people on a stage. I like those casts, those are fun, and we got to do a couple of those, we were at the OMEN Challenge recently, which was more of a fun style. It's a nice break.

Anything else you would like to say, a message to the community?

I would just say: keep an open mind about more things. I'm involved in a lot of conversations behind the scenes and every time I have a conversation I realize how little I know about what's going on in terms of the business side of things. Have an open mind when you see these news reports, have an open mind when you're reading these interviews with players. Listen, I f**k up too, I just f**ked up really badly with the ENCE change, I put out that f**king Tweet that really went in on Aerial and ENCE for the change, and I felt really bad about that. We all have overreactions and we all read too much into things at times, but just take a moment. By the way, the number of times I read a Reddit comment saying that someone knows something for sure, it's so completely wrong, it happens every day. Do not just blindly believe some random comment in a forum, a Reddit post, or whatever it might be, even in HLTV comments or forums, just have an open mind. Don't just buy into a headline, look at all the different angles of it and do some research. Read a book.

United States Jason 'moses' O'Toole
Jason 'moses' O'Toole
Age:
-
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
18
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.15
Denmark Anders 'Anders' Blume
Anders 'Anders' Blume
Age:
-
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.53
Maps played:
1
KPR:
0.19
DPR:
0.58
APR:
0.12
#1
NiKo | 
Morocco royflord 
okay nice
2019-10-12 20:36
#2
smooya | 
Austria shaakeh 
tough call
2019-10-12 20:36
is it
2019-10-12 20:39
Idk
2019-10-12 20:46
moses lowest IQ from all the analysts/casters/hosts
2019-10-12 20:48
#40
beyAz | 
Turkey LantarEZ 
Nice bait
2019-10-12 21:48
#4
OK | 
Peru TheJuan 
Thank Mr Striker
2019-10-12 20:37
#3
 | 
United States juraf| 
avangar>NA
2019-10-12 20:37
#6
gfi | 
Germany GDLenny 
+1
2019-10-12 20:37
NA omegaLUL
2019-10-12 20:38
#21
 | 
United States Azuhh 
wtfmen))
2019-10-12 20:49
Sorry mens)
2019-10-12 20:49
#32
 | 
Finland Smoonah 
I’m not taking my sneakers off, I’m still Sneakers “Moses” O’Toole
2019-10-12 20:56
man, i miss brax. Guy was so talented at some point for sure if he wasnt banned and were going with right path. Would be one of the best player nowdays. Period. Such a shame, and that matchfixing like im fine with it. Ok 2 years, they got banned let them play. Everyone makes mistakes even in reallife. So sad for braxton.
2019-10-12 20:39
#24
 | 
United States Azuhh 
indefinite ban was really bad, but i think it was to set an example of why you shoundnt do this shit
2019-10-12 20:49
Im fine with that, and im not against rules. But rules were not set. Like u said they did bad thing, they get what they deserved. But no a life time ban. Especially give a chance to play on all events
2019-10-12 21:57
#46
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Slovakia Fortal 
So which is it? Are you fine with it, "they get what they deserved"? Or is it "but no a life time ban. Especially give a chance to play on all events"? There 2 are in stark contrast with one another. Make up your mind.
2019-10-12 23:19
#39
 | 
United Kingdom foxize 
+1
2019-10-12 21:46
#50
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India spiderCAKE 
Bullshit. Let him stay banned. Lil bitch tried to scam people out of their money. Cheats like him get lifetime bans in other sports too. Why should it be any different in esports? He made his bed, let him lie in it.
2019-10-13 00:32
Okay so tell me spidercakee why some dota players didnt get indefinite ban for the same fucking incident? How is that fair to be treated differently for the same matchfixing bullshit ?
2019-10-13 06:54
Because Valve is too soft with Dota
2019-10-13 06:55
No shit
2019-10-13 07:22
#58
 | 
India spiderCAKE 
Ask GabeN. IMO, they should be banned for life too. Maybe the circumstances were different. Anyway, the players are only banned from Valve sponsored events iirc.
2019-10-13 22:40
Tell me which circumstances would be okay to matchfix
2019-10-14 16:07
#67
 | 
India spiderCAKE 
You misunderstood. Match-fixing is never okay. I'm talking about the circumstances of the ban. Was there an earlier precedent set for such incidents, the magnitude of the offense etc. I don't play Dota and I don't follow the Dota scene so I cannot comment on why the ban lengths are different for different games. Only Valve can answer that.
2019-10-14 16:39
So basically you know about iBP players getting ban you telling " lil bitch tried to scam people out of their money. Cheats (lol) like him get lifetime bans in other sports too. " But when i’m talking about dota players doing the exact same thing you’re coming all soft talking about circumstances and shit.. fuck off man
2019-10-14 19:05
#70
 | 
India spiderCAKE 
#58 "IMO, they should be banned for life too." Also refer to #68
2019-10-14 19:07
lmao so stupid answer argument whatever
2019-10-13 13:15
#59
 | 
India spiderCAKE 
Why is it stupid?
2019-10-13 23:07
#60
 | 
Norway SlimeThug 
No, you don't always get a lifetime ban. Also, it was other factors at play. And last, do you get life in jail for matchfixing? Na, you don't. Giving them a penalty for a year or two would be suitable. It didn't change shit regarding matchfixing. It went on in tier 1, 2, 3 etc. for YEARS. And STILL does up to tier 2. If you are going to go hard against matchfixing, at least follow up on it. Half of Valve = ignorant lazy fat fucks.
2019-10-13 23:52
#68
 | 
India spiderCAKE 
I agree that this Valve is to be blamed because they allowed the gambling scene to flourish and they did so intentionally because it made CSGO even more popular. If they had cracked down on gambling from the start and hadn't waited for lawsuits to filed against them to take action maybe we wouldn't be talking about this now. Also, since aren't any government bodies to regulate such things, it means all comes down to Valve to do all the work. Having said that, the lifetime bans have allowed tier 1 CS to be clean. If you can come back after a couple of years, then this would be even more prevalent. I don't know about how prevalent it is to match fix in lower tiers but it ensures that the bad apples stay down in lower tiers and only the real talent makes it to tier 1. How profitable is it to match fix lower tiers matches anyway?
2019-10-14 16:51
#71
 | 
Norway SlimeThug 
Several credible sources have said that matchfixing went on in tier 1 online matches for quite some time post iBP ban. How profitable it is to match fix lower tier matches? Are you mad? Most betting sites have T2, T3 and even some have T4 and below. It's rings of match fixers in all regions that makes HUGE profit from bets. Do a little digging and read a couple of articles written about it. I believe Richard Lewis made an article and a video about it. Nobody does anything about it. WESA does shit all, the betting sites still put up low tier matches from China etc. and even post matches of proven matchfixing teams. If it's not blatanly obvious (which well orchestrated rings avoid) To this day it's a big issue, but nobody does anything about it as far as I've noticed, except for journalists willing to dig up dirt and turn stones powerful people don't want them to turn
2019-10-14 21:55
i disagree. all the talent is spread over both teams. cant imagine a 3rd roster that can compete with EU.
2019-10-12 20:40
#27
 | 
United States Azuhh 
theres still some talents left like autimatic that are in other teams, if one team disbands for example liquid, members like naf, can still spread out experience to young NA teams
2019-10-12 20:51
if liquid disbands and another team comes in thats still 2 and youre right autimatic is left, but other than him and maybe wardell and obo i dont see any good players.
2019-10-12 20:52
Eunited has some good talents
2019-10-12 20:54
MarkE is really good
2019-10-12 21:29
skadaddy. he's a legend though
2019-10-13 09:40
Maybe a 3rd roster with some players that have potential growth that Complexity makes, but besides that it's pretty dead. And even then I doubt CoL will have players that are better than top 10 teams.
2019-10-12 21:21
#11
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Serbia toENDallWARS 
WHO THEN? FUCKING E UNITED??????????????
2019-10-12 20:41
#15
 | 
Russia FriZZeh 
c9
2019-10-12 20:45
#42
 | 
Ukraine Tw1RLY 
we just lost to complexity. nop
2019-10-12 22:05
#43
 | 
Russia FriZZeh 
-everyone except auti +Shroud +Tarik +Stewie2k +Skadaddy
2019-10-12 22:07
#44
 | 
Ukraine Tw1RLY 
-1 none of them would return
2019-10-12 22:56
#47
 | 
Russia FriZZeh 
I didn't say they will return. Austria brain
2019-10-12 23:21
#48
 | 
Ukraine Tw1RLY 
+Shroud +Tarik +Stewie2k +Skadaddy nt
2019-10-12 23:28
#49
 | 
Russia FriZZeh 
Reply needs to have actual content
2019-10-12 23:38
#56
 | 
Poland rude_wredne 
SHROUD XD
2019-10-13 10:05
#62
TenZ | 
Canada itzblaise 
He said "Shroud" 😂😂😂
2019-10-14 03:52
#64
 | 
Ukraine Tw1RLY 
have you read the texts above? no ok
2019-10-14 07:11
#36
 | 
Singapore FallBlade 
swole patrol LULW
2019-10-12 21:25
#12
 | 
Spain akproxx 
Hahahh no maybe in 5 years
2019-10-12 20:42
Sure. I'm hoping for a finnish team at the top but that won't happen and I'm not giving out interviews to hltv telling people that experience will get us a top 1 team
2019-10-12 20:43
It's not too late to do one
2019-10-13 06:55
#14
 | 
Russia FriZZeh 
Yes cloud9
2019-10-12 20:45
#16
 | 
Norway flipflop 
typical na thinking
2019-10-12 20:45
Game needs step away from changing small things like economy and make the mechanics of things different to create a higher skill ceiling, maybe start with the movement or nerf the utility some what like smokes.
2019-10-12 20:46
#26
 | 
Croatia KeZual96 
Why the fuck would you do that, makes no sense
2019-10-12 20:50
To open the game up, everyone cries how boring pro CS is now. utility is the major bottle neck, I wouldn't know how to balance it hence the word I used "maybe".
2019-10-12 20:52
#61
 | 
Croatia KeZual96 
I know sorry, but if you remove utility that would't be cs anymore.
2019-10-14 00:45
Where did I say remove?
2019-10-14 05:07
#20
 | 
India Bhookhiatma 
Which book should I read Moses
2019-10-12 20:48
LUL xD
2019-10-12 20:49
nt moses
2019-10-12 20:50
[cool]
2019-10-12 20:53
Type-o under picture 2
2019-10-12 21:08
#34
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Germany ToiletShitter 
where is the anti troll mode for HLTV news?
2019-10-12 21:16
#37
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Romania Obuz8 
Free iBP
2019-10-12 21:29
#45
Poland Este 
People thought the same about polish scene when VP was on top. Hopefully you will do the better job America.
2019-10-12 23:08
be quiet mens this is library
2019-10-14 16:07
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