ALEX: "Cloud9 is going to be the real test for me as a leader to prove that I can get results without the best player in the world”
ALEX officially joined Cloud9 on Thursday as team captain and in-game leader, becoming the first player of the North American organisation's new project after Henry "HenryG" Greer and Aleksandar "kassad" Trifunović had been hired as general manager and head coach, respectively.
The interview, conducted by François "Cnd" Balembois, started off with ALEX talking about the end of his time in Vitality and some current topics, including the state of the game during the coronavirus pandemic. "It’s not the same [as before] because there’s less travel fatigue now," he said when asked about the schedule. "You don’t fly to the United States, get jet lagged and change hotels constantly, but playing official matches every two days means you can never relax from being in a competitive mindset, so this continuous stress is almost worse than before."
ALEX then talked about using his time as an ambassador for Vitality to reflect on his future. "I took the ambassador role exactly for this purpose, to think about whether I wanted to keep going, to stop, to become a member of the staff, a coach," he said. "Then I realized there are a lot of Flashpoint teams that are not tied to BLAST or ESL, the tournament organisers that impose a heavy schedule, so I thought that it would be a good idea to sign for a team that plays two six-week events a year and then can go to some other events but without being contractually bound, therefore having the ability to turn down invitations if necessary.”
In terms of negotiations to leave Vitality, ALEX says some teams "immediately pulled back" after learning of his organisation's asking price. "I wasn’t very privy to the negotiations but it was around $500,000-$600,000 and a lot of teams didn’t want to make that investment during the current pandemic, although some did. I don’t know the details [regarding FaZe’s offer], I was told that Vitality accepted it and then the next day Kjaerbye was announced, so I’m not sure what happened there." He then answered a follow-up question regarding the failed move to FaZe, saying that "it would have been a good opportunity, but I don’t think I’d say I feel sorry that I didn’t sign for FaZe since they’re part of the ESL/BLAST circuit, which I wanted to avoid.”
ALEX was no longer wearing his bomber jacket when the broadcast returned after a short two-minute pause midway through the hour-long interview, revealing instead a Cloud9 jersey as he continued to answer questions. “HenryG didn’t think about me immediately because he didn’t know if I’d move to the United States if it were necessary,” ALEX revealed. "But it's not clear if we're moving. Everything depends on the project we build, the roster we end up with and on COVID, too, because the US is doing a bit worse than here at the moment, so we’ll probably decide on it next year."
“The project is created with the players’ health being taken into account,” ALEX said about scheduling and burnout, two key concerns that led to his departure from his former team. "I’m not saying it wasn’t in Vitality, but it’s one of our main focuses now to make sure that we’ll be in good physical and mental condition at every event we attend. The project I want and I’ve chosen is one in which the organization thinks about our health and doesn’t want us to burn out.”
The interview then touched on the weight on ALEX's shoulders as one of the core pieces of the roster and the goals set for the team. “We were always told in Vitality that we got good results because ZywOo was carrying us, so this is going to be the real test for me as a leader to prove that I can get results for my team without having the best player in the world," he said, "The goal is to win Flashpoint, this isn’t a project in which we’ll say that we need time—we’ll get good players, fit them into the team and we want results quickly. Looking at the team list, not winning Flashpoint would be a disappointment, at least for me. My personal goal, which I think is possible, is to win a Major title before the French teams."
Near the end of the interview, before closing out with some questions from the chat, ALEX revealed that he is eager to work with kassad. "If you put a lot of big names together in an international team they could end up doing whatever they want, but I don’t think that will happen with kassad because he’s very respected. The CS he put forth with 100 Thieves and the fact that they made it from 'tier 2' to 'tier 1,' I think part of it was thanks to him, and I can’t wait to work with him.”