Edward: "In CS 1.6 I wanted to become the best player; in CS:GO I put the team first"
In the second part of Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov's interview with Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev, the former NAVI player shares his thoughts on a variety of topics, such as the impact of coaches, being able to maintain motivation, and Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev as a teammate.
In part one, the Ukrainian ran us through some of the different phases he experienced under NAVI in his nearly decade-long stint with the organization and shared a few stories from his time there and from other past teams, such as pro100 and Virtus.pro in Counter-Strike 1.6.
In the second portion of the interview, the topics shift towards Edward's life outside of esports and some more abstract concepts, such as the age cap in CS:GO and the role that a coach should have in a team. The 32-year-old also spoke about two of his most high-profile teammates in Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko and s1mple, sharing what it was like to play alongside them.
When were you in your best form?
In CS 1.6 I was in my best shape in 2010, and in CS:GO in 2016.
Does CS:GO have an age cap? What age do you plan to play to?
I know from personal experience that age affects not only your gameplay but all aspects of your life, specifically your approach to things. If you have the motivation, energy, and opportunity, then you can play at a high level. After playing the game for 20 years straight, you develop a variety of interests and explore other fields. If at 20 you're playing because you aren't doing anything else, then at 30 you're faced with a choice between playing or doing something else that interests you.
Have you ever thought that your time as a player has passed?
Yes, of course, but honestly, I still want to play. I started learning English and it would be interesting to try myself on an international roster, and just play CS at a decent level. When we assembled selectah, I immediately felt that things were going well, both in-game and communications-wise. I'm happy with myself and I'm following all of the matches going on, I'm watching streams and I really enjoy being fully consumed by the game, just like in the past.
Have you ever thought about hanging up the mouse and exploring other industries?
Lately, I've thought of it, yes. After my loan to Winstrike, I've had a lot of time to think about my future. Perhaps becoming a coach, scout, or working within the structure of an organization. Maybe it's worth exploring business options in a completely different industry. During my gaming career I had never had these thoughts.
Tell us about the impact of coaches.
In NAVI the coach was always the main assistant of the captain, meaning it wasn't a deciding role. In my eyes, that's a mistake, as coaches need to have more power and wider responsibility. The coach needs to have a global impact on the team, similarly to traditional sports, from the morale component to strategic preparation. He has to move each figure around, much like chess, not just describe a specific round or which grenade to throw. Simply preparing rounds and deconstructing the opponents' gameplay is too little for a coach, but currently, that's all most of them do.
Out of all the coaches, who best exemplifies your understanding of a good one?
I think zonic does. He once showed me his notebook, where all aspects of the team's life were detailed in phases a whole year ahead. This is to say that his role is not limited to developing new rounds.
What do you think of the coach bug?
Coaches that were banned are divided into two categories: people who used the bug with intent and people that accidentally came across it and did not want to use it, like lmbt and RobbaN. I don't agree with the idea that everyone should be punished according to the same system. Every situation should be approached individually and some coaches' bans should be lifted. It's astonishing that this has been going on for a few years.
How did you manage to maintain the motivation to perform at the highest level?
Motivation is an illusory thing. Every day I simply focus my attention on playing, on my enjoyment of the game and on the fact that I need to follow teams and new tendencies. You have to be fully immersed in the game, and that state helps you fully focus on it. It sounds simple, but it isn't, as we have a lot of distracting factors.
Has your wage ever affected your motivation?
Likely not, there isn't a direct relation.
Have you ever let fame get to your head?
I shouldn't be the one to comment on this, but rather people who surround me. I am very demanding towards both those around me and myself. Some might think that I'm arrogant when I require those around me to dedicate themselves as I do.
How did you come up with your nickname?
My nickname comes from the movie Edward Scissorhands. When I was a teenager I had a haircut that was similar to that of the main protagonist, so I decided to take the nickname.
When did you first play CS?
I used to skip classes back in school, and instead of going to lessons, I would visit the internet cafe. Before CS, I played Half-Life, and back in 1999 when CS came out, I immediately started playing it.
Do you consider your legendary ace on de_tuscan to be the best moment of your career?
I'd say so. I've had a lot of similar moments, but that one is the hardest to reproduce.
Did you ever initiate replacements in NAVI?
I'm a person that doesn't look for issues in people. I never participated in conversations and never proposed that anyone should be removed. Because of this, no one told me anything when they were removing Zeus as they knew that, firstly, I would tell Danya and, secondly, that I would be categorically against it. As soon as I find out about things going on behind the curtains, I gather the team to discuss what's going on. This is the only atmosphere that I can play in. When things are happening behind people's backs, I feel as if the team is ill and stops progressing. Disliking one another and not being friends is normal, but showing respect and being upfront is your obligation. I was never the initiator of removals, but I was forced to accept the decision of the majority. In truth, back in 2011 I made an ultimatum when they wanted to kick Zeus and ceh9 as I was the person sitting between two camps. I saved the team, but we made starix the captain. Initially, it gave us a good nudge, and we even won some event, but later things returned to the way there were before and our chemistry started dimming.
What are Zeus' strengths as a captain?
He united people in work. He never allowed anyone to get complacent and forced everyone to work. It happened periodically, when he had the willingness to keep people under control, but when it did happen, it worked perfectly.
Describe s1mple as a teammate.
He's a very skilled and brazen player, and he doesn't let opportunities slip. He trains a lot, living the game, and he fully justifies the title of the best player in the world. He has an issue where he expresses his emotions in a very rough way. You either get used to it or you simply can't play with him. Having said that, in life he's a great friend and you'd never say that his communication in-game would be cardinally opposite.
Why is it that in CS 1.6 you were one of the best players in the world, while in CS:GO you weren't able to continue to put up such individual performances?
It seems that in CS:GO I didn't have the motivation to become the best player individually. My priorities changed with age. In CS 1.6 I believed I could become the best and I wanted to; I was an egoist in the best sense of that word. In CS:GO I had a different approach, in that I could keep my opinion to myself, make concessions and put the team first. Then again it's much harder to become the best in CS:GO if you compare it to CS 1.6.
What is your favourite victory and most bitter loss?
In CS 1.6 it has to be Intel Extreme Masters 2010, and in CS:GO it's second place at the MLG Columbus Major, in some way that was the most important victory. The most bitter loss came at our first Major [final] when we lost to Team EnVyUs in 2015.
Do you have a favourite opponent?
I always wanted to face the best opponents and I'm always happy when I face a team that is better than mine as you always play better if you're faced with a tough opponent. If Misha (Kane) always wanted us to face weaker opponents in a bracket, I always wanted the exact opposite, though I also support Misha's calculation. I would say that my favourite opponents were zonic's teams: mTw in CS 1.6 and Astralis in CS:GO.
Which teams do you enjoy watching?
I keep a keen eye on CS these days, but I still follow NAVI more than anyone else. I've become a fan of NAVI. If it's not NAVI, then I've developed a liking for EG, and, of course, I'm impressed by Astralis. There are interesting newcomers like BIG or Heroic, but that could be because of the online format, we'll see how they do once things revert to LAN.
What sort of streams do you enjoy watching? Do you like CIS commentary?
I watch English streams more frequently because I enjoy the English language. I've started learning English and watching a match is like practicing. When it comes to Russian streams I only watch them if I want to listen to my friends; for example, ceh9. As of late, CIS casting has significantly improved and become a lot more interesting to watch. Perhaps certain commentators need to add a bit more emotion; other than that, it's good.
What region would you like to play in?
I'm interested in the English-speaking scene. If I do continue to play then I'd love to play in America.
Who is your favourite and least favourite teammate?
My favourite teammate is obviously Zeus, nearly my entire career is connected to him. I don't have a least favourite teammate. As toxic as s1mple may have been, calling him my worst teammate would be silly.
Are large buyouts good or bad?
The transfer politics of CS:GO are strange. There needs to be a draft system similar to the NHL, but in the current realities of the scene that's impossible. The situation is such that if, say, NAVI wants a player, then they'll have to pay out a large sum irrespective as to who it is, because everyone knows that the organization has money.
How frequently did you receive requests to join other organizations?
Infrequently. When I represent a team, I'm of the mindset that I am part of it and I don't even give others the opportunity to invite me elsewhere.
Tell us about your wage growth.
In Virtus.pro I was paid $1,000, but we put up about $200-300 each towards rent. When NAVI assembled its roster, the wage was also $1,000. In CS:GO my wage progressed depending on the growth of the scene. During a certain period, my wage was $3,000, later $5,000 and, later yet, $7,000, going up to a maximum of $15,000.
What was the largest purchase you've made with money you earned from CS?
I bought a flat.
Were you ever asked to fix a match?
Have you ever played with cheats?
Do you play FPL?
I was recently kicked. I contacted an admin but I was told that things are quite strict, even NEO was kicked. The admin said he'll try to work something out and contact me later, but he disappeared. That was a bit strange, but I'm not too upset about it. There's a coalition of players like s1mple, NiKo, etc., who decide who to remove and who to invite.
Name your dream team.
ZywOo, EliGE, Perfecto and gla1ve.
Tell us about your family.
I have a sister who is two years older than me. My parents are pensioners. My mom used to work as an accountant/economist, while my dad worked as a physicist in a university and a laboratory. We all live in the same city so we see each other often, I always help them out.
Did they accept your interest in esports from the beginning?
My mom was very upset that I would skip school to go to the internet cafe, while my dad wasn't much against my search for meaning. When I started making some money then my mom stopped worrying as well.
Who did you want to become as a child?
I always wanted to become some sort of a sportsperson, but I never did anything. I started playing computer games at a very young age, so I didn't have time to think about who I wanted to become.
Do you have a dream outside of esports?
I'd like to live out somewhere like Bali for a couple of months and learn to surf. My dreams are simple. For example, summiting some kind of a mountain. Had it not been for the pandemic I would've summited Ararat or Elbrus this year. As for work, I don't have a specific dream. I just want to share the experience that I have accrued over the 20 years of my professional career.
Do you have a higher education?
No, and I have no plans of obtaining one.
Have you ever worked outside of esports?
What is your favourite dish?
Homemade fried potatoes.
What's your favourite music?
Tool, Grazhdanskaya Oborona, Konstantin Stupin.
Will you allow your children to get into esports?
Yes, I won't get in the way of it.
Do you have any fears?
I don't have any specific fears, I fear abstract things that have to do with our lives. For example, I am afraid of not being able to provide for my loved ones.
You've visited many countries, which did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed travelling around Russia. As I mentioned previously, in 2007 I travelled to the far corners of the country and developed a strong love for Russian people. Of course, America impressed me, but with time the impressions dimmed. Europe has a lot of beautiful cities. Every place has its own charm, something that you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Have you ever made a big mistake in your life?
No, I treat mistakes philosophically. If I do something wrong, then thanks to the mistake I gain experience and become smarter.
What are your thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic?
Initially I was irresponsible, but with the gradual increase in societal tension, my approach to the virus has changed. Aside from the virus taking human lives, there are a lot of dark sides to the situation, such as lies from governments of different countries and dubious scheming on the parts of doctors. There's no point even discussing it because we won't find out the truth either way.
You can read the first part of the interview here.