JonY BoY: "We need to become more consistent and not rely on having a good day"
JonY BoY spent several months looking for his place after parting ways with x6tence and his former teammates in June. The 29-year-old played with FPL-C mix teams and even tried out VALORANT before briefly joining QLASH, but he finally decided to return to South America after rethinking several aspects of his career, including where he would like to one day end it—close to his family and fans in Argentina.
The AWPer landed in Latin America in September after spending the better part of the previous four years abroad, in North America and Europe, joining Isurus at their gaming house in Brazil and linking up with Nicolás "Noktse" Dávila, a player he had long wished to have as a teammate.
Two months on from his departure from Spain, JonY BoY returns with Isurus to play the online BLAST Premier Showdown from Heretics' gaming house in Madrid. Their first match in the tournament's single elimination bracket is scheduled for Tuesday, November 24, at 19:30 , against none other than the highest-seeded team of the tournament, FURIA.
In the following interview, which was conducted not long before JonY BoY and his teammates boarded their flight to Spain, the Argentine player spoke about his last months in Europe, returning to Latin America and how the coronavirus pandemic played a big part in making that decision, joining Isurus, and the match-up against FURIA in the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown, among other topics.
You spent a couple of years playing in Spain before moving back to Argentina to join Isurus. How has the transition to going back home been?
I had a few different offers after we were let go from x6tence and the team disbanded. I also tried out VALORANT because you never know. It's another FPS game, it's fun, and I had some offers from pretty good international players, but the truth is that I like Counter-Strike and so when I had the opportunity to play with the former KPI players in QLASH, I took the offer.
So I joined QLASH, but then someone in my family got COVID and that made me rethink many things regarding my future. I didn’t know how long this COVID situation was going to last, but I did know that I was far from my family at a delicate time, so I started to think about my future. I also started to think about things like how long I'm going to keep competing.
I was treated very well in Spain, as if it were my own home, but I want to retire in my region. I want to play my last tournaments in Argentina, surrounded by my fans and my people, and right as I was starting to entertain that idea, Isurus announced that 1962 was stepping down from the team due to personal issues.
I had already been in talks with Isurus before joining QLASH and my agent then told me that it would be a good time to go back if that's what I wanted since they were down to four players. A few days later I returned to South America to try out with the team and things worked out well.
You tried out before joining the team, so was there a chance that you ended up returning to Spain?
I'm working on getting my Spanish residency permit and I'm pretty sure that I'll end up returning to Spain some time in the future. It's a lovely country, but in regards to competition and the current global situation, I wanted to be close to my family in Argentina and I don't know if I’ll go back to Spain to compete again after my time in Isurus. Living in Spain for three years, far from my partner, it was a new experience for me. Coming back now is another new experience, in a new gaming house, but it has been easy to adapt because I get along well with everyone and I’m a two-hour flight from home.
Your former teammates are still in Spain. Did you think about trying to do something with them at any point?
From what I understand, NikoM may return to Argentina soon, but tomi and tutehen are working on a new project in Spain. We could have stayed together, but at the same time leaving x6tence felt like the end of a chapter and I wanted to play with new people. I get along very well with all of them, they're great friends, and I don't rule out playing with them again in the future, but I wanted a new experience, whether it was playing with Spanish players or on an international team. I played a lot of FPL-C and there’s always some FPL-C mix that’s doing pretty well in qualifiers and stuff like that. There's always one or two of those mixes raising eyebrows, and I have good relationships with some of the players on those teams so I even thought about starting to play in English, which isn't ideal but I could have made it work.
There are even a few organizations in Spain supporting teams like that, such as Real Betis.
What made me choose to return is being close to my family during the pandemic. I even played some qualifiers with FPL-C mixes, but in the end it came down to one of the projects being in Europe and the other being close to my family.
So it was really a decision driven by the state of the world during the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic didn't really affect me in the sense of being locked up somewhere. It wasn't so bad in Spain because where we were living there weren't that many restrictions after the initial quarantine, and life went back to being fairly normal. But when you have a family member who gets infected and you’re far away, it makes you rethink everything.
My family is very tight, they're always watching my streams and the official matches I play, so in order for me to not get distracted from competition they only told me like half of what was going on. And yeah, I'm not a doctor, it's not like being there would change much, but just the fact of not being present made me rethink a lot of things.
Regarding your return, how has the adjustment to Isurus been? You and Noktse have shared a similar role in that you're both AWPers and IGLs, so how are you navigating that?
Noktse and I had wanted to play together for several years, but for one reason or another, be it because one of us was under contract or deep into a project, it never worked out. When we talked a few months ago, before I joined QLASH, we immediately agreed that it wouldn’t really matter who would AWP, and in my mind it was clear that if I returned he would be the IGL.
The AWPing issue was something that didn't bother either of us, we just wanted to find the set-up that worked best for the team. I've been here for a couple of months and if Noktse were to ask me to try changing things around, that wouldn't be an issue for me. If we think that's what’s best for the team, we'll do it. We just want to win.
Noktse was rifling when L!nKz^ was on the team, too, so really he just had to revert to that same role he had before. Neither of us has much of an ego, in that sense. In fact, on Dust2, he plays the AWP and I play as a B rotator because that's the way we're most comfortable, and it's not an issue.
Can you talk to me a little bit about leadership in the team and how that works with Noktse, the IGL, and Pino, the coach?
Noktse is a very hands-on leader, he's always communicating, talking about what to do and giving us input. He's a person who likes to play his style of CS and likes to manage his players. He and Pino complement each other well to create the style of CS we play, and we also have a third person, lokomotioN, who is working as our analyst. But yeah, I'm very comfortable with Noktse calling because we all know what we need to do.
As for Pino, like many other coaches, he does a bit of everything and is a bit of a father figure and a psychologist. He's the guy who will motivate you, tell you what play to run next, and he's also a bit older, so other than working the tactical aspect of the game he's always the first one to ask players if they have a problem, how he can help make things better, all of that.
We also have a couple of psychologists, one working on the sporting aspects and the other helping with mindfulness. Isurus understands that this is a sport and that there has to be a structure supporting the team, which is more than just having five players and a coach, and that’s really nice.
Latin American CS is a little bit different than European CS, stylistically. How has readjusting to that been after your time away?
The hardest thing to adapt to was speaking Portuguese, the language we speak in-game because we play with caike, who is Brazilian. I had already played in Brazil, but it had been so long that I had forgotten most of it. I don't even want to start talking about call-outs, it's an absolute mess! I've played using Argentine Spanish, Spanish from Spain, North American English, European English, now Brazilian Portuguese... So yeah, early on it was a bit hard because of language, more than anything. I also speak pretty quickly, so if it was hard for me to understand caike in Portuguese, it was the same for him with my Spanish, so we didn't understand each other very well early on. After the first month or so I started to pace myself a bit more when talking to him and now that we're starting to know each other it's getting better.
Speaking about the region itself, you do have to adapt to a different style. It's much faster here in South America, most teams play very fast. Sure, some teams will have a few double fakes and a bit of a repertoire, but for the most part, it's a much faster game. You have to be ready for that in order to not be caught off-guard. Many of the teams have FURIA as their reference, they see that this style worked for them, so they have adopted that style of play for themselves. So yeah, you do have to adapt to a faster, more spontaneous game, but individually I feel fine.
You're living and playing in Brazil now, but in an Argentine team and close to home. How do you see the health of the scene in Argentina?
The scene has grown a lot since I left in 2016. There are more organizations involved and although many still don't pay a living wage, they do pay something, and there has also been an increase in leagues and competitions. What we need now are more chances to qualify for international events, like we have with BLAST. We need more qualifiers that will allow teams to get experience playing better teams from Europe and North America. South America is still a step behind in that sense, we don't get many opportunities and the few we do get are incredibly coveted.
In general terms, the region has developed a lot. As far as viewership goes, it has been rising incredibly in all of Latin America. Gaules moves incredible numbers of people and in Argentina we just had over 100,000 people in a Coscu Army vs. 9z match. In our own match against 9z we had over 50,000, which is a lot for a local tournament.
And it's not only more organizations investing in CS, but also bigger ones, like River Plate for example.
Yeah, football teams are starting to get into it. River has a team, I think Huracán and San Lorenzo also have their projects. I've also heard that Boca will jump in soon, so yeah. The fact that football teams are showing interest speaks for the growth that is going on, which is great.
There are two players now sitting on the bench in their teams, meyern and Luken, who have been some of the most internationally recognized Argentine players. What's it like having them looming on the sidelines?
They're definitely tempting for any team. I don't know what happened to meyern and why he isn't playing with 9z anymore, especially considering it wasn't easy to get him out of MIBR, but I imagine that he must have an offer on the table or he's having some serious personal issues. I would imagine that if it's an offer, it could also involve Luken. I know the two get along very well, they're good friends, and I'd be quite surprised if they didn't end up playing together.
They're the two Argentine players who've turned the most heads internationally, almost beating Astralis and playing together in Sharks, as well as meyern then going to MIBR and so on. It does generate a sort of intrigue regarding what's going to happen with them. At the end of the day, though, they're going to have to earn their place again, like everyone else. They did what they did, which everyone values and respects, and that's why they're two of the players with the biggest fanbase in the country, but no matter where they play, whether it's in Argentina or internationally, they're going to have to rebuild their image and prove they can do it all over again.
Going back to your return to Argentina with Isurus, what were the first regional tournaments you played in Brazil like? How well did they go? There were some growing pains early on, but what potential do you see in this team?
The day I arrived in Brazil I landed at 6 AM and we had a match that same night at 10 PM. Of course, our first match was against the best team in the region, BOOM, who have won the last seven tournaments they’ve competed in. We lost 1-2, winning a map in overtime and losing another 14-16, so we could have actually beat the best team in the region on the first day and we got really motivated by it. After that we had some more complicated matches.
We've won some, we've lost some, we made it to the Tribo to Major semis... I’ve been adapting to the communication, the game style, what my teammates want out of the AWPer, and it has been going well. I think we have potential, we just need to keep working and gaining confidence. We've only been together for two months and we can already fight with anyone in our region, we just need to become more consistent and not rely on having a good day.
You had a very exciting hard-fought match against 9z to qualify for the BLAST Showdown. Do you think you're the team to beat in Argentina?
Isurus has been the most consistent team in Argentina over the past few years and we’re the only Argentine team living in Brazil. Are we the team to beat? I don't know. Even though we beat 9z in that match, they could have also won it, so I think we're both the teams to beat. It depends a lot on the day. After that we played them in the FiRe League final and they beat us very convincingly, although we were both already qualified for the regional finals. I don't think either team can say they're the best right now. If you look at the bigger picture and where Isurus is coming from, I'd say we're the best in Argentina, but if you just look at the latest results, 9z could also claim that—we'll have to see how it keeps evolving over time.
Are you preparing for BLAST Showdown in any particular way? You already live together in Brazil, so what's your preparation like?
We've been working just about every day since I moved to Brazil. If we put together every day off we've had during these two months, it may not even add up to six or seven days. We play every week day and then we have some matches and half-days on the weekends, so we really haven't had much downtime. It's kind of like a constant bootcamp atmosphere. We wake up in the morning, work a bit individually and then start our practice. Our routine is similar to that of European teams, but with a bit of a Latin American touch because we play later in the evening. We'll have lunch at noon and then play from 1PM until 9 or 10 PM. In Europe you can start a couple of hours earlier, stop to have lunch, and then continue playing. It's pretty similar and we're going to keep that same rhythm.
Are you going to have a few extra days in Europe before the event to prepare?
We’re playing from Heretics' gaming house in Madrid, although we won't have as many days to prepare there as we would like to. The best practice is in Europe, where not only do the best teams play, but also where there's a larger field of teams. If you can't play against the top tier teams you can still play against the second line of teams, who are almost as good. It's also great to be able to practice any day at any time, there's always a team available.
We don't have that many teams to practice against in our region, we're not that many, and if you're playing an event you don't want to practice against possible rivals, so you're even more limited. That's a big problem and even though it's getting better, there still aren't enough teams to practice against, so you start to play the same teams over and over, which becomes repetitive.
Your opening match at BLAST Showdown will be against FURIA, a team that you said is a reference for the region. What are your expectations going into that match?
It's going to be a hard match, but it would be the same playing any other team in the tournament. Some may be a bit more manageable than others, but it would be incredibly hard for us, no matter who we faced at a tournament of this caliber. FURIA has a style that you can play really well against or they can really hurt you.
You can penalize arT for his aggressive plays by waiting for him to jump through smokes and stuff like that or he can totally wreck you on a day that you don't time your plays right. He can single-handedly disarm a whole defense. FURIA has really good players like KSCERATO or yuurih, but arT can completely disarm a team's structure.
You only have one shot at BLAST Showdown. How do you feel about traveling all the way to Europe for a single-elimination bracket?
Personally, I think it's a bummer. Such an important tournament having a single-elimination bracket... Yeah, I understand that for European teams it's like a last chance qualifier because they already had their qualifier, but for us, we didn't have the chance to play the first stage. It can go well or it can go poorly, but we don't have a way to measure ourselves against more than a single team in the case that we don't do well in our first match. So yeah, single-elimination is a bummer, but we understand it is what it is and we have to be thankful for the possibility to compete in this tournament. We'll do our best to at least get to play more than one team.