SEMPHIS returns as coach of Gaimin Gladiators
The former in-game leader hopes to elevate a less-tenured North American lineup by bringing his experience to the table.
Kory "SEMPHIS" Friesen has joined Gaimin Gladiators as the team's head coach, the organization has announced. His addition to the roster marks a return to activity after he spent nearly a year on the sidelines, last recording an official match on HLTV with SKDC in May 2021 in ESEA Premier and otherwise only sporadically taking part in the lower ESEA leagues.
The 32-year-old is most well-known in CS:GO for stints on Complexity, Cloud9, and TSM in the early years of the game, notably managing a top-four finish at the first CS:GO Major, DreamHack Winter 2013, as well as a playoff appearance at the second Major, EMS One Katowice 2014.
During his years as an active player, SEMPHIS played alongside a handful of notable upcoming talents, including Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken and former Misfits and Rogue member Hunter "SicK" Mims. His pro career came to an end after he was benched from Envy just one month into his time on the team, and he has only had brief stints on ESEA Premier lineups since, mostly being inactive in the scene.
Gaimin Gladiators most notably features David "cynic" Polster, who unceremoniously departed Party Astronauts in February after the team's bootcamp was cancelled, as well as former ChocoCheck trio Carson "nosraC" O'Reilly, Jeorge "jeorgesnorts" Endicott, and Dominick "JazzPimp" Dimpfel.
"I wasn't exactly sure what direction I wanted to go," SEMPHIS said when contacted by HLTV.org about his decision to join the ESL Challenger League team. "Shortly after being removed from Envy I was diagnosed with keratoconus [an eye disease that results in a loss of vision], which took me out of the scene for a little over a year. When I came back I had to be realistic and accept with my age and the fact I need to use a hard RGP contact to see properly, playing just isn't in the cards anymore."
As the contact is uncomfortable to wear for lengthy periods, practicing actively as a player on a team was out of the question. Instead, coaching is the direction the Canadian is looking toward as he now looks to help further the development of less experienced talent in North America.
"My goal for the team is slow and steady improvements," SEMPHIS went on to explain. "When working with younger, less experienced players, people have to be realistic and realize we won't become the best team in the world in a month.
"I want to implement a proper practice schedule and ensure we are working hard to improve the right way even if in the short term that makes us worse, going into practice with a goal of what we want to work on and improve instead of trying to win the scrim for example, not getting upset over losses and realizing they're important learning opportunities that are actually beneficial for growth.
"I look at teams like Gambit and we all saw where they came from, they worked hard and put in the effort and I see no reason any of the players reading this aspiring to become pro can't achieve similar results with the right work ethic."
SEMPHIS' new team is currently competing in ESL Challenger League Season 40, where they are in contention to make the playoffs as they reside in third place in Group B.
Gaimin Gladiators now have:
Kory "SEMPHIS" Friesen (coach)