keita: "fnatic wants to win titles, but they are realistic and understand that there is a rebuild phase"

The British coach reflected on rebuilding fnatic after they "hit rock bottom."

fnatic topped their Elisa Masters Espoo group and took down Astralis 2-0 in the semi-finals to become one of the top two teams at the event alongside BIG, whom they will face in the tournament's grand final. Following the match against Astralis, Jamie "⁠keita⁠" Hall spoke to HLTV about how his experience coaching Benjamin "⁠blameF⁠" Bremer contributed to their win over the Danish squad in Finland.

fnatic will focus on their own gameplan ahead of the final

The last time BIG and fnatic played each other was in the IEM Rio Major, where keita's side won, leaving BIG in a do-or-die game against Natus Vincere. This time around will be slightly different, as both sides are fielding stand-ins. In the lead-up to the final, the British coach discussed the addition of Peppe "⁠Peppzor⁠" Borak as a stand-in for the tournament, whether statistics can be used to rate the impact of coaches, and the communication issues fnatic has had as an international roster.

Congratulations on making the final, can you explain how you were able to shut down Astralis, especially on the first map?

I think in general they struggle a lot on their T sides. It's fair to say they have previously, with their last lineups, and at this event it's more understandable. They have got... two stand-ins, I guess you could count it, as they have played a bit with MistR. So they probably haven't really had the time to incorporate all the players properly, and gla1ve maybe isn't fully comfortable calling.

We went in with a lot of confidence knowing that we don't really need to overthink how they play, rather we need to focus on playing our game and how we want to play it because we've seen they have struggled in multiple games versus multiple different teams. So there's no point to look too much into what we need to do, we rather should just play our own game. We did that and I think it worked pretty good.

As a coach how do you prep for a team that has two stand-ins?

For me, in this case, it was quite easy. Obviously, I coached blameF and k0nfig for two years, so I just end up watching every Astralis game naturally because I kind of want to see how they are doing. So I have a really good feeling, at least, on how they play, and how blameF likes to play, especially, and he has quite important positions. In this case, it was quite a vague preparation where we more looked at ourselves, how we are playing and what we could adjust. I gave my thoughts on how I think they play, and how their style is, but we didn't really anti-strat the micro — like trying to nade people, or specifically how players' routines are, more just what their playstyle is and what style we think would work versus it.

You mentioned coaching blameF. As someone who coached him for a long time, would you say he's reaching his full potential on this Astralis lineup?

Yeah, I think previously there have been a lot of role changes for him and I think maybe the best utility of him wasn't made on the T-side, but I think we saw on the CT-side that he was pretty much just killing everyone every single game. So there's no doubt he was playing insane.

On the T-side there might have been a bit of a role clash where he wanted to rather take map control although gla1ve has made a lot of room for him on the CT-side. He probably didn't want to hinder his position for calling and that's probably why blameF had to take a step back. That probably affected blameF. He seemed to adjust well, I just don't think it's probably his happiest position and where they could get the most out of him. Obviously, times have changed, maybe he is super happy in those positions, but I'm not really sure, to be honest with you.

Going back to your team, Peppzor has come in for KRIMZ, how has he done in this lineup?

I think he's done pretty well [laughs], it's quite funny because Freddy [KRIMZ] injured his hand just after the RMR and before the Major. I'm not sure if it's been answered but we actually practiced for three weeks with Peppzor before the Major and we played three single practices with Freddy [KRIMZ].

It looked like there was no way we could play with Freddy, he was like "this is unplayable, I cannot play." So we ended up flying them both out and once we got started Freddy was like "it's actually not too bad, I think I can play out the rest of the tournament." So funnily enough, we actually played more practice with Peppzor and he was at the Major seeing all our anti-strat, being around the team, seeing our after-talks and how we think about the game and stuff like that.

So Peppzor probably had a bit of an outside look and probably thought "it would be nice if I get to play and maybe if I played I did this." I think he's done pretty well, so I'm pretty happy for him.

Are you impressed with how he has handled being on a stage as well?

Yeah, I'm super impressed. The first time he came around, the team was in a bit of a mess, to be honest with you, and it was a hard environment to perform in, but he definitely struggled and the inexperience kind of showed. I think this time around the academy team has improved a lot, they ended up winning the last [WePlay Academy League] season and that sort of experience from that last team and the academy team taking steps forward has shown. He's performing really great and I was actually super confident coming into this game that he would be totally fine, and he was, so yeah, I'm super impressed.

He mentioned in an interview with HLTV that he is ready for more than an academy team now, what do you think a team gains by picking up Peppzor?

He's a super nice person with a great attitude, he's super funny, like our whole team loves him and he's very versatile which is why it might look weird that we always end up with Peppzor as a stand-in. But the reason is that we always submit him because we know he's a guy that can play B-apps on Mirage and he can also play a more versatile role where he has to talk a lot.

The benefit of having a player like Peppe is that he is just easygoing and happy, and he's also very versatile. He's not a guy that needs this and is very specific, he's just really happy to play the game. So overall just a positive person to play with.

So I have a couple of questions about coaching, there has been a conversation about stats to do with coaches. The main one that was discussed recently was "win rate after timeout." Do you have an opinion on that and is that stat that should be used?

I think it's difficult to go by without going into specifics, but of course, I think data should only lead to a conversation and that's a good thing right? There is, for example, and I think people point it out, that a coach might take a pause on a low buy round and call "let's go A," because next round he wants to go B.

There's always that mind game when you take a pause as a coach the other coach is talking at that time so they are talking about what they think you are going to do. So you may layer it the round before or it could be, maybe a player takes a pause and it's not actually the coach taking the pause.

The coaches don't have to be the people taking pauses. It could be that you are taking pauses while you are winning and you have momentum and it's really easy to win rounds after you take a pause when you are winning and have momentum. Everyone loves to call on the CT-side when you are 5-1 up and you call a random stack and it manages to work every time right?

So I think it's an interesting stat but it needs to have more with it, it can't just be pause percentage to win percentage. In my opinion at least, when I first saw that I was like, "it's cool, but I do this, I do this." it's not going to show the true picture, at least in my opinion. I think it's cool that they are looking into the impact of coaches because in the past it's all been speculation, you could never truly understand the impact a coach had.

Yeah, context is very important. So on your coaching, you coach an international roster, does that have any extra challenges that coaching a team or people from the same region might not?

I think it's pretty difficult for me to answer because being a Brit, there's no UK scene, so I've never really had a proper experience in a British team. It's just more been at the lower levels and every team I've coached has been an international team, so it's completely the norm for me to coach international teams. But I will say at the start of fnatic you felt that Swedish culture, there were a lot of people talking Swedish and it didn't feel like a proper international team like I had previously, in Complexity.

There was a sort of transition period where you really had a feeling that this org and this team had been full Swedish for, I guess, four or five years or however many years it was. You could really feel that transition period. After that, like I said, it's hard for me to really say the differences or the troubles because I've only coached international teams. I can't really look back to when I coached this British team and our communication was so smooth and so flow, and I really see the difficulty.

Of course, I see that we have communication difficulties, the players said it, for example, when Brollan was on the team. He often mentioned the frustration of knowing exactly what he wants in the moment but not being able to properly say it. I've also had problems where in after-talks, players are able to communicate but they are not properly able to express how they feel and what they want in the team.

I think the only difficulties would be the communication thing but I would also say that all the Danish people I've coached, blameF, k0nfig, roeJ, nicoodoz, they all have better English than English people. So I think it depends on the countries and the players and how comfortable they are speaking English.

keita coached Complexity for two years before joining fnatic

You mentioned how integrated fnatic was in the Swedish scene when you came in, was there pressure on you being a part of the rebranding of fnatic?

I'm not really sure if I felt a pressure, it more felt like a fresh start where they sort of hit a rock bottom and they needed a new identity and a new person to come in. I was really up for that challenge because building from the scratch is what I initially did with Complexity. I was the only person left from the original Starladder Major where the whole lineup got revamped, so I was really excited for that opportunity.

I honestly really didn't feel any sort of pressure. They've only been really supportive and helping me with what I want, and what I want from the team. Honestly, I don't think there's been pressure, fnatic is an org that wants to win titles but they are also realistic and understand that there is a rebuild phase and the road to the top isn't direct. They have really given us that time and also given up the real platform that we do need to get to where we want to be.

Andreas Samuelsson is here with you. He's the Team Director, but he knows how to coach and has coached in the past. Has he had an impact on your coaching style at fnatic?

I think for me having Andreas is quite nice and it's pretty similar to when I had Warden in Complexity. They are both more that old school style of coach, where they focus more on the people and the emotion and the connections between people and not focus as much on the game. I'm more someone that's looking at the game and the preparation and our practice, and how I think we are reacting in-game.

For me, it's really nice to bounce between another person which also has a different experience and a different perspective. Not only is he someone that focuses more on the people and the connections in the team and that sort of mental side of things.

It's also nice when sometimes I hit a wall and I'm like, "I don't know what's going on," and I get his approach. He gives me the space to coach how I want but he's also there when I need someone to talk to because he has previously been a head coach. It's really nice to have that person to bounce off I think.

My final question is, how are you going to prep for BIG?

They haven't really played since we knocked them out of the [Major], I don't know if we knocked them out or maybe they played one more game, but there haven't been that many matches since. I haven't actually watched a single game because they were in the other group, but I guess it's more, we have to look at who is AWPing, and who is playing where on the new maps, but in terms of style we have a really good feeling playing against BIG.

We really think we have a good understanding of how BIG like to play and instead of looking at their micro we more have a good understanding of their macro and how they like to move around the map, stylistically, how they like to react, and how they like to play certain situations.

So I don't think we are going to go too deep, we are probably just going to check and see what they have moved around for this event and then do what we've done before, which is focus a lot on ourselves and have a good understanding of the team's overall macro, but not too much the finer details.

United Kingdom Jamie 'keita' Hall
Jamie 'keita' Hall
Sweden Peppe 'Peppzor' Borak
Peppe 'Peppzor' Borak
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Denmark Benjamin 'blameF' Bremer
Benjamin 'blameF' Bremer
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
2 0 today
2022-11-20 16:18
4 replies
Afghanistan sak_dog2
2022-11-20 16:21
3 replies
2022-11-20 16:21
1 reply
Afghanistan sak_dog2
2022-11-20 16:22
2022-11-20 23:03
JW | 
Netherlands whycrycry
ez title today for the boys its only tier2 title but you have to start somewhere
2022-11-20 16:19
3 replies
I dont think they will win with peppzor against BIG^^
2022-11-20 16:36
2 replies
no syrson though i think roej and mezii got this
2022-11-20 16:37
Switzerland Ziwhu
peppzor actually had some pretty good maps this tournament, and big have also a standin
2022-11-20 16:40
i'm Iron Man
2022-11-20 16:20
2022-11-20 16:20
1 reply
2022-11-20 16:21
green | 
Libya tblgk
"On the T-side there might have been a bit of a role clash where he wanted to rather take map control but then gla1ve, although gla1ve has made a lot of room for him on the CT-side." but then gla1ve what? I think you accidentally
2022-11-20 17:01
2 replies
I think you are
2022-11-20 17:01
1 reply
green | 
Libya tblgk
yes, i accidentally a hltv comment on a serious note though, these unproofread texts make me stop reading halfway... like 1 in 4 articles has these, maybe hire a proofreader with all the gambling ad revenue (i do it for free btw just cause i actually read the articles)
2022-11-20 17:08
Georgia Nickk8k_
"They need time" "They are in rebuild phase" more Copium pls. Dudes playing CS for 15 years, they have 10k hr, just sit and play CS ffs, I hate excuses like it's an actually physical sport
2022-11-20 17:04
4 replies
+1 they are solid but wont ever get close to a T1 win
2022-11-20 18:37
3 replies
Username checks out.
2022-11-20 18:50
2 replies
damn you got me :(
2022-11-20 19:33
1 reply
I hope you'll survive the epic burn.
2022-11-20 19:35
United States cybonics
hey they won a title
2022-11-20 19:48
2 replies
Does this event has mvp?
2022-11-20 19:57
1 reply
2022-11-20 19:59
Login or register to add your comment to the discussion.
Now playing
Thumbnail for stream
United Kingdom
Champion of Champions
2714 viewers
Top streams
United Kingdom
Champion of Champions
Champion of Champions
United Kingdom
United States
Jogando Junto
Champion of Champions
the real fer