Slingshot’s Stephen Chiu caught up with SK Gaming’s Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo during IEM Oakland over the weekend to talk about caster criticisms, starting Games Academy and SK’s form.
Stephen Chiu: I’ll start with the lame question, which other people probably want to hear. Has your opinion changed after reading about all of the arguments from both sides about the caster/player criticism argument?
Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo: No, the thing is I was never against criticism itself. I think that’s perfectly normal. The thing is some people take it too far and they don’t give proper respect. They just say SmithZz is trash instead of saying he isn’t playing at his old level.
SC: Back when you were qualifying for MLG Aspen X, you beat a Brazilian team to qualify. That team had TACO/coldzera. Did you see something back then that made you think you want these two people on your team or that they were people worth looking out for?
GT: To be honest, no. We didn’t think anyone in the Brazilian scene was good enough back then. In TACO’s case, we knew he was a hard worker, but we weren’t impressed until after he had started to play in Games Academy. In Coldzera’s case, we had no idea until we started playing with him. It was very lucky, as he is a once in a life sort of player.
SC: So let’s talk about the other top teams in the world: Na`Vi, VP and Dignitas. As an outsider we see Na`Vi has all of this crazy firepower, but structurally they aren’t working. It seems like they’re using their old style too much, going too slow and it’s not working out. What do you think could fix this team?
GT: That could be the case. Maybe they should play faster. The problem was they were already a great team with zeus filling roles. Once s1mple came in, the roles change and none of it is working. They need to rebuild the entire team identity.
SC: VP is the best team right now and Pasha seemed confident about having a mental edge again SK. From my perspective the key element is they’ve started winning nuke. What do you think it is?
GT: Yes, nuke is part of it. But we’ve still been playing them close and could have 2-0’d them, but we made some mistakes that let them back into the game. For my part, I made a mistake in a key round in a 3-v-2 that made us lose the round and the game. I don’t think it’s that bad as the score is 2-2. They should remember the Majors more where we’ve beaten them the last two times. So we’ll see in the next rematch.
SC: Any time or place you want this rematch, or just whenever it happens?
GT: Whenever it happens. We can play them at ELEAGUE finals if we both get there.
SC: Speaking of ELEAGUE, you are faced off against Dignitas. What do you think of this team, as they’re very good and polished?
GT: I think we can beat them as when we faced against them we beat them on cobble. They will likely adjust to that, and as you said they are a good team.
SC: You founded Games Academy in 2012?
SC: Right, 2011. And as far as I know you weren’t an IGL but a primary AWPer. How did you come to this very positional CS: team-oriented and one of the best systems?
GT: I started calling in 2010. It was really hard, as you have to half focus on playing your own game and half focus on what the rest of your team is doing. I made a lot of mistakes and had to work at it. A player needs to be able to play according to their role, for example. Sometimes TACO has the flash, so he needs to throw the flash for other players, as an example.
SC: In the eighth round against G2 I noticed that you switched back coldzera to B and fer to A even though your regular default has them in opposite positions. Was there any reason for this?
GT: We initially changed their positions as their styles for their positions wasn’t right. As for that specific round, we switch players depending on the round or a read and we need a player to counter whatever we think the opponent is planning to do.
SC: When I watch you AWP, you seem to be playing a normal game, but something triggers in your mind that makes you make a play. Or that’’s what it looks like from the outside. Is there some kind of trigger in game that makes you do this?
GT: Sometimes I just take an opportunity when I see it. Most of the time it is because I know all of the basic defaults and watch so much of what other teams play, I have a strong idea of what they’ll do in a round. Because of that, I see small gaps I can abuse and that is what makes me do those plays.
SC: In comparison between you and the best AWPs in the world, I noticed that you and other top awpers hit your shots when you are 10/10 form. The difference between you and other AWPers is when you are playing at a 7/10 or 5/10. The other AWPer will take the same position and miss the shot. You will play in such a way as to surprise the opponent, or make info. Is this the case or am I bullshitting?
GT: Yes, there is something to that. For instance, when you are in top form you can play standard and hit all your shots. But when things aren’t working, you need to realize you have to play for the team. So I take up positions that have easy shots, I make space and I do my job and that game I will let the rest of my teammates win.
Cover photo by Helena Kristiansson/ESL, eslgaming.com