Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Cloud9’s Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert at IEM Oakland to talk about C9’s recent form, winning ESL Pro League and why teams make quick roster changes.
Vince Nairn: The results obviously didn’t go the way you had hoped this week, though you had a tough group. What were you hoping to get out of this event as you continue to try to push forward?
Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert: It’s a best-of-one round robin. We had our chances to win. We just know that we might need to get a couple new pistol round ideas. Because if you look at FaZe Clan, our first match, we actually won more gun rounds than them but lost in overtime. Against NiP, I think it was about the same in gun rounds. So we just have to tidy up those small things, not over-analyze what happened here. Maybe we can look at the SK game. That’s the only one where we really felt we got outplayed for sure. The NiP and FaZe games, though, we gotta take them with a grain of salt. Not over-analyze it, come up with maybe a strat here and there, but other than that just try to be ready to play in Sweden next week.
VN: You guys have had a lot of flux this year. What has it been like just adding players, changing things around and trying to see what works?
JG: Navigating roster changes and creating chemistry can take time. I’m really proud of the team getting the first international title for North America with such short time with autimatic. It was a big win for us. He’s brought a lot of firepower to the team and a lot of confidence across the board for everyone to play their game and focus on themselves rather than feel like they need to help someone else. So that’s really important, and we’re just trying to keep at it.
VN: What was your emotional reaction when you guys won ESL Pro League a couple weeks ago?
JG: I was tearing up for sure a bit. It was kind of epic, and the difference between winning and losing is so close. I’ve been on the receiving end of the second places for a long time now, so getting over that hump was very big.
VN: Especially for you guys, to win that tournament and get into the top (six) of HLTV’s rankings, I think. Everybody talks about NA vs. EU. Is it good to be able to be a part of North American team that is finally rising up to the rest of the world?
JG: From a fan perspective for us, I guess it’s cool because they always think these people are just like gods compared to us. And I know individually as skill, it’s not the case. It’s really about the team play and the team work. That’s equally as involved in pride as the other topic. For us, to get that win in front of the Brazil crowd, first of all, is epic. And to be in the top (six) of the world, that’s our goal for sure, so that also is nice. But we’ve gotta find that motivation every event. Its tough to stay on top of CS.
VN: What do you think about the landscape of the game in general right now? I feel like a lot has happened in a short amount of time this year.
JG: I think the game is in a place where we’re trying to create sustainability. We’re getting paid pretty well and it’s awesome, and I think the thing is with all these leagues, we gotta be careful burning ourselves out. It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to competing more and to keep going in the scene.
VN: The debate about over-saturation has been going on for a bit now. One thing I don’t think people have mentioned is what actually happens to you as players in this scenario. What are the effects on you of playing a lot, and how you try to counteract them?
JG: Well outside getting burned out, even for the new players when you’re playing this much, you don’t have a chance to take a breather and gather yourself and learn new strategy, or just apply new strategies, you know? Even if you can make up a strategy in a hotel room, it doesn’t mean you have time to practice it and put it into the scrimmages. Really, it makes it harder to keep the team fresh, and as a result, sometimes changes are made to teams because they’re playing so much and frustration builds up, and they don’t have time to take a step back. It’s sometimes easiest to just remove the player with the worst stats, which is really toxic. Sometimes that’s more on the team than the schedule, but I don’t think that helps.
VN: Does pressure play into that at all? The idea of making the quick fix by replacing the person with the worst stats?
JG: Not necessarily pressure that adds to it. I think it’s just more — all these tournaments that are offered, and they all have great competition and prize pots, and we just want to play in them, and we want to do well. Especially when you’re not one of the top three teams in the world, you want to take every chance you can get to get there. But I think sometimes it’s important to — it’s like in a fight. You can’t always be swinging, you know? Sometimes you gotta step back. I think in this sense, I think it’s important to take a step back from playing and re-evaluate your strategy, and so that’s why I think it’s helpful to have planned breaks.
VN: Major qualifiers is something else that’s come up lately, and something like six of the top 10 teams in the world have to go through the qualifier to get to the Major. What is your reaction to that? Any solutions to the rule?
JG: I would say maybe they could lessen it. Maybe the top four teams remain as legends or something. Because generally, anyone in the top 12 can beat each other right now. And sometimes you catch teams ranked even (worse) than that beating teams. Immortals isn’t even in the top whatever right now (Editor’s note: Immortals went from unranked to 13th in HLTV’s rankings released Monday). Sometimes rosters change and they bring in a really solid player, and it strengthens the team a lot. Maybe lessening the amount of legends teams would help.
VN: Has the amount of time in between Majors exacerbated that problem?
JG: That even adds to that because with all the changes in the scene, the same teams that are top eight might not even be there anymore. So yeah, it made more sense early on because there were majors every two, three months. So I definitely think we need to revisit that rule.
VN: Does the unpredictability of games right now make it more fun as a player? As you said, anybody in the top 12 can beat anyone. Is that more fun than being in an era where one tea, is significantly better than everyone else?
JG: It is what it is, I guess. If people are dominating, then they’re dominating. I think it’s exciting that we have this much competition because I think it represents in a larger scale there’s more people trying to play the game and be good. I always like that. Keeps it fresh.
Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack