Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Cloud9’s Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert during the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals to talk about his team’s recent performances, switching Jake “Stewie2k” Yip back to in-game leader and casting during the CS Summit.
Vince Nairn: First of all, what were your thoughts from the week? Your (personal) performance was a bit better than it’s been lately, it looked like. What were your major takeaways?
Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert: As a team, we are gonna try a couple things out differently after this. Tim has been calling, which he’s actually been pretty comfortable with in terms of strats, but he felt like it made his play a little more static, and it made in turn the team less impactful. So I think after this event, we’re gonna go back to giving Stewie a shot with that. In terms of personal performance, everyone has been feeling the pressure lately of just needing to show up more. So for myself, I think there’s this common misconception all the time that I just can’t hang anymore, and I think it’s one of those things that I love proving people wrong with. But I think at the same time, I’m someone who has been on a team so long that I know the importance of where roles need to be filled. I pride myself in being able to do what is necessary to make my teammates comfortable. Tim’s one of those players. Stewie’s one of those players. So I think for our team it’s just a matter of finding a play style that’s not too static, that we can be dynamic enough and so the right people are having the right impact. Because if I drop 30 frags every game and we’re losing, it doesn’t mean much. So making sure we have the right people making the impact frags and getting everyone set up.
VN: Specifically for you, that realization of a kind of need to fill a role. What does that mean in terms of any adjustments you need to make to your game?
JG: Well nowadays, if you notice a lot of top teams are doing a lot more default style, SK kind of pairs up. They get one kill and they regroup and they kind of pick teams apart like that. It’s never one set entry fragger. So a lot of times, Taco might open the round up, but if he’s not in position, felps and fer are all over the place, literally winning the rounds. Cold and Taco kind of do their little tag team duo late in the round, and it’s a really strong formula. So for us, its really just empowering everyone, like if it’s Shroud, maybe you won’t make plays 10 rounds in a row, but if you’re sitting in a spot where we’re all passive, you’re aggressive and should take that initiative. For myself, even though I’m kind of a lurker, it’s also using my aggressive talents to get kills. Getting Skadoodle to go in there and get kills. This tournament was kind of a wake up call because it was frustrating. We felt confident versus SK, and we lost both pistols. We felt confident against EnVyUs, almost too confident. Their slow play sort of took us off guard. So it was a frustrating group.
VN: You guys have a quick turnaround with the minor, do you think it will be easy to transition back to Jake being leader?
JG: Well the thing is with Tim, he was always open to us giving him suggestions. Almost too open sometimes because he was still new to shot-calling. No one’s gonna get shot-calling that quick. He actually did a good job, but Stewie was still giving a lot of feedback and I was giving a lot of feedback. Stewie is still playing an active role, so I think for him it’s an easy switch. And if he runs into trouble, it’s not necessarily the strat choice we have problems with. It’s really the mid game. So we have to make sure that stays strong.
VN: For NA teams, so much talk about in-game leaders has taken place lately. What do you think has been so difficult about finding them? And what needs to happen for there to be more?
JG: Part of the issue is it’s a certain type of person where you have to enjoy having that extra bandwidth, that extra load on your mind when you’re playing. People like Tim and Stewie, even myself, we all can call strats and a majority of the time know what a good caller would call, but it’s more than that. It’s being able to improvise at times and being able to stay fresh. And also when you have that load, it’s a lot easier to get frustrated or tilted as a caller. So what a lot of the top callers do is they kind of know how to delegate well and stay even keel. I think in NA, what a lot of people are doing is kind of taking the method of the SKs, where you don’t necessarily need to have a lot of set executes. Have them ready, have a coach help you make those, but rely more on the formula than any one strat.
VN: You said you enjoy proving people wrong. Has the current state of the team and some of your struggles added to your motivation at all in that regard?
JG: Definitely because we’re a team that’s all over Reddit or YouTube or whatever. We don’t necessarily take pride in that. I think it’s just more of a fact that a lot of us have been around for a while. I think for us it’s just showing people that we’re not here just to embrace fandom. We’re also here to win tournaments. It’s reminding people of that, whether it’s from an individual perspective from myself or a team perspective where we always wanna be taken seriously because we know we can beat any team here. The problem is consistency. So bringing that consistency is a goal for us.
VN: What did you think of the Summit? First as an event but also being able to play with Brax?
JG: The event was obviously cool because behind the scenes. They had food for us. I have a feeling they would throw a large party for us at any point if we asked. It was a great event. Playing with Brax was interesting. He obviously didn’t know any of our strats, so there was a downfall there that people might have not seen because he was making sweet plays. It’s cool to see that he still has his skill after this time, and it’d be interesting to see if he had time to get back into the meta, understanding all the recent strats and the meta. It would be pretty awesome because he’s a smart kid, and that was a fun event to try him out in.
VN: What was it like getting on the couch and casting? Because going into the event, you were one of the people I was interested to see on there.
JG: The casting couch as you saw there is kind of troll. I remember when we were doing the match, there was almost a convo about another match with Bardolph and we’re swapping in and out. I’ve always liked doing color and analysis because I think I’ve always had a good understanding of the game. Some people think I’m scatterbrained because I get caught out with nades sometimes in game. A lot of time that’s just a personality thing and the way I play. But casting is really cool because taking a step back and looking at the rounds is fun. Having a chance to do that and kind of entertain people, educate them a little is a blast.
VN: Who’s the most difficult to play against right now?
JG: At the current meta, I don’t know if there’s any one player that stands out. Any of the top players are very aware of you countering them. Coldzera, for instance, he’ll do the same thing every round. But the second he notices the counter coming, he uses that against you. So he does the same thing he always does, but he’ll tell his team “They’re about to drop…” Players like that in general, whether it’s Cold or NiKo or even Stewie. Anytime people are really individually aware, and they can break away from their team, those are the toughest to play against.
VN: What’s one big picture issue in CSGO that you think could be addressed?
JG: Obviously, whether it’s a collective bargaining agreement, or players getting together and having standards. We’ve come a long way since the last two years. ESL had a player meeting this week for us to help improve these things. Having things like defined arbitration for bans and an appeal process for things like that. Just keeping up all the standards of being a pro gamer. Compared to where I came from in 1.6, I can’t even begin to complain. The practice rooms. They order us food whenever we wanted here at ESL. So definitely not complaining from a prima donna sense. But getting player rights. Getting it so that contracts are set properly because right now it seems a lot of the distracting stuff is only between all the deals doing between advertisers, streams, partners. The more we can get that stuff figured out and the more we can get everyone focused on the game, the better.
VN: One of our writers interviewed Jack (Etienne, Cloud9’s CEO) a while ago and he mentioned something about trying to partner with a university in California so C9’s players could go to school if they wanted. What do you think about college education when it comes to being a pro gamer?
JG: I think it’s really cool to try to bridge universities and gaming just so that we can maybe create some better programs for people in the amateur and semi-pro game who maybe wanted to go to college but just couldn’t justify it with becoming pro. So this helps them do both. It’s cool and can potentially create more gamers, which is awesome.
VN: What is your favorite book you’re reading? TV show you’re watching? How do you unwind when you’re not in or around CS?
JG: I’ve been kind of watching TV shows lately. I’ve watched the Marvel stuff like Luke Cage or Daredevil recently. Iron Fist. I play a little bit of golf. I’m a decent golfer. I like hockey. My brother is pretty good, so I played in an adult league with him. I played hockey the other day for fun. Outside of that, just trying to stay focused on the all the CS. I’ve played for a really long time and I actually don’t have a problem with so much CS. It’s just like keeping energy up through all the stuff I do
VN: What do you shoot for nine holes?
JG: For nine holes? Maybe six over.
Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack