Cloud9’s month long journey through Europe got off to a pretty poor start with three map losses and a last place finish at DreamHack Summer. But then the team jetted over to London to play in ECS Season 3 and seemed like a new team. Wins over Fnatic and Astralis secured a top four finish, and the team looked quite good. At ESL One Cologne, Cloud9 managed to make the grand final after starting the competition with two losses. Midway through the run, Slingshot’s Mike Stubbs had a chat with Michael “shroud” Grzesiek to find out how this improved run went down.
Mike Stubbs: So we had a nice chat the day before ECS started and you were like, “Yeah, we’re quite confident.” Top four at ECS and you go qualify for the major, and now you’ve made top four here. So how have these last few weeks been for you?
Michael “shroud” Grzesiek: Pretty good, I guess. Honestly we kind of got lucky with our draws to get where we are now. Obviously we went 0-2, but from then going 0-2 we got TyLoo so that was whatever. Then 1-2 we had a chance to get a good team. We did. We got Immortals, that was the best team we probably could have played I think. And then 2-2 we got mousesports. Considering all the other top tier teams that were there, we could have got Fnatic, we could have got SK, we could have got North, we could have got FaZe. And then we got here and we got NiP. I mean NiP’s good, but arguably against everyone else when you compare them, we could have got anyone, then we got NiP. We got a little lucky.
MS: You mentioned the TyLoo game and you kind of destroyed them. How different is it playing against a Chinese team, because I think it was Stan who said nobody knows how they play?
MG: Yeah, you can’t really predict what they’re going to do. They’re kind of just all over the place. You don’t know if they’re going to play standard. You don’t know if they’re going to be aggressive. And when they are aggressive, it’s not really together. They do a lot of individual stuff. Half the things they do could work, if they just were a little more coordinated. Once they figure that stuff out, I think they can be a really powerful team.
MS: Moving onto the Immortals game. You guys and Immortals have quite a long history of playing against each other and it finally seems you guys have kind of got their number. What’s changed in that matchup? Why are you guys suddenly coming out on top all the time?
MG: I don’t know, I guess before when we played Immortals we’d always try to play smart, try to play safe, just wait the clock out. Now we kind of play like gloves off a little bit when we play them, because we know ever since we beat them in the (Americas) Minor, I think it was, that’s when we started playing gloves off there, like we were scrimming. So we kind of incorporate a little of that, scrim a little bit, kind of screw around. That’s it.
MS: So do you kind of have different ways of playing against each team? Obviously, you might like anti-strat someone, but do you have ways that you play against certain teams just generally?
MG: Yeah, well for the most part you can understand if a team’s going to use all their utility early, or if they’re a kind of team that likes to hold on to it until the last moment. And teams like that, that are holding on to it, that’s when you can abuse it and get a little aggressive, find these windows to get aggressive. And if they waste all of it and they keep using it kind of early, then you play really, really slow. So there’s ways to counter it.
MS: Moving on the Mouz match was pretty important and it went to overtime again, so what was going through your mind towards the end?
MG: Honestly, I thought we were going to have another OT, like six or whatever we had against Na’Vi. I thought the same thing was going to happen. I was praying that it didn’t. I think we went into two overtimes, right, 22-20. It was a really close game. We’re not insanely confident on Inferno, so going into that match we tried to do the best we could. We won, but it could have been a lot better. There was a lot of sloppy rounds that we lost that could have changed the whole game.
MS: Moving on again to NiP, who you literally just beat an hour ago. I didn’t get to see too much it because I was in here interviewing everyone else. From your perspective, how did that match go? Were you comfortable throughout?
MG: Yeah, the veto went exactly as planned. Even better, actually, because we weren’t expecting the Cobble. We thought they would avoid Cobble. But then they went to Cobble, and we were like, “Oh, OK, let’s do it, let’s Cobble, whatever.” So that was the only thing, but the other two maps were for Train and Cache. I wish we could’ve just 2-0’d because we lost Cache again against them. They’re showing a really good Cache for now. I don’t know what’s going on. We were prepped for it, and we still lost, so that was rough. We’ve got to work on our Cache definitely. Overall, the whole time we were fully confident. Even after losing Cache, we knew we had Cobble.
MS: I’m not sure if you’ve seen, having just come off stage, but the top two posts on Reddit right now are your 1-v-3 and 1-v-2.
MG: Yeah, like they were almost back-to-back. One was 9-10, really crucial round, and the other one was 10-13 or something. That was a really nice CT side. It was probably the best CT side we’ve had in a long time. I think that’s a clean 11 rounds straight, didn’t lose a single round. I guess those two clutches played a very big factor, but if those two clutches went their way, I still think we would have won, like 16-12, 16-13.
MS: When you find yourself in those positions like 1-v-3, do you change the way you play? Do you think differently, or are you just quite calm?
MG: It depends if you have enough time to think. Usually when you are in a clutch situation like that, you really don’t have that much time to actually think about the whole round. But I had enough time to think and figure out what they were doing. And then it also helps when you do have a lot of time and you press tab and you can sometimes see the players you play against. This didn’t happen in this match, but for example, GeT_RiGhT. When you’re playing the 1-v-1 versus GeT_RiGhT, he’s going to play really, really slow. So you can use that to your advantage. OK, he’s going to take this real slow, so I don’t have to move right now. Stuff like that. That didn’t really happen at my two clutches because they were just like super quick. Yeah, I also kind of got lucky.
MS: Over the last three weeks the three tournaments you’ve been at, it seems like every day you personally come up with some kind of big play. Have you felt different in the way you’ve played over the last three weeks to hit these big plays, or is it just another day at the office for you?
MG: It feels the exact same, honestly. I really haven’t been doing much differently. I guess the one thing I could say I’ve been doing a little differently is getting a little bit more aggressive I guess. I haven’t gotten punished for it yet, but there was a lot of times on Train, for example, when I kind of over aggressed against an AWP, and I won like every time. But that’s just lucky.
MS: You’ve made it to the Major. How confident are you of doing well at the Major?
MG: We had a pretty decent showing here. We had a lot of maps played in the group stage, so that’s good to kind of use it as practise. Before we came here we were just going to use this event as practice because we had no time to practice before. We went straight from PGL to here. What are you going to do? So we just tried new stuff to practice a little bit, see what happens. But after this event we have a whole week, we’re staying here, actually, and we’re using their studio. And we have a whole week where we’re going to boot camp and do whatever we can for the Major.
MS: You’ve been on the road for a while, but have you played any more PUBG recently? How’s that been going?
MG: A little bit, actually. I’ve been doing a little bit of solo games. The new update’s pretty good. I’m getting 20 kills on the regular. So yeah, it’s just chilling.
MS: Wow that’s pretty good! So, are you going to go pro in PUBG when you’re done with CS?
MG: Yeah, maybe. Maybe.
Cover photo by Helena Kristiansson/ESL, illustration by Raphie Rosen