Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Cloud9’s Will “RUSH” Wierzba at ESL One New York to talk about adjusting to his new team, reaching the semifinals of a significant event and hope for the North American region.
Vince Nairn: What are your biggest takeaways from this event? This is your (third) LAN with Cloud9?
Will “RUSH” Wierzba: I think the takeaways are that we still have a lot of things to learn in terms of teamwork and stuff like that. We obviously have the individual skill to beat most of the top teams, and we showed that by beating Na’Vi 2-0. But I think when it comes to FaZe, a team that is also individually skilled like us, we just got dominated. So we just have to make sure to know to improve our game beyond just individual skill because that won’t get you anywhere in the big scheme of things.
VN: In a match like that, is it one of those instances where you’re really disappointed in the outcome? Or on the flip side, they just didn’t miss shots, so how much more could you have really done?
WW: I think it’s a mix of being disappointed that we played like that in front of the home crowd because personally, that always sucks to play that bad at a LAN match in front of a crowd. But the fact that it’s a US crowd, and it’s one of the biggest events of the year in the US, it really hurts. But I guess we kind of really accepted our fate during the match because we were just getting owned. We were sometimes outplaying them and still losing the round because they were just hitting their shots super well. What more could we do than that? We were typing out “what more could we do?” There’s nothing you could do.
VN: What’s it like since joining Cloud9 in general as kind of a change of pace?
WW: It’s obviously really great. I’ve said this interviews before, but to finally have a set five is pretty nice. I didn’t have a set five for a long time in OpTic, and it’s nice to finally have a set five that can grow over time instead of switching a player every month, so that’s good. And the org itself is really good. They sent me all this apparel and a chair within two days of joining, so that’s nice to get all that stuff instantly. The fans are really good, too. I didn’t lose any of the OpTic fans, I don’t think. Sometimes the OpTic fans are harsh when you leave them, but they were actually pretty forgiving of me leaving. So I’m glad I still have their support too. It’s been a pretty smooth transition.
VN: When we talked in Dallas, I just got the sense that the search for a fifth kind of weighed on you mentally. Is there a certain sense of relief being able to finally present that set five?
WW: Yeah it’s an incredible amount of relief when you have a set five because you can actually grow as a team. I think that in CS, the time that you change a player, you’re not getting better at all. That’s when you reset and go back to the drawing board. I guess if you replace one player, and they’re not the IGL, it’s not a huge deal. But if you replace the IGL, it’s a huge deal, and that’s what we were doing. In OpTic, we were replacing the IGL every couple months. So we had to change the whole system. With Cloud9 it’s the same thing, actually. We replaced two players, and now we have Tarik IGLing. So it’s pretty different and we’re starting from scratch. Like you said, now we have a set five, and we’re just growing as a team over and time and getting better and better.
VN: You’ve played with Tarik for about a year now. What have you seen from him in his new role now as the in-game leader?
WW: I see the strong suits about him are that he doesn’t get emotional when things go wrong. He makes sure he always has a positive attitude, even if people are bickering or things like that. He’ll calm us down, and he always has a strat in mind. Stuff like that. Things not many IGLs could do, like when things are going wrong, he’ll always have a level head, which is good.
VN: Again in Dallas, we were talking about different characteristics and why a lot of NA players aren’t IGLs. What was it that kind of triggered the change in Tarik that this was something he wanted to do?
WW: At the end of our tenure on OpTic, there was no other option for IGL, really, so Tarik said “screw it, I’ll do it.” So he just picked it up and actually liked it a decent amount. We did well at ESL One Cologne because of his calling, and he thought he had a knack for it and could get better at it with the help of ImAPet. But we left, and we got to this team. He thought about it, and he’s like “I can do it again with the help of Valens.” So he gave it another shot, and I think it’s going pretty well. I think he’s getting better at it as the days go by.
VN: The talk of “When is NA gonna break through” has been going on for years, but to have two NA teams in the semifinals at an event like this, and to have both of you guys taking maps off really good teams and winning best-of-threes, do you feel like there’s finally the start of a breakthrough that’s sustainable for NA CS?
WW: Yeah, I’d say it’s really good for us to both make semifinals. It would have been nice to both make finals, of course. I don’t think that’s ever happened at a big event. But I’ll take semifinals, and Liquid making the finals is pretty huge by beating Virtus.pro, Astralis and SK. So it’s huge wins for them. I think over time as we get better and as Liquid gets better with Twistzz, we’re both gonna shine as top contenders in the world.
VN: This is the second year that we’ve gone from three Majors to two per year. Which do you prefer?
WW: I think three can be a lot, but obviously I don’t mind because I’m a player. But for a spectator, having three Majors per year could mean they’re not as hype when they come around. Because two per year, that’s every six months. But three per year is every four months, which is kind of short because you have other big tournaments in between. I think I prefer as a spectator the two Majors per year, but I would obviously prefer some sort of International like in Dota 2). Some sort of crowdfunded, Valve-sponsored event they could do, which would be really nice. But they don’t have it yet, so we’ll see if they do it in the future.
VN: What’s the biggest thing you guys have to improve/tinker with/tweak as you continue to gel as a team?
WW: I’d say it’s becoming more of a team than being just reliant on individual skill. Once we get more strategies and more mid-round situations and post-plant situations, things like that we haven’t fully fleshed out yet. When we start working in that more in-depth, you’ll see drastic improvement in us. Because right now, we’re basing a lot of our plays around just brute forcing sites and using our raw individual skill to get through executes. Once we get through that, we’ll be a lot better as a team.
Cover photo by Pierre Yves-Laroche/DreamHack