Cloud9 have been practicing hard the past few weeks as they look to defend their Major title
As Cloud9 prepare for the start of the New Legends stage of the FACEIT London Major, where they'll look to defend their title, our very own Michael "Duck" Moriarty had the chance to catch up Martin "STYKO" Styk to talk about the team's mentality, practice, and recent bootcamp as they head into their opening matchup against Vega Squadron.
You're entering this team in an interesting position, as a stand-in, but for the defending champions of the Major. What sort of effect do you think this might have on your ability to play?
At first Cloud9 approached me to stand-in for the Major, and I got really nervous because they won the last edition of the Major, they're reigning champions and they're here to defend the title. But once the Major actually came closer we realized that we're a completely different team with a completely different roster and different style.
Since we brought Golden in as an in-game leader, he's started trying to implement this Swedish style of Counter-Strike into us. So we're all in this kind of learning process where we are trying to get on the same page; what he really means with the calls, and what he should be calling against certain teams. I was nervous at first but it's really fine now.
You were brought on for ESL One Cologne, and I think it's safe to say the performance at the event wasn't what some people would expect from Cloud9. Since then you've built on it and narrowly missed out on a chance to qualify for Chicago. Where do you see your team's performances at the moment?
We, as a team, decided to try to aim for long-term with this lineup. When we got this lineup together we could have gone for short-term, short-sighted achievements where we just run the strats no matter what's happening, no matter what the economy is and we would try to win the games off of the strats.
But what we're actually trying to is to build a game, build a certain style that Golden is trying to implement into us, so it's a very hard process. It's long, we have to practice a lot, we have to get a lot of scrims in and a lot of practice hours, and talk hours, and theorycrafting and everything.
We're not really affected by the bad results at ELEAGUE and IEM Chicago qualifier because this is not why we are here, we are here for the Major and this is our main focus. Obviously the IEM Chicago loss hurts because it's gonna be the LAN closest to Skadoodle and RUSH's place because they live in Iowa and Wisconsin, so it really hurts for them especially because that would be a LAN they could invite friends and family to.
Cologne was kind of all over the place because I was in the team as a last-minute stand-in, and during the event tarik got an offer from MIBR as well. By the end of the event we just had a talk and tarik told us what was going on, and that kinda just ruined the mood and we had to figure out another fifth player for ELEAGUE so we approached Golden.
You've had to essentially rejuvenate and rebrand yourself after getting benched on mousesports and coming into this team. Are you in a comfortable position on Cloud9, or is it a case of "just wait and see"?
I'd say I'm pretty comfortable. I'm definitely playing different roles in the team, they're trying to make me more of a playmaker kind of guy when I'm feeling it. I'm not afraid to use my teammates to my advantage. That's something that I had not been able to do on mousesports where I had been basically just trying to create space for other guys, and right now it's the other way around.
I have had to learn how to play with these advantages, that I can use my teammates, I have to communicate really well what I want from them and how to do it. It's really new for me, I have to learn how to be a playmaker because for the past three years that I've been in the pro scene I've never been in such a role and position, I've always been more of a supportive kind of guy. I'm trying to do my best to get into a new role here.
Your first match at the Major is going to be against Vega Squadron. They're a team that can always pull off a surprise, so how prepared are you to go up against the Russian team?
I remember last time Cloud9 faced Vega Squadron was actually at the ELEAGUE Boston Major in the group stage, and I believe they won 16-4 or something so they have a really good sense of how they play. They're a really aggressive team, but at the same time when things don't go their way they seem to crumble so it's really easy to play if you have a strong start.
That's what we are focusing on right now, we're going to create a gameplan that they are probably not ready for, and even if they're ready, if we are playing well we should be able to beat them, no matter what. Personally me, I like playing against them, I like facing CIS teams. We've been practicing CIS teams as well to kind of see what the playstyle is and how to adapt to them, and we were playing in practice really well against this playstyle. I think we're ready, but obviously best-of-one anything can happen, they can surprise us in the veto, we can mess up the veto, you never know.
What are your general goals for this Major? To get to the playoffs, to win, or is it just to represent yourselves well as a team?
I'm not gonna sugarcoat it or anything but winning the tournament in this kind of circumstance would be a miracle, and everyone on the team knows it. Not even everyone on the team, everyone in the community knows it. I'm not saying it's impossible, but at the same time we have to set real goals. We never really talked about it as a team, what the real goal is, but I would say the first goal would be not to get 0-3'd and go back to the Minors.
The second goal would be, and this is probably the main goal, to get to the top 8 which secures us a line to the next Major as well. Once we hit the playoffs it's gonna be off of the draw, we can get a really good draw and get into the semifinals, and then probably in the finals. We really have to shape out our map pool as well because that's the issue we've been working on because of new players, short amount of time to practice. We're trying our best to work on that.
You spent the past week or so in Copenhagen bootcamping at the RFRSH facilities alongside MIBR and FaZe, what's that been like, bootcamping alongside two other teams in the venue?
We did practice each other, but we have been practicing other teams as well. The level of practice was incomparable compared to what we had in America. We had been bootcamping in LA two weeks prior to the bootcamp in Denmark, and in the US, honestly we were playing terribly. We didn't really play off of each other, there was no teamplay, we played just terrible Counter-Strike.
We came into Denmark like "we need to change something." Once we started playing here against actual teams that we will face in the Major, they are good teams, top 20 teams in the world, we started playing well. I guess we were more focused, we were just more ready for everything. We just know how to play against these kind of teams whereas in America we had trouble beating basically anyone, we were losing every practice.
I'm glad that it turned this way, that we found our game here in Europe, and this is just what we needed prior to the Major and I hope that we can trace the good practice results from the bootcamp into the actual tournament here.
The FACEIT London Major New Legends stage is set to kick off at 5 AM EDT on Wednesday with G2 taking on HellRaisers in the opening matchup. Cloud9 are slated to playing in the final match of the day as they take on Vega Squadron with a tentative start time of 3:30 PM EDT.