Shakezullah praised floppy's abilities
Following Singularity's win over Party Astronauts at MDL Global Challenge Season 31, Collin "CarbonDogma" Davis caught up with in-game leader Alan "Shakezullah" Hardman to discuss the team's results at the event so far, the abilities of the players on his team, the state of the North American semi-pro scene and more.
We're gonna go back to yesterday in the FURIA game, on map one you guys were up 4-1 on the T-side, do you think that FURIA figured something out that you were doing that resulted in them coming back into the lead there?
T-side Train is probably the hardest T-side in the game, so going up 4-1 early was really good for us. We had one round where VINI spammed me halls, through the wood, which was an incredible shot from him and obviously he had a terrific game. That kind of messed up our exec and from there broke our economy.
It was a little bit tough to recover from there, we probably misbought a little bit, but we were overall happy we got 6 rounds on T-side Train, which is more than enough. Obviously we won the pistol going into the second half, so we were very comfortable going in, especially with the 4-1 lead early, it just gave us a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence, so six rounds total was terrific for us.
Moving on to Nuke, you guys got a really big 11-4 half on CT, was there anything in particular that helped you guys get so far ahead, or was it just the map?
We watched a lot of their demos, and we were very familiar with their playstyle. we've obviously played a good bit being from North America, so we were just really familiar with all the plays that they were going to do. It was just unfortunate that we couldn't transition that success from the CT-side to the T-side.
Was there anything in particular on T-side that prevented you guys from being able to close it out?
I think nerves got to us a lot on the second half. We were up 14-7 and we lost 16-14, that says it all. We definitely choked that game I'd say, but I'm not going to take anything away from them. They played a terrific game, especially guerri, I'm going to throw a huge shoutout to him, he played terrific as a stand-in.
They are obviously one of the best teams in the world no discredit to that. Again, T-side Nuke is a little bit of a hard one, I think nerves got to us a bit too, but they played well and they brought it back.
For the Spirit game earlier today, you seemed to have control of the game on the CT-side for a little while there, but was it just too hard to recover from the first half that didn't allow you to close out the Spirit game?
We made a lot of mistakes today, we came out flat today and I could kind of see that the energy was low. Especially during that game, it was a really tight game where they were force buying the whole game, we were force buying the whole game, and the economy was being played on both sides pretty much throughout.
I think we lost clutches, like 4 out of five, and we split the pistols. It could've gone either way, but you know, they played well and capitalized on times where we failed or made mistakes.
I'm guessing it's going to be sort of the same thing for Party Astronauts. On the first map though, do you think it was the nerves coming back again to lose the first map there?
This is kind of what I was talking about earlier, I think we were just flat going out, and after we lost the first map we came out here and Atle, the org[anization] owner, as well as myself, we looked at everybody and we were like, "look, we're coming out flat. We're playing terrible right now and it doesn't seem like anybody wants to be here." We really just gave them a good pep talk, we said we need to show up, we need to play our game, because we're better than these teams, and we need to prove it right now.
You could really see that in the second and third map, we were playing with a lot more energy I could tell. It was much cleaner, and again we were losing a bunch of rounds to small stuff, small mistakes, clutches. We were in control of those games, I felt like, the whole time. Obviously we let Nuke slip through too. I'm looking forward to the match vs Spirit, I hope we can bring that same energy that we had in the Party Astronauts series.
Also, were there any sort of mindgames going on with ben1337 there?
Nah, we're just good friends with those guys. Ben used to play with the core three of hydrex, ryann, and oSee, and we're good friends with most of those guys in and out of the server. I'm sure you could hear the screaming across the room, it's just friendly banter, we all love those guys and we're happy to play against them.
Transitioning over to the team itself, obviously oSee is the AWP player, but what kind of player do you think he is, how do you use him within the system?
I like to set up oSee, really let him do what he's comfortable with. The AWP is such a crucial gun, especially when you're playing against lower tier teams, the AWPs can get away with a lot more things where they're not being properly cleared in angles. They can just get a lot of clean shots, so I like him to take positions, especially in post plants, I think he should get the priority in where he gets to choose because he is essentially the most impactful player.
You just need one bullet, they're dead, and somebody else can peek off him, whereas somebody else needs to land a headshot, they might miss a spray, it's much better for him to contact as many key areas as he can.
I try to set him up, we try to play around him alot, and I give him the opportunity - I'll save for his AWP and sacrifice myself so that he can open up rounds for us. I want him to believe in himself and I try to pump him up the whole time, tell him "dude you're a beast", give him the motivation so that he believes in himself.
For hydrex and ryann, they've been in MDL for a longer time. Are they more of the veteran-type guys?
I dunno, we work together as a team. They definitely have that experience from being here before and they've been around and in the scene for a while, but in general we work as a team and I can just tell that they are a step above.
When I joined this team I thought that almost every player on the team was the best player in their role, respectively. Like I think ryann started out as the best entry in MDL, the only really dedicated entry, and he does a terrific job. hydrex is just a super solid player all-around, he can do almost anything. Some rounds he's lurking, regrouping with us to entry, he's just an all-around player and we can rely on him to essentially do anything.
floppy was talking to me before about how you guys set him up a lot and he baits you a little bit...
We should be setting up Ricky. Ricky is without a doubt the best player that I've ever played with, and the stats show for it. I know everybody talks about him as the next one coming up, I don't know if he has a bad rep or something but that dude is amazing, he's a terrific teammate, I'd vouch for him on any level. Dude's going to go far in this game. I love Ricky to death, super skilled, I can't wait to see him continue to grow onward.
As far as strats and tactics go, is it mainly just you, does MAC help out at all?
MAC helps out, we watch demos together sometimes, and he helps me prepare for opponents a lot more. But for the most part I would say that it's my tactics, but if I have questions I'll approach him. They had some strats that I still use from when I first came into the team, but most of it is kinda what I want to call.
I adopted more of a loose style, I used to play with iNTACT and I adopted kind of a heavy, teamwork style, but with these guys I would say they are a little bit better, you can give them a little bit more freedom, so we have that other level to our game where we can be loose and I can also dial it back and say that we need to start playing together or start doing the execs we practiced.
For you in particular, other than when you were coaching F1, this like your second season in MDL. Your rise has been pretty fast, so how does it feel being able to get so high so quick?
It feels good. Ideally, I would've loved to beat FURIA in the Pro League match because everybody talks about MDL being the place where you get trapped, and to make it out of there in two seasons would've been a dream come true.
I play this game, I love it, and I want to go pro, but for me it's just about hard work and knowing that if I just sit there and I work hard, I'm going to keep improving. I'm just going to work harder than the next guy in the division.
Apparently you have some ego speech you're gonna give or something?
I dunno I guess if I was to talk about North America and the players in it, I feel like there's a lot of ego in North America, especially around the scene, and it just kills me inside because... I think people focus too much on being better than the next person in the server, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But it's to the point where they're just egoing each other, and at the end of the day I think they should step back and realize that... you know, even like me as a player, I've made the Minor, I've made MDL LAN, I've played a chance for Pro. Even if I make Pro League, at the end of the day that's an accomplishment and getting better as a player, but I haven't really achieved anything you know, there's somebody winning a Major, there's people making the Major.
In reality, making a Minor is nothing to those players, so you should strive to be that best player. I don't think you should diminish what you do as you come up in the scene, but there's so much of a bigger picture and at the end of the day we should be helping each other get better. There's just a lot of people who attack each other, and we have so far to go.
Do you have any thoughts on the meta at all, anything that needs to be nerfed?
[laughs] Contrary to popular belief, I was a big fan of the AUG meta. I'm not really so much of a fragger, so the AUG did help me in a way, and I understand that there's bias there, but I enjoyed it.
Now you see with the SG it's just super overpowered, and kind of in a way it was like that with the AK., so I kind of liked the CT heavy dominated sides. Obviously now with the SG, it needs a nerf, I don't know why they touched the AUG and not the SG. I was a big fan of the old meta, but if they're gonna take out the AUG then I think that they need to fix the SG and go back to the M4 and AK.
Are you sad that the ex-iNTACT team died in the end there?
Yeah. I really wish those guys had been able to figure out how to come together and succeed, make a run next season, but I dunno. I feel like it was an offer I couldn't refuse, coming over to Singularity, and a little unfortunate that it didn't work out for those guys but I love each and every one of them. I think they're terrific players, kaboose is probably one of the better teammates I've ever had in terms of personality and especially skill.
They all did a great job listening to me and just being phenomenal teammates. Those were the people I came up in the scene with and made my breakthrough to MDL with, so I can't thank them enough for the time that they put in and I hope to see them make it as well.
Singularity were eliminated from MDL Global Challenge Season 31 following this interview, falling 0-2 to Spirit in a decider series. The team will now make their way to Berlin for the StarLadder Major Americas Minor on July 17th, with their opening matchup seeing them face off against Sharks at 5:15 AM EDT.