neptune and J Money Crew emerged victorious from Fragadelphia 13 with a win over New Identity
During Fragadelphia 13, Dust2.us' Danish "Nohte" Allana got the opportunity to chat with Jason "neptune" Tran about his time on Ghost, some of his former teammates, how he's adjusting to his new team of Swole Patrol, and a handful of other topics.
Let's start with the end of your time in Ghost. Can you tell me a bit about the lineup being dissolved and whether you guys were given a heads up by the organization of them releasing the team?
Yeah, it was basically just over a long time of being with Ghost for like two years or so now, and it's kind of understandable with us being in the Pro League for so long and then they just didn't have the resources. Well, they had the resources, but they didn't want to keep going with us and we understood, we had the heads up from them that it was coming.
Pro League was also a big part of that and we ended up not making it to the finals, so that was also a big leverage point for us, that would've been better for us when we negotiate, but in the end, it just didn't end up working out. They didn't want to do some stuff and we don't really hate them for it, it was just a parting of ways. They provided a lot of stuff for me. I ended graduating school a couple of months ago and ended up getting my diploma and I've been with them for a while now, so all love for them.
So you guys got released but WARDELL's still sort of stuck there due to his three year contract, what are your thoughts on that? There's been a lot of contract talk recently about signing five-years and three-years, so what're your thoughts on that sort of deal?
I think, for me, unless it was a really solid team and I know that we're going to stay as a core for a while and we're really strong, something like an Astralis, then that's when I would sign for a while. It would also have to have maybe even a shareholder part in it kind of like Astralis, but I think if you're an upcoming player and you're looking to be at the top and you start getting those offers from the pro teams that aren't the best but it's your spot to go and come up then you probably don't want to sign for too long since you might get stuck and they have the option to do whatever they want, even if it's unfair. All the players should just look over their contracts and make sure they're not getting trapped, make sure it's fair for them and have a lawyer look over it. Be careful and make sure you don't trap yourself and end your career.
Let's talk a bit about steel, what were your thoughts on him as an in-game leader? Do you feel like you learned from him, was it a valuable experience?
I think it was a really valuable experience. I think right now he's one of the most solid players in NA in the game. Sometimes his attitude might not be the best, sometimes our other attitudes could clash with him because he talks about his ideas and is open to change and arguments. That's just who he is and we can't change that.
Other than that, he's taught me so much, and he was always open to telling me stuff, even if I felt it was wrong. He'd be like "well, that was wrong, but here's what you should be doing, how you can do it, what you need to do to practice it." Basically, when I joined Ghost that was what I was looking to do since I've watched him for such a long time and I used to look up to iBUYPOWER and stuff like that, so I knew this was my time to learn as much as I can and eventually I came out ten times smarter than before I joined, at a completely different level than what I am right now.
I was better overall at teamwork and knowing when to play aggressive and when not to, knowing certain calls, and he taught me a lot and I will always respect him for that, even if our ideas didn't always go out the same, if we didn't mesh right together, but whenever we were playing the game we were always trying to win and we had the same goal so I can always respect him for that.
There are rumors of him heading to this Chaos lineup with Infinite, hydrex, Shakezullah, and an unknown fifth. Based on your experience with steel, do you think that if he had the opportunity on other ESL Pro League teams that they would be able to elevate their level more or him being unable to play in certain teams is extremely detrimental?
I think that he's super good, but I think that a lot of people don't like his attitude, and not everyone will always mesh well with each other, and that's just how life works. It's not like he can join a Liquid or an NRG and they'll be ten times better, some people just don't like each other but everyone has skill in the game.
[steel] has skill, and with the Chaos team he can mold them into better players as younger players he can teach, and kind of give them his ideas of things that will make them better, consistent players. I definitely think he's one of the best players in North America so I think he's a good asset to any team, but if you're looking at the top teams then everyone has that skill and knows a lot of the stuff that [steel] knows and their attitudes work better with other players so they're not always going to pick [steel].
Also, the ban is obviously a huge part from him, but it's still nice to see such a veteran player playing in these teams and still going hard, still fragging, doing grimey plays and that's where he shines best, where he plays kind of like a gla1ve playstyle, like a ratty type of player who plays really smart but knows when to make plays.
So after Ghost, you briefly joined Peeker's Advantage, and I think you were only there fo a few weeks. What led to you joining that team and how come you were on it for such a short period of time?
So basically, I wanted to have fun with [Oderus], [Oderus] is one of my best friends. I played with him in Ghost Academy in one MDL season and we just kind of hit it off. Our minds are kind of alike, he has a cool personality, he likes to learn, and when he's playing around people who he believes in he plays much better and wants to put the practice in. What I knew was that I had got all this experience from Ghost and I was thinking, "what am I really going to do, I want to play some games, some matches", and I was hoping to play some MDL matches, but then Lazarus ended up getting me towards my end of the time and I was like, "okay, well, I'm gonna let them know" so I don't scum these guys and hide it.
Really I was just playing to kind of help them restructure how they play when they make mistakes and just have fun. Like ULTRA could be really good; he has insane aim, but there are just some things that he has to work on and I think that I kind of wanted to help, give new ideas, and lighten up the mood to bring some light back into the team and motivate everyone to play.
I know me leaving probably kind of sucks, but we did a lot of practice over that time and things kept getting better over time. I actually thought we could be pretty good in the league, but I ended up getting the offer last week, ended up playing with them, and I thought this was the best decision for me right now, but it was super fun playing with them. They taught me a lot and I wanted to help them a lot, so I think it was a very great experience for them too.
You mentioned ULTRA, and from speaking to a few different players there's a lot of talk about ULTRA, especially in FPL and Rank S, a lot of people say he's pretty skilled, so what're your thoughts about him as a player?
Yeah, people say he cheats and stuff. I don't think he's that young, he's like twenty or twenty-one, but he hasn't played much and I think that he has the mechanical skill, he puts in the hours, and all that he really needs to work on is everything outside of that, like a more in-depth idea of the game or more game theory and he can be really good.
He can be a top player, but anyone can be a top player if they fix the things that they need to fix, but he has an open mind and, whenever I talked to him at least, he was open to learning whatever I wanted to show, he wouldn't get mad, and he would take the criticism really well and that's why I think he can be really good. As long as he doesn't get into any bullshit drama or anything like that and just keeps progressing as a player then he can be really good.
You sort of touched on it there, but you joined Swole Patrol about a week ago, so what're your thoughts on that roster and how do you feel you're fitting into the team so far?
I think the chemistry we have is really good. Obviously, we came in and didn't really have much practice, we just scrimmed a couple of times and took a couple of losses, but I'm not really thinking about it much. I'm gonna watch it over obviously, look at stuff, but we're still adding stuff to our playbook.
Everyone's getting off of a two-week break and getting back into it because they just released a player, so they didn't play for like two weeks, but basically I just joined the team to learn and play. All these guys are young and on this team, we all have to kind of turn into leaders and give ideas, and that's kind of how I like it.
On Ghost, I didn't really have much skill in mid-rounding, so on this type of team, we're more open in mid-rounding. People are on the fly building our skills to be more all-around players, and I think that's the biggest potential I see in us. We could have that type of skill with everybody on this team because everyone's looking for the same thing and everyone's young, no one is really super veteran-y, there's no real hierarchy on this type of team. It's just everyone being down to learn and just play their game.
What do you think of Fragdelphia and the circuit that N3rd Street are running, and is there anything you expect to get out of this event?
I mean I've been playing since Fragadelphia 5 or 6 almost, and I think that if you're a young player and you're not going to any of these events then you're missing out because the point of these events isn't really to win. When I first went to these things, I was always looking to get better and I was like, "oh, I lost this game, why did I lose?" I was feeling pressured because it's my first LAN, everyone gets nervous, everyone throws, everyone loses those games, and that's just a part of getting better as a player. I think that's just huge for younger players to learn.
Not everyone can qualify for the biggest events, the DreamHacks and the ESLs and such, so this is a stepping stone to that. If you're looking to be a pro player then this is where you start and get inspired to start to keep going ahead. At this event, we're looking to win. New Identity is really good, but we just have to play our game not expecting anything; not expecting to counter-strat them or change our game, but instead playing our game and taking the fight to them.
J Money Crew went on to sweep New Identity in the grand finals of Fragadelphia 13, only conceding a default win to take a 3-1 victory and claim a first place finish on neptune's 17th birthday.