yay is looking to climb back to the top of the scene
Yesterday Joe "tolkienfanatic" Cardali caught up with Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker, who was attending ESL One New York as a spectator. The Swole Patrol player talked about the team's time with Lazarus, his various stand-in adventures, and more.
You're here just as a fan this year, what are your thoughts on the event so far?
So far the event has been really great, I've always really enjoyed ESL events, they've always run really smoothly. There's been massive stadiums and there's a bunch of other stuff you can do, so its been a great experience overall.
I actually hear from players a lot that they hate attending events they aren't playing in, I guess that isn't the case for you?
I would say I absolutely love playing, and for sure I would prefer to be playing right now, but its always good to come to an event once in awhile, even if it is just with friends to watch games. I think it gives you a good appreciation of what you do, when you play so many tournaments, you kind of lose that feeling, in a sense, of what it means to appreciate Counter-Strike and be in the crowd seeing the games. Its just a different perspective.
We're sitting here very close to where you played MSI MGA last year, and it has been a bit of an up and down year for you, personally. What has that entire experience been like?
Yeah, this past year has been one of the most - I don't even know how to describe it - just, one of the most eye-opening experiences, where I've developed the most. Just dealing with different mental issues, obviously being benched by Complexity, working my way back into the scene after taking an extended break. Just figuring out what I want to do, that sort of thing.
I did ask myself the question, after everything that happened with Complexity, if I still wanted to do Counter-Strike. Because obviously I was in a really bad mental state after that, and I posted that TwitLonger, that I'm not sure people have read. After that whole experience I figured out I still want to play Counter-Strike, I reaffirmed my goals, just figured it all out.
After the Complexity benching, you actually got called in to stand-in for them during ESL Pro League. Was that awkward at all?
Yeah, I guess it was a little awkward, for sure. Going back and the team just being like "hey do you want to sub in" and I'm like "yeah sure" *laughs*. I kind of considered it a way to come back and also continue to make a name for myself so I could make my way back into Pro League. I needed all the publicity I could get at that point, because once you're out of the scene for a little bit most teams aren't going to ask if you want to come play and stuff like that. You kind of need to work your way back in, you need to prove yourself still, and that way you can get picked back up. That Complexity opportunity was a good way to showcase what I can do.
You also did some standing-in for INTZ, how was that?
That was a really interesting experience, getting thrown back into a Pro-level team but at the same time, they aren't speaking English at all. It was really weird. It made me understand how important communication is in the game, because once you have none of it you really have to be self-aware, in some sense.
It showed me a different way to play Counter-Strike, and also showed me a different culture and how the teams interact. It was a really great learning experience, because not only did I get to see a different style, a different culture, I would almost describe it with them as a family culture. I just thought how they played CS and their overall passion for it was really incredible.
After that you played with Bad News Bears a bit, linked up with Lazarus, and now you've been released. What happened between the organization and the team?
With the whole Lazarus thing, I think Zellsis posted some memes about the situation. To be honest with you, this is not to bad mouth Lazarus, but going from an organization like Complexity and even being on eUnited for a short period of time, going from that to Lazarus was kind of like "uhhh, guys?" There was a big communication issue which I had to call them out on, we were promised bootcamps, merch, Logitech items, stuff that was in the contract. We would ask them and hear "yeah, we'll get right on that" but they would never get back to you.
So we had to keep hounding them to try to get responses, and in my opinion you should be wanting to help your players improve and get farther in the scene, not expect certain results but then give very little. That was a completely different experience with an organization.
Some of the things rubbed me the wrong way, for example, when we finally did get to the bootcamp, there was a monitor issue. I forget what monitor brand it was, but it was a lower-end brand no one in the pro scene really uses, and there were some major ghosting issues. We told the Lazarus guys that we needed new monitors, we had EPL Relegation coming up and we wanted to be on top of our game, but these monitors were effecting us. They basically copy/pasted a screenshot of the specs for the monitors we had in comparison to the BenQs we wanted and were like "there is no difference." *laughs* So it was just like... we do this for a living, everyone on the team can tell, this isn't some placebo effect, it isn't a brand thing, there is a substantial difference.
Towards the end, they started wanting to cut our salaries, because they thought we got paid too much, I think they spoke to a different org who told them a lower number that wasn't actually true. So they wanted to pay us less and then also go all in on Fortnite, because they had some good results. So it was either take a pay cut or get dropped, and the whole team kind of said we would try to go with another option, find an organization that really wants to invest, with coaching staff, bootcamps, things that help us improve as a team and go farther.
Speaking of staff, can you talk about how fRoD helps you guys?
So, I think this is really valuable, the more I think about it, we're all, myself included, really inexperienced. We have a lot of mechanical skill and overall skill in our lineup, but what fRoD brings is the experience and the sense of how to win, he's been a winner. He has been very successful during his career, and he knows what a winning team looks like, how it functions, the environment, how people interact, that sort of thing. So he brings that to the table and he basically helps sort out arguments, figures our how we approach defaulting, so many other issues that may arise in a team. He brings that structure and leadership aspect that I think any young team needs. That has really helped us a lot, because he is someone we all trust and really brings us valuable insight.
Recently you guys forfeit the ECS Season 8 Challenger Cup, presumably because swag was unable to participate. Is that frustrating?
I wouldn't say it is too frustrating, just because we all think that swag brings a lot of valuable experience. He's actually transformed his game into being an in-game leader, which fRoD is helping him with, and he's gotten really good at it. Obviously it prevents us from playing some tournaments, but we all look at swag as a member of the family and we want to stick by him.
What do you think of the recent Complexity signings?
I think they are a step in the right direction. blameF is a really good pick-up, probably one of the hottest prospects in the Danish scene and in general. Its impressive what he has done with Heroic.
With RUSH, I would say he is someone who is more of a dedicated entry fragger, he doesn't mind personal sacrifice. I think that could be a really good pick-up for them, especially since they have someone who is willing to do any of the dirty work they want, he is a real sacrificial kind of player.
Overall I think it will be good for them, because they picked up an IGL, which is a really hard role to fill, and someone who is not looking for personal game, just overall results. With those two pieces, as long as you have a solid core, they'll be successful.
The new EPL season will be starting up soon, do you guys have any potential orgs that you'll be representing there?
We're in talks with a few different orgs, but nothing is confirmed yet. I think even if we wanted to represent an org we couldn't right now, because there was a deadline to submit. I think that is just for the groups though, so if we make playoffs then we could represent an org there. As long as we get everything all sorted with that, I think we'll be able to finally announce somebody.
yay and Swole Patrol will next be participating in ESL Pro League Season 10, which is set to start on October 8th.