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JoJo: "MDL has been a death trap for everybody's career"
Dust2.us had to sit down with JoJo to discuss his career thus far, and recent events relevant to the NA CS:GO ecosystem.
Written by: Mnmzzz    October 15th 2020 3:27 pm    #JoJo #ESEAMDLS35 #viz #ThirdImpact #tconnors #DaneJoris #Incognito #Switchy #VALORANT #f1ukie #Koalanoob #ERIC #ESIC #ESEAAS34 #sterling #FrostayK #micro #Axed #agM  

Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore had the chance to sit down with Josiah "JoJo" Jimenez for an extended interview on September 29th, 2020 following his move to Incognito to Third Impact. They discussed his time with Third Impact, JoJo's decision to move to Incognito, the state of the MDL, the rise of VALORANT, and the upcoming ESIC MDL matchfixing report. Note that this interview was recorded prior to JoJo being cut from Incognito.

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Prior to the start of ESEA MDL Season 35, Third Impact parted ways with viz, how did you feel about the move at the time?

It wasn't us removing him, he left on his own, we didn't cut him at all. I really liked playing with viz, everyone liked viz.

Can you expand more on why he decided to leave the team at the time?

He said that the biggest reason was that for tconnors and DaneJoris, CS:GO isn't their main priority. They both have full-time jobs and they both have girlfriends they want to spend time with, so we couldn't fully dedicate a ton of hours to scrimming because they can't play later than 10 or 11 PM. Also, with that, we couldn't play qualifiers on the weekend either so that was one of the largest reasons he said he wanted to leave.

With him wanting to take the game more seriously, was that a factor in you reuniting with him on Incognito? 

That's not why I left Third Impact, we were still dedicating time to the game, and DaneJoris was down to dedicate more time, tconnors wasn't and that's why he decided to leave the team. But I do really enjoy playing with viz and think he can go far. And that's my goal right, to keep going and I want to play with someone who will help me improve.

Did you actively try to reunite with viz or was it just luck that he happened to be on Incognito while they were also looking for a new player?

I messaged viz specifically when I saw cxzi was no longer with them. So, basically I just reached out to them and I didn't really reach out to any other teams. viz is a big reason, I just enjoy playing with him.

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Moving into Third Impact's next roster move, can you discuss more about why Switchy decided to leave the team?

I don't really know super in-depth, he joined an organization and is working with them, and then also we were looking to find a different coach as well.

What did he bring to the table as a coach? Obviously his experience is more managerial, but did he help with server work or anything else of note?

He helped me to be more active in games, to ensure that I am looking for picks and always doing something in a round but that's mainly it. He streamed our matches and he wasn't really doing a whole lot mid-match.

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Moving on from there, two roster moves that had a lot of interest from the MDL community at the time and was seen as something of a risk, was the additions of f1ukie and Koalanoob. Can you explain why the team decided to bring on the duo even though they lacked league experience? 

A massive thing was that with VALORANT coming and then it being so late into our search for new players, we didn't have a whole lot of options. I think we had more options that were wanting to try out when we were still in Advanced after we went 0-1 in playoffs in Season 33. We had more options and people interested compared to when we won the division and are now in MDL. So many people switched to VALORANT  because they can see a future in the game - if they switch they're already mostly at the top, while the skill gap between MDL and EPL is so massive, especially now. A lot of players have just lost hope.

So was the addition of the duo "desperate", or what was the overall interest for spots on the team?

We had a few other options, but no one really stood out. [f1ukie and Koalanoob] had really good communication and good attitudes, especially Koalanoob. Koalanoob has really good comms and that's really important. If a player isn't good at comms they're not going to get better at it that much. That's a massive quality, to be good at making mid-round calls, talking, and being proactive, and Koalanoob was very very good at that, even with his little [league] experience. So, that's something that surprised me personally. And I knew he had good aim and was young so I knew he could grow as a player.

As for f1ukie, obviously you parted ways with him after a week. At the time there was some mild controversy regarding how quickly you cut him and whether that was appropriate. Can you discuss what made the team cut him after only a week?

Normally I wouldn't ever shit talk or say anything bad about a former teammate especially if we cut them. That's kinda fucked up. But, because he decided to write a TwitLonger about me I'm going to say what I feel and think. When we were scrimming with him a massive issue was that he wouldn't communicate, speak, or listen. Like you would tell him something and then you wouldn't get a response, he wouldn't hear you. I know DaneJoris was getting especially frustrated with that, trying to call setups and playing the same bomb site with him. Also, he just seemed very lost all the time...

In terms of positioning or against MDL opposition in general?

...Just not having a clue what's going on. We'd have to explain everything. Going from playing with people like tconnors and viz who were some of the smartest teammates I've ever had compared to f1ukie and to a lesser extent Koalanoob was very challenging. Koalanoob especially on a far lesser scale, because I still think he has really good potential. We went from winning the division to spending an hour going over fundamental things. Things I consider basic and so ingrained in me that I don't even feel like I'm thinking about it. Like natural CS:GO fundamentals basically. And I feel like f1ukie was severely lacking in those because of his lack of experience and he didn't seem to be improving on it or learning or listening. The not listening was the biggest thing for me.

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Moving into the regular season, Third Impact played their first two matches with f1ukie against Mythic and Eclipse. Did having him on the team hurt your chances at winning those games?

So for me it’s not that we lost, or even how badly we lost to Eclipse, it's mainly just the fact that if I from day one am trying to explain something to you and drill it into your head that this is how I want you to be doing something, especially if it is basic stuff, we weren't even trying to explain complicated starts at this point. We didn't have any strats, we were still going over the basics and his inability to listen or do the basic stuff got on my nerves.

So shortly after that you replaced f1ukie with ERIC, and he is kind of a similar position in that he doesn't have much league experience. How well has he settled in the team and would you say he has better essentials then your previous additions?

I didn't get to play too much with ERIC but from what I've seen he knows the basics and he seemed to be way more ready. It was pretty good playing with him, he seemed very good individually and he is a solid well-rounded player and everything. He also has more experience, having played with insane in Main a few seasons ago. But yeah, he definitely stopped playing on teams for a little bit, but I feel like he has the basic stuff down and that's really the difference between him and f1ukie. 

Obviously this is also your first season in MDL alongside a number of your former Third Impact teammates. Has the move up to MDL surprised you all in terms of the level of teams you have faced this season so far?

Honestly not really, for me it doesn't feel like that big of a difference. Especially because I have been playing against most of these players for a while in Advanced. I know most of them and we rose through the division together. 

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Compared to prior seasons, Season 35 has seen a lot of new players who are MDL rookies. Do you think that more players making  it into MDL is a good thing, even as some big names have left the division?

I think it is a good thing because obviously these new players want to grind but at the moment MDL is worse now than it was three seasons ago in terms of skills, for example.

In our interview with Cloud9, floppy echoed your sentiment about MDL, saying that this season is the worst one in a long time. Besides there being many new teams, what other factors do you think have hurt MDL?

I'm not entirely sure as it is obviously my first MDL season, but I think a massive thing is that all these veteran players feel stuck especially after ESEA and EPL's changes to qualifying for Pro League. It makes every season feel worthless because they don't feel like move-up seasons. I think that made it really really hard for players to justify the amount of time they are putting in the game relative to the chance they have of making it out MDL.

I feel like floppy would understand that super hard because he had to dedicate three years to being in MDL and not giving up before he got his chance. There are so many players in MDL that are so talented and skilled but just have not been given the chance. Especially now where we are seeing young players who move up from MDL and they are competing at a very high level, Grim, floppy, and oSee for example. All these players have shown they are better than some of the players who have been in playing in Pro League for a long time. I feel like it’s a massive issue with the scene, that for all these players who are so talented there's not enough hope that they can go pro.

Have the ESEA and FPL cups helped with that at all, and what do you and people you talk to think about them overall?

I haven't played many of them to be honest, but I know I like the idea and that there are more tournaments and room for teams in MDL to make more money. It doesn't help everyone equally in MDL, but it helps the top teams like Triumph who keep playing. Though a big problem is that half the teams before the cups didn't care enough and didn't believe they had any chance of making it out of MDL. MDL has been a death trap for everybody's career.

Do you think that explains why Swole Patrol, a very skilled squad, signed up for MDL and then left before playing a single match?

I don't know about them not playing at all, I think [the state of the division] does have something to do with Zellsis and dazzLe switching to VALORANT. I think 100% that they felt like they didn't have a career in CS:GO and that's why they made the decision. I know Zellsis 100% prefers CS:GO over VALORANT, purely when discussing the games he would rather play CS:GO. But, because there's a chance for him to be pro and be really good at VALORANT, he would rather do that obviously and have a career than be stuck in MDL. Even if they played they would've been one of the top teams but even if they win MDL it’s not a guaranteed spot in EPL with the changes to the qualification process.

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Earlier you said that Zellsis is one of a number of players who would rather be playing CS:GO but have made the move to VALORANT. One of your former teammates, agM, made the move in July and is now playing for Complexity. Do you think he would've preferred to stay in CS:GO  if given the chance?

[agM] was planning on retiring before VALORANT even came out. I think he just lost his passion for the game and VALORANT was something new for him after so many years of CS:GO. VALORANT made it fun for him again.

As a young player who has seen a lot of your colleagues in MDL and Advanced find success and large organizations in VALORANT, did you ever consider a move to the game?

I thought about it purely because I wanted to keep playing with agM. I enjoy playing with him as he is one of my better friends and favorite teammates of all time. But I didn't want to switch because I feel like for most people they make the switch because they like the game or they care about making more money, and if I am quitting a game for money I could just get a real job that pays more than a video game. And, it is just not the game I love playing. So overall, the main consideration was playing with agM.

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Switching focus back to CS:GO, with the season still being really early for Incognito, do you think the team is better equipped to make playoffs than Third Impact?

100% I think so. I think that the individuals on this team have more experience and a higher skill ceiling. I think ERIC and Koalanoob are good but they're going to need a season or two to really become great players and I think DaneJoris is great but doesn't commit the time anymore, and I want to play qualifiers and the weekend cups. Also, I think viz is insanely good at the game, he's really smart, and then micro is another strong individual on this team, everyone is pretty strong individually.

Besides micro and viz who you briefly touched on, can you discuss what FrostayK and sterling bring to the team?

I think FrostayK is a pretty solid IGL and he's had quite a bit of IGL experience. I think I can learn from him and he can help me develop as a player. sterling I honestly haven't played that much with, his internet has been out, so we've been scrimming with Axed. I think he's good individually I just don't know him that well.

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Another broad topic that has been on everyone's mind involving MDL is the impending release of the ESIC report on matchfixing in the division. How do you feel about the fact that there are likely matchfixers in the division?

I feel like it was fairly known for a while. I'm just glad they're getting banned. I feel like they shouldn't have a chance to keep playing. It shouldn't be like ESIC's last bans where it  was six months or two months, it should be permanent. At the very least it should be a few years. Yeah, I understand everyone lost hope and decided to move to VALORANT and cash in on all the time they put into CS:GO that they'll never get back. I understand their reasoning, but I don't condone, you have to have morals.

Do you think that is problematic that a large number of players know about the matchfixing going on in the division but almost no one was willing to come forward about it or blow the whistle? 

I honestly don't think I can say much as it is my first season in MDL. I obviously know what is going on, but I don't know anyone who is doing it. Obviously there are people that think they know who are throwing but I don't think anyone has actual evidence and that's why they don't see a point [in coming forward].

Do you think there should be any punishment given to teams currently in the division if they played with a match fixer this season or during the timespan of ESIC's investigation?

I feel that the people who switched to VALORANT  should get banned and dropped from their teams because it is an awful look from a business standpoint, to have a history of doing that. Especially because it was such a recent history. I feel like for the people who moved to VALORANT, they shouldn't be able to just avoid punishment entirely. For the people who are still playing in MDL, I feel like they should be banned and not be allowed to play in MDL ever again, or a few years at least because it is such a bad look for the whole scene.

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What about their teammates? Should players be punished or have their spot taken away even if they claimed to have no knowledge their teammate was a fixer?

That's a really tough decision. I don't get paid enough to think about that. All the matches that they played with the player should either be replayed or overturned because obviously there's going to be suspicion, especially by people on HLTV and stuff who are going to claim that matches were lost because the team threw. Another problem that comes from that is that MDL only has four roster moves a season, and with relegation happening so late last season there were a lot of late roster moves. A lot of teams who could have two or three players banned are going to die because they don't have enough roster moves left.

Do you think that's fair for teams to die that way, or should ESEA be lenient and give more roster moves and some leeway?

I feel like it should come down to the replay vs. overturned decision. If replayed, sure but if they are overturned and you lost the match then it is fair. They should just be shit out of luck.

To close, with the end of the year quickly coming, what are your goals for 2021 as a player?

I want to prove myself as one of the top AWPers in MDL and keep growing as an individual and not plateau. I want to make FPL when it's not dead. Those are basically my goals; I care more about finding growth as a player, but if my team can grow as well that's the fastest way for me to improve but I want to improve as an individual most importantly.

JoJo is currently on the lookout for a new team following his removal from Incognito. His former team are in relegation territory with a 2-6 record in ESEA MDL Season 35.

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#1 iMarbot
2020-10-15 15:29
:'(
#2 bleghfarec
2020-10-15 15:51
moar jeff interviews yes please
#3 parks2214
2020-10-15 17:23
Noice
#4 honeybunch
2020-10-15 18:52
Thanks. Good read
#5 006_tv
4d 13h 11m
He seems like he has a good head on his shoulders, good read!
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