Following a dismal end to the ESEA MDL season for Russian Canadians, which saw them forfeit both of their playoff matches to end their run in 7-8th place, Dust2.us' Danish "Nohte" Allana caught up with the team's most recent addition, Dylan "Saturn" Finch, to get his thoughts on the situation.
The 18-year-old rifler explained how he was brought on to the team with the expectation of practicing multiple times a week, only to find himself in a PUG environment after two of the team's players lost motivation to play and decided not to practice. He also discussed the end of the season, when Ian "battery" Yates and Alex "vek" Voynov failed to show up for the team's playoff matches without any notice, and spoke about his plans moving forward into the new year.
How's your post-season been going so far?
After we finished out the season, I talked with J0LZ asking what he wants to do for the future for our roster. I'm unsure of what he wants to do right now, I know he's been playing VALORANT, and AAustiN regardless wouldn't be able to practice next season, so we'd have to look at getting a whole new roster, trying out an AWP, an IGL, etcetera. I've gotten a couple of offers from other teams, but I really am just waiting on the ESIC report to come out before I decide to join any team or tryout for anybody.
Just touching on your season in that case, can you just go over what happened towards the end of the season from your perspective, for people who might not have read your TwitLonger?
Yeah, of course. I joined the team — I think they were 5-6 at that point — and I was told we were going to practice every day of the week for seven hours, at least, and I was really excited about that. It would be a huge time commitment. I decided to do it, but then a couple of days into this, all of a sudden I heard three people are not going to be playing next season, and the majority of the team just agreed that well, if we're not going to play, then why are we trying? Practice was cut off immediately after that point, so I was devastated. This was my breakout MDL season and I'm not even going to get a chance to practice.
So we were just showing up to the matches, and then we get to the Third Impact match and all of a sudden, we lost that match in triple OT, and after that match one of our teammates just left the roster. I had no idea until the next day that he left the roster, and I only found out from my teammate J0LZ. That was a huge blow, and after that we thought the season was over, but AAustiN stepped in and he told us that he could play the remainder of the matches, it's just going to be really tight and we have to forfeit one or two. We all agreed to that, once again still no practice or anything, but we were thankful that AAustiN could do that.
So we keep playing these matches with AAustiN, and then vek is just not caring at all. vek gave up during the games, he started no-comming. It was like we were throwing the matches almost because nobody was trying, and it just hurt to see the team go from 14-4 MDL playoffs last season to completely dead because nobody cares anymore. vek, like I said, was just running around throwing his life away, and he just gave up. After the matches he would just instantly disconnect from the TeamSpeak and we'd just be like, "oh well, see you guys for the next match," so that was really unfortunate.
Then we got to our final match and vek said he just didn't want to play anymore, he was done because he hated the situation. He made everybody else feel like crap, and I had to convince him to play the final match of the season and playoffs because he didn't want to do it. I messaged him on Steam and I literally bribed him saying I would give him $100 if he would just finish out our matches in playoffs, because we were already guaranteed playoffs at this point. I told him I'd give him $50 to play the two best-of-threes, like it's not that much, and he said, "make it $100 and we got a deal." I agreed to it, I really wanted to play MDL playoffs, so he made a deal, battery agreed to everything, and there are screenshots and proof of all that. We were like, alright, we're playing.
Me, AAustiN, and J0LZ, my teammates, we all showed up to the Rebirth game, the final game before playoffs, and we're just sitting in the server and vek and battery are nowhere to be seen. We messaged both of them again, after they had already agreed and said they were getting on, and they said no, we're not even home, we're not playing the match. They were the only two that communicated with each other, they didn't talk to me, AAustiN, or J0LZ. AAustiN had to reschedule one of his collegiate matches just to show up for that match, so it's really unfortunate that we ended up playing nothing. Then, we got to playoffs, and like I said I made that offer with vek and he never showed up, and battery also just didn't show up for the playoffs. That doesn't happen, teams don't make MDL playoffs and not play.
You mentioned that this was your first season of MDL. You've risen up pretty quickly, you were playing in Open only a couple of seasons ago, you hit Main and made playoffs every season you were there and then made it from Advanced to MDL. For you as a player coming up that quickly through the scene, what was your idea coming into this team in MDL?
I always looked at MDL like it's a prestigious thing, for everybody playing ESEA the goal is MDL. Then I got there, it felt that way for the first day, it was like, "I am here, this is awesome," but then we just quit entirely. It made me realize that this scene, like MDL as a division, isn't actually that big of an increase skill-wise from Advanced, and every season it's just been getting easier and easier for people to move up. It's not that big of a jump, to be honest.
Is there something you can point towards as a reason for that? Because from what I've heard from a couple of players and in-game leaders, you're a really dedicated, motivated, and individually self-sustaining player. Do you think there is a lack of those characteristics in other people in the scene, or is there some sort of specific thing you can point to for that?
I think it's a lack of many teams in these upper divisions consistently practicing and giving it all their effort. I think there's a couple of teams in each division that truly care and are trying to make it, and then the other teams are just playing when they want to. And I feel like the teams who are doing that, which included my team and me, who are just grinding and they want to get to the top, I don't feel like the North American players are putting that much effort into it, compared to the EU scene. If more people put effort into trying to make it to the top, it'd be a lot more competitive.
Do you think that's a salary issue, as in there's not enough money floating around the scene to keep these people invested, or is it a combination of that and players just not being motivated in themselves?
I think it's both. The money issue is a big problem in this North American scene. I'm pretty sure the prize pool for MDL is $30,000 for this season, and the first place team gets half, but it is only split between the top four teams. Teams who are getting salaried by these top orgs like Whalers and TeamOne, they're getting a lot more than they win in MDL, and one-third of the time it's not even a Pro League promotion season. It makes it hard for people to be motivated when there's not really a point, they're just playing to play, and you have to be one of the top teams scrimming absolutely every single day to even see $1,000 or $2,000. So yeah, it's hard for people who aren't making money to stay motivated in this game.
Is there something that can be changed, whether it be with the league system, or with the way external tournaments are been handled? Since you've come up pretty quick and only recently, you have a little bit less of a bias in terms of what happens at the top, so I'm just wondering if you have any ideas that might be beneficial.
I like how ESEA introduced Rank S with the money system, but a lot more money needs to be pumped into league instead of focusing on individual play. If they put more money into league, I guarantee you that the skill would continuously rise, but right now it's kind of stagnant. Online events need to add more money, and not focus solely on individual talent picking up a 100 ADR player into FPL and stuff like that.
I wanted to touch a bit more on your rapid rise. You came up through Advanced, so what was that experience like in terms of the players you were with before? What was your general path to MDL?
I had a great team in Advanced. We worked together really well, and I was able to perform with the system that we had in place. Because of my performance we played against Russian Canadians in a qualifier, and I was able to showcase my skills against them, and that's what ultimately made them message me to get picked up. So my Advanced team was a big part in helping me get to where I am right now.
Recently I interviewed Shakezullah for HLTV, and he mentioned your name as a player who had the motivation and drive to actually improve and make it somewhere. Do you find that that is something that is lacking in other players, or why do you think you're one of the few players he mentioned on that list?
I have a lot of time on my hands, and I use my time very efficiently. I don't know why other players have a hard time with it, maybe it's a lack of money like you said earlier or something like that, or the motivation, but I've realized that I feel like I can go really far in this game and I've given it 100%. All of my effort has gone into Counter-Strike and I've made sure I maximize all my time put in, whether it's DMing, watching demos, looking at players and stuff that I can just improve no matter what is is, PUGs, league, scrims, everything.
You mentioned it at the start, but you said that you're waiting for that ESIC report to come out before finding a team. Is there any concrete plan that you have going forward, aside from waiting for that report to come out? Are you thinking of rebuilding your current roster, or are you looking elsewhere right now?
I would love to rebuild the roster with J0LZ, I'm just unsure of his plans right now. I have a couple of tryouts lined up, so either I'll be joining a team or I'll be rebuilding with J0LZ, but I have to find out from him what his decision is in the future.