ESEA Premier’s newest organization, Strife, is spearheaded by the trio of Mathieu Jolin, Kevin Lanthier, and Alexandre Clément of Ikarus. Dust2.us had the opportunity to sit down with Mathieu ahead of the organizational debut in ESEA Premier to learn a bit more about the project and its origins.
What is your personal background with esports? Where did it originate?
It started in the days of JustinTV, starting with watching StarCraft II tournaments. I began watching the professional games and was sucked into the esports scene and soon found myself watching GSL at 4AM. The early production value of the Korean scene opened my eyes to the potential future for esports.
With time I began getting interested in Dota 2 and CS:GO, the title that my siblings preferred. I really connected to the scene as a result of players like Jake “Stewie2K” Yip and the opportunity to connect with players streaming FPL and Rank S. It really created a sense of community.
I want to create stability around a roster, give them more time to scrim, build chemistry, etc. I want to utilize our business background with our computer engineering startup and translate the applicable skills into running an esports organization.
You touched on the business side of things, what about CS:GO in particular attracted Strife to the scene when many bigger organizations are shying away?
I think that passion is something that needs to be a central pillar. This is not a vanity project for us, we want to launch a viable brand and it needs to be sustainable. For us this team needs to be about more than trying to land sponsors and attract viewership. We want to focus heavily on community building and work to create narratives. We want to leverage technologies like cryptocurrency and NFTs.
What do you consider to be the top three advantages that you have as a startup compared to some bigger organizations?
We see the vacuum in the North American CS:GO scene when it comes to meaningful content and storylines. People want a team to cheer for, and we subscribe to the view that a rising tide lifts all ships with our entry into the scene. There is a market to take advantage of here and we want to be a part of it. We think that we have a practical structure in the organizational sense from our experience with Ikarus and have technical expertise with computer science and software developers to explore avenues and opportunities that many more established organizations simply lack.
Why ex-Recon 5?
We have followed the core of Dylan “SATURN” Finch, Austin “AAustiN” Urb, and David “J0LZ” Jolin for a long time. We caught wind of the fact that Recon 5 was no longer able to support them and began reaching out to see if they were interested in working with us. We appreciate their hunger, motivation, and willingness to make sacrifices to push for their CS:GO dream. We believe that the difference could be giving them time to gel and allow a narrative to come together.
What are your thoughts on the tactical capabilities of this roster? There’s a number of players that have called at one point in time or another. They have fewer resources than some of their opposition, how do you anticipate that they’ll react to that?
We believe that their experience will allow them to succeed. They’re all tired of the “musical chair” mindset in CS:GO when it comes to roster changes and they want to band together and make a project work more than they want to be individual stars. We were really encouraged to see so many tweets about commitment to a long term project that weren’t scripted in the slightest, we certainly didn’t tell them to make them. Tactically, we have a lot of faith in stamina.
What are your expectations for the squad in their debut against ONET4P and ChocoCheck this week?
We have high expectations, we know that they’ll be ready to compete right away and we have faith in the work that they’re putting in. That said, we know that it’s hard to predict how a new roster will perform early on. I think a more realistic goal is that we expect to find ourselves in the ESEA playoffs this season even if it means ironing out some kinks along the way.
How do you see J0LZ’s loose connection to the match-fixing scandal affecting the marketing of the team?
For us it’s all water under the bridge and we're more interested in the present and future. We know that it was a serious situation and that some people will have their own opinions, but it’ll die down over time. We’re aware of what has happened but we’re not worried about it at all. There is no wrongdoing that we know of on J0LZ’s part.
Where does the name Strife come from?
We started with a word map of things that our team thought were foundational in terms of why the organization existed in the first place. To me at least, Strife is about fighting and struggling to achieve a goal, while making sacrifices along the way. Things may not always be pretty, but we will all work hard to get there. Conveniently, I think it also captures the frustration that currently exists within the North American scene.
Is Strife interested in other esports as well?
We would never rule out the possibility of engaging with other titles. We don’t want to take the shotgun approach and “see what sticks” and rally behind whatever ends up being our most successful team. We want to get after it with everything we have with CS:GO first and worry about expansion later.
Are there any details about the duration of the agreement that Strife has with the new CS:GO roster?
Everyone seems to be in it for the long haul, but at this time nothing is set in stone with regard to duration, just a shared vision.
Strife member Bobby "stamina" Eitrem, Dylan "SATURN" Finch, and Keller "SLIGHT" Nilan all placed well at Fragadelphia 15 recently, with stamina's NA's Finest coming in fourth, and the latter pair's Infinity Gauntlet placing 7th-8th.
Upon the trio returning from LAN, however, the team crashed out of the DreamHack Open September Closed Qualifier after losses to Eros and Mythic. Up next for the team is the IEM Fall North America Closed Qualifier, and their opening matches of ESEA Premier Season 38.