Walco feels pretty good about his team's chances against Movistar Riders
Ahead of ESL Pro League Season 15 Conference, Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore had the chance to sit down with RBG's in-game leader Colby "Walco" Walsh to discuss the team's time in Europe, their preparation for the event, the additions of Jordon "jitter" Ruggiero and Tommy "Axed" Ryan, and the team's expectations for the event among other topics.
To start, how long have you guys been in Europe and how has it been going so far?
We've been in Europe for six days and we've had five days of quality practice. First impressions are very high. I think you can always watch Europeans play and you don't quite fully understand the drastic difference in the level of competition until you play in Europe. They're much more drilled and the average skill of players is higher. It's really cool for us.
Where are you guys set up for the event, is RBG currently bootcamping anywhere?
Right now we're staying at the Kinguin facility in Warsaw, and they're treated us very kindly.
This is the first time any of you guys have traveled abroad for CS:GO, correct?
This is our first time we've traveled to any event outside of Fragadelphia.
You previously mentioned the difference in the level of teams you're practicing against in Europe. Obviously the overall level of teams are higher, but are there any other takeaways from your time playing against them?
I think one of the biggest takeaways is the practice schedule itself. Teams are starting scrims at noon and will prep for hours before, so they really start at nine in the morning. We're starting equally as early in Europe and teams are scrimming six-seven hours a day. The work ethic, the amount teams play, the amount they care, and the quality of scrims is super high in the server. Those things set Europe apart from North America.
One thing that has been said time and time again is that the opportunities for quality practice in North America are limited by the size of our scene and the willingness of our tier one teams to play the lower level teams. Have you had this issue in Europe at all, and what level of teams are you practicing against?
I'll stay fairly anonymous with this, but we haven't had any issues finding teams and we've played top-tier teams and some lower-tier teams. We've gotten all walks of life with top 30 teams and we haven't struggled to find practice.
EPL Season 15 Conference will be your first big LAN event with jitter and Axed on the team since you fielded CLASIA at Fragadelphia 15. Starting with the former, how is jitter bedding into RBG and developing as a player?
I think jitter's bedding into the team has definitely been a process. Early on there some bumps in the road and it was a little shaky. He's playing some new roles and new spots, but he's definitely become way more comfortable. I think he's found his identity on most maps and there's always stuff to work on and we're always improving. In terms of what he brings to the team, he's not shy to bring ideas and what he thinks. He's not scared to voice his opinion and throw his hat into the ring to improve the team.
After deciding CLASIA was no longer going to be a part of the team moving forward, how did the team decide to bring in jitter?
At first we weren't entirely sure; he was kind of a last-minute replacement for CLASIA we felt we needed to make. We scoured the scene and our coach, Axed, actually was the one who threw jitter's name in there. Axed was a big advocate for jitter joining the team and really prove himself at the Premier level and compete.
You mentioned Axed's influence on the team when it came to bringing jitter into the project. What does Axed bring to the table and how does he compare to previous coaches you've worked with?
Axed loves the game and he's super motivated as a coach and when he was a player he was always playing and finding grenades and watching demos. He now does these things for us and he is always bringing new ideas as well. He helps a lot of people individually and he tries to keep our mental game in a good spot. It's definitely his love of the game that sets him apart from most coaches. He's very very very motivated.
Would you say then that he's the emotional core of the squad, or who is most responsible for bringing energy to the team?
We're a fairly quiet and docile team. I think as a team we try and match each other's atmosphere. It's hard to pinpoint a core and we're all fairly even in that sense but if I had to pick a player I'd pick myself actually.
In the leadup to EPL Conference RBG had a chance to play the European ESEA Autumn Cash Cup 5. How did it compare to the NA Cash Cups the team have played in?
The European Cash Cups are just vastly superior in every way. Even the pug mixes are NA Premier level teams even though they're not actually teams. That's just the level of competition in Europe and it shows how good EU Premier teams are compared to NA Premier teams. I think the Cash Cup was really competitive and very fun to play.
Outside of the Cash Cup and EPL Conference will you guys have any more chances to play before heading back to North America?
We're planning on playing an open qualifier I can't remember off the top of my head.
Your opening match of EPL Conference will be against Movistar Riders, how do you think you'll do against them and for the event in general?
I think our expectations are fairly high now after practicing and playing the Cash Cup we're actually really enjoying our time here and we're happy with how we match up against European teams. We find that playing feels a lot more natural here than in North America because there's not as much randomness in Europe. We're able to be a bit more cohesive as a team and the way we plan on playing is going to work more in Europe. We're confident and we're going to be some hard hitters in the event.
Has any particular prep work gone into preparing for Movistar Riders?
The way we prep for Movistar Riders hasn't really changed much; we're basically going to treat it like a high-level Premier match. Honestly just the standard stuff, look at the map pool and any reads we want to do. Just prep as best as we can for them.
EPL Conference sort of exists because of the multiple changes ESL has made in the past year to their leagues and they tie together. In general how do you feel about ESL's changes to the Premier and NA events in general?
Some of the changes are pretty good. The two main things right now that aren't great are the brackets, I'm not sure how Party Astronauts and Extra Salt, number one and number two, end up in the same group that doesn't quite make sense. I also think the groups should be made smaller over time to keep the division as competitive as possible. Premier needs to be treated as a semi-professional division and as of now the caliber is not quite there yet. Slowly but surely the division needs to be more competitive and improved for the betterment of the scene.
So you are in favor of ESL's move to fourteen teams in ESL Challenger?
Fourteen teams is not bad, but I would need to see what teams at the time would make the cut and maybe even cut it down to twelve teams. Talent in North America is pretty scarce because the upper echelon of the tier two North American teams against the tier three teams or even bottom tier two teams the gap is so wide. The change would need to be over an extended time and gather a lot of people's opinions.
When RBG returns to North America and gets back to playing Premier, how do you think you'll do in the remainder of the season?
I think overall we'll do really well, and I think this experience in Europe will translate really well in North America.
To close, I feel like a lot of North American fans may have their eyes on Extra Salt this event but may be prone to overlooking RBG as the second NA team at EPL Conference. What do you have to say to people who are overlooking you guys right now?
Really pay attention to the games. I believe we'll prove how good we can be with a year of practice under our belt. Don't sleep on us and definitely watch out for us to be really good contenders in this event.
RBG will face off against Movistar Riders tomorrow at 2PM EST.