ShahZaM believes with enough time, he and stanislaw will be able to lead the team to the top of NA

ShahZaM: "It just takes time and hard work and I think that’s what we need right now"

compLexity's ShahZaM spoke with us about the new roster and team's performance.

With the ZOTAC Cup Masters Americas Regional Final starting up soon in Santa Ana, Danish "Nohte" Allana caught up with Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan, who is currently AWPing for compLexity, about the team's new roster, their performance in qualifiers and events, and the upcoming Americas Minor.

You guys formed the current team, qualified for DreamHack Summer, and were invited to DreamHack Austin. At both events, your results were sort of lackluster, but online you guys played really well. Can you tell me about the transition from online to LAN with the team? Was it because the team was new and you guys weren’t adjusted to playing on LAN yet?

I don’t think it was adjusting to LAN or inexperience with LAN at all, I think it was just the fact that the team is new and we’re playing better teams that took advantage of that. We qualified for DreamHack Summer on literally the first day of the roster playing together and we hadn’t even scrimmed or practiced or anything so we kinda went in figuring out spots. In the qualifier, I think we kinda just played well and left out qualifying.

Being invited to Austin was really cool but it was still way too early for the team to really get anything done or grounded. I felt like we were a little more prepared at Summer and we were in a position to beat Gambit, like we kinda demolished Renegades and we’re definitely in a better position to play, but I guess we came a little short. I think coming now into this event, we’ve had a lot of time playing and practicing and preparing and this is where we have to really solidify ourselves as a team. It would be a disappointment to not come up on top here.

In Austin, you lost 2-0 to OpTic in the decider. So how was that, because you and Stan just came off of OpTic. Is there a little bit of rivalry going on there?

As much as I say it doesn’t affect me, there is still a little bit of a rivalry. I definitely look forward to playing them again and just getting some sort of revenge. But, I mean I want to win versus them just as any other team.

On this roster, since you and Stan joined, you’ve really stood out as the standout star AWPer, picking up a lot of the opening kills especially on maps such as Nuke, which became one of the mainstays in your map pool. Is a lot of that you looking for picks or is it because of Stan telling you where to go or are you kind of taking up the initiviate there?

It’s different with Stan; it’s my first time playing with Stan since the previous time we were on OpTic as IGL. I don’t really count this last time on OpTic because things were kinda weird. I spent two years playing with seangares, where everything was really structured and really scripted. I was just following my role, there wasn’t really anything revolved around me getting picks or anything.

It isn’t necessarily that way right now; the team isn’t built around me in any way, but I have a lot more freedom now to take initiative when I want and go places on our multiple defaults and I guess it shows. Definitely enjoying playing this kind of style but it’s still new to me.

You guys are headed to the Americas Minor in two weeks. Are you guys bootcamping on the way there or anything like that, or are you just going straight to the Minor?

After ZOTAC, we’ve got about three days home and actually, by the end of ZOTAC, we’ll have played six and half weeks straight without a single break of CS, which is pretty insane. I’ve played CS for a long time, but I’ve never had such a long running streak of CS with no breaks, but it’s a grind and we have to do it. I’m looking forward to just having some days to reset, like especially these last couple of days have been extremely busy for us. We’ve been playing nonstop Bo3’s literally all day, we haven’t even been able to get time to eat food. Actually, all of us have lost some weight because of it.

But, I think it’ll be really healthy for us to just take a break before we go to the minor—one day, two days—and reset because you know, when you play so much you get kinda stale in your gameplay and it’s really hard to reinvent. But, we’re looking forward to the Minor.

And touching on that then, I was actually looking it up. So, in the last 15 days, you guys have played over 40 maps of CS online. Including LAN, I think you’ve played over 45 or 46 or something like that. What do you think about that in terms of the number of matches you’re playing now versus something like a year ago when you were playing maybe ten matches a month? Do you think it’s become a bit too saturated or do you think it’s good that we’re getting these sort of opportunities to play this number of qualifiers and matches?

There’s both good and bad things about it. It’s been really exhausting for sure, but it’s also some of the best practice we could’ve gotten. That amount of maps doesn’t even include all of the scrims we’ve been playing between that as well. And you know, playing these high quality matches where teams are trying is just so much more valuable than scrims where teams will give up halfway through. Everyone’s putting their whole in these matches, so we can definitely take a lot away from them. Also, we’re in a situation where we’re a team that doesn’t really get invited to events yet... maybe some closed qualifiers, so we really have to take advantage of this and start showing that we’re a team that deserves to be invited to events and start doing stuff out of the events as well. And until then, I’m expecting to play all these qualifiers and really just prove ourselves.

So you’re like NRG, where they were considered online—not that you guys are considered online—but they were considered online because they would only show up in these qualifiers but they’d never make it all the way through and make it to LANs and now they have. So what do you think about NRG and how they’ve blossomed in the last month or so? I think they’ve played four LANs and they’re going to another two or three?

Yeah I think uhm… y’know, sometimes it just takes time and hard work and I think that’s what we need right now. They’ve definitely evolved as a team; they’re playing really well and I expect us to go along with them along the same trajectory. I actually look at us like, if you look at our previous match versus them, we were in a situation to beat them, we had like 13-8 leads on both maps. I think Mirage, which is one of our best running maps, we were up 15-14 and they had like $1,800, so we kinda blew that. And considering all the mistakes we made after I went back and rewatched it and it was that close makes me pretty happy about the way we were playing honestly, because you clean up the small mistakes and we could definitely someone that competes at the top of NA.

Alright, so going back to the Americas Minor, you haven’t been to the Major since ESL One Katowice 2015?

Well, I was at the New Challengers Stage with Misfits.

Right, right. You made it there. But you haven’t made it to the original Major in terms of the New Legends Stage?

No. It’s been a long time.

So, is getting to the Major one of your top goals with compLexity now? Do you think the Major's become less relevant than it used to be or do you think it’s more prestigious than ever?

I think maybe that something’s changed for the average spectator or viewer, but in terms of players, that’s still the end-all for us. The Major is still, y’know, the biggest tournament. It doesn’t matter about the prize money, really. It’s just the prestige that’s involved. And since the last time that I was at a major in Katowice with Cloud9 in 2015…

Actually, I got kinda screwed over the following Minors, like one with Echo Fox. I joined up, I think, after the qualifiers were over and then the next one I joined up with TSM and they weren’t allowed to use the new roster there. And the next one, Misfits, I got benched by our coach at the time right before, like two days before.

And so, finally playing the Minor after that with Misfits and making it to the New Challengers Stage and getting signatures and stickers felt really good because I felt that I got really unlucky the previous Minors like, previous major qualification, in so long and every time I have to wait until the next time until I get my chance. Now, I’m really looking forward to going to London and I fully believe we can do it; not just in the New Challengers Stage, but beyond that. It’d be really cool to get some compLexity stickers in CS:GO again.

And then, lastly, on the Minor qualifier itself, they used the best-of-three Swiss System, but there were only six spots that got awarded to go through. What do you think of that format, because I know there were a bunch of people that had a bit of an issue?

I saw some drama revolving that and honestly, I didn’t even know. It was kinda lucky that we went 3-0 and just qualified because I didn’t even know that was the case and I think that’s not the way it should be. Teams get different matchups and if it comes down to round difference or map wins, that’s unfair because some teams might have gotten matched up against better teams while some teams might’ve played far easier opponents. If they’re going to do a swiss system, they need to make it in a way that it’s not decided by map or round difference. It should just be the match record or head-to-head or something. Like, I’m not a tournament organizer, but they should have done it differently.  

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