n0thing: "The bittersweet part is watching people play and wishing I was in those situations"
In the final interview from the ZOTAC Cup Masters, Danish "Nohte" Allana caught up with former Cloud9 member Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert to talk about his recent stand-in appearance for mousesports, life behind the talent desk, the newly-formed CSPPA, and more.
You stood in for mousesports at Belo Horizonte almost exactly a year after your last match on Cloud9, so tell me a bit about that experience, playing in front of a crowd again, and what it was like making it all the way to the grand final.
FIrst of all, just playing in front of the crowd was super fun. I think the kinda unspoken goal of the team was like "make it out of groups", even as a ringer, and so I just wanted to come in and not disrupt the flow and I obviously have a lot of fun competing.
Part of the reason I sat was not because I don't like competing, it was for y'know, other reasons that go along with the team obviously, the way the team was functioning wasn't optimal at the time, so that was part of the "not fun" of competing. Competing in Belo Horizonte was a blast.
You've done a bit more talent work since you stopped playing competitively on Cloud9, how's that been for you, and have you enjoyed transitioning and doing more of that sort of work?
Analyst work is pretty fun and pretty boring at the same time . It's fun because I still get to stay involved with the scene, and I get to make money doing something that's so easy and comes so natural to me, which is to talk about what happened in a Counter-Strike round.
The bittersweet part is watching people play and wishing I was in those situations. I don't consider myself a full-time analyst yet, I'm purposely not choosing or asking to go to every event. I'm kinda keeping it that way, like prioitiizing the stream, obviously one of the main benefits of not being on a team is controlling my schedule more, so that's been the main benefit.
Gonna keep analyzing as long as I'm not competing here and there, I have a couple more events lined up. Other than that, just doing it for staying in the mix of the community.
Speaking of your stream, you started streaming a little bit more, and you do these segments where you breakdown what you're thinking about actively in a round. Do you think that's something that helps others improve at the game?
Yeah, when I first started doing it, it seemed very braggadocious, so I was like "chat, I can do this, but I feel like it's going to get misperceived as me just like, bragging about how much I know vs lesser players."
But everyone loves when I do it because apparently people do find that giving my thought process as I'm playing and what I perceive them to be doing was really helpful, and I think the reason is because one of the main obstacles in CS is just knowing how to make decisions or perceive your opponent's movements, and so one of my goals is to help. I'm glad when I do that stuff, it seems to have that effect.
Do you think it's something that could be added to tournaments as sort of a secondary stream that you're casting?
Dude! I was actually thinking about, what if I created some kind of packagable program that I could do from my room, live, for events remotely? I could potentially do it on-site as well, but something remote, where I could just have a clean setup, green screen or something, and I could do something about the event live... I dunno, maybe you have some ideas for me you could share?
I know that Znipe did stuff with lurppis, Semmler, Thorin, and I believe GeT_RiGhT a while ago, where they had their own stream where they could show replays right after they happened, and they could casually talk about the game.
I mean that would be my specialty, I'd love if I could... cause one of the problems I have with analyst desks is that I either have not enough time sometimes, or I have to share time with people — which, you know, I'm not someone who... I don't want to come up on casts and just not let my co-hosts and co-analysts talk, everyone has something good to say and it's valuable in their own right, but what I pride myself in is having given a lot of lessons to people, and also having played at the highest level, is that ability to talk and marry the two levels of tier 1 CS and an amateur player who only has limited knowledge. I would love to do that more in-depth, and on a more regular basis.
Over the last two years or so we've seen a lot of of younger talent start to come up, s1mple, NiKo, ropz, Stewie. A number of years ago when CGS dissolved a lot of the older North American pros retired or chose to go elsewhere, which created a vaccuum in North America where the younger talent couldn't really learn from the older players.
Yeah, I became one of those guys.
Exactly. Do you think now there's an opportunity for people like you and other pros who have a little more experience to educate the younger NA pros that are coming up, like steel is doing with Ghost?
Yeah, one of the issues is what way is the best to go about facilitating this new talent. I'm not fully ready to be a coach yet, so right now I'm still interacting with the scene via my stream, analyst stuff, maybe ringing for some teams, potentially competing again. But I think in the future one of the most exciting things is when we get bigger coaching staff from ex-players, so that these new guys can have a better framework.
Some of the young guys coming in, like sunNy and ropz, such solid decision-making and understanding that you can tell they came from hopping straight into FPL and having a lot of good people to learn from.
But some guys coming up in NA, it's almost not even their fault, that the way they try to learn about the game is very pragmatic and they might be a smart person, but they don't have the best influences so they think on a very individual level and all these other issues that come about. Sometimes it is the person, but in a lot of the cases you also see it's who they got to learn from, so it'd be awesome to have a lot more ways to teach kids.
Recently you were announced as one of the founding board members of the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association. Talk to me a bit about your role there, and how you got involved in that.
My role, just like the other founding members, it came about and it's still actually getting defined, but the way I think I would put it is that it's not a particular role, but more a voice who wanted to be proactive, and make sure that we're actually getting everyone else's voices.
As much as I'm one of the founding members, it's only because I wanted to show up and connect the dots with everyone else. Really what the board is about is actually getting the voice of all the pro players, and then looking at the experience of what we think is best for the scene, proposing that, but not enforcing that. Just saying "hey, what is really the best?" and then circulating that.
We're there because obviously we've been there and we have a good idea of what might be good for the scene, but we're not gonna ever just be like "this is the answer, seven players are gonna make this decision." We're gonna go back and use our network to find out a good consensus among all the players, and what's healthy, most importantly, for the pro scene.
To touch a bit on what just happened at ZOTAC, FURIA did pretty well in their early matchups. When you were playing for Cloud9, Luminosity came up in a similar sort of environment, they came to North America and got better and better by grinding CS, and FURIA has a similar mindset. Do you think these Brazilian teams moving here will continue to elevate the level of the North American scene?
I think anytime you bring in a skilled and dedicated group of guys it's only going to raise the level of competition. I'm super excited to have these guys here, I definitely see a lot of flashes of the old Luminosity kind of framework in their play.
The interesting thing is that they probably have a playstyle that's closer to the meta than what Luminosity had when they first came into the scene, but they have less experience and less kind of pep, or swagger, so to speak. You had players like FalleN and fnx who had been there before.
All these guys are new to the scene, but surprisingly enough they actually have that kind of dynamic, generalist playstyle — not too set on strats, but not too scrimmy, so it's really cool to see that they have players who are already very aware, they just need some more of that experience and confidence to take them through.