mithR: "I'd say we've been doing a pretty good job of embarrassing some of the NA teams so far"
At the ongoing Fragadelphia 16, Dust2.us' Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore sat down with the Danish coach of Apeks Rebels, Torbjørn "mithR" Nyborg to talk about the Norwegian team's decision to fly to Philadelphia to attend North America's largest grassroots event. The Norwegian academy team have already secured their place at day 3 of the event after a clean 2-0 GSL score in Group B without dropping a single map.
To start, a lot of people will be asking why the organization elected to send the team to Fragadelphia 16 as opposed to a LAN event closer to home. Can you give some insight into that decision?
It fits in our current schedule. We plan on going to Copenhagen Games and because that has been moved then it made sense to come to Fragadelphia. Obviously it is more expensive to go here but Apeks is an organization that is willing to invest in these trips to help the team gain the experience needed. There's a huge task in front of us in order to become Norway's team that the local people root for. In order to do that and perform in events in the future we will need to gain as much experience as we possibly can. Fragadelphia is a good event because it also gives us the opportunity of traveling overseas together in order to cope with jetlag, different routines, what to do when you visit another culture, and you can't get the same food you get at bootcamp. There's huge amounts of experience to gain here for the team and that's why we're here, results are the second priority.
You mentioned that one of the long term goals for this project is to propel Apek Rebels into being Norway's top squad. For our North American readers who wouldn't know, how does Apeks Rebels rank in the Norwegian hierarchy?
We're probably ranked second in Norway right now behind 777. I don't see them as being very far in front of us right now and we can catch up with in a them real sense, especially with some of the experience I bring from tier one. Also, Apeks are making a huge investment in the team to bring them overseas like this to gain experience. This shows Apeks' commitment to help us do everything we can to catch up. We don't really have any HLTV games in Europe but we have the potential to do so.
It is a big advantage for a young team like Apeks Rebels is being able to work with a tier one coach. While I'm sure most would know you for your time with MOUZ, can you break down some of your previous coaching roles?
Oh, that's way back. I think I started my first coaching gig before coaching was even a thing. In 2016 with SK I coached AcilioN, who is now on Apeks' main team, friis, k0nfig, cadiaN, and TENZKI. Then after that I was coaching some smaller teams with Tricked and ALTERANTE aTTaX before getting my first tier one offer from North. After North I went to Renegades and after that I went to MOUZ. After MOUZ I chose to take a step back from tier one in order to focus on talent development.
To what extent did the experience at MOUZ influence your decision to take a step back from top tier coaching? Were there any other influences?
It wasn't an easy decision because I'm going to miss the pressure and prestige of big tournaments but I think I came to a point where I didn't really feel comfortable with where I was and I didn't feel comfortable with having to prove my belief and values as a coach. My style of coaching it's very unique compared to other coaches and a lot of other teams. I wanted to be somewhere where I could prove that style works even if that means I might be taking the largest risk of my career so far. I had some interest from other tier one teams within the top 20 when I made the decision. But, when Apeks came and knocked at my door I already knew them and I knew it would be a workplace where I would feel super comfortable and have all the support in the world from the staff and the organization. Apeks are willing to invest in order to get this style of coaching to work and it just felt like a place I really wanted to be and grow the players. In the end, it's not about winning the Major or winning big tournaments. Obviously, I strive for that, but that's not the main objective for me and why I do coaching. Coaching for me is about developing players and that's where I find the true joy of doing what I do and you can the results come much faster at this level.
Talking about the developmental outlook a bit more, when you were on MOUZ they were one of a few European organizations to field an American Assistant Coach/Analyst in koi. What was it like working with koi and having him as an understudy?
koi was super eager to learn and super eager to do whatever it took. He showed his dedication by moving to Croatia in order to follow our time schedule. I don't think MOUZ were super interested in investing into having an assistant coach even though I thought it was a good idea. With the kind of schedule you have, teams need all the help they can get. I think that he brought a lot of help in order to take a lot of pressure off my shoulders. He brought his own view to the game and having a lot of discussions about certain rounds or approaches to help certain players with their issues. It's more like having a sparring partner but also taking over a lot of responsibilities and pressure that's on you as a head coach.
The vast majority of our readership will have not heard of these players until this weekend. Who should they be keeping an eye on this weekend to do some damage to the NA teams.
SLY is definitely one of the players who is getting a lot of attention and playing a lot of the star roles that we set up to help him be successful. I'm not very good at pointing out single players that people should look out for because it takes an entire team to set up a star player with utility. It's a team effort but SLY is one of the players who has been getting a lot of frags and been doing a lot of damage.
Do you think Apeks Rebels has the potential to go far in this event and bruise the egos of some NA players?
I'd say we've been doing a pretty good job of embarrassing some of the NA teams so far. We had a 16-0 and a 16-1 yesterday. I think we can go pretty far based on our scrims. We've doing really well against Evil Geniuses and some of the other top NA teams. Top four is definitely possible but result-wise I'm not setting any expectations. Our match against Apeks Legends was probably some of the best CS I've seen us play so far so top four is a goal we should be able to realize.
Was it a little bit personal against Apeks Legends for mimicking your tag?
In the first game we started 0-4 and one of their players wrote in-game "Apeks Legends BTW" and I kind of took that personally. After that we just fucking destroyed them. I feel like people here are so focused on trash talking it takes their focus off the game. We try and just stay calm while hyping ourselves up but we try not to talk down to our opponents too much. Maybe that's just European manners I don't know but it's a good learning experience to have people yelling at you. But no, we didn't take it personal that much.
Last question, as someone who has been to LANs all over the world, does this aggressive trash-talking culture have an analog anywhere else in the world?
I think we have a lot of trash talk in Danish LANs at Copenhagen Games, but nothing compared to this. There's so much background noise and you can hear other teams trash talking each other through your microphone while you're playing but it's the same for everyone. The computers and the atmosphere are great though. People are nice and we have a lot of space on the tables, everything feels super awesome. I can't compare this to anything I've been to before but I really enjoy being here.
Apeks Rebels's next match at the Fragadelphia 16 will be in Group B of the third and final group stage, where they will be joined by Carpe Diem, Big Chillin, and one more team from Day 2. The squad are also participating in the domestic Telialigaen in Norway where they currently sit on a comfortable 3-0 regular season score.