crisby: "I'm giving Strife the right tools to get to the next level"
Dust2.us' Jeff "Mnmzzz" Moore had the opportunity to sit down with Strife's veteran coach Christian "crisby" Schmitt after his team's victory in their opening match against Apeks Legends. In the interview, the two discuss crisby's past experience as a player in Germany, his transition to North America, and his thoughts on Strife's future prospects.
The majority of our NA readership may not know that you are an extremely experienced German player who has rubbed shoulders with some of the scene's top players over the course of a 10+ year playing career. Starting at the beginning of CS:GO, your first major team was on mousesports with chrisJ, LEGIJA, and gob b. Do you have any memories or recollections from your time with that team?
Yeah, we tried to qualify to DreamHack Winter 2013, [The first Major], through the BYOC tournament but we fell short in the deciding game against Xapso. This was pretty disappointing because we were really prepared for the Major. We knew which group we would be in if we made it through. Overall though this mousesports team was really strong but we lacked LAN experience back then. We were doing really well online but LAN we' weren't there yet.
I hadn't played with gob b or spoken to him much before but getting to know how he thinks about the game was valuable. We played with him in EPS Germany Winter 2013 and we had to play de_season and he entrusted the map to me and gave me props afterwards saying I was one of the best IGLs coming in the German scene.
A few years after mousesports you went on to play on PENTA with kRYSTAL and tabseN. Can you talk a bit about that experience?
On that team I wasn't the leader, I just joined as a backup player because they had problems with troubley back then. I took over his roles and we didn't switch things up too much and I didn't have a big influence on that team. I didn't do as well as I could have influencing them or readjusting the team. I knew tabseN before that for a long time and had played with kRYSTAL before that and overall I didn't change the team in any way. If you look at ALTERNATE aTTaX or EURONICS later where I played with tiziaN, syrsoN, and faveN I helped them a lot and now they're at the top on BIG playing against the best in the world.
Continuing to reflect on your time in the German scene, one of the most successful teams you played with was ALTERNATE aTTaX in 2016 with whom you attended ELEAGUE Season 2. What was it like attending ELEAGUE and visiting America for the first time?
ALTERNATE aTTaX was one of my most successful teams besides EURONICS in 2018. We played a decider game against JW and flusha's GODSENT and we did really well against them. We played our hearts out and we prepared as well as possible and put in the hours. We had a hard group with Astralis, Na`Vi, and SK so we knew it would be an opportunity to get experience and have a nice trip.
ELEAGUE was an insane tournament, I have never been to a better one. ESL has made huge improvements in running tournaments but back then ELEAGUE was setting new standards. They had all the teams eat together and they gave everyone American debit cards. They were really prepared. Also we met Shaq because he worked at the NBA TNT TV studio.
Was that your first time in America?
Yeah and now this is my second time. That's one thing I really like about being a professional is that you get to visit different countries. Getting there for free and still getting to do some sightseeing.
After ALTERNATE aTTaX you kept playing in the German scene for five years, with your most recent team before coaching Strife being Unicorns of Love. What prompted the decision for you to hang up the mouse?
Mainly it's a money-based decision. We don't have a lot of good established organizations in Germany that are willing to pick up CS:GO teams. CS:GO teams have trouble finding sponsorships in Germany. I could've played for several teams but no one asked me because they know I won't go below a certain salary threshold. I still have to finish studies in engineering and coaching now pays more than playing. I'm not that young anymore too so I have to pay the bills, I'm not living at home anymore. I wanted to stay in esports for sure and was looking for other options. I knew at some point I was going to coach a team and this opportunity came in and I took it. The working hours are a little bit hard for me because it's mainly at night but overall it's fun. I still have a lot of the duties that I had as an IGL.
How did you link up with Strife considering the lack of connections between Strife and the German scene?
For that I have to thank sprayxd, ATK's coach, because he connected me with stamina. He knew they were looking for a coach and I had a random conversation with sprayxd that I was looking for a team. He hooked me up and I talked to stamina and then had a meeting with the owners of Strife and now we're here.
Have you enjoyed your time with Strife so far, has there been a degree of culture shock at all that comes from working with an American team?
I had to first had to break down their approaches to the game. I'm trying to teach them a more prepared and less loose way of playing the game. In the beginning it didn't feel structured because they would get off spawn and do whatever they felt like. They weren't thinking about what setups could be played and to track how well certain setups are working statistically. I'm teaching them how to approach these kind of things and how to improve themselves. I'm giving them the right tools to contribute and improve on their own and get to the next level.
What is your impression of stamina as an IGL? As a relatively new IGL do you think he can one day reach the upper echelons of NA IGLs?
In the beginning it was hard because I had to make him do what I wanted to see. Right now I usually spend six hours with the team and just two hours with him. The more I more I explain and work through things the more he understands my approach to the game. He's making good progress and he is coming up with good ideas. He's putting in a lot of extra work and that's what you need to do as an IGL, always be looking out to progress in every aspect. He's doing a good job and is able to lead the team well.
Looking towards the rest of the team, how do you rate them?
All of my players are very mechanically skilled. If they keep listening and executing everything clinically then we're a really hard to beat team. I bring a lot of structure and a lot of good ideas to the team and they acknowledge that and try to follow my instructions. If one of our three stars, cxzi, J0LZ, and SLIGHT, go off we're in a good spot. Our main problem is trying to keep the mood up even if things aren't going as well as they should be. If we are in the right mood and mental state we are hard to beat.
I don't know if you follow what is being said by the team and about the team on Twitter especially by rival teams, but do you think the community underrates Strife?
I'm not sure if we're overlooked, but with me coming in teams are feeling more worried. They know I'm going to bring way more structure than before. In general my players love typing and love trolling around. It's nothing I've ever done as a player. After all this Twitter drama we sat down and said it has to stop. We're getting paid to be professionals and we want to be professionals and go further. We need to get rid of all the nonsense and put in the work to get to the top. The team love to troll and we've been doing that for years so it's not easy to adjust. Step by step they'll get more professional.
As someone who has played every iteration of Counter-Strike, do you have any advice to players who waver from following their esports dream as they get older?
It was hard for me. At some point it gets harder to chase the dream as your responsibilities in life change. As long as you always have a backup plan it's fine. I suggest that when players gets out of high school they spend two years fully committed while they still live at home but if it's not clicking by then they should start focusing on something else. The longer you stay in esports and not do anything else it becomes harder to pick up afterwards. I don't know about NA CS, I feel like people are really mechanically skilled but they love fighting. I'm not sure why but some players aren't really patient and unwilling to think too much about the game. They feel it out and try to get on top of other guys and frag. Everyone feels better when they frag and have good stats but many NA teams need some patience and be to be more strategic.
To close, do you think Strife has the players and the toolbox to win the event?
Strife have the tools for sure, we can beat every team here. With the best teams here you can tell no one is that far ahead of each other so if everything comes together we for sure can win and at least get top four.
crisby's hopes for the squad have been further reaffirmed since this interview, as Strife went on to sweep aside Touch Point 2-0 to lock in their spot in the playoffs at Fragadelphia 16.