Pluto: "We are trying to do something that NA doesn't really do often which is stay together"
After going without a win in a disappointing event, Dust2.us' Dafydd Gywnn was able to talk to Saad "Pluto" Siraj about what this means for Bad News Bears, his own journey in CS:GO and the influence Nathan 'madcow' Retterath has had on his play.
You, unfortunately, went winless in this event, what is the biggest takeaway for you guys?
I think we are a very new team, we just started like two or two and a half months ago, and we were having some early roster issues and I think we finally found our core five and we are just trying to build off it. We are trying to do something that NA doesn't really do often which is stay together regardless of the problems. As you know we played relegation this season and almost any other NA team, you see them play relegation, immediately roster change to fix whatever problems they had. Shakezullah has a thing he says "we have problems, we have solutions so we don't get rid of players." I think the biggest takeaway from this, especially for me and MoMo, I think Swahn as well, just to come to a big event like this and play other international players and tier one players as well and just see what the skill difference really is. So as a team and as an individual it really helps us understand how far the road is and what we need to do to get there because right now I don't think we are too far off.
You were just talking about problems and solutions from Shakezullah, on top of that what is madcow's influence on you so far and playing under him?
I think he has had a bigger impact than Shakezullah has on me because early on when I joined the team I had been playing on Valors and I was calling on that team. We were a very aggressive, individual skill based team where we did run a lot of defaults and did have strats, but we essentially played off each other's aim and strengths in the timings that we would take. On this team it is a lot more different, he didn't want me to play a playstyle where I have to basically out aim another player, he wanted me to learn how to deal with proper tier one teams and take experience from him. madcow's role in all this was constantly reinforcing those good fundamentals and principals onto me. If I'm redoing a mistake from a scrim a week ago, he would be like "you should know better than that" and he'll take the time after scrims to sit down and tell me "hey you were doing this, this, and this. This could have been better done another way. A better progression for what you were doing here could have been this and that." He's just been overall super helpful within the game and out of the game as a motivator and somebody who keeps me mentally straight.
If every NA team had a coach like madcow where would the NA scene be right now?
I think it would be much better than it is because he just knows so much and he cares so much. A mixture of those two things for any up-and-coming player is just a catalyst for success.
You are a very new squad, what's the biggest change for you guys to get to the level where you want to get to?
I think realistically the improvement needs to be individually based as of right now because the things we are really lacking right now is when we do end up playing our team based playstyle there are a lot of individual reads that are incorrect which leads to miscommunication or confusion within how the round is leading up to. So as we try to perfect our team play, it's going to take the individuals to get better at understanding what's happening in the round for us to be better as a team.
In terms of individuals, and calling on top of that, what does your experience as an IGL bring. Is Shakezullah doing all the calling or are you sharing some of the responsibility as a team?
Shakezullah is the mastermind of the whole plan, I'm more of a secondary caller and information-getter type player for him. He calls everything man, and being an IGL myself for the previous two or three seasons before I joined Bad News Bears, I can really help Shakezullah in those little gaps he's missing to fill out. If he's not seeing something that I see I'll immediately call a tactical timeout and be like "this is happening, we can also do this" and he will say it's a good idea and we do it. Other than that Alan calls everything, I'll maybe mid-round or give starts, I'm more calling at the start sometimes.
Going back to before you joined Bad News Bears, what drew you to this squad?
I started playing a year and a few months ago in Counter-Strike and I met a lot of nice people, and made a lot of really good friends and then I stuck with my squad, Rectify, for a few seasons and it was just apparent I was the only one who really wanted it more than they did. It's unfair to say I wanted to be a better player, I just wanted it more I suppose. There comes a time for everybody when you're competing that you have to realize that friends aren't the key and you have to treat it like a career. I wanted it to be a career for me and I made the choice that going to Bad News Bears would give me the experience and the help I need to better myself as a player rather than playing with my friends.
So you joined Bad News Bears, what would you say your aspirations are for this team?
I think we need to make it to EPL. Make it to EPL and play in more higher tier tournaments and just overall improve as a team because I think everything is there for us to be winners, everything is there, we just need to put the pieces together and keep working at it. I don't think we are too far off.
Are Major aspirations, potentially in the far future, something you have?
I think that's an aspiration for everyone and anyone who plays Counter-Strike on a competitive team right? But realistically our next goal is to make EPL and get into as many tournaments as possible and perform as well as we can.
For you personally, Pluto, what do you want your legacy to be as a player?
I haven't thought that much into it, I'm more of a "put in the time right now and see what happens" type of guy. Me being on Bad News Bears was never in my wildest dreams because like every star that has been a star, ends up on Bad News Bears. I just played the game, I found players who are just like me, really good players who want to put in the work, and eventually, Shakezullah asked me to join the team and I couldn't believe it. So legacy-wise, I just want to keep playing the game and keep getting better and just play with the best.
Going back to today's game, you have gone 0-3, how does that affect your mental game, and how strong is the mental game of this team?
Our mental game on the team is actually pretty good, we just went 0-3 but I don't think anybody is too bummed out about it because to even attend the RMR was something far away from the current path that we are trying to lead. So accomplishing a future step this early for us is a win for me and I think for everybody else. We aren't too upset about it.
Just before the interview, you were just telling me about how you are now a part-owner of Bad News Bears. What do you hope that this will do for the team?
Anyone out there who is a team owner or an IGL you understand that the project is your baby and you end up putting more work into it because it's yours. Anybody and everybody understand that, so it's just a little motivator knowing that it's also my thing.
Is there anything you want to say to any NA fans or fans in general?
Shout-out to Pakistan, I love Pakistan I love all my teammates and I wanted to thank everyone else that I have played with in the past for being so supportive, my friends and my family for just helping me get to this point. You're definitely going to see more of me and Bad News Bears in the future, for sure.
Following their unfortunate early exit, Bad News Bears will now be starting a six-week bootcamp in Europe, where the team will be hoping to improve themselves further before returning to North America.