koi: "We should have a much better long-term plan for the program going forward"
Ahead of the announcement of their new lineup for 2023, Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore had a chance to sit down with Davenport University's head coach, Colin "koi" Thor, to discuss the university's plans for 2023. The pair discussed the D1 team's roster changes, Davenport's updated coaching staff, and why the D2 team is currently on hiatus. among other topics.
Recently it was announced that CoJoMo would be leaving the program, can you explain what factors motivated his departure from the program and whose decision was it ultimately?
It was a decision that we made as a team. Mostly it was from the perspective of the coaching staff. We were trying to figure out a way we could look into making our team much more consistent, a much more tactical and intentional team. As a result, unfortunately Collin wasn't necessarily going to work out in that kind of system and he was in the process of moving off campus. So we were trying to keep things centralized to where we now in Grand Rapids. We should have a much better long-term plan for the program going forward.
So it's a complete clean break then?
Yes, as of right now he's completely separate from the esports program at Davenport. He is an Unrestricted free agent and I'm happy to support him wherever he does end up going. At the same time we have had conversations about potentially in the fall bringing him back as a content creator because the kid is really driven and really passionate what he does. We're all about encouraging that.
In ESEA Advanced Season 43 playoffs, Viathan temporarily took over as coach. In 2023, do you expect to take over head coach responsibilities with the team again?
Yes I will be. I'm very grateful that Luke was able to step up in such short notice, especially as he had come in under the pretense of just being an assistant coach and really working with me to help make him as perfect as possible to take over the head coach role. With the things that happened in my life at the time, it just wasn't feasible for me to even care about Counter-Strike realistically.
That was a big issue that we had last semester was that as I took a step back from the program, it all went to shit. This next semester I will be fully engaged with D1 and we have a new structure so that we will be working heavily between the teams. We will be setting things up a lot differently and as a result it should make a more structure and accountability show up with the players we have.
Speaking of Viathan, can you go into some more detail regarding the decision to bring him, Noot, and Talen into the program?
Starting with Viathan, he is a really smart guy and I think a lot of the tactical development that we'll see program-wide will be because of what he is working on. I have him in charge of a lot of the drills and the team activity we're doing right now. I'm excited to see how all of that will evolve, and he was really interested in taking over that sort of leadership role because you don't get that many long-term opportunities to be with a team that grows as rapidly as DU does south of tier one in North America.
With Noot, we brought him in because what we really wanted to find, especially at the time with the D2 roster, someone who is a fantastic conflict negotiator. He's great emotionally and he's a really strong personality that thrives well when it comes to setting a tone. That was exactly what we were looking for in a coach at the time and now we'll be transitioning into more of a head coach or leadership role so that way we can make sure that he's still learning the reins of coaching in a professional environment as well as making sure we can use his fantastic conflict negotiation skills.
For Talen, he is a proper nerd. Just earlier today actually I was being briefed on a new class syllabus that we'll be implementing for all of the players on our team whether it's the type of Counter-Strike that we're looking to approach or potential ways we're looking at optimizing our players' growth outside of the game as well. Talen is really really structured about making sure players are taking care of themselves in a classroom environment. Unironically, he's become a lecturer for us. He's not really a coach in the server but he is there as the professor for a lot of the new players who are coming into DU.
Shifting focus back to D1, are there any other changes coming to that team?
Unfortunately, swicher will not be making his return with us. It was due to a mix of homesickness, as well as some small financial issues. We were very grateful to have Denis for the time that we did and I'm happy to say that we're working out butts off to try and get him a good home in Europe. We're always open to having him back in the fall or something. Much love to Denis in Estonia.
For other changes to the D1 roster, we're bringing on Danejoris and Austin. Danejoris will be adding a much more experienced and calculated voice to the team. I know that he has does a great job in just about every roster he has played on either being the glue man, putting up big numbers when he needs to, or coming up with ideas when people are stressed out, and that's exactly the kind of player that we want to have around these young players that don't have a ton of top-level experience.
This will be Austin's first season in ECL and that guy has been on the grind for the longest time. I don't think I've seen someone grow as fast as he has, whether it's in the content that he is making that's super educational or the sheer hours that he's putting into understanding everything he's supposed to do as a rifler.
We really wanted to find some personality neutral and extremely tolerant players to work with in this new DU system because at the end of the day our goal is to be moving people around between rosters to optimize player growth. People are on board and people are bought in, and I think Dane and Austin are going to do a fantastic job in their future at DU.
Moving our discussion to the D2 roster, there's seem to have been a lot more turnover in the team's ranks. Can you walk us through what's been going on in the D2 camp?
Near the end of the semester, the cracks in D2 were starting to form whether it was personality based issues or in some cases financial issues or life problems. In the case of BeBO, he's about to go into his last couple semesters, so the guy is literally working himself to death at the same time as playing Counter-Strike.
There's a whole bunch of different issues going on with he D2 roster and rather than forcing people to come and make the roster happen again, we decided to allow people to make their own decisions. We were happy to see arcade go onto Villainous Black. At the moment, tactile is also looking around a little bit, but at the end of the day what we wanted to do is to make sure that the team we rebuild with and the people we bring are here and they're bought into the idea of Davenport University.
I know that most of the players in the past were bought into the idea, but unfortunately again due to what happened to me later in the semester, there wasn't a whole lot of communication or accountability happening and that's why moving forward the theme of this semester will be about accountability and communication. You'll see me saying that everywhere in our discussions, that is what we are all about right now. Whatever the case may be, we really want to drive that home because that's what's going to set us apart from any sort of issues we had in the past.
What does the D2 roster look like right now?
Right now we're looking to have RiFT, xelAs, juiceboy, fate, and TeXaSs at the moment as our starting five. We also have Fraq and Adeft in the wings ready to go. We're working with them heavily in a one-on-one fashion so that we can be cycling players in and out in drills or in the mixed Cash Cups we'll be playing.
Finally, what's new with D3?
That is the D3 roster. So, as of right now Davenport D2 has been shelved. We do not have a D2 team at the moment and the D3 team will be taking over D2's spot in Advanced. I completely understand that objectively speaking they aren't the most experienced and they might not do great in Advanced but what we want is for D3 to have actual meaningful competition and competent scrims. Our goal is for them to being in Main so if that means they get demoted, that's fine with me. This is a very low stress season from them in particular.
What's the rationale behind shelving the D2 division?
Rather than going through the hassle of bringing on people to bring on people, I'm instead trying to take the approach of really making that we are being intentional with the roster spots that we give. We decided that as of right now we don't have the full five for a D2 roster so I'd rather not field one than try to field one and cause issues.
That was an issue we ran into last semester was that roster wasn't necessarily purpose built and as a result they suffered.
What conditions would need to be met for D2 to be brought back online?
We're looking primarily for upcoming, very hungry Advanced players that don't have a lot of tenure in the scene. Whether that's people who are super coachable but are overlooked or people that have proven themselves but still want to give it their all before retiring, that's what we're looking at.
We also want to make sure they're the right fit and they want to be at school, that they want to be part of the greater DU system. All of those things matter more than anything else.
When we talked recently, you mentioned plans to form an ESL Impact roster at Davenport, what can you share in regards to that?
As of right now I'm happy to say we're seriously looking into some prospective candidates from both the US and Brazil, and plan on widening our search overseas to Europe sometime soon. It's still early days for the DU FE project but we're out of the planning stage and have started to slowly reach out to candidates. Much like our rebuilding of the D2 roster, we'd rather find the perfect options than rush to make a team in the first place.
To end, are there any new plans you have for 2023 that you are able to share right now?
Grand Rapids is going to be on the Counter-Strike map soon. If it's not already, people are going to know about Grand Rapids.