zander: "[penny] is probably one of the best players coming up in MDL right now"
In the final interview from the ESEA MDL Season 32 Global Challenge, Collin "CarbonDogma" Davis chatted with Rugratz captain Alexander "zander" Diaz to talk about the past season, playing the event with their former coach, and looking forward to what next season will bring with the team's new additions.
I wanted to start off with when you guys first became Rugratz, before the season began. You and Hunter have been playing together for a long time at this point, over the season you had a lot of different players. Initially you had curry, J0LZ, and penny. penny is the only one still around, so what can you tell me about him as a player?
The main thing about penny is that he has no ego, it is pretty much non-existent. If we tell him he messed up, he owns up to it, he fixes it, and it never happens again. I think that is one of the biggest problem with younger players, they think that they have aim and can do whatever they want and get away with it.
Bibby ended up leaving the team as well, what did he bring to the team initially that ended up being lost when he left?
The biggest thing about Bibby is that he was more of an analytical person. The main thing that we struggle with is morale, when we're losing we're losing and we can't get out of that headspace, we aren't like "we can bring this back!" What we tried to get with the other coaches we had, ashen, flashstep, and madcow when we won Advanced - we couldn't keep him because he has work - but that is what we wanted from the other coaches we tried out, try to find someone who can get us out of that headspace.
Is that what happened with markalodon as well?
We trialed him for a bit, but then he got a different job offer so he couldn't play at all, like literally had no time.
Douglas was also on the team for a brief time, and I know there was a little bit of conflict there, can you talk about what happened?
It is kind of hard to explain, but the way we play the game is that we'll literally pause in the middle of a scrim to fix something and talk about it for five minutes. Douglas was moreso about fixing the mistakes after instead of during. Sometimes when you point out a mistake, and it is the same person making the mistake over and over, it can get kind of repetitive and annoying. That is where we had our differences, he didn't want to do that.
How did roca wind up joining the team?
I basically just messaged him and asked if he wanted to play, and he was up for it. We tried him out and pretty much owned with him and tweiss.
tweiss is a big talking point because he has been in and out of the team a lot, and obviously he has his work commitments, is there anything more to it than that?
The thing with tweiss is... we didn't want to get rid of him, it was more like Zellsis said he was available and wanted to join. But then as he was playing with us he decided he would rather wait for Pro offers, and he didn't want to mess up since it was towards the end of the season. Because of that we thought about bringing tweiss back, because we kind of benched him out of nowhere and we were winning, but thought he might come back with a salty attitude or something. So we got Junior, and he wasn't doing as well or learning as fast as we thought he could, so we brought tweiss back and we talked about it and everything was fine.
flashstep, he has obviously been around for a long time, what has it been like working with him as your coach?
He is a pretty good coach, but again he has time constraints, he has a real job where he has to work real hours and also coach his college team. That's why we had to replace him with MAC-1, just because of time, he wasn't a bad coach, there's nothing wrong with him.
When tweiss had his work conflict and couldn't attend this event, did it change your expectations?
Yeah, for sure. We were in one of those ruts where its like do we want to practice with our coach, or is it pointless? Because it is just for money, it isn't that big of a deal. We decided to take this whole last month to focus on next season instead of worrying about the LAN. It is moreso for me, Hunter, and penny to play together on LAN and meet other than it is to try to win. We're still trying, but we'll see what happens.
Going into the next season, you're picking up leaf and tyfoon, I believe both of them were on the team prior, and obviously roca is leaving. So first, how big of a blow is roca leaving, and then what thoughts do you have on leaf and tyfoon?
roca leaving, it isn't that big of a deal, he is a good player for sure, but more of a roleplayer, so he is pretty easy to replace with leaf. The thing about leaf, when we won Advanced we wanted nothing more than to play with him, but he was 15. Pretty much since then I told him "As soon as you turn 16 I will cut somebody for you." So that's where we are with leaf, he would have been the replacement for tweiss next season. And then roca said he didn't really want to play next season, so we got tyfoon to try out and have been sticking with him since then.
You mentioned that MAC-1 will be the new coach, obviously he is most known for his time coaching Singularity. What is he going to be bringing to the team?
The biggest thing about MAC-1 so far that we've already noticed is that if we're in the middle of a scrim and we're losing, he'll pause, he'll tell us to stop being babies and get over it. As soon as he sees us getting emo, he fixes it, there's no hesitation. It makes practice time a lot more beneficial.
When ATK and Singularity ended moving up to ESL Pro League, did you see that as an opportunity to make a deep run in MDL?
Yeah, of course. Even before I thought we could at least make playoffs, maybe not the LAN, but at least playoffs. We were already contending with Riot Squad, it is a toss-up with them, penny versus Jonji, Hunter versus ptr, and whoever is hitting their shots that day will win. Obviously INTZ is insane, they're pretty much unbeatable in NA.
As far ATK, they were a new roster, it could have gone either way for them, obviously it went really good for them, so that made a big difference. Singularity was kind of whatever, because in almost every single qualifier we played them in we beat them.
You had a really good regular season, do you think that took other teams by surprise?
I think it definitely surprised other people because we barely made it out of Relegation last season, and this season we were a top team. It was a surprise to other people for sure, but for us, going into playoffs there are only eight teams, and we knew we could beat four of them. I think it was more lucky that we got to play the teams we did, because every team we played we were like "Ok, we can beat this team", or "Ok, this team is a little bit better than us but we can still beat them." It wasn't like we had to play against INTZ.
You almost beat Riot Squad in that first playoff round, was that just who showed up that day like you said before, or do you think you had some tactical edge on them?
Going into Train, we literally didn't scrim it all season, we dry ran it but didn't actually scrim it, didn't practice it. I watched a couple demos of them and I noticed that they let anybody run out olof on any round if they have the spawn, and we abused that. I think we went out olof cart 13 rounds in a row, and we got the opening pick or double entry, and it made Train really easy.
I think the first map went to overtime, we were up like 15-11 and we threw the last four rounds on Nuke. So I don't know, we definitely should have won that one. I think the third map was Inferno, and they are just way better than us on Inferno. We kind of knew if we didn't win 2-0 we were going to lose.
In the lower bracket, you wound up beating Ascent and oNe, was that expected?
Ascent, I think we just have a better map pool than them, we play the same maps, but in our eyes we're better than them on all of them. oNe, whenever we play them it is 16-14, they play such a weird aggressive style just like us, it is so volatile. One round, they'll run up Long A and get a 3k and then the next round I'll do the same thing, it feels like whoever gets the triple entry wins.
What are your goals for next season?
Obviously, right now it is still early, but we definitely feel like we have a better roster. So if we could make LAN this season, our goal will be to make the LAN again, hope that we can get top three and make Relegation.
Will we be seeing you join a new organization in the near future?
It is kind of hard, because of penny's parents for the most part. It is kind of hard to convince them that this is something that he can actually do. He's very good at the game, he is probably one of the best players coming up in MDL right now. We're still trying really hard to convince his dad and mom that this is something he can do. They really care about him getting through school.
Despite utilizing Corey "flashstep" Parks instead of Tyler "tweiss" Weiss, Rugratz were still able to put up a decent showing against Riot Squad in their elimination match at the Global Challenge. It was not enough, however, and the team exited the event in last place alongside Triumph.