vanity discussed his time under the eUnited banner and how it came to a end

vanity: "Lack of focus in practice seems like a huge thing in North America"

We talked to the former eUnited in-game leader about playing with some of his former teammates as well as issues in the North American scene.

Joe "tolkienfanatic" Cardali talked to Anthony "vanity" Malaspina ahead of the Fragadelphia 14 grand finals. The two discussed the in-game leader's time on eUnited, roster changes, the practice environment in North America, and the future of developing talent in the region.

You're here at Fragadelphia with a mix, and you're currently waiting for a winner in the grand final. What were your expectations coming into this event?

We came here expecting to win. We're probably the most individually skilled team here, so it's a reasonable expectation, and we have a core of a team, so that helps a lot.

Also on top of that core, a lot of you have played together in the past as well, right?

Yeah, I've played with a majority of the roster. We've all pretty much played with each other, other than Xeppaa.

Right before coming to this event, you were playing in the Katowice qualifiers with a mix, and a bunch of those other players are here as well. You took down some big names, like Gen.G, so how did that feel.

I mean I've beat both the teams before, so it's not that exciting, but it's nice to just compete again cause I haven't played in like, two months almost.

Yeah, obviously you got benched from eUnited when they brought moose back. Anything that we can talk about there?

Nah, there's no bad blood. I think we all knew something needed to change, and they decided it was me. It's whatever, it happens.

Do you know if that was a team decision or an organizational decision?

No comment... it wasn't the organization. 

You had a pretty meteoric rise, Swole Patrol got picked up by eUnited, and then all of a sudden you're playing a handful of big LANs. How has that experience been?

I think our results weren't nearly as bad as they seemed on paper. Obviously we should have picked up some wins and we were in positions to take wins against these teams, but going into most of our matches we were the underdog. The fact that we played it close, it's not satisfying, but it's not the end of the world. It was pretty much all of our first major LAN experience together, so it's not something to be disheartened about at all.

As you mentioned, you guys did kind of make a habit of ALMOST taking maps, or almost taking series, is there anything in particular you can attribute that to?

We had some players that, myself included, everyone just had different moments where we fell apart and showed mental weakness. It was someone different every LAN, where someone would underperform, something would be going wrong. I don't know, it's unfortunate, but it happens.

After moose decided to bench himself and freakazoid was brought on, did you feel that was an improvement, a sidestep for the team, how do you feel about that whole situation?

Bringing him in was definitely an improvement, but I'm not sure he replaced the right person. When we had Ryan instead of Kaleb, we didn't have enough fragging, so it was kind of hard to win. MarKE was in a little bit of an individual slump and he was one of our main fraggers, and losing Kaleb, who was always our most consistent player, it made it hard. We really had no practice going into any of the LANs we played; our practice was bad when we had it. It was just a bad situation, honestly. I think after the Minor the year just kind of ended for me. Like I guess we were trying, but it didn't feel like it most of the time. Most days we would get on and it would just be bad practice, someone had something wrong like every day, it just alternated. I think it's a North American thing.

When you say it's a North American thing, what do you mean? What is "it" in this sense?

Lack of focus in practice seems like a huge thing in North America. I haven't practiced too frequently in Europe because I've only been there for one event, but the teams there will consistently push you to your limit, they'll test things. In North America it's kind of stale cause the average week I'll scrim the same team - we scrim twenty maps a week - probably scrim four teams, five teams maybe. The depth of talent is so low, and it's super spread out too so it's kind of rough.

Yeah, it definitely is the case that if you look beyond Pro League, there's not really a lot of killers in the top of MDL right now. I think part of that is that Singularity and ATK have been plucked up into that upper echelon of Pro League. Again, speaking of ATK, you're here with three members of that team who you can all count as previous teammates. Has it been fun to watch what they've been doing of late?

I'm always supporting my friends a lot, through everything. It's really cool to see them having success. We all know we're capable of it, but they got to it first - who's going to get it next? We've all reached our goals relatively quickly, so it's nice to see.

Here at this event we have two MDL teams that just joined new organizations. There's still a ton of MDL teams with no representation, do you think that's a contributing factor to some of these attitude issues that we were talking about earlier?

Yeah, I think a lot of it in America is that we don't have anything to play. Like these Europeans have GG.BET, LOOT.BET, United Masters, they have so many qualifiers. If you look at their maps in the past three months, its not hard for them to get over 100, but in America you're lucky to hit like, 40, 50 max, unless you're in like MDL, obviously. But any team that's in Pro, there's nothing to play. I think it's changing a little bit next year cause I saw that DreamHack was hosting [North American qualifiers for European events] again, which helps a lot. There's not that many of them, but it'll give us an extra ten maps a month, so it's something to look forward to. And then the new North American league obviously, but I can't say anything about that shit.

Do you think that even if there were a lot more smaller online events here in North America, that teams would actually play them? I saw that FNS talked about it recently, that it did used to be more like that but it was hard to get teams to show up because there wasn't enough money, there was too much time investment, so on and so forth.

I was actually talking to FNS about that when he tweeted that, we were in TeamSpeak together. Pretty much what happened, why they died, is because the online leagues were still mainly online, ESL, ECS were both online, there were still StarLadders, so these teams were playing twenty, thirty maps a week, potentially. Now that most of the leagues are on LAN, I think it would be fine to bring back the iBUYPOWER Masters and all that. All the teams that you'd want would play, obviously not the EG and Liquids, consistently, but I'm sure they would play sometimes if they just want to practice.

There's a pretty big gap between the EGs and Liquids of the world and everyone else, even like Gen.G right now is obviously not anywhere close. Do you have any thoughts on how to narrow that gap? For a while it did seem like it was narrowing, but now it just seems like a chasm has opened up again.

I feel like this happens consistently to the talent in NA. I've only been playing CS since 2015, and I didn't really start taking it seriously until 2018, but it always seems like NA players are just so spread out. The most talented team in my opinion right now is ATK, for sure. Individually those players are all really good, they can hold their own, they can all win you rounds, and I think it's like what we had on eUnited. Then people start getting lazy, it's just something that happens. As far I know the players in ATK don't seem like they're like that from when I played with them, so hopefully they keep their upwards trend because I like seeing my friends succeed. 

When you say they're the most talented team, you mean the most talented outside of those top two teams?

Yeah, outside of EG and Liquid, I think they're definitely the most talented roster in North America. Not counting 100 Thieves and the Brazilians.

Have you been paying attention to MDL at all over this past season?

Yeah, I'll still watch MDL sometimes. Like, I don't watch it, but I'll look at the results and stuff.

Are there any teams or players in MDL or even Advanced that you think are going to be next best thing, outside of Riot Squad and the tippy top of MDL?

The only two players I'm fairly certain will make pro are Xeppaa, who we're here with, and I think that 1leaf and penny, they're on the same team, I think they're both really good and they're both really young so I definitely see them making Pro in the future. Oh, and curry also.

Can you talk a little bit about Xeppaa, cause a lot of people probably don't really know about him and he's probably the odd man out in the mix that you're here with.

He's someone that I've played with in FPL, and I've been playing against Xeppaa for a really long time and he's always been someone that sticks to his friend groups on teams. It's harder for players like that to reach different levels of success because you're limited by who you're friends with. Obviously I got lucky that I was friends with players that had extremely high aspirations, like our Gorilla Gang core has all made Pro at this point, and it's only been one year since we played. It just doesn't pan out like that for everyone. I think he's insane mechanically and he has really good comms, so I could definitely see him making Pro in the future.

One of the last pieces of that Gorilla Gang core would be MAC-1, and after an intrepid season of playing Advanced, he's coming back to coach MDL next season. Can you talk about what he brings to a team, and what he brought to your team when he was coaching you?

MAC tried to do a lot, and we didn't really practice on Gorilla Gang, so... Honestly he asked me to do stuff pretty much every day and we just wouldn't do anything. He helps the mentality, just having someone with that much energy behind you just gives you energy. Obviously it's a little obnoxious, but you have to have a team that's okay with it, right? Like when you have people that are all friends it's gonna be fine, but if you have a team where someone doesn't like it, then obviously it'll rub people the wrong way and it could go wrong. I think he'll be fine, he's coaching zander and penny so I think they'll find success next season.

We're about to go into the holidays with the player break and all that good stuff, but coming out of that, can you give us a teaser - will we see the return of vanity, is there any discussions happening, or are you just kind of chilling and pugging it out right now?

For now there's not really anything planned. I'm talking to some people but there's nothing official yet. I have a few offers, I'm not really sure where I'm gonna go. I'll try to figure it out because I have a week at home, I fly home before Christmas and I fly back later after New Year's, so I have a week without a PC to think so I'll probably do it then.

vanity and the rest of CSGO-MDL went on to win the grand finals in 3-0 fashion over Divine.

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