Filip "NEO" Kubski is a pillar of Polish Counter-Strike, he was part of the legendary Golden Five and he's now the in-game leader for Virtus.pro. They kicked off their season with a last place finish in SL i-League Season 2, but made up for it by winning DreamHack Bucharest 2016 and look poised going into ESL One New York 2016.
Ahead of his games in New York, NEO spoke with theScore esports about his long-standing relationship with his team and the woes they've run into during their online matches.
It’s well-known that Virtus.pro is one of the longest standing rosters in Counter-Strike, if not esports in general, the full five have been together since some time in 2013. What are the factors that allowed the team to remain stable for so long?
Probably the biggest factor for us to stick around with the same lineup is the attitude we have. Changing the lineup was always the last possible option, instead we focused on working out things and problems within the team. I guess we just believed in the potential of this lineup.
Outside of the five, you and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas have been teammates since 2004, which is 12 years and almost half your life. Why have you two stuck together for so long? How would you describe your friendship with him and having him as a teammate?
That is 12 years since 2004! And even before that we used to fight each other in separate teams, since maybe 2001.
It's really an unique "relationship" if you ask me. Normally you would never spend that much time with another person, even your family. Just imagine, for the last 12 years we have spent around 30 hours per week during online training alone and add trips to tournaments to that. We are like the old couple, understanding each other so well, you don’t even have to say stuff out loud to know what's going on.
I think we have learned to cooperate very well and that’s our strength. There is also the dark side of that situation as we can too easily get under the skin of the other, but that never leads to any serious fights (or at least not anymore).
You’ve been the in-game leader since MLG Major Championship: Columbus, taking over from TaZ, but what were the motivations behind the change? Was the team experimenting, or did you express an interest to lead?
We also tried kuben [Jakub "kuben" Gurczyński] and then Snax [Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski] as IGLs. There are tons of reasons behind these set ups, so I guess you can call that experimenting. And then at some point I just said I would call and now we are here.
In your role as IGL, how often do you look to TaZ (or your other teammates) or kuben for support? How does Valve’s coach ban at Majors affect the team from a leadership perspective?
Before most of our games nowadays I talk to kuben a lot and we discuss the game plan more or less. Also, occasionally I ask Snax to do the calling.
The Valve coach ban did not really affect our gameplay, as in the middle of rounds mostly I do the calling.
In an interview with HLTV’s "Milan "Striker" Švejda, you mentioned that you don’t have a fixed primary AWPer. Given your recent wins at ELEAGUE and Bucharest, would you say that this is the best situation for the team? Do you believe that the role “freedom” is something that could benefit other teams?
I am not so sure about that. To some — yes they may benefit, but only to those who do not have that dedicated player as an AWPer. Guys like GuardiaN, kennyS or maybe even Fallen without the sniper rifle are just not that efficient. Their teams have lots of plans based on their picks, which means they are more crucial for the team as snipers.
We are still working on that part in our game-style I guess, we base more on the situation and game sense, or intuition if you prefer.
The team seems to struggle during the online leagues, such as ESL Pro League and ECS, but you guys almost always perform well on LAN. Why is this the case?
We always struggled online. Polish internet connection makes us almost always handicapped when playing online. We usually play on German, maybe Dutch servers, where most country's pings are better than ours.
But nonetheless, online there are also the concentration and dedication factors with which we seem to struggle. The stakes don’t feel that high when playing from home, it's just not the same. There are lots of players that perform better when sitting at their home, we are the opposite.
Regarding ESL Pro League, you’ve been vocal about their server issues. Are these issues being brought forward by TaZ and the rest of the WESA player council?
I am not really sure what is going on there. I believe the biggest problem is not with servers anymore (they might have fixed that a bit), but the client.
As far as I remember there was a fuss about their client being a bitcoin digger. There was huge conflict between players and organisation, who claimed that allowing them to access all our PC data (basically that is what the client did) was for our own protection (as there were many cheating accusations at the time) and of course the client was supposed to catch em all.
Anyway, as far as I am concerned the number of cheaters caught oscillates around zero, and yet we are still here using the same program (even Windows protection finds it as a virus).
You guys were relegated during EPL Season 3, but were given a second chance via a fan vote and won a wildcard match to return in EPL Season 4. What are your feelings that situation?
Personally, I was torn. I mean, I knew, we didn’t really deserve another chance, but then again... if these games were not online...
As an aside, you collaborated with ZOWIE to design their FK series of mice and the series was named after you (Filip Kubski), which seems like an odd situation because as far as I know neither you nor VP were sponsored by ZOWIE.
How did you get that opportunity? You mentioned in your AMA from 2 years ago that you spent over a year working on the shape and influenced which the switches the mouse used. How much of you went into designing the mouse? What would you do to redesign or improve it?
I started working with ZOWIE maybe 7 or 8 years ago when I got invited by SpawN [Abdisamad "SpawN" Mohamed] to join him for a trip to Asia. And since then whenever I was contract-free I was working with ZOWIE.
I put a lot of effort into the mouse-building process, and even though I was not able to promote it properly I was very glad to see my "child" becoming popular among gamers — that was the biggest goal and we did it.
I got a vision of few tweaks to the mouse, so maybe with God’s help we could get back to that someday.
What are your thoughts the Swiss-system used in ESL One New York 2016?
I got nothing against the format really, but it is best-of-one matches that I find just [awful]. To me, CS:GO is more random than 1.6 ever was, and with the best-of-one system the winner does not necessarily always have to be a better team.
What do you hope to achieve at ESL One New York and in the season leading up to the next Major?
Win as much as possible.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking
Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev. You can follow him on Twitter.