Cloud9 on the burden of constant travel, pre-game superstitions and how much they argue

by Dennis Gonzales Dec 10 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of SL i-League

Ahead of the ECS Season 2 Finals in Anaheim, Cloud9 sat down with members of the media at a press conference and touched on a number of topics, including how constant travelling has taken a toll on them, when they decided to pursue esports as a career and where n0thing's name came from.

*Editor’s Note: The following is a full transcript of the press conference. Due to audio issues certain questions had to be either reworded or omitted from the transcript.

Reporter: You guys have a very busy schedule but this is kind of a reprieve — you guys aren’t really far from here. Talk to us a little bit about your schedule and how hard it’s been and tell us how this is a little bit easier than having to flying back and forth and maybe there’s a difference in how you prepared.

n0thing: I guess what is it, six weekends in a row now we’ve been on the road. Being able to not have to travel makes you feel like a League of Legends player [laughs], but it’s obviously nice because people on the outside, even on the inside, don’t necessarily realize how much of a burden it can be to travel. I mean the people on the outside [are like] "Hey they’re just playing a video game what’s the big deal." Well the thing is there’s a lot more that goes into the game than just showing up playing.

So it’s been tough because, you know, Stewie’s been strat calling and doing a great job but we’re a new team so no matter how good of a job he’s doing it’s team effort and we haven’t had much time as a team to sit down and take a deep breath in terms of our strategies and I think that’s why you see so many different teams winning so many different tournaments lately because the teams that don’t really have a consistently changing structure and a solution every week aren’t going to win every week. So yeah, it’s been tough.

Reporter: You guys are starting up against FaZe, talk to us a little bit about that matchup and what Cloud9 need to do to get past FaZe in that first round.

Skadoodle: The game’s for sure going to be really close. It’s more important for us to win those crucial rounds — pistol rounds, the first gun — for us to get ahead on FaZe. So just pretty much winning those crucial rounds is going to turn the tables in our favor.

Reporter: How come you don’t do interviews?

shroud: I do do interviews, I’ve stayed away from HLTV interviews. I know I haven’t done an HLTV interview, the last time I did one was in Paris with Jordan like two years ago. I don’t know, I do interview you just don’t see them on the internet or something. I don’t know, it’s weird.

Reporter: That is weird actually because I always thought that you had a thing about protecting your image or something like that.

shroud: No, I mean interviews are fine and all. I just don’t like doing them before we play, but after we play it’s fine, I’ll do interviews and whatnot, but I guess a lot of people ask me before we’re about to play and I’m just like ‘no.’

Reporter: So since you guys won ESL Pro League, you guys have had up and down performances. What’s the wall that’s kind of stopping you guys from breaking through and having that consistent first place finish?

Stewie2k: I guess just being a little complacent and I feel like it kind of happens to all the teams. You can even see, who I think are the best team right now, they also have down-points where they were relegated out of Pro League, and we’ve seen NiP struggle to kind of get back in their form also. I think it happens to all the teams and it’s hard to just get back up, but i think we are a team that wouldn’t really struggle as much as them but I guess time will tell.

Reporter: One thing that’s been a factor for a lot of teams is quote-unquote knowing how to lose. Having these losses, have you learned that lesson now?

Stewie2k: Well we do learn from our mistakes, but I think we’ve got players who know how to learn from it on their own and when it happens to them they know how to adjust to it immediately so right now I think we’re just taking our time to kind of get back into form.

Reporter: How would you sum up your experience at ECS and how does it compare with other events?

n0thing: Let’s see, we all were in London right. London was a good time. I mean, I think ECS knows exactly what we need for the tournaments and they definitely meet those requirements and you know, shuttles, practise rooms, available PCs to practise the whole time — I think they’ve set them up at the HIlton for us.

For us as players, we go to so many tournaments so as long as these things are met I think a lot of the other stuff in-between becomes a blur. So I feel like as long as things are staying as a blur, if that makes sense, then the event ran well, because if we notice things happening then usually something’s wrong.

Reporter: Who is the best player in the world in your opinion?

n0thing: Well I think we’d all say different things. I don’t know if you would label one person as the best player right now. It’s pretty hard. Literally I think it’s a team question from event to event. Snax could show up in the next month, he just feels like not playing. Guardian can go off. Nik0. Stew, Tim, Shroud, Tyler anyone can just have an event nowadays. For me at least, I’m not sure about you guys, it’s really hard for me to choose one person.

Reporter: So tell me what you guys hate and love most about travelling and doing this. The tournaments and the long hours of training and playing?

autimatic: What I love the most about travelling a lot is seeing all the new countries and being around the world and experiencing new cultures and that kind of thing. But what I hate about travelling is that I can’t get into like a good rhythm in terms of my personal life, so it’s always hard to have an established life when you're always travelling and you don't know where you are going to be living or you don't know how long you're going to be on the road, it's really hard to have a well balanced life I guess.

And also on top of that, just like not having a good routine in terms of being able to always wake up at the same hour, always be able to exercise at the same time. You know that kind of thing really affects my ability to focus when I am playing so that could affect our performance.

Reporter: What do you love the most?

n0thing: Well, I mean, I think competing as like a job is pretty awesome but you know, it can be like doing relay races, anything where you're like competing in, and you winning is an immediate bonus like monetary or just for a prize is pretty awesome and then of course like we said travelling.

Reporter: At what point, because you guys all look pretty young, at what point did you decide like "wow this is it, this is my career"? Because I know as kids we all think like "I want to be a football player, firefighter, lawyer, doctor, whatever" and at some point you just decided like "yeah, this is it. I love doing this and I can make a real living out of doing this." When did that moment come up?

n0thing: I feel like for all of us — we've talked about this before — I think a lot of times it's a series of a couple of things: positive feedback, passion for the game and just like it matching up right with where you're at in life.

So, I think you don't see a lot of people go pro when they're already in their 20s, but a lot of players will go pro into their 20s and I'm the oldest one on the team. I went pro when I was like 16 and now I'm 26. There's some players that are 30, there's new kids on the block — 17 year olds now coming in — I think, like I said, you realize you're good, but you're playing for fun or going to school and then you get positive reinforcement, a.k.a. people are calling you a cheater or "Whoa you wanna join my team" or "Wow this kid is really good, he probably cheats" and then you start going to tournaments, so that's the positive re-enforcement.

And then if it's fun, those kind of go together and you see that you can make money for a long time. Like when I started, we couldn't make the same money as most of the people now. If you're in the Top 10 in the world, you're making six figures at least, and that wasn't the case when I started. So now it’s even getting even more, just like maybe not a lifelong career, but something that can get you into the industry that can be a career.

Reporter: First of all, I saw somebody has the name 'n0thing.' Why do they call you n0thing?

n0thing: I call myself n0thing, and that’s what you guys call me because of that. I made that name when I was younger, I was like killing people like it was nothing someone said, and I changed my name to 'likeitsnothing' and I was like 12 years old, but a big thing in Counter-Strike is you don’t want to change your name, because then you build a reputation. And so, I hated all these people who would cheat, and they would change their name constantly, so I used to cheat for fun all the time, and once I decided I'm not gonna cheat as much anymore.

Yeah so I was a young kid, I was like 'likeitsnothing' then I changed it to 'nothing' then I added in the zero, kind of had some like existential weird touch as a young kid, I was weird like that. So n 0 t h i n g, thought it was cool and timeless I wouldn't have to change it.

Reporter: Do you guys have any superstitions? Anything that you, you know like football players, basketball players have before they go into a game? Do you guys have anything like that before a tournament?

n0thing: Handwashes.

Reporter: That's it?

shroud: Yeah, I feel like we don't have many superstitions here. Jordan maybe, he always has to wash his hands always.

n0thing: But right before playing —

shroud: RIGHT before we play —

n0thing: The admins get pretty pissed.

shroud: The admins get pissed, but he has to.

n0thing: The production's like, "We are ready to go live," and you see me running off stage.

shroud: Besides that I don't think any of us suffer from superstition.

n0thing: Not always, but I don't know. It's just something like, I’m also the only person in the world at the pro level I think who uses my own plastic mousepad, and if I feel like my skin is like rubbing on it, like the sweat, I don't know I just don't like it. I just try to keep it fresh as I can before I play.

Reporter: What steps have you guys taken to continue your success and has the added practice and travel begun to take its toll on the team?

n0thing: I don't know, someone else can comment on that. That's what I said earlier though, yeah you just don't have a lot of time to practice, I don't know what you feel about that [looks at Stewie2k and shroud].

shroud: And that's pretty much the general idea. I mean that's pretty much it right?

n0thing: Yeah, it's the steps you take are like, occasionally we're sitting there in the team house and we're like, we all kind of like practice for the day and where we would normally end we are like I was surprised that the changeups on this map are this map right now because we don't even have time to practice it but we might as well talk about something new because we're playing tomorrow. We did that last night even you know.

Reporter: I wanted to touch on what you were talking about with the travelling schedule and all that… you mentioned you guys usually don’t [go through] your mistakes you take care of them yourselves? Do you have a lot of discussion post game? Obviously you go over VODs and things like that, but are there ever times you guys went at each other for mistakes... okay so yes. Does that ever lead to like...obviously there is tension, is there a lot of argue it out type scenarios or that kind of stuff — of who's right or not —

Stewie2k: always.

I'm getting a lot of smiles so —


autimatic: What was the question?

n0thing: How do we solve it?

Reporter: Basically your resolution.

n0thing: How much arguing do we do?

Reporter: How much arguing.

autimatic: Like I think on every single team there are arguments, and that's because everyone makes mistakes on every team no matter how good you are. And what matters is how you communicate that mistake to your teammate, and then how you solve it after that.

On this team, since Stew is in-game leader, he's the one that will pinpoint everyone's individual mistake if he feels like it needs to be changed or whatever, and then it’s up to us to consciously practice it and fix it for the next time. So that's pretty much how we fix our mistakes. But on an individual level, if it’s like we’re playing a spot and we didn’t use our nades correctly or something like that, then it’s on us as individuals to realize that and then fix it for next time. But for the overall picture it’s Stewie mainly pointing it out.

Reporter: Has there been a time this year that you guys hit like a really bad — like, I don’t want to say a “bad point,” but moreso a place where you felt you were not ... perfect because of your post-game talk? Or was there ever a time where you kind of felt like, “We're at a dead end, and we don't know what to do”? This can be individual or as a team... where you just felt that what you were doing wasn't working as well, or do you feel like you have had consistency throughout the year? I mean you have surged in the last half —

n0thing: That's when [points to autimatic] joined, right? I think it varies.

autimatic: I think right after we won Brazil, it was really hard to keep improving, because we had multiple tournaments back-to-back. And on top of that, teams just watched us play and they like knew what we did to win, so it was really easy for them to pick up on it and counter it.

So right after Brazil I would say that we hit a really low point, and it was hard to improve our mistakes because we had such little time to practice. And we were just playing matches over and over again, that it kind of felt that we were going through the motions. But now I think since we are at home obviously, we were around for like the last week, we can finally start talking more and improving.

Reporter: You were mentioning earlier how any team can beat any team right now because, well you guys gave a few reasons. I wanted to know how much of that is affected by how many tournaments there are right now?

n0thing: That NA teams can beat anyone?

No no, any team can beat anyone.

n0thing: Oh any team can beat anyone. Okay yeah.

Reporter: How much of that do you think is actually affected by picking and choosing tournaments? Or just by what is what is being known as the parity era? How much of that is based on teams just not being the same all the time, and how much is based on schedule?

n0thing: Well I think the question goes kind of hand-in-hand...

Reporter: What I mean to say is, is the schedule to a point where it is affecting the ability to correctly rank teams, because a team might know what I'm saying?

n0thing: Well I guess for people who are trying to create those formulas for rankings, Kevin’s doing the same thing, sometimes the metric of form is pretty hard to determine in this case, because there are so many factors that you can't tie all into — Snax from is sick today, is this guy doing that, or did they just get the flu cuz they travelled here early.

So I think one aspect is you know, the meta of the game has went back and forth with coaches and no coaches in the last 6 months, that's one side of it, the travel is a side, and so I think like after that break… Did you notice how after that break in August, a lot of these teams started... like some new teams kind of came forward a little, and I feel like, I don't know, Counter-Strike is crazy, with maps changing and all these tournaments. Even SK, right after that break, they came back and lost a little momentum. fer had a surgery and all of this and that, but, I think it's so easy to get out of the groove in Counter-Strike, that I think without coaches right now, I don't know, there's too many factors. I think it all kind of goes hand-in-hand, with schedules, just playing ...

Next year is going to be interesting, ‘cause I'm curious to see if once rosters kind of [stabilize] — if they do — what teams will be most consistently in the Top 3. ‘Cause right now it's pretty unclear.

Reporter: What is your specific focus heading into this weekend? What is it that you — it doesn't have to be a game mechanic — what are you working on yourself to make sure you are at your top?

n0thing: As an individual or as a team?


n0thing: As an individual, just you know, staying focused on my role, communicating the things that I think I should communicate, and trying to make Stew's job easier as a caller. And you know, making sure that I am just focused and ready to play, ‘cause there's a lot of stuff we could be thinking about right now, but we just got to think about it one match at a time.

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 Discipline Priest. You can follow him on Twitter.