After Cloud9 placed outside of the Top 8 at PGL Major Kraków 2017, the North American team has undergone plenty of changes. Both Jodan "n0thing" Gilbert and Michael "shroud" Grzesiek were moved to the inactive roster, replaced by former OpTic Gaming players Will "RUSH" Wierzba and Tarik "tarik" Celik in anticipation of the new season.
Fresh off of their semifinal loss to North at DreamHack Montreal, Cloud9's Jake "Stewie2k" Yip spoke to theScore esports to discuss Cloud9's performance at the tournament, how tarik has fared as in-game leader and preparing for ESL One New York.
Cloud9 had a difficult time against North in Montreal. Were you disappointed you couldn't force a third map? If you made it to Inferno, do you think the match results would have been different?
Personally, I felt pretty confident at this LAN. But we're still a new team right now. We're struggling to find our new style with tarik calling right now and we haven't had enough time to let him give his input. So, a lot of time we're not on the same page and we struggle a lot on C side. And when we get things going that's when we become a really fearful team. And right now, we're just struggling to find our own style.
Are there any takeaways from DreamHack Montreal in particular?
This tournament we felt like we should be first or second, but since we didn't get it we know that we have a lot to work on since New York is coming and we only have one to two days to prepare for that and we're trying to make most of our time useful. We know we have a lot to work on because we're really weak in our map pool right now.
How has your gameplay been affected by the recent roster changes? Do you feel less pressured now that you're no longer the IGL?
Personally, I never felt any pressure at all. But, with the new in-game leader, I know it's like a brand new team because we have two new players coming. It's hard to implement a new system, and with tarik we're going with his system right now and we haven't had enough time to give him a chance yet. I do feel a little more relieved that I don't have to call anymore, and I feel like I can play my own game a lot more. Individually, I do see improvements, but I'd rather have collective improvements rather than individual improvements.
Would you ever go back to being an in-game leader, either in this roster or perhaps in the future?
I've actually thought about wanting to be the in-game leader for the team, but since we have such short time and so many tournaments coming up, it's kind of hard to change. Because the way I like to call is really specific, but since we have so many good players who can do anything they want, we decided to let tarik call and try it out for these tournaments.
How would you describe tarik as a leader both in-game and out of game?
In-game, he's a good leader because he has a really good attitude and usually he knows how to work with his teammates. And he's a really good teammate in and out of game because how he is in-game is how he is out of game and there's no change in personality. He's really genuine, really down to earth and I think he's a really good leader for our team.
Going back to DreamHack Masters Malmö, which was the new roster's first LAN together, what were the major takeaways there?
Well, for Malmö we thought that it was kind of putting our foot in the waters, testing out what we have. And we didn't have much back then, but after that we had a lot of good improvements we implemented, a lot of things on Train, and that's kind of our most comfortable map right now. And we're not playing to teams' weaknesses right now, we're just playing to our strengths rather and I think that's pretty good right now.
What are your thoughts on OpTic Gaming's EU roster competing in NA?
I think the OpTic roster right now is really good because they have a lot of experience and a lot of good players that have played for a long time, so they can create new things really easily and a lot of them know how to play their spots, so it's easier to play when you're a brand new team. And down the line I think they'll be a really good team.
What do you think that says about the state of North American Counter-strike scene?
I think the state of NA CS is still how it is right now because when you compare teams like Team Liquid, OpTic and Cloud9 to the rest of the North American scene, I think there's a big skill gap. There's like a mid-tier and a lower-tier for NA and there's a big gap between that too. So I think NA has a long way to go still.
You guys just came back from the August player break and we're not even halfway through September before you head over to your third LAN at ESL One New York. What are your thoughts on this hectic schedule?
I think we have really little time to prepare. Which is fine because we do really want to compete in these tournaments, which means we need to take time out of our own time to put into work for our team. And we need to make most of our time useful CS wise, less time with families and friends and just spending more time into CS.
Where do you rate Cloud9 among teams in the region right now, now that Team Liquid is heating up and OpTic have brought in European hired guns?
It's really hard to say because our team has really good potential to be one of the top in the world. But how we are right now, we're kind of like a brand new team right now. We have a new in-game leader who just joined the team, so it's really hard for him to call. So I think we need a lot more time to tell where we are. But if I were to rate us right now, I don't think we're even top 10 right now.
How have you been enjoying your time in Montreal?
Montreal seems pretty cool. I like the weather because it reminds me of home in San Francisco. I got a lot of time to spend with our team to get food. We haven't explored much and the only thing we have to explore left is the afterparty.
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
Oracle my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah a silenced Cavity 9mm Ryu. You can follow him on Twitter.