During the lead-up to DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, theScore eSports spoke with Winterfox's Alex "LeX" Deily to get his take on the North American teams in the Major, being a leader and Winterfox's future following recent roster changes.
I have seen you talk about Quake being the best FPS of all-time on Twitter. I assume you played it a lot in the past? How did you go from that into CS and how did you become a pro?
Quake was one of the first games I ever played that made me want to master a video game. I played death match games alongside my Day of Defeat and Call of Duty careers for many years, always looking for where the competition was. I never was good enough to compete at a top level, but even today nothing gets my blood going more than nailing a strafe to rail at bridge on dm6.
I played CoD professionally and had largely considered myself in retirement after CoD 4. Old friends and old habits die hard, so when I was asked to check out the CS:GO beta, I became hooked almost immediately. Started in open playing with CoD players, a few years later I was playing professionally.
What are your thoughts about the Major? Do you think the North American teams can get past the Group Stage and why/why not?
I’m always optimistic for my countrymen moving into these sort of events. I won’t lie, it would benefit NA greatly to have even one make it out of groups. Qualifying is incredibly difficult for teams that are not in the Top 3 in NA. Selfish reasons aside, I just want to see our region do well. These guys are my friends. I know they have the talent to do it, every one of them. They practice their asses off, and a lot of people don’t recognize that. Every event they go to and lose, they gain experience that frankly very few in the NA pro scene have gotten to undergo that pain of loss and learn from it. So, even if none of them make it out, as much as it would suck there are some big takeaways every player can make from each event. I can only imagine what a group stage advance would mean for the mentality of the whole scene.
As you have played against Liquid, Cloud9 and CLG in NA, what do you think each team’s strongest feature is?
Cloud9 trumps all three in terms of raw skill and experience. Liquid is on a hot streak and is motivated more than ever with acquiring Hiko. CLG is a hard nosed, hard working team that went through an extremely long period of time of learning and growing. Perhaps they’ve grown enough to be a top tier team soon, they’ve surprised us on more than one occasion. I think the strongest feature that all three share, perhaps more so Liquid and CLG, is a lack of expectations from everyone—including their opponents.
I’m looking for some serious upsets at this major, who will deliver is anyone’s guess.
What about Luminosity? Do you think they will be able to make the Top 8 again? Why do you think they have been so successful in Majors despite having struggled at times against the top NA teams?
I don’t think so. Something seems to be “off” or “wrong” about their lineup right now. They have so much talent, but I’m not sure it’s all being utilized properly. They’re a tight-knit group that hasn’t really flourished since the addition of cold, who’s an incredibly talented player. I think that has to do with their high impact player, fer, simultaneously slumping. I don’t think the two factors are mutually exclusive. Their success has a lot to do with their chemistry and practice regimen, they have the ability to upset anyone. Consistency is the key to their success moving forward.
How much will you be watching of the Major and which team are you cheering for most?
The whole thing. Really looking forward to seeing CLG and Liquid play, but I’ll cheer for any NA team. On the other side of that, I’d like to see TSM win a Major. It’s their time now, it would wound my heart to see them squander it.
Now to your team, what is the current status of Devilwalk? pyth recently announced he left.
Devilwalk is still in Sweden, his current status I can’t speak to, but we have been plagued with visa issues all season.
Do you know why he decided to leave? Was it the distance or were there other factors?
No, we didn’t really have team issues. I think he just wanted to live in Sweden and play from home.
What are your plans for the future? How heavily will Winterfox be supporting you and do you know who you will be playing with from now on? You have been playing with flowsicK recently, will he be taking the fifth spot?
The next 12 months will be all about building something. We’re doing what no other CS team has done before. Gaming house, every resource available to us. No short term success expected or needed from our sponsors, just explore how deep the term “professional gamer” can really run. Not a moment will be spared for anything other than working towards the dream of long term stability and success. I’ve known Kyle “flowsicK” Mendez for some time, anger and I both won a Fragadelphia with the guy. He’s one of those “perfect teammate” types that was on the top of our list to fill pyth's role.
How have you felt about your own team's play recently? Even though you didn’t make it through the qualifier in Stockholm, you showed a lot of potential.
After Stockholm, we’ve been pugging matches with 200 ping. I don’t really have any feelings towards our results, we have had some really stupid wins against top teams, and losses to the worst. We’re a mess. But we know how good we can be, we have the bedrock and the establishment already in place. Time now to move forward and push ourselves to our maximum potential.
You have one of the more veteran rosters in the region between Devilwalk, anger and Xp3. Do you think that gives you an edge over other North American teams?
Absolutely, yes. These guys teach me every day something new about either CS or myself I didn’t previously know. I wish I was kidding. Statistically I’m playing the best CS of my career on a more consistent basis than I’ve ever seen. While the team is in shambles, the fact is we are improving individually is the one bright spot on the past few months. These guys make in-game leading feel like a cakewalk. I’m not as smart as these guys, but I have clarity and judgement and a good look at the big picture. They guide the mid-game just as much as I do and it often times turns rounds back in our favor. Building a team around that kind of experience just clears so many roadblocks newer teams have to overcome.
How much did the addition of Devilwalk and Xp3 help the team? Have you picked anything up while playing with them?
Absolutely, Xp3 is an incredibly smart individual with a lot of talent. Like I said in the last question, he’s able to often guide our mid-game to a solution. He takes what I give him, which sometimes can be a pile of shit with odd-number situations in rounds, and turns into gold.
What is your goal in a game being the team’s captain? Do you plan out each round, or simply inspire your team to perform? How does the shot calling work within your team?
Both are my responsibility. From a few hours before a match starts, I have a game plan. That plan usually doesn’t survive first contact in a match, but it allows me to improvise. I keep track of money, call the strategies give direction. But during our “defaults” and when rounds go off track, Xp3 steps up in the mid game and finds the team solutions to win the round. That is shared, of course, but having another strategy-focused player on the other side of the map allows me to have real time command and control over everything that is happening each round. David is the one I can always look to to understand my vision and he executes it when I cannot.
I have found that most in-game leaders/captains have had a figure or player they looked up to. Did you have someone like that and if so who?
Playing with Swedish players allowed me some insight into the mind of pronax, and there are few people more inspiring than him. seangares also comes to mind as someone I look up to in a lot of ways, but mostly just his great hair. In any case “in-game leading” and being a “captain” are not mutually exclusive in my eyes. Leadership is a trait that few possess. It’s my assertion that when you’re in charge, you need to be in charge. I think younger teams that lack that sort of leadership often find it to be their Achilles heel when they hit tough times. Most don’t survive that pivotal point in a team’s career. But if I can be proud of anything, it’s that I know that I’ve been a linchpin to holding the ship together when the going gets tough. When I’m in those sort of situations, not unlike now, I look to those guys for inspiration to be resilient and work harder.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Jacob Juillet writes about Counter-Strike for theScore eSports. Follow him on Twitter.