Counter Logic Gaming is one of four North American representatives headed to MLG Major Championships: Columbus. It's the largest number of NA teams to attend a CS:GO Major yet, which is fitting for the first CS:GO Major held in America.
Before the Major, CLG's James "hazed" Cobb spoke to theScore esports about the NA scene and breaking Top 8 at the Major.
What kind of preparations are you and the team making ahead of the Major?
We would have liked to bootcamp prior to the Major, but it didn't work out with our schedule and the league matches we needed to do. Right now, our focus is on making sure everyone works better as a unit, rather than as individuals. It's important that all the players in a team be self-sacrificing for each other.
What effect does Faruk "pita" Pita, the team's coach, have on this preparation process?
pita is bringing a new mindset to how we play out rounds. We have historically struggled with adapting and closing out late-round advantages. Having someone with an outside perspective, who can see everyone's health/positioning and other factors, really makes a difference.
Was there any initial difficulty when the team first integrated pita into the lineup?
Absolutely. We were known as a very aggressive team and struggled with teams who played passively against us. So at first, pita wanted to fix that and it was a rough patch early on in scrims.
After our bootcamp in Sweden about a month ago, we really learned how to play those passive styles, so that we weren't a one-trick pony team.
In an interview with HLTV’s stich during the MLG Major qualifier, you mentioned that pita brought in an EU style of calling. Have you guys fully embraced that idea, or are you playing more of a hybrid style? Has he developed anything new with you guys?
We have kind of blended the styles. He has brought that slower type of calling to the team, but we also bounce ideas off him about aggressive plays/setups we can weave into the game. So to answer, I would definitely say more hybrid styles.
I think its very important to be able to play all styles of Counter-Strike. That's what makes a team great. As for developing anything new with us, that's a secret.
How does this CLG lineup compare to the previous ones?
Our current lineup with FugLy's [Jacob "FugLy" Medina] addition has really helped that passive style we have worked hard on. When FNS [Pujan "FNS" Mehta] was on the team, he was a very aggressive type of player like tarik [Tarik "tarik" Celik] and I. Even Cutler [Stephen "reltuC" Cutler] prefers to entry frag, so we had a team stacked with aggressive players. Now that we have a more passive player on the roster, we have a much better balance.
Both CLG and Team Liquid have made use of EU talent. What are your feelings about cross-pollination? Do you think it’s good for the NA scene?
If done in moderation, yes. I do think there needs to be a three-fifths rule for players. Stephanie Harvey [CLG Red's "Missharvey"] brought up some good points using Starcraft 2 WCS as an example of what can go wrong if you allow teams/players to have the freedom to play in any region they want. But I also think it's important for NA players to get the experience of EU playstyles straight from the source.
pita has taught us a lot in the short time he's been with us and I imagine gob b [Fatih "gob b" Dayik] has done the same with NRG eSports.
What’s your opinion on the NA scene currently?
The NA scene is currently in a phase of restructuring both management and teams. We are all learning that we need to have proper practice in order to develop as players and teams.
After playing in NA and EU FPL, it became very clear the difference between the regions. For me, it was night and day. Players in EU are far more willing to listen to callers and do what is asked of them or help their teammates, rather than do things by themselves like in NA.
NA has huge egos in-game and it really hurts the scene.
I ask about FPL because I spoke to Spencer “Hiko” Martin about it and he said that the talent pool is growing, but still small, especially when it comes to in-game leaders or dedicated coaches. Is this why you got involved with NA’s FPL?
Definitely got involved for the chance to invite newer players. Unfortunately, the old guard have a hard time accepting newer talent and really push back on it, so it's been very difficult.
As I stated above, players in NA tend not to listen and prefer to do their own thing so it makes leading/strat calling in FPL impossible. Once the mindset changes, I think good callers and leaders will emerge.
The people patient enough to persevere through FPL will become amazing leaders.
You’re grouped with Team EnVyUs, Astralis and Gambit Gaming at the Major. What was the team’s reaction when you guys found out the group? What are your expectations going in?
Our group is pretty tough. I will say EnVy has looked much weaker in previous events, so that's good news for us.
Astralis has always been a pain in our side. I think we've only had one close game with them, ever. Those guys just destroy us, so we need to prepare something special for them.
Gambit surprised us at the qualifier and really stepped up their game. They went from a team we felt very comfortable playing against to being a team we have to put on notice.
I would say this is the hardest group we've ever gotten, so making it out of the groups will be extra special for us. We've had some heartbreaking losses in previous Majors and failed to make it out of groups, so I'd like to at least make it to the quarters and put up a good showing.
This will be the team's fourth Major in a row, and yours as well. Previously you’ve only been able to finish in 9th-12th place. Will this be CLG’s time to break into the Top 8?
Given such a hard group, I don't think many people give us a chance to make it.
Is this the one? I'd like it to be, considering the last few Major results. Especially the fact that being in NA raises the stakes. This is something we have to do. We have to succeed.
Beyond the Major, what are CLG’s plans for the future?
The goals for us are always to get better. We always just want to play and be better as individuals and as a team.
Going forward, I'd like to win an international competition. That was always the goal; it's what I wanted ever since i started playing 11 years ago.
CLG has really stepped up their game as a whole for every team they have. They put in a lot of work that goes unnoticed to the fans.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore eSports who enjoys whiskey, Dungeon & Dragons and first-picking
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