In all competitive gaming, there’s a winner and a loser. There’s times when any competitor comes up against difficult odds and that’s when you really see what they’re made of. Can they survive the pressure? What does it take? How much harder is it when it’s a team you’ve got to keep intact to the finish line? We’ve had a chance to speak to some of the leaders of top teams in the world of Counter-Strike at the recent IEM Chicago event, to see what team leaders go up against. From the importance of building the necessary team chemistry to managing tilt in CSGO, we spoke to Casper “cadiaN” Møller from North, Aaron “AZR” Ward from Renegades, coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen of Astralis, and Fatih “gob b” Dayik from BIG Clan.
First off, we caught up with cadiaN, following his transfer from Rogue into North, and straight away taking the position of in-game leader. Nicklas “gade” Gade was also brought back on board alongside cadiaN after leaving North Academy before having joined OpTic Gaming’s CSGO team.
Daily Esports: How difficult was it to transfer into the leader role, here at North. Has it been easy between you and gade?
cadiaN: It’s been good. I’d say that I was used to the leader role from playing in Rogue. I’ve always had that kind of leadership ability throughout my CSGO career. So it comes pretty naturally to me, to be the leader of the team. Training with gade has been super awesome. I’ve also been sharing a lot of rooms with him lately, and we’ve been getting to know each other on a personal level, which has been good. Two new guys just getting to know each other quickly. And I think we’ve been meshing well with the three others as well, which is super important so that you have good chemistry within the team . So, so far so good.
Apart from building a good team chemistry, leaders must be able to stay composed and refrain from, what is commonly known as “tilting”. Even professionals are susceptible to frustration. Losing subsequent rounds or even having a bad game may result in a player tilting or raging during a match. We asked what AZR, the in-game leader of Renegades, what he had to say about managing tilt within the team. He stressed that the absence of Aleksandar ”kassad” Trifunović, the coach of Renegades, was a blow to his ability to keep the team composed. kassad was unfortunately unable to make the IEM Chicago CSGO event because of travel visa issues.
Daily Esports: Is there any mindset that you have to deal with tilt, how do you approach that when it (a match) starts to slip out of your hands?
AZR: Haha. It’s a little bit hard. I mean, at the moment as in-game leader I got to make sure people are level headed and stay calm within our game so I try to stay vocal, especially in those hard times and keeping people like just, making sure they are communicating and stuff like that. It was a little bit hard this event (IEM Chicago) not having Aleks (kassad, Renegades’ coach) there so, that’s something we’ve got to work on and be able to adapt to in the future.
Having mentioned coaches, we also caught Zonic, the coach of Astralis following their triumph at IEM Chicago. This time, we focused on complacency. Astralis is having a phenomenal year in Counter-Strike. The Danes have already won a total of seven events this year, including a Major, which is an incredible achievement in itself. Basing on that, it is not unnatural for a team to get over-confident and ultimately fail to become even better as a result.
Daily Esports: At this point, with how many strong finishes Astralis has had lately, the conversation will come up if this is the best team in the world. How do you keep the team from becoming complacent? How do you keep them hungry for the next one?
Zonic: I think we have some really good sessions where we talk about stuff and we constantly talk about goals, long-term and short-term. We don’t win every tournament, so every time that we lose one, we get hungry again. Not that we go to the tournaments we lose with complacency or anything like that, I think that we have a good mixture of people on the team that know that these things come rarely, and eventually you will lose some matches, and eventually you will lose some tournaments. They are really mature in that sense, and they know we have a special team and that it won’t last forever so might as well get the best of it. Everyone is motivated and dedicated all the time, so I’m really blessed as a coach to have these guys under me.
Lastly, we spoke to Gob b, the in-game leader of BIG Clan. Having just been knocked out of IEM Chicago, we were eager to know what is the feeling for a team following a poor performance in CSGO and how you get back to the right mindset to tackle the next event.
DES: How do you feel the team’s mental state is going into the future tournaments and practice coming off of this particular event?
Gob b: Yea, I hope it is. It feels good, I hope it is gonna be good. We will see and the future will tell, but I think we regain a lot of motivation after losing tournaments or not doing as great as we maybe want. For me, the most important thing is that we try to learn and try to establish us as a top 10 team. So we don’t need to be in every tournament top two or top three or something like that. We need to gain all the time players, we need to be a team which can always like upset someone, this kind of stuff. And I think we’re getting there, we need obviously a little bit more experience but if we keep doing what we’re doing and practicing well and learning, this could be our chance to be a top 10 team. And then we need to do the next step into maybe winning smaller tournaments, maybe coming more often to semi-finals, this kind of stuff.
For sure, there is no perfect formula to overcome the frustration that can come from being knocked down, but in esports and especially a leadership role, you have to respect the toughness of being able to keep both yourself and your teammates stable in a tense CSGO match. With so many factors in play such as motivation, tilt, complacency and mental state, being a leader requires immense dedication as well as a degree of calmness.
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