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CS:GO ESL Grand Finals IEM IEM New York Interview OG VALORANT

OG.NBK-: “Regional rankings make sense, world rankings not so much.”

Before the recently concluded IEM New York 2020 EU we sat down with NBK- from OG to talk about the struggles of online Counter-Strike, OG’s rise through the rankings and the impact of VALORANT on the scene.

Note: The following interview was conducted on October 10 after OG secured their place in the grand finals.

Buckle up as Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt gave us detailed answers to many of the current issues in the CS:GO scene.

esports.com: In the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic the Counter-Strike tournaments have moved to online play. Did you do any special adjustments to adapt to the changed environment?

NBK-: Not really. In a sense we are still an up and coming team, that has to prove themselves anyway. So whether it’s online or on LAN, we need to give 100 percent to show that we deserve to be there and get good results. So it’s just all about us practicing and doing the right thing more than anything else.

Nevertheless online play has also meant connection issues among other technical problems. Did those affect you or your team as well?

It did for sure in the sense that ISSAA has bad routing to some IPs. But it happens rarely. The real problem was mantuu living in the UK and the resulting ping issues. Now that he moved to Poland, he probably has a better connection than all four of us combined. So now everything is perfect.

Since you already mentioned mantuu, let us talk about him for a bit. In the last couple of months he was the best player by rating in your team. Did you expect this kind of impact from him when you recruited him?

Maybe I expected a bit less from him because he lacks experience in a lot of ways. But one of the main reasons, why we wnated to pick him up was that he is a very smart person. Not just as a player. So he can adapt and bring a lot of things to the game and grasp all the experience that we share with him quickly. Considering that, it is not surprising that his impact was this fast. While I did not expect that amount of impact right from the get go it is obviously more than welcome.

Since the end of June OG has steadily climbed up in the world rankings. What is the secret behind your success?

There are no big secrets really. Counter-Strike teams are a tight group. So when you have issues between the players, whether it is regarding the game or not, the only way forward to be a better team is to just climb those, squelch them no matter what happens. We just had big conversations together and we managed to fix those, regardless of what it was. That was the key for us turning everything around. You could see that just before the RMR (Regional Major Ranking) tournament something clicked and we surpassed a certain level.

Then we came back after the break and kept that level and now we are in the finals of IEM New York, so we still went a step further. It’s all about fixing those internal things and passing the steps one by one. There is no big secret. There are no magical things that happen. You just have to fix all problems in your team and overcome them as a team, that is going to make you stronger.

Many are criticizing world rankings in the current online phase of CS:GO. Do you think they are meaningful right now?

While I think the world ranking is meaningless at the moment, the regional rankings are important. The local rankings of EU and NA are obviously relevant since the teams there are facing each other. But you can’t just compare a team like FURIA against a team like Na`Vi because no one plays each other. So that is m take on it: Regional rankings make sense, world rankings not so much.

The rankings have seen a lot more volatility recently, sometimes it even seems like the ranking is random. Do you think there is a good standard to rank teams right now?

Yes and no. It’s more random because so many teams are really good. Secondly we play so many tournaments in online conditionas that make it more random. Because all the matchups a very often going to be different, sometimes you have teams just countering each other, which makes it more random. We also play many more games and there are more tournaments than back when we played on LAN. Obviously results are going to be harder because all the teams are good and you cannot consistently beat the best teams in the world at this point.

Everyone has very strong individual skill and the teams all have very good players. I don’t think it dicredits any teams that are good online right now, we are just at a stage where you will have a different winner every time for the most part because it is hard to dominate at this point.

During the current online scene the skillgap between EU and NA seems to be growing. Do you think the regions will get closer again once CS:GO goes back to LAN?

I haven’t watched too many of the NA games to be honest. The only thing I am a bit sad about is that the sub-top players are looking to transition to VALORANT. So those highly skilled players, that are going to be the future of the scene are going to be leaving, which is a shame.

When it comes down to level between regions I think it is incomparably right now. You have more ping issues in NA when you face each other. So you really have a lot of different criteria between the regions. I think when the LANs come back we will go back to normal and we will be back to a consistent world ranking and that is the most important thing really.

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You already mentioned VALORANT. Do you think it will affect the Counter-Strike scene even further in the future?

It will just impact the renewal of the players. It will steal some players away that are in sub-top teams. Upcoming players, 15 to 18 years old that are trying hard. There will be an impact on them. But overall I think CS is still the superior game with more players and VALORANT’s influence will be just on them. Because it is not really the same style of game. We are just losing the players that are semi-pros, that are taking a bit of time to break through to the highest level. They might transition to VALORANT and that is where the scene can be hurt.

VALORANT's impact on CS:GO
NBK on VALORANT: “It will steal some players away that are in sub-top teams” | Image Credit: Riot Games

What would it mean to win IEM New York? While it is not an ESL One Cologne or a big offline tournament it is still the one of the biggest tournaments recently.

When you look at the teams that are in the tournament and us going up against them as a team, winning it would show that we are on the right path and that is all we need as a group. To show that we are doing things properly, that our team has potential, that we are among the best players and teams in the world.

And for me personally I have won trophies every year in the past 10 years of my career. We still have two and a half months left to win one, so now is our best shot to do it regardless of who we face in the finals. So that is definitely a very meaningful one if we manage to get it.

The upcoming finals will be a Best-of-Five series. Compared to the regular Best-of-Three how do you prepare for such a grand final?

The most important thing is to be focused on all of the maps. Because the gameplan is going to change throughout. You cannot prepare for everything and adapt over five maps. You have to be mentally ready to play for five hours if not more. You must bring the same energy every time it is needed, but also be able to calm down to balance your energy levels, so you don’t get exhausted after three maps. That’s really the main thing.

Preparation is going to be the same to what we did before. The team that is going to headshot hard in a best of five will always be at an advantage because you can sustain headshots easily for five maps in a row. But it is harder to maintain tactical superiority over five maps.

NBK- at cs_summit 5
NBK- at cs_summit 5 | Image Credit: Todd Gutierrez/BeyondTheSummit

Many teams have struggled with the current online situation and also made roster changes. How is the atmosphere in your team right now?

The atmosphere in the team is really good and it’s getting better and better. I think that is one of the points of international teams. It takes some time to really pull all the pieces together. You have to learn about each other, but not just on a “Hey, how are you doing, my name is Nathan and you are Mantuu.”-level.

You have to know how you approach the game, how you interact with each other. It’s important for us to get better in that regard day after day and that is what we are doing so our team is getting better than it ever has been in many ways. So for us it does not matter if online or not. We are here to have a good time and to perform properly. That is what we are aiming for: Excellence as a team.

Thank you very much for the interview and good luck for the finals.

Thank you.

While OG fell short against FaZe at IEM New York ( 0-3 | 20:22, 5:16, 11:16 ) they have established themselves among the five best teams in Europe. They are currently still in contention for the RMR event DreamHack Open Fall 2020 and will be facing G2 in the lower bracket on October 21.

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Image Credit: OG