Damian ''daps'' Steel: ''We all want to win every game we play and every tournament we play in.''
Afternoon Damian. Congratulations on your victory at the E-League Road to Vegas tournament qualifier. How is the team feeling after such a grand debut?
Winning the Road to Vegas tournament was very important to us, not just because we got a spot in the $2.4 million E-League, but mainly because it was our very first match under OpTic. The team felt good after winning it.
Taking a look at your role as in-game leader, do you assume a more passive role or are you actively controlling the positions of players during the game?
On the T-Side I control what happens at the start of the round, as well as what happens mid/late round as long as I'm alive. When I'm dead it's up to the people alive to decide on what to do and if the people alive don't speak up then I will step in when dead. Our CT sides have generally been pretty free for anyone to make suggestions in terms of what to do for setups during the round, but that is changing after we suffered two losses to teams we usually beat in the major qualifiers and it's because we played the same way for 3 months.
Your teammate Shahzeb '‘Shahzam’' Khan was seen absolutely dominating the opposition during the matches you have played over January. Does Shahzeb assume a free-play role or are all of the movements planned out?
Our T sides are generally pretty set in terms of where Shahzam will go for a pick or default unless he feels he can make a play somewhere else. Shahzam has a lot more freedom on CT sides though, as he can pick many different spots and try to take out riflers rather than take the AWP vs AWP battles.
How often do you practice? What proportion of time is dedicated to team and personal play?
I would say on average our team plays 7-9 hours depending on how many scrims are available that night. Ideally 2-3 hours of personal time and 5-6 hours of team play.
Are there any changes to the game that you would like to see implemented?
I would personally like to see jumping accuracy with pistols lowered to a point where I'm planting on A plat on dust2 I don't die to a guy jumping 90% of the time or die to people jumping with glocks. As for the jumping scout I honestly don't mind it but I wouldn't care if it was taken out.
Do you think de_nuke will be reintroduced to the classic map rotation anytime soon? If so, which map will it replace?
I've heard rumours of it being reintroduced but I am not 100% sure if it will. If it had to replace one map it would most likely replace de_Train or de_Overpass since they are the least played maps.
"'I think coaches will become mandatory for teams in the near future."
What is your opinion on coaches? Are they mandatory in professional teams or are they simply an optional addition?
I think coaches will become mandatory for teams in the near future, but the problem is finding a suitable coach that has played CS:GO professionally and is willing to do the work required to be a good coach. Having a coach is good because they see things players in the game won't and having an outside opinion can help a lot if all the players respect that coach.
Following up on the previous question, will OpTic be looking to sign a coach in the future?
We have been looking at a few options for coaches and tried some people out, but as of now there is no one we want to fully commit to at this moment as we don't see the added benefit it would provide to our team's situation, unless a really good coaching option becomes available, such as a current player retiring that we all respect and can work with.
What are your thoughts on the state of the NA CS:GO scene post confirmation of the iBUYPOWER life bans? Do you feel they were unnecessarily harsh?
I personally don't think they should have been banned for life, however I also don't know how much they actually made from throwing the match or matches, so I don't know what a suitable length of time would be only Valve knows the numbers.
Cloud9 recently signed Jake ‘stewie2k’ Yip as their 5th member. What thoughts do you have on the addition?
I have watched stewie play on his stream and also played FPL with him a few times. I think he has a ton of skill and potential if guided the correct way, which I think Cloud9 is the perfect team to guide him but I'm not sure how experienced n0thing is in IGL'ing. n0thing has played CS way longer than I have but IGL'ing is something that takes time to get used to and also requires more work outside of playing to perfect, which is why sean was such a good IGL. I don't think Stewie was the type of player they really needed, unless they had a coach calling but if n0thing can pick up the IGL role quickly they should be fine as the team has a ton of raw skill on it.
The hierarchy in North America has consistently been Cloud9, Team Liquid and CLG. What can OpTic do better to break into the top two teams?
Well last season we went 50/50 in matches with Liquid (1-1 ESEA online, 1-1 CEVO online, Beat them on LAN once and they beat us on LAN once), Cloud9 we never really played since they weren't in CEVO or any of the other side tournaments but we went 1-1 in ESEA vs them. As for CLG we went 1-1 vs them in ESEA and CEVO last season but more recently 2-0’d them in the Freedom Cup as well as the StarLadder i-League StarSeries XIV: America Qualifier so I feel we match up best with CLG out of the 3 teams. For this season we just need to become more consistent and show up every night rather than having big ups and downs that we have been prone to over the past couple of months and that will help us break into the top 2.
Many people make remarks on how bad the North American scene is in terms of practicing, especially when compared to Europe. Do you agree with this?
I do agree to an extent, NA teams do practice less as a team compared to EU teams from what I hear. A big problem, I find, is how other NA teams handle scrimming/practicing other teams, as a lot of the time it feels teams either give up if they are losing a scrim by a decent margin or from the start of the scrim they are just running around like it's an FPL game.
Do you think that the North American scene differs from the European scene in terms of strategy?
I wouldn't say the top EU teams have these insane strats that out-think teams if that's what you mean by strategy. The top EU teams just have better patience, discipline and communication compared to every NA team, even our team loses rounds because of wild communication or lack of communication and it is something that has improved over time within our own team.
Being signed by a large organisation like OpTic, do you feel a growing pressure to succeed in tournaments?
I wouldn't say there is any added pressure than before signing with OpTic, as most of us have played under big organisations already such as Team Liquid and Cloud9, plus, we have all played at big events before. We all want to win every game we play and every tournament we play in and that will never change no matter what our team name is, but, the Green Wall fans are great and having all that support does help!
"'We all want to win every game we play and every tournament we play."
What are your interests outside of professional CS:GO?
I really enjoy hockey and tennis but another one of my favourite things to do is travel and being a pro CS:GO player lets me do plenty of travelling which I love.
How do your family and friends feel about your gaming career?
Everyone around me is super supportive of it and always ask a ton of questions about it, as it is a pretty unique career that not even I planned to do before CS:GO came out.
To conclude the interview, could you please outline the main goals that you and the team have devised for 2016?
Most teams in NA made roster changes except ours and every team is going for the clear cut #1 NA spot this year. We have beaten every team in NA before, it is just on us to become consistent enough to the point where we beat teams such as LG, Liquid, Cloud9 and CLG on a regular basis.