SYDNEY --- Following the departure of Jake "Stewie2K" Yip to SK Gaming and introduction of Pujan "FNS" Mehta as the in-game leader for Cloud9, the reigning major champions have struggled. With almost no time to prepare and practice with its new side in the lead-up to Dreamhack Masters Marseille and IEM Sydney, Cloud9's performance has been a far cry from it's Boston major form. Cloud9 was upset in a best-of-three against Chinese team Tyloo in the groups of Sydney before being knocked out by FaZe -- a team it had beat weeks prior in Marseille.
FNS talked about the current problems, strengths and dynamics of Cloud9, alongside his own play as a caller and fragger.
ESPN: What were your main goals as a leader with the Complexity roster before being asked to join C9?
FNS: Before even signing the contract I started playing with those guys. By two weeks in, I wrote everything down, sent it to Ronald "Rambo" Kim and made sure that I had all the strats down so they had an idea of what I wanted to bring in so if someone wanted to get a head start for example. I had all the Google Drive's sent to him, then over time we built on those Google Drives for different maps, CT-side and T-side.
ESPN: That's interesting in regards to the Google Drive. So do you have a walking structure in your head of exactly how you want to approach the game?
FNS: There's a certain way I want to call on every map. I like to make sure the players know that's the way I like to call so that they let me feel a rhythm. The way in-game leading works, which a lot of people might not know, is that you have to have a rhythm, and if that rhythm or flow in the game goes against you that's when you need help. That's when you need timeouts and suggestions from other teammates.
But I think what makes me a good IGL is that I consistently have a flow for the game and if that flow breaks, I can admit that and I can call and ask for help. But I definitely try to implement that system right away because then the flow just becomes easier for me, everyone knows what I'm saying, I just have to say a few words, "this is the strat I'm running," everybody knows the strat we're running, and then I usually have a pretty decent idea of what I want to do throughout the game.
ESPN: Speaking of the flow and feel for a team, how do you feel this C9 roster coming together? Tarik was clearly a looser caller in comparison to your approach, from that perspective how is the dynamic of this side?
FNS: We have a little bit of both like you mentioned. We have a little bit of looseness because I like to give the space to the players that are really good and I've never played with this amount of skilled players all in one team along with experience. So I think I have everything I want on this roster so all it comes down to is comes down to execution at that point. I try to make sure I give them the amount of space they need and not try to call too much.
But that being said, I definitely think it takes away from the structure a little bit, so I've had to re-adapt as an IGL to make sure that I'm kind of giving other players the space. Because in the past, when I was playing with players who understood less about the game or less experienced I had to micro-manage them. I don't have to that as much on this team which helps me focus on my own game a lot on both CT and T-side.
We still have a lot of holes to plug though. We have not had one week of straight practice -- we've had two days of practice. Literally, we're still pugging. I'm trying to call everything that I can but I've yet to implement a system on this team that can stay consistent for a little bit and that I can be completely comfortable with. And to be completely honest with you, I'm very uncomfortable right now but I think over time with more practice we are definitely a roster to be feared.
ESPN: So you're clearly a very supportive in-game leader. What's the current appeal to you in the current meta to playing this more supportive role?
FNS: I think on a successful team, every player should be good fundamentally, mechanically, and in a supportive way. I think everyone should be able to support, everyone should be able to make a call when they see an opening. I think realistically you want all five players on a top team to be able to do all the roles except for maybe the AWPer.
But that being said, I think Cloud9 has that but there just hasn't been enough practice time. So, if I had to compare myself to other IGL's I think I could reach the level of like Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko or Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander who have had time with their rosters. If I have time with my roster. I think we have just as much talent as they do and that I'm not any worse than Zeus or gla1ve, but the truth is I just haven't had time with this roster.
ESPN: When you say gla1ve and Zeus... In my eyes, those two players are far apart individually as fraggers. So do you see yourself leaning more towards the above-average fragging of gla1ve or the sort-of altruistic support play of Zeus?
FNS: Looking at other IGL's I definitely would say that I focus too much on others and that's where my individual skill lacks. But when it comes to myself and I see myself focusing on myself and I just play my own game, I do well. So it's not to say that my mechanical skill is not there it's just that -- and this is a fault of my own -- I just try so hard to focus on making sure my players are successful that it makes me a liability sometimes and I end up being minus 20 or minus 25 sometimes.
So in that sense, I see myself more towards a Zeus type player, but ideally what I want is to place the structure, not say so much stuff and slowly I think I'm getting better on this team. Everyone is letting me know, like "here's these little things you don't have to say" just focus on your own game. Tarik "tarik" Celik has said that to me multiple times. That gives me confidence when I know my players are doing their jobs in the system and I don't have to worry as much.
ESPN: It sounds like this Cloud9 roster has been a breath of fresh air for you in the way you lead teams.
FNS: Yeah, I'll give you an example, like, on Mirage, I have to always look at my B-rotators because I'm the main B player and let me rotator know how he should help me, where he should play and that's always been the case in the past. But on this team, there's been multiple times where I've micromanaged Timothy "autimatic" Ta (the B player on C9) and he's just gone 'please stop, I know'. That's helped me a lot, I can hold the site easier, I can focus on myself, I'm not really talking too much. It's a new me. I didn't even know I was capable of some of this stuff. It's great to be able to have big rounds against teams like FaZe and show I'm capable as an individual.