We sat down with Tyler “tucks” Riley at the Zowie eXTREMESLAND 2018 – ANZ Qualifier to find out a bit more about how his team has found success recently, the state of Australian CS:GO and his expectations after making it to the grand finals in Shanghai.
CSGO2ASIA: Hey tucks, thanks for taking the time out to chat with us today!
tucks: Yeah, no worries!
CSGO2ASIA: So to start off with, how long has this line-up been together? We understand you played this qualifier with a stand-in, is that correct?
tucks: Yeah, so we added Kyran “dizzy” Crombie after IEM Sydney. We had Euan “sterling” Moore at that event. Unfortunately, we didn’t really feel like it was working out with us and sterling. I think he’s a really talented player, but he didn’t offer a lot of things that we wanted from an AWPer. He wasn’t very assertive and didn’t communicate as much, I think he’s just more of a passive player. We knew that “dizzy” would do more of his own thing, which is what we wanted, so we decided to make that change. It’s been since May of this year I believe.
CSGO2ASIA: Ah ok, so that’s quite new. What kind of events have you played with dizzy on board so far?
tucks: Yeah, mainly domestic. So apart from the online qualifiers for our region, we’ve had the chance to play in a CyberGame AU LAN and the ESL ANZ Finals as well. This eXTREMESLAND ANZ Qualifier would be the latest event with dizzy on board.
CSGO2ASIA: Ok cool. We hear that dizzy didn’t come from any known team before this, is that true?
tucks: Yeah, no, not really. I mean he played for Legacy a while back for around a year and bit I believe, but that was when Legacy wasn’t really that serious about CS:GO, like they weren’t really practicing hard or anything and the org was still learning how to fit players in here and there.
CSGO2ASIA: Got it, so you found dizzy playing on the Australasian Pro League?
tucks: Yeah, that’s pretty much how we decided on him. I guess, he was a known name but when we decided on him he was really playing a lot and dominating the leaderboard.
CSGO2ASIA: Nice. So are you still the IGL of the team, or has that changed?
tucks: No, Mike “ap0c” Aliferis is now the IGL. So after IEM Sydney we also made that change, ap0c is now the IGL because we felt he has a really good brain for CS, and he also has a good work ethic for it. Since then he’s been doing wonders for us as an IGL, he’s been putting in heaps of effort. I think also for myself, I’m better at making those mid-round calls as a secondary caller, I find myself on the other side of the map just giving Mike input so he doesn’t have to think so much. It also encourages the other players to make calls as well, doing it this way. I think we have a really good dynamic right now.
CSGO2ASIA: Awesome. So is this the strategy going forward then? Just allowing your other players to think for themselves a bit more?
tucks: Yeah, well that’s the way it’s going isn’t it. You can’t just have one good caller anymore.
CSGO2ASIA: Yeah, because everyone just gets dependant on that one guy, and that’s a lot of pressure on one guy.
tucks: Exactly, and that’s something I’ve experienced before, and that’s something I knew was wrong but I didn’t have the right players around me, no one could IGL and no one was making any calls so it’s frustrating being completely reliant on myself, it puts a lot of stress on you. You have your limits as a team. I think that’s why now we’ve been playing a lot better because we have all these different inputs from the team and everyone putting in the effort. Then we have Mike who has the overall view of how he wants to play, his system, and it just fits nicely within that system.
CSGO2ASIA: Yeah, that makes sense. So do you feel like you can also benefit from ap0c’s experience playing under Winterfox in North America, or is that sort of redundant now?
tucks: Yeah, I don’t think he can help us much with his experience playing in N.A., it’s just different. I think if we were in America, like, he could teach us a lot of how to practice properly and those sorts of things, but because we’re in Australia it’s kind of hard.
CSGO2ASIA: Got it. So that’s a good leeway into my next question. I’ve heard many opinions from the other teams here about why the top Australian teams seem to rotate their ‘claim to the throne’ so frequently. At any given time it seems, any of the top four Australian teams can dominate, and their number one status doesn’t really last that long. What is your opinion on this? Why isn’t there one clear top team in Australia?
tucks: Yeah, you sort of just have short periods of domination. For example, Grayhound has been playing really well lately, they are the number one team right now, you can’t really argue with it. I would’ve loved to see them here on LAN and contest that, but yeah. With the top four teams, we all practice together all the time. I think beyond these top four, the other teams just aren’t good enough, it’s a really big gap right now. You know, you have talented players and they all seem to be improving, but something is still missing. It’s almost like you have the top four teams – Chiefs, Grayhound, Order and Tainted Minds, then you have Legacy who is number five, and then everyone else. I mean Legacy can beat everyone else but when it comes to the top four they struggle, so the gap is still pretty big.
CSGO2ASIA: That’s interesting. So, moving away from the general Aussie scene and more onto eXTREMESLAND. Do you think it was a good idea to bring this qualifier in as part of the Melbourne Esports Open (MEO)?
tucks: Yeah, for sure. I really wanted that, not specifically eXTREMESLAND but just to have a CS:GO event at the MEO. It’s great that we have this opportunity, but I would’ve really loved to play at the Rod Laver Arena in front of the big crowd! We probably wouldn’t pull as many viewers as LoL but even then it’s something I think we can strive for. It’s a step in the right direction, I mean, having the country sort of accept CS:GO is good because it’s seen as kind of a violent game and all, I know they weren’t actually keen to have CS:GO at this event because of that, so this is good.
CSGO2ASIA: Yeah, it was a really last minute addition to the MEO. So what was your preparation like for this qualifier?
tucks: Well, we pretty much did our regular day-to-day preparation. We didn’t look at any team specifically because we know these teams really well. What did happen though was last minute Samuel “flickz” Jones told us he couldn’t fly because of health reasons, so we got Iyen “IyeN” Raju as a substitute. In that sense, pretty much everything we did prepare was just thrown out the window anyway. But thankfully we have a strong core four, so we just focused on that and let IyeN do his thing, which worked out.
CSGO2ASIA: Alright. So what are your goals for the Grand Finals? Do you think you will do some sort of boot camp to prepare?
tucks: I’m not sure yet, obviously we’d love a boot camp but the schedule in Australia is quite busy. The Mountain Dew League (MDL) is about to start as well as the ESL ANZ League so it’s quite tough. We would love to play in Asia for a bit and at least practice with the teams there before going to Shanghai, we’ll see. As for the goals, we’re definitely going for the win in Shanghai.
CSGO2ASIA: Yeah that makes sense. Based on that, what is your experience like playing the other Asian teams? What do you see as the key differences in the level/style of play between Asia and Oceania?
tucks: I’ve played a lot of the teams separately on different occasions, like B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape for example. I remember playing them during the WCA Qualifiers last July (2017) and back then they had come off a win against TYLOO so we thought they were pretty good, but we ended up beating them. I’ve played against some of the Thai teams too, but I thought they were just ok. Several months after the WCA Qualifiers, during the IEM Oakland Qualifiers, we played The Mongolz, and they were just a different beast altogether. They are so much more aggressive and they don’t care what you’re doing, they will punish you if you don’t pay attention, crazy aim. During IEM Sydney we did get to practice against TYLOO and B.O.O.T, and the difference is just massive. TYLOO are so much more structured and they have it all, aim, teamwork and individual skills. I reckon B.O.O.T is around our level, we could take a few maps off them and vice-versa.
CSGO2ASIA: Great insight. Anyway, that wraps up the interview for today. Thanks a lot for taking the time to speak with us, Tyler. See you in Shanghai!
tucks: Great to chat to you too, thanks, I appreciate it.