"I think G2 were a little bit impatient in how they approach things". YNk on FaZe success, Boombl4 return, and G2 changes Exclusive
Janko "YNk" Paunović had a talk with Escorenews during IEM Cologne 2022. We discussed his work at FaZe Clan, NiKo IGLing skills and possible career future for Boombl4. We've posted a snippet of the interview before, related to NiKo and G2.
— What do you think about FaZe? It's kind of phenomenal that they were the first team who ever won the Major with international roster.
— Well, they just have a perfect roster in the sense that every player is exactly in his role, and no one has to make the compromise. Everyone's playing exactly what they want, how they want it. They're all at a really good points in their careers. Some of the guys have been around for a long time. Rain, karrigan, and even Twistzz who is very young, even ropz has been around now for three or four years. Broky is at a level where he's gotten enough experience over the last two years and has improved enough that he can be an equal contributor in that lineup.
I think FaZe invested a little bit more in the supporting staff. You know, they have analysts. They have guys following them around, helping them out. I think also RobbaN has done a great job of building good chemistry within the lineup because you hear it all the time from them. They have fun playing with each other, that everyone is doing their best, everyone's working hard, and that's why they're able to come back in so many games and win tough games and never give up.
You have to have that element where people are having fun and trying to play with each other. So you're not just waiting for a teammate to make some mistakes so that you can point the finger at them because you want to see them removed sooner or later.
— Let's talk a bit about G2. Do they just need more time or did they became worse overall?
— I think G2 were a little bit unlucky in some things. The season started off great for them. They were good at BLAST. They made the grand finals of Katowice, lost in one of the closest 3-0 that we've ever had. And then after that Aleksib gets COVID, he's not there for half of the groups. He comes in, they don't make the playoffs.
And all of a sudden they have like 40 days with no official games. So, for a team that was riding high on momentum, that really brought their energy, team atmosphere down, you can't practice for 30 days. It's just no matter what you do, how you organize it as a coach, as a team. You need those officials to test things that you're working on and for players to be a little bit extra motivated.
So I think when they came to the Major, they lost some of that mojo that they had. And also, of course, the changes that they made. They were a team that was losing in a lot of finals. They were top-3 team last year and still made those changes. To become top-1, not to be worse. And they ended up regressing.
I think they were a little bit impatient in how they approach things. You know, everyone's aware that “we're in a win now mode”. We have really good players. We have on paper all the pieces. But oh, it's a bit more complicated than that.
And I think unfortunately some of those little things started adding up, the pressure started mounting and building for not a great obvious reason. And now, Alexi announced that G2 is letting him explore other options. I think it's a bit premature. But I also understand that probably the relationships within the team just deteriorated so much where the confidence isn't there anymore and at that point is probably unsalvageable for G2.
— You've worked with NiKo when he was IGLing. Now we have Aleksib benched. Will NiKo be IGL again?
— I think he can be a very good IGL because he has a really good game sense and instincts, he trusts his instincts and has a leadership persona. When he talks, people listen to him. And that's very important in IGL, that you talk in a commanding voice, that you don't second guess yourself, that you don't ask people “should we do this, should we do that?” It's your job to tell them what to do and they will maybe have ideas and give their opinions and you have to make the decision.
But I think it's premature still for him to do that. In FaZe we did it out of necessity. We had to do it. And I hope that they’ll figure out a way to fill that role, because I think he's too good as a player. And he has proven that, once he went to G2 and could just focus on playing, he was putting even better numbers, even though he was still doing pretty good individually while he was IGLing.
He can be a good one, a great one, but maybe a couple of years down the line, when maybe he falls off a little bit more individually. But I know the amount of work he puts in and how he approaches the game. So I don't see that happening anytime soon.
— Is there a lack of IGLs on the scene right now?
— Well, I think it's always hard to find an IGL. You have some of the household names and usually, you look for an IGL and an AWPer and if you do find a good one, you'll keep them, because they're worth their weight in gold. So G2 last year, they were struggling with an AWPer — they had nexa, but they didn't have an AWPer. Now they found an AWPer, but lost an ingame leader. I mean, they bring a new one, but he doesn't stick around for so long.
So, I guess there is a lack of IGLs. Because most of the time to be a good in-game leader you need experience as well. You need to have proven yourself in some big games on some big stages, but those guys are already locked in and if they're not, it's usually because they started falling off, and then they're not in a good relationship with the team or something like that.
I think they are hard to come by and usually, you have to take risks, like MOUZ. They brought in dexter, a player from Australia. Or you have to take a risk on a younger player like NiP did with hampus to some extent, and then mold them. And I also think that nowadays you always have to look for an IGL plus coach as a duo. That's who dictates your game.
So you could see what NAVI were able to do with Boombl4, because they have B1ad3. In FaZe you have a different story, you have karrigan and RobbaN as a coach, which is exactly what they need in terms of that. The coach needs to make up for some of the deficiencies some IGL has, whether it's like playing in a slightly different space to make it easier for them.
And in today's game, there’s always a need to be a second caller in a team, like a secondary voice, because the maps are big. IGL can’t see everything. You have to have a guy who's controlling people on the other side of the map for you a little bit and all that. So it's a bit more complicated than that. The teams prime real estate are IGLs and AWPers.
— When Boombl4 got kicked you said that NAVI wouldn’t achieve top-1 again.
— I think I said it's a shame that change had nothing to do with necessarily how they were doing in-game. So I think that kind of suck, that they were all in a way denied the chance to extend their era because of a lot of stuff that's happening outside of the game, obviously.
It's impossible for those guys to just focus on the game. I'm impressed how well they've been doing this whole year, especially lately with everything that's going on. I think that's just tremendous on their part. Finally, NAVI had consistent success for a full year. They won a Major. They won everything pretty much that year on LAN. So it was a shame that they weren't able to properly defend that, coming into this year.
— Do you think Boombl4 has any chances to continue his career regarding all the recent events?
— I don't know. I think it's a little bit rough for him. I'm not sure how much he's tarnished his name. I haven't kept up with that religiously, like the rumors and what's true, what's not true. Some of the stuff, like S1mple said it was pretty obvious to everyone except for him. But he will have that.
People will always say it was all B1ad3, right? But we are not on the team, so we can't really know it outside of what we get from a few interviews. So I think if he really wants another shot, unless he gets an invite from Outsiders or a team like that, then he has to take up a squad of younger players or something along those lines and lead them to a good level. And that way prove that he can do it without having S1mple on the team or B1ad3 as a coach and so forth.
— A lot of clubs from Eastern Europe are moving to Serbia. And I think it's safe to say that Serbia is becoming a new esports center in Europe. What do you think of this?
— Throughout history, we've been in this unique position. We were kind of nowhere. We were just there somewhere, not really on one side or the other side or whatever. I think the biggest thing is we're not part of the EU, so the Schengen days don't apply there. People can come to bootcamp for two weeks and not worry about not having enough days to come to Cologne or come to a tournament. That helps a lot.
There's been some investment in facilities like bootcamp places and so on. There are plans to further invest in that and put Belgrade and Serbia on the map as a potential hubs. And also the costs are lower than going to a bootcamp in Germany or some of the other countries in Western Europe. And that also is a big deal, especially for smaller clubs. Liquid has their own facility in Utrecht, FaZe can send their team wherever they want, Cloud9 as well, and so forth. But other teams are looking at something more affordable for them.
— Do you think it’s going to be good and healthy for a local scene?
— I think we should do something with the teams there, maybe some exhibitional things. Though the local scene is developing a little bit more on its own, maybe you could organize some small event for them. They might play whatever team comes for their two weeks, maybe in a mini-tournament, it would be good for everyone.
Teams will get some practice against kids who are trying hard as the first time they probably get to play against that sort of an opponent because the practice can be really bad sometimes. The good teams play each other, you're hiding some stuff. Players are playing way more relaxed. And then you go into a game and you find yourselves in that situation that you've never seen in practice. Such inside tournaments would be interesting and definitely beneficial for us.