By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
F0llowing compLexity’s pick’em wrecking victory over North American rival NRG we caught up with Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan. The North American AWPer discussed the surprising victory, Nuke, n0thing, and more.
Since the interview compLexity has been eliminated from the IEM Katowice 2019 CS:GO Major after a tough series with FaZe Clan.
You can find the full interview below:
VPEsports: Let’s begin from the end. When matches are that close and tough as yours against NRG, it means that teams played too good or too bad. So, how it was against NRG?
ShahZaM: It was a little bit of both. I think there were times when we played very well and times when both teams made terrible mistakes. And it came down to who did more mistakes in the end.
VPEsports: Do you agree with the thought that you were lucky to play against another NA team, which you knew well?
ShahZaM: 100% I agree. NRG is a team that we practiced against a lot, especially back in the day and we match up very well against them in the past. Usually we beat them, last Minor we beat them and at the previous Major, so we had a good mental advantage over NRG. So yeah, we were very lucky in that sense.
VPEsports: Do you have any thoughts about the way they did the map veto against you by leaving Nuke in a pool?
ShahZaM: We were shocked by that. We were preparing for Overpass, because it’s one of the best maps of NRG, they beat tier-1 teams on it. And at the same time Overpass is very uncomfortable for us, we didn’t play it with the whole previous roster for a year! If I think back on it, I think it’s because they saw our game versus Astralis and I know ImAPet likes to study on teams and couldn’t study our Overpass, so maybe that’s a reason, but I think it still was a bad decision.
VPEsports: Tell me about your preparation. As far as I know – you had an intense bootcamp and two events before. So how did that affect your preparation for the Major?
ShahZaM: Obviously, we had new players – n0thing and Rickeh and we played those tournaments against very good teams without practicing a lot. We played against Astralis, fnatic, FaZe etc. But at the same time it definitely hurt our confidence because we didn’t win a single map on LAN. That’s just bad. So we needed a bootcamp with a lot of work to do and bootcamped in Frankfurt for like 8 days and played, and played, and played. Six or seven scrims per day and talked a lot about the game. After we figured out what do we have to do now. We had a rough start with the first two games but luckily we showed our power in the match against NRG.
VPEsports: Do you think that such an intense bootcamp can somehow be a source of failure for your first two games? Maybe you should take a day off and chill out together?
ShahZaM: During the bootcamp we hadn’t always had a chance to play against European teams so we just need to make most of it. We can’t really waste a day. Because you know, organisation paid to be there for the bootcamp. It’s not really about pressure, we knew we had a lot of work to do and we get our work done so it’s all very productive.
VPEsports: Can you compare preparation to this Major and for FACEIT’s one?
ShahZaM: During our bootcamp for FACEIT Major, we spent a lot of time talking about the basics and and going back to talking about basic concepts. We should have done a bit more about details and more chemistry stuff. During this bootcamp it seems like we have people that a more well-rounded understanding, I mean rotations and such. So we can focus on details of rounds and how we want to play it and make individual decisions.
At the previous Major we only played Inferno but this one we have a new roster so it’s more comfortable to play on all the maps. With a previous roster, we were comfortable playing maybe on three maps.
VPEsports: Did the new system with best-of-threes effect your preparation? Force you to learn more maps quickly?
ShahZaM: Yeah. Last Major we played all the maps we wanted to play and we got only one veto back then so we figured out which maps we are probably best on and we know we can kind of narrow it down to this with the vetos in bo1. So we always could certainly pick the map we play in bo1. But when it comes to bo3, sometimes you don’t know what another team will ban against you or what they wanna pick. You really have to prepare a whole lot more for multiple maps and be confident on it. You can’t go in and be comfortable on only two maps and expect them in bo3. You had to have a basic foundation on everything.
VPEsports: You changed the roster with picking up Rickeh and n0thing. Stanislaw said in his recent interview that you don’t know how long n0thng will play with you. Does that impact the team at all?
ShahZaM: For me, personally it doesn’t, we’re just focusing on ths tournament. And we’re not really thinking beyond it and any tournaments after the Major. We are focusing on what we have right now and after that Jordan can make a decision and if he doesn’t want to continue playing it would be a pretty bad spot for us cause we’ll have to find a new player. To be honest, he’s pretty good for us.
VPEsports: Why did it take so long for compLexity to make a roster change? Do you agree that you probably had to do it right after the FACEIT Major, or after StarSeries?
ShahZaM: Yeah. 100% percent I feel like that. Because of the team’s atmosphere for all the tournaments after the Major, especially at StarSeries in Kyiv. Things got very downhill there. It almost feels like we kind of wasted our opportunities and chances at other tournaments. We probably had to make changes sooner.
VPEsports: In November of 2017 it was announced that Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Acquired compLexity Gaming. How has it affected you as a player and your team?
ShahZaM: First – we all live close to the Dallas Cowboys and we have a headquarters being built next to Cowboys headquarters. We have access to the Cowboys lunch facilities, we go to lunch there too. We also have access to their gym. You know, they’re trying to influence performance factors of sports players into esports ones. Taking care about diet, exercise, mental health – all these things which is important.
VPEsports: Do you have a favorite experience or moment?
ShahZaM: We play games together [Cowboys players]. And there was Post Malone and stuff. It’s pretty cool, I mean they are real celebrities.
VPEsports: You don’t consider yourself a celebrity?
ShahZaM: No, not at all. I just play video games.
VPEsports: Reading your interview in November… Are you still vulnerable to the voice of community?
ShahZaM: I was, when I was younger, when I joined Cloud9. 100%. It was kind of my downfall of that period, but as I grew older… You know, you kind of mature and you kind of write off this kind of thing and they no longer bother you. That’s kind of a point I’ve reached now. As you can see I am not really involved in any drama now.
VPEsports: What helped to mold you? Was it just age or some circumstances?
ShahZaM: Maybe both. When you get older – you mature and after I had this experience in Cloud9 when I let the public put me down and make me not even enjoy playing. After it, I took some time to just think about what I wanted and not in a selfish way but just focus on myself.
VPEsports: Let’s end our interview in an unusual way. You ruined many Pick’ems with your victory over NRG, so maybe you want to say sorry for that?
ShahZaM: I am not sorry! (laughing)