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Photo: ESL

By Taras Bortnik

Special to VPEsports

During the IEM Katowice Challengers stage, we had the opportunity to speak with Cloud9 CS:GO’s new coach, Ron “Rambo” Kim.

The former Counter-Strike champion and legend of the North American scene helped lead the team to a 2-3 record in the challengers stage.

Rambo discusses his time on compLexity, the new roster, Cloud9, and more in the below exclusive interview.

VPEsports: Was it your decision to not stay with compLexity?

Rambo: I was removed. It wasn’t my choice. I had conflicting philosophies, and I had different in-game ideas with stanislaw. So, how we preparing for matches, whole system was just completely different. We can’t really find a balance, so that’s why I was removed.

VPEsports: Did these conflicts with stanislaw begin after the Major?

Rambo: It was pretty much from the start and we still figured out how to become a Legends. I think he had his own way of running a team and how to prepare a team.

VPEsports: Any examples of your ideas?

Rambo: Sure. My idea for that particular team in that line up I felt like we needed a more structured, offensive system. And stanislaw likes more default, kind of everyone do your own thing and then play individually. But I felt like too many of our players didn’t have the experience to do that system nor at the highest level so I wanted to try more structured strats and he didn’t want any of that. And also in terms of match preparation I really like to study demos of my opponents and he doesn’t like to do any of that.

VPEsports: But if all these conflicts were even before the FACEIT Major, what exactly did go wrong after it?

Rambo: One thing is some kind of personality differences between the players. There was never like a real full five-man team, as a unit. And the second thing is in-game, we never could find a system that worked with all the players.

VPEsports: So why did you not make a roster change immediately after the Major, or after StarSeries?

Rambo: May get in trouble for this but I don’t think so. After the Major we got in top-8 and got Legend status, the management didn’t want to give up on that line up. Because we did top-8, so let’s try and continue to do better with this team. Back then, some people thought that we needed to make a change.

VPEsports: You were the one who believed in roster?

Rambo: I think there was room for improvement, and better players were out there that would help the team. But we stayed with that roster and I think that was ultimately the reason why we didn’t perform. And we can never get past that contending point because of the players and also because of the system.

VPEsports: The changes that compLexity did, what do you think of them? Are n0thing and Rickeh the solution?

Rambo: I think so. Because now all five members are experienced, mature, and they’ve been playing Counter-Strike for a long time. And if they wanted to do well at a Major they needed five players with that experience. Cause they were limited by the amount of time for practice.

VPEsports: If you were still a coach of coL, would you like to work with these players?

Rambo: Yes. I like the roster move they did and it’s good.

VPEsports: In Cloud9, do you have that freedom, that you needed back then?

Rambo: Definitely I have more freedom. It’s an interesting situation, because Soham (Valens) is still the coach and I am still learning about all the players and their current system. After the Major I am going to be the head coach.

VPEsports: Can you describe your working process with Valens?

Rambo: Valens is a very smart guy. Super smart so I respect him a lot. Anytime he has an input in a way he’s been doing things. I think we share similar philosophies in terms of the game. We’re just figuring out how practices run, what he likes to contribute during practice. Now it’s been about month or five weeks that I’ve been with the team and I think I got a good understanding about the players and the way they think. I have a clear idea of how I can help this team and once I do take over the coach I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to implement my ideas and plans.

VPEsports: What issues are you going to fix first?

Rambo: We have a four Major winners, and a young player. On paper we are really strong. What I wanna do, is figuring out how to maximize that in a system. Individually they are fantastic, but how do we make them all complement each other, how can they help each other, set each other up to play their role. Flusha is a phenomenal lurker, he’s really good at finding space and openings, so how do we get him in these positions? Autimatic – great AWPer, but how do we get him shots to pick people off, how can we protect him so he can set up? In general, we are looking for how can we create the strategies and default system, so it can bring out the best of everyone.

VPEsports: From your perspective, what’s going on with this roster here in Katowice?

Rambo: On the Challengers stage we played first game against Grayhound and we won and it was ok, but in matches versus Chinese teams I think we got in our own heads and played hesitant, there were some nerves. We didn’t play with Chinese teams before and they caught us off guard. They were really prepared, showed good aim and simply outplayed us.

I feel like if the players have a right mentality heading into the match, Cloud9 is a very strong team. So we’re just trying to fix the mentality.

VPEsports: Do you have any thoughts on why the mentality of C9 is so unstable? In the first match of Legends Stage up you easily took down MIBR, but then you couldn’t win a single round against Astralis.

Rambo: That’s crazy, never seen anything like this before. Such a big win followed by such a big loss, so I think the key is in starting on CT-side.

VPEsports: Don’t you think that against the Danes you had a bad map veto? According to statistics, Train is your least played map.

Rambo: Yes. There was a mistake by us, and we know it. That’s all what I really wanna share. I prefer not to say who decided to play this map.

VPEsports: Do you have any thoughts about why NRG performed that poorly at this stage of the Major?

Rambo: This is not a first time when they didn’t do well under pressure. When I was in coL, I remember we beat them at a Minor in bo3 as well. I don’t know what it is, but they haven’t really beaten big name teams consistently. They are really good in practice and they are definitely a top-10 team but under pressure they don’t do well.

VPEsports: Can you tell me about current state of Golden? Will you bring him back into the roster?

Rambo: I don’t know too much about Golden, he was before my time, but I know he has some health issues and I think he was doing some surgery maybe, cause doctor told him that he couldn’t fly. I think we’re just waiting to see what will doctor say, he’ll need a time for heal and recover. From what I’ve seen of demos he’s a good player he had a lot of success in Fnatic. Obviously, he’s kind of new on the scene, so he has a lot of potential still, and still can be better. Golden is a natural in-game leader.

VPEsports: Whole 2018 Cloud9 struggled to find a proper player. Why is it so hard to find a permanent replacement for teams?

Rambo: I think most of the good players are in a contract, with some really big buyouts. I think it’s all up to the player and his agent to figure out these numbers.

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