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SK Gaming got quite the scare in the first round of the StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 5 Finals scraping by Vici Gaming by map scores of 1-16 (Cache), 19-15 (Inferno), 16-2 (Train). This new iteration of SK Gaming has seen a dramatic drop in form which most fans and pundits believe is due to roster issues and team chemistry. VPEsports reached out to Marcelo “coldzera” David after their win to get some clarification.

First of all, congratulations on your opening win at the StarSeries &i-League Season 5 Finals. Obviously, not the best performance on the first two maps against Vici Gaming, but you guys took control in map three. What went right and what went wrong?

“We played the first map, as if we were still asleep. They didn’t do anything special, they just got control of mid and split for the sides on the B site. It wasn’t a hard game in terms of what they were doing, we just made bad decisions the entire game and needed to wake up. I’m not happy with our performance because in reality the game was not that difficult. We knew what to expect from them and we need to do a better job of playing better, earlier. I will say, on a third map they played really well, but on Train, you cannot create too much space and Vici is a team that needs space to play well. So It was quite easy game for us.”

Do you think that on the third map Vici just didn’t have the stamina to play as well as they did in the beginning? Do you think they got a little nervous because they were playing SK Gaming?

“Yeah. But at the same time, they did show a good performance on cache where they controlled the map very well. But, when playing against the best teams, teams like Vici, need to learn how to play in a four vs. five without panicking. If they play in a  five against five situation and have enough space, the game will be hard. But if you can get a pick and put them at a disadvantage numbers-wise they no longer know how to continue playing. Two against three, three against four — they are really bad in these situation.”

It’s not the first time you have had a tough time against a Chinese opponent. The TyLoo defeated in Sydney comes to mind. Is there a difference in playing against Chinese teams and those teams in other regions?

It’s just who we have been matched up with first. Sometimes when we’ve just started to play at a tournament, like today, the first few days are very rough for us.  We start very slow at events and try to get better each day.”

You replaced Epitácio “TACO” de Melo with Jake “Stewie” Yip. Has then been a problem with any kind of language barrier and if so, how have you made it work?

“Right now we are getting better. I think inside the game it’s not that hard to communicate. I am taking English lessons from my manager’s husband so it’s not that hard for us to speak on English during the matches right now and our team communication is getting better over time.  Inside the game we have some key words that we use and these keys help Stewie in improving our communication. Also, boltz doesn’t speak English very well and it’s hard for him to learn. But the time we’ve had together is definitely helping and now we don’t have a same barrier that we had in the beginning.”

It’s no secret that before picking up Stewie from Cloud9, you wanted to sign the Na’Vi duo of  Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev  and Egor “flamie” Vasilyev. This meant that Ricardo “boltz” Prass would have had to leave the roster as well. Are you afraid that because boltz now knows he is expendable, or may think he is, that his confidence is shaken? Do you think he believes he is waiting to be kicked again at some point?

“It doesn’t work that way on our team. For example, when we kicked Lincoln “fnx” Lau, he knew it was a possibility for a couple of months. We told him, ‘You need to be better, or we will change you.’ We did the same with João “felps” Vasconcellos because we wanted to give him a chance and time to improve as well. Of course we wanted to have s1mple and flamie in the beginning, but after we had a meeting with everyone, boltz said that he knows that he’s playing bad but that he will try to get better. We trusted him. And now everything work well. The reason why we choose to kick TACO and almost kicked Boltz is because the team was stuck and no one wanted to grow up anymore.”

You decided to take the mantle of in-game leadership. How do you manage with your new role? What changes has it brought to your play style?

“I decided to become IGL, because Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo lost his confidence after losing in so many recent tournaments. His strats just weren’t good or working so we started to talk to each other and he asked me to help with calls during matches. The other players started to like that idea, as well as FalleN. We have a very similar style, but I just made some minor changes. But, he is the captain and still calls the shots on Inferno and Cache. I handle the calls on Train, Mirage, Dust 2 and Overpass. For example, today we played Inferno and Gabriel made the calls. We don’t have any strict rules, so everyone can have a say if they want. We like to mix the captain roles between us.

So can fans conclude that your appointment to the role of in-game leader is just a temporary one?

“Yeah, it’s only temporary. I need to focus on my game. So I’m really looking forward to the moment FalleN becomes the full-fledged captain again.”

StarSeries is probably the only tournament which you haven’t won. What are your chances this time around?

“I would say we have very good chances at winning this thing. We got help with FaZe and Astralis deciding to skip the event. But of the teams that are here in the tournament, the toughest team for us is probably Na’Vi. They are looking very good. Liquid as well. But we beat them online and Liquid didn’t show anything special in that match. I think s1mple is such a great player and if we face them during the event, it will be very close game no matter who wins. To be honest, in this tournament, there are so many teams with good map pools that it will not be easy for us for sure.”


According to the latest results and HLTV poll, Astralis appears to be the consensus No. 1 team in the world. What do you think?

“With Emil “Magisk” Reif, they have more firepower and the chemistry between all the players is incredible. For me, when I watched their games, I sae that they know how to play a pure brand of CS right now. They use grenades very well and they know how to conduct a good retake. So if you want to beat Astralis today, you have to overplay them in mind games.”

For the upcoming ESL event, you will be playing as well as Nao Tem Como. After a string of rumors, the organizers said that there is no conflict of interest between your two teams. Can you clarify the situation?

“Right now I can’t say anything. Of course we going to leave the SK, and management is probably checking the options,  but NTC will probably take a spot in SK. But they didn’t sign anything–yet”

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