VPEsports caught up with Joshua “steel” Nissan following his team’s loss in their opener at DreamHack Open Atlanta.
The former Ghost in-game leader discussed the team getting the chance to compete in Atlanta, his new team, finding a team with his past, Chaos’ future and more.
You can read the exclusive interview in its entirety below:
VPEsports: You guys got brought in pretty last minute. I think you even tweeted out to them when they announced Cloud9 was out. What were the expectations coming into this with such late notice?
steel: I think we were just preparing, in general. We obviously didn’t know that we were going to come here until … I forget which day it was, but it was less than a week ago. Basically, I had reached out because I knew that some of the teams that were going to the second stage of EPL. For example, Envy and ATK. Any other teams that were going to EPL second stage, they wouldn’t be able to come here. If they had to drop out of the tournament, then it would create a space available. We came runner up in the qualifier so I thought maybe there’s a chance. I reached out and then we got lucky.
VPEsports: I would say this is probably the least experienced team you’ve been on in your pro career. It went from the top dogs to Ghost, and now a lot of these guys are relatively unheard of throughout the scene. People know who Infinite is, but not he’s not super well known. What’s that been like for you? Do you find that you have you put in more effort to put them to that level or are you pleasantly surprised with who you’re working with?
steel:I think there’s a misconception about experience, that somehow, if someone’s been playing pro for four years, they’re automatically going to be better than someone else; whereas, I think that most of it comes from just being able to communicate. What you get out of a game review section, for example, how many times you have to meet a situation before you learn from it, and then take that knowledge and apply it to the next time you play. With the group of players that we have now … obviously, the roster was supposed to be something different when we were first trying to look at it and put it together. We were going to have more experienced players.
As time went on and we had the MDL season starting and we were putting things together, obviously the team is less experienced. With the players that we have, we have everyone being able to share input. We’re able to sit down during a game review session and learn from it. I think that’s ultimately more important than playing with someone else that has a bigger name, a bigger brand, or might have more pro experience. At the end of the day, there’s so many pros out there that just sit there, stealing paychecks. They got washed up and they just get recycled back into their team somehow. Everyone talks about, oh, a washed-up player. Why don’t we give a new player a chance? Well, here you go.
VPEsports: Given that you can’t play majors, how does that change your approach to organizations? You’ve still got Ghost, you still have Chaos. Does it limit you a whole lot or not as much as you thought it would?
steel: It limits me a lot, actually. There’s a lot of organizations that I spoke to. Straight out, they’d be like, we’d love to have you, but no, or we would have you, but as a coach, because you can’t play in Majors.
I think for a lot of organizations, the Majors are the penultimate thing. They don’t really care about every other event. They can just forego every event in the calendar year, as long as they have a chance to play in the Minor system. I think that a team like Complexity, for example, is a team that they had no success, but now they’re going all out with just dumping money at people. For other organizations that might be with teams that are kind of on the cusp of being able to qualify for the majors, they pay their players not substantial amounts of money. I think that I should have an offer for them. I don’t really explore too many of the other options, because I’ve been speaking with Chaos for a while, actually. I knew I was going to go forward with them at some point. It was just a matter of time. I definitely think that there’s more than enough events in the calendar year that not being able to go to the Majors shouldn’t be the biggest thing.
VPEsports: Another thing is, a lot of the other players who were a part of that haven’t had similar paths. Dazed left the scene after trying to come back. Swag hasn’t exactly lived up to what everyone thought after the break. You’ve been able to keep competing. Some of them chose not to, but why do you think that is?
steel: I think part of it is a motivation thing. I think another part of it is that when we played back then, the scene was different. Whoever could put in more time, got rewarded with it. You’re just better than other people and other people didn’t really catch up. People that tried to play, there was no salary in the game, so people couldn’t full time it. We had experience from prior versions. Then, after that, the game has really evolved a lot since 2014, 2015 when we got banned. It’s hard to keep up with meta. You’re just so instilled with this idea of how to play the game and so much has changed, with regards to recoil and with movement, with the meta.
Different guns come and go. Different ideas and metas. How you would just go in first, there are certain routes you’d have. Everything changed so much, that whether it be certain peoples’ play styles or just the style in general, like what types they liked to use. Maybe it got nerfed, maybe it got buffed, maybe it’s just different. Maybe the positions that they’re comfortable playing. Maybe everyone understands you can’t hard lurk anymore. That’s why players like Happy kind of fell off. It’s like, I’m playing against you, I know you’re going to be in this spot every single round. What are you going to do? I think it’s hard to keep up with that type of stuff if you’re not actually actively playing frequently and regularly.
I know that when I came back after switching to Overwatch and switching to PUBG, it was a lot for me to learn. Even to this day, I’m still learning. There’s so much to learn, and if you stop playing for a little bit, you slip out really easily.
VPEsports: Where do you see Chaos being able to go? As you said before, there’s a lot of teams in that area that compete for that last spot at the Minor, or they’re always in the qualifiers. You have Envy, you have even a lot of Brazilian teams coming up that are neck and neck with the bottom tier one and tier two. Where does Chaos sit?
steel: I think the barrier for entry to a top 30 team is pretty accessible. I think, obviously, if you’re going to compare us to a top-five or top ten teams, we’re not going to be able to scratch the surface right now. I think that if you have a team that’s built around good teamwork and communication and a good structure and good system, the results will be able to come; whereas, a lot of other teams rely on individual performances. I think that when you get to a certain level in Counter-Strike, everyone’s aim and skill is pretty similar, in terms of mechanical movement and in aiming – a lot of people are very similar.
Obviously there are outliers where people could single-handedly perform really consistently at a really high level. Those are outliers. For the most part, everyone’s got a pretty even aim and it all comes down to the mistakes. Who makes more or less mistakes. Individual performances, they’re not really consistent. You can’t rely on them all the time, so if we come with a system-
If you come with a system and you have a solid foundation where you have a lot to fall back on and you’re learning every time from a game review. You’re able to just sit together and every time you play, you’re adding something else onto the system and the structure. Then you’re going to get to the point where at your worst day, you’re still going to be able to perform as a top 20 team. I think that’s our focus, where if we’re able to make it to that, then we’ll gain the experience and everything that makes other players so good.
Other players that are really super skilled, if you want to look at the top three … most people would consider s1mple, Zyw0o, and Niko. Those guys are also big outliers, but they also have a lot of experience doing this type of stuff. They know how to push limits and everything. For some of my teammates, they don’t have a lot of those experiences and, I guess, repetitions of, let’s play this, I’m going to try this. This is our first LAN environment as a team together, it’s Wippie’s first LAN. I don’t know how many LAN events Matt has been to, but I could probably count it on maybe one hand. For them every experience that they’re doing from this point on with us is new. Trying to figure out the boundaries of, in-game, what are they able to get away with as a player on LAN, just like the experience of how you can hear in-game differently or maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s something else. They’re always learning something. Once we have a little bit of that experience under our belts, then it’s going to be much different in the future.
VPEsports: Last question is, you play a lot of FPL and you’re known for the reactions and the, “What are these guys doing?” Is there anybody that actually stands out to you and you’re like, all right, that guy might actually be able to move into a good team … a top team? Everybody said that about TenZ and that didn’t exactly work out. Then, there are some players who made that jump. Some have fallen back down, but is there somebody that when you watch them play you’re thinking maybe this guy?
steel: There are a few people like that. I think, first and foremost, I’d like to say I hate streaming, because it brings out the absolute worst in me. Especially, I don’t like playing non-team CS. If you’re playing with someone that you’re expecting to help you and support you and then they just don’t, because they’re playing for themselves, or they’re baiting, or they’re not talking, or they’re watching their stream or something, it’s really annoying. The experience of FPL, in general, is sour, just because it feels like very minimal people actually care or want to try the whole time.
There are players that are like, okay, this guy seems to have a good understanding of the fundamentals of the game and they’re also skilled. Maybe they will work out on a team. Then, there are so many other qualities of a player that you don’t really see under the surface until you actually play with them. For example, what’s their work ethic like? If you go into a review session with them and you’re watching a game, are they actually learning from it. How long does it take? If you point something out, how many times do you have to say the same thing before they’re able to apply it to their own gameplay? What about their attitude? Are they able to handle losses or do they huff and puff and do they get really whiny during a game. Many qualities you don’t get until you actually play with someone. For me, I don’t want to ever just be like, oh, this guy probably has potential, because you don’t know.
If they start getting paid a salary, are they going to work harder or are they going to start to be, like, “Fuck it, I made it.” A lot of players that make FPL have that ego of, “Fuck it, I made it. I don’t need to listen to other people now.” I think that’s pretty big. I think that’s why it’s so difficult to find the right pieces for a team. I feel like that’s why past projects, like Ghost, didn’t work out for me. You’re optimistic, and you have high expectations for other people, and then, slowly over time, you see what people are really like as teammates. You see what their motivation and passion is like. You realize that there’s a disconnect there.