Between some of the playoff matches at EPIC.LAN, Coalesce’s owner and director of esports, Sam ‘Kanny‘ Hollinrake, spoke to UKCSGO about past decisions and how the organisation plans to learn from their rocky first year of operations. With a new training facility and roster on the horizon, 2023 looks to be the a year of delivering promises.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the scenario surrounding the rosters you’ve housed over the last year, could you maybe shed some light on the changes you made and why you made them?
Yeah, I assume what you’re poking at is the change from the old UK lineup going to the international lineup. We were in a situation with the UK team where their contracts were up and we were negotiating terms. We at the time felt like we wanted to push our budget in to other areas, so we cut ties altogether. obviously everyone saw the tweet go out where we said goodbye, and it just so happens sort of a week later we got a pretty big offer from Shinobi, the crypto sponsor that came on board with us. The reason for us not going back to the UK team from there was just plainly the requirements they gave us in order to sign, with their expectations. Obviously we didn’t hit those expectations in the end, the aim was to push top 50 to start very quickly within a three month and to move forward to start pushing the top 30 and start playing a lot of international events. We just felt like building a new team or from having discussions with other teams, we felt like our chances were better with them, whether we were right or wrong.
Obviously you just dropped your most recent roster, are you planning on picking up a new team for 2023?
Yeah, we’re eyeing up what’s available for January time. we’ve had discussions with a couple of teams who are really interested in signing with us. It will be UK, we really want to come back to the UK, we’ll hold our hands up and admit our mistake, we felt like we had something good, especially the relationship with the old team, so I think the UK is definitely where we want to be.
So you’re looking at an existing roster?
Yeah exactly, I don’t think we’d go to build anything again, definitely not. Potentially you know we’d take a core of players or players who have played together in the past, it’s difficult to say who at the moment, but we are sort of in discussion with a couple of teams.
So when the organisation was formed, you had some clear goals in mind which we touched on, to become a real powerhouse or at least break in to a tier 2 or low tier 1 area, so how close would you say you are to these goals?
If you had asked me 3 months ago, I’d have said pretty close, we know there’s still a lot of inexperience right across the company to be honest with you. We’ve taken big steps forward over the course of the year, the of course the facility has been slightly delayed, but you know with that coming and the education stuff we’re doing as well, we just sort of took a step back with the quality of the lineup we had, but we can say that our sponsors are gaining for the new year, and we’ll have a new war-chest shall we say to go forward in to next year and increase the quality again and hopefully reach those goals.
You said you were closer to those goals at one point, how close do you think you were?
We were a fair bit off and again that all ties in to decision making when we changed the rosters. For us, although we were close, we were playing maybe two or three HLTV games a month, we were winning round one and then we’d be knocked out, and for us, once we’d won EPIC and the lads had won in Malta, we sort of felt like “where do we go from here? Do we think we can actually push on? Actually a lot of that was tied to one decision in the end and all the sponsor stuff factored in, so I would say we were still a fair way off and we had a clear goal of how we were going to get there.
On the facility, can you just talk us through what’s happening with that?
The facility was supposed to launch a couple of months back now. When we moved in, the building needed quite a lot of work done to it. We started the work and then the landlords sold the building. Its now been bought and its being completely renovated by the landlord so in order for us to go and do the work for it to be in a state to be opened, we’d just be throwing money down the drain, because he’s going to knock it all down anyway and rebuild it so its a bit of a standstill, there’s contract complications and things. The work should be done by latest February so we’re looking to open late February or early March next year and we’ve spoken about opening the facility to teams to bootcamp for free, its still something we’re 100% hoping to do, as we want to give back as best as we can.
Do you think setting such high aspirations was more of a motivation or was it mainly stressful?
Probably a bit of both, in some aspects great, I think we’ve achieved things that a lot of organisations haven’t and we have shown that when we merge together that we can make it work. In the short term we made it work, we made a couple of mistakes that have sort of set us back, but I think that it’s definitely stressful. That whole situation is never not stressful to be honest with you, I’d be surprised if anyone told you it wasn’t because you’re in the limelight, every decision you make is… it’s a bit like a goalkeeper making a mistake in football: if you take the risk its either going to look great or its going to look terrible. For us, I think the last team we had looked pretty terrible on us, but you know we’ve got a good mentality, we’ll definitely bounce back as we’re thinking to do next year.
Finally, how would you sum up the plans for 2023?
Really exciting, definitely different from what we did last year. Different approach, slightly less risky, but there’s still an element of “we want to do things differently from other people”. we look at Into The Breach, we look at Endpoint and we see those as our main competition at the moment, and you know we’re not looking to do what they’re doing because there’s certain aspects that we can’t do as well as them. So we’ve got to find a way to be different and be better and that’s the way we’re looking to work next year.