UKCSGO’s Freddie “GrimyRannarr” Pritchard caught up with Fnatic coach Jamie “keita” Hall, after their victory over event favourites Heroic.
Firstly – congratulations! What are your feelings coming away from that game?
Pretty happy, given it’s our debut game. Normally on those debut games you don’t really play with each other especially with f0rest coming in with only one days notice. There are sometimes a lot of nerves but surprisingly the team stayed super calm and it showed throughout the game.
Now you have mentioned f0rest – have you have much practice with him?
None at all – we found out one day before, our first person got ill, and the second person we were going to bring – his flights got cancelled, so we thought let’s bring in f0rest. He is a legend, he can fill in last second, he has played Counter-Strike for 10 years – it shouldn’t be too hard. We played 2 practices with him and then just decided we would play off the feeling and the communication and it worked out really well.
How much impact does he have on the team especially coming back to LANs after the online period?
I think he brings a lot of experience if we were playing on a big stage. The main thing that he brings is that he is really calm and it spreads across the team, especially in the games where we are not a super hype team so it spreads well across everyone and helps the guys.
Looking over at the new pickups nicoodoz and roeJ, what made you pick them up?
In particular, we spoke to both of them, and they saw the game in the same way as us. They were not wanting to play in a too regimented way, and we agreed on a principle of pretty loose – having all the nades – but not too much structure. Good English and good communication. We liked the way that the Copenhagen Flames roster played and these guys in particular were key players. We had a vacancy for an AWP and a star player who plays more important roles on CT, whereas KRIMZ and mezii like to play more on the side.
100% we can reach higher than the UK core, there is a reason why we changed line-up. We did not see a future with that team and did not see us progressing.
Looking at this tournament, what expectations do you have for Pinnacle? In the future do you think this core will reach higher than the UK core that Fnatic previously had?
100% we can reach higher than the UK core, there is a reason why we changed line-up. We did not see a future with that team and did not see us progressing. We do not have expectations for this event, that would be silly for expectations that puts pressure on us that is unneeded. We are literally a brand new team with 4 days of practice with the danes and two pracs with f0rest. We obviously have guys who have won big tournaments and it would be amazing to do well, we are going in to win but have not set these type of expectations.
Beating Heroic in round one of the first day, does this shift your mentality a little bit that you have just taken down the favourites?
I think it shows that we can compete with the best. We can beat all teams if we just play our game. It is also just one map and one specific team though.
Are there any teams that you do not want to come up against in the later stages of the tournament?
That was literally Heroic, both us and the flames do not like playing the Heroic guys.
They are very dynamic on the CT side and are very hard to read. Their T side is very in your face and explosive with extreme amounts of confidence which is not as nice for a new team like us when you do not have as much structure. Honestly our raid boss was Heroic and we are happy to have beaten them.
Do you think there are any dark horses in this event?
Normally when there is a team coming up you start to see big upsets and results online. Credit due to Finest, they are on the rise, but I think they are still yet to show they can beat the better teams. They can cause an upset or two but I don’t see them having a breakout event here, but more to gain experience alongside MiBR. If anything a team that could show more is BIG, they seem like they are on an upgraded trajectory with the pickup of Krimbo and Gob B, not really a dark horse from the lower end but have the potential to win the event.
Taking a look at the UK scene, do you follow it at all?
I used to be very embedded in the UK scene, played CS:GO for 15 years, played 30 I Series and epic LANs combined. But recent years no, I have not kept up to date. I have seen that we have volt in the academy team, he is a UK guy we saw a lot of potential in so we are trying to give him a platform. There is Cypher in ITB who is an upcoming talent, they are the two guys that are breaking through getting a bit of experience. They definitely need more international experience and it is a shame they cannot get that in a UK team. But it is still nice to see individuals break through.
Do you think in the next year or two we’ll see another UK core reach top 30, or do you think it’s going to be a UK individual in the top 30 ?
We have already had plenty of UK players in the top 30. Alex, Smooya, Mezzi, and even the Endpoint guys who made top 20-ish. A team getting top 30 isn’t unattainable. Endpoint don’t have a UK core now but have done it a number of times, it is now if they can take the next step which is quite hard breaking into the top 20. It is going to be pretty hard, but it would be something in the Endpoint camp and with those experienced players.
Rounding out now, looking at LANs coming back after COVID, how important do you think they are for the scene?
I think it is super important, these big events are what makes CS exciting, what brings the viewership in, what brings the fans in. I think we all got a bit bored of the multiple online events fading into one. LANs are great and excite the viewers and also fires up the old guard, with people like f0rest who can show the level they are still at, and to compete with the young guns as the experience really helps them out.
Do you think some teams will do better or worse now on LAN?
I think we saw early on there were some teams like Gambit who have more the show on LAN, and simply have to gain experience. From my experience and my take, you are never simply stuck at being an online team, you need to just gain experience. Gambit has shown they needed experience, and when they showed that they have it they went and won an event like they did last week. Same with Na’Vi and B1t who were extremely good on LAN but still needed experience. No team stuck out to struggle on LAN but they just needed some time to garner experience and adjust.
With so many LANS coming up now, do you think those young guns will so quickly gain the experience?
Yea definitely, typically you just need to just get yourself up on stage and play a few times. The young guys thrive and enjoy the experience and gain it quickly, I do not think it is as big as made up to be.
Do you think that the LANs being in different continents and timezones, that the younger players like Krimbo will burnout or produce a lower quality of gameplay from these players?
I think that a few years ago, teams had one day rest between events, there was a lot of burnout. Teams were not able to prepare and thus able to reinvent their game properly, and produce almost a staleness in how they played. But I think nowadays, people are so excited to be back at LAN. People like Krimbo are loving the idea that they can play two events, it does not played into a factor just yet also as he has so many experienced people around him to guide him in the right way.
Fnatic face BIG tomorrow at 10:00.
Keita image rights: https://fnatic.com/