XRAVEL have caught the attention of the scene in their short time together, posting the a 11-1 record in ESEA Main, making the BEYOND UKIC invitational and qualifying for ESL Premiership Autumn. So they came into Epic with hopes of making top four, after missing out by one place the team’s coach Dan “papp” Hart sat down with UKCSGO.com to discuss the teams first season, his transition to coaching, and the UK scenes lack of AWP/IGL talent.
Did you meet the expectations that you had coming into this LAN?
I think coming into the LAN we knew we had a great ESEA season. We wanted to try and bring the form on LAN because we have a couple of players that haven’t played LAN before so that was a new experience for myself. Our goal was coming to the LAN to get top four and we did miss that by one, we ended up top six but we’re not overly disappointed in that. I think we had some good showings so we beat eMasters on Friday 2-1 and then groups are okay, bar one match where we went 6-1. Then yesterday we fell short against a mix at the end which is a bit sad. After winning map one we just couldn’t close it out. But I think it was a good experience in general because it wasn’t trying to convert the online form, it was the endurance of the LAN. I think it was where we needed the experience and I think coming into the next one for example we’d definitely be going for top four again, if not, trying to win the whole thing
You guys also made a roster move like pretty recently, would you say that affected you guys at this LAN?
I mean it definitely affected us. I think, for example, the map we did lose, Inferno, at the end. We haven’t practised with Atrox yet, so yeah we could argue it did but we have had good results. The reason we had to make the roster change was because of scheduling issues and stuff. We ended up playing a lot of the ESEA with even myself playing using the coach and we had good results then so I wouldn’t use it as an excuse but obviously it’s not ideal, but then other teams made lots of changes too right? So it’s a fair game in that sense.
Talking about the ESEA season, do you feel like you met your expectations there?
Yeah. When we put the team together I knew wfn before and zodi I’m really good friends with, so them two were available, so I knew there’s two great players that we can just make a team with basically. I wanted to move from not playing CS and becoming a coach to try and become a coach. They were two great pieces to chuck straight in and when we sat down, the three of us, when we first decided to do this, it was to try and get Advanced within two seasons. Of course we never expected to go 11-1 in Main of course. Especially with, playing with the coach for three games, we had to use a stand-in at the start because of the ESEA rules, and then we still went 11-1 and then we won the first playoff game and lost the last two. Which was a bit sad. But I mean. We’re trying to take that experience with Ducky, synergii and M1ster, at the time, had never played even main playoffs. In that same time, during the years here, we qualified for the [UKIC] Beyond. So we got the team onto, they all got the HLTV [match], qualified for playoffs. I guess we were just pushing it a little bit, trying to get Advanced in one go, but I’d say we definitely achieved our expectations and we just want to keep building from there.
You spoke about your transition to being a coach, how has that experience been?
It’s been good. It’s definitely different and I think it’s quite tricky becoming a coach when you sort of play this level in ESEA main and stuff, because you miss coming along and playing, like coming to this LAN. When you get in there, you do sort of wish you were playing, a part of you wishes you were playing still and having a little bit more fun. Whereas coaching can be very, I think the hardest part about coaching so far is people management and keeping that person happy, having to be the guy that has to deal with any problems that ever do come up. It sometimes can feel like you’re like the negative one or the only one critiquing people and you have to find the balance between obviously being positive and saying how maybe we should do this differently and things like that. It’s been fun and this LAN was fun. It was my first time just coaching on LAN. Definitely harder on LAN because you’re walking up and down behind them and if you’re doing it at home, you can slip through the POVs. It’s a little bit easier to see the money and the exact situation and don’t you have people in the way so you can get down there. But no, it’s been enjoyable for sure.
In the UK scene, there’s been a lot of conversation around the lack of AWPers, we see a lot of hybrid players rather than dedicated AWPers, with wfn in your team, as one of the top 5 AWPers in the UK, how is he to coach?
I mean, when wfn is on it he is a beast, he can win this a game on his own. And for sure the UK scene does lack AWPers and I think that helps his case. But also sometimes maybe it doesn’t help his case because sometimes you can get, I’ve said it to him a few times, sometimes he gets a little bit lost, or maybe, lost is not the right word, but I think when it comes to these events, he knows he’s the best, he thinks he’s the best and sometimes that’s a good thing and a bad thing because if he’s not 100% at it, he might get tilted himself if he’s not putting up 30 kills in that game. When his head is there and he’s proper motivating going for it, he can be yeah, he’s a beast, but I think you’ve got JackB, who’s solid enough, I think wfn, he’s great in the team, he’s good to have, he fits in well, like chemistry-wise and he can just like win in the clutches. He’s very good in the clutches. This LAN in particular, this LAN is the best he’s played for us and he was so important in those 2v1’s, even a 3v1, he’s won a couple and just the impact. I mean, even in ESEA last season, I complained a lot about him for buying Deagles on eco rounds. One of them is last season, we’re all on eco and he has a deagle and he just goes 1v4 it’s like, can’t really say much to him, shuts me up. I know a lot of people like to focus on wfn in the team, but I like to make it how important the rest of the players are as well, because we have zodi, for example, first season ever IGLing last season put up joint, if not the best stats in the ESEA season. And his first time IGLing and dealing with the stress of IGLing and playing. So for his first season doing that, it’s been really impressive as well. So I think he’s one definitely to watch out for in the scene because he’s Danish, but he is involved in the UK scene and has been, he had a little stint in the Danish scene, but he’s mainly been in the UK scene largely. We also lack a lot of IGLs, so I think IGL-wise. I think zodi is one to watch for as well, to be honest.
Do you feel like XRAVEL are not given the respect or time that they deserve?
Yeah, I think so. I think I understand why that is because the players, the players that we’ve got are not, haven’t really been involved in the social groups and haven’t really played on that great of teams individually. So they, you know, they’re not gonna be as known of course. And Will is a good AWPer and as you said, we don’t have that many good AWPers, so when you do have a good one, they stand out.
I do think the team definitely, I remember that in one of the previous articles when it was the ESEA roundup and it went,” XRAVEL went 11 – 1 home of star AWPer wfn” and (laughs) it’s just only wfn with like no one else. And I said to Will when we, as a joke, it’s not team wfn it’s team XRAVEL you know. We got synergii, he plays really tough spots for us lurk and like quite hard anchor roles. And he puts up some great stats. We’ve just picked up Atrox, he can put up some good numbers, he can also AWP I mean he used to AWP with arTisT. So he’s got some experience there so he can pick up the AWP for us as well with Will. So that’s quite a nice option to have. zodi, as I said, I mean, I don’t really know any IGL’s at this level that put up 90 ADR in the ESEA main. You know IGLing to a decent level, you know, got the team playing well, Ducky is just a machine. I mean, Ducky is another one. People, I think people are starting to know how good Ducky is. We’ve got those players that can just, can just pop off at any point. I think it’s nice for them to get some praise and not just be about the AWP, of course the AWP is a beast (laughs) . It’s definitely a hard one, but no, I’d say, keep watching out for zodi and Ducky as well, in particular, I think they can be pretty dangerous.
Finally, what’s next for you guys? What’s going on?
Supposedly there’s a Beyond qualifier again in a couple of weeks for the Winter. So, qualify for that. We’ve got ESL Premiership we play Legates on Thursday. Goals for ESL Premiership is to try and avoid being relegated. I mean, it’s the first time playing it. We’re not gonna go in there and think we’re gonna smash anyone. It’s just to try and establish ourselves as a decent UK team. Try and get Advanced this season. We started the season, we’ve had some difficult circumstances. Some players had some personal stuff going on in the background during the LAN and before. So we’ve had that to sort of play with the start of the ESEA. Obviously, and the roster change. So we’re 1-1 in the ESEA but that was an overtime loss and I’m sure we’ll fix that. Playoffs is a minimum for ESEA and hopefully Advanced. We’re in SCL challenger we’ll see how that goes if we can schedule around it. But yeah, ESL Premiership, keep our spot hopefully and then come back to EPIC in February and try and win (laughs) .