Having announced his move from playing to coaching, eMasters’ new coach, Rhys “Rhys” Stumbles sat down with UKCSGO’s Elliot “stoick” Meccano-Thomas, to discuss the possible changes for the team and their approach going forward. Rhys announced the move after falling to Adam “AdamJC” Colwell’s EXLI-KUBAB mix, giving the Irish 21-year old his long-awaited HLTV page. Rhys was in high spirits regarding the future of not only eMasters, but the UK scene in general, and gave his opinion on recent roster moves and matches.
So yesterday you announced you were joining eMasters as a coach, when did you decide to make that jump from a player to a coach?
I’ve been thinking about it a bit at Insomnia where I’d already helped them out a bit, being on stage for the final and just being a hype-man basically, not really doing much. I enjoyed that environment, it was quite fun and also working with those individuals is always very positive for me because I’ve always got along with them. When I decided to leave Clique because of personal reasons, I was in a position where I could join another team, but I don’t really have enough time, and I spoke with Hui about coaching full time and he said they’d be down for it. None of my options were better than coaching for me, so I transitioned in to coaching quite easily.
If your time arrangements change or an opportunity arises, is going back to playing a thing you’d consider?
I think for now I’ll stick to coaching. I don’t think I’ll be coming back to playing unless something unforeseen happens where I have to. For now I’m just going to get the experience coaching for them, hopefully we can get better together and we can progress that way as a coach because I don’t have the time to commit to playing the amount of hours that a lot of teams are putting in at the moment. I can put hours in in my own time and thats easier in some ways but also can be more challenging.
Going in to this role change, there are obviously different styles of coaching. Which style do you think the team needs you to adopt, is it just a hype-man?
I think I’ll be good for keeping them motivated. They’re all individually smart and talented, I don’t think they need me to come in and improve their game-sense or anything to do with CS generally. It’ll probably just be me working with Hui to anti-strat, come up with plans, see if stuff is working, watch demos and basically, I’ll just be an extra voice to confirm that what they’re doing is right or what they’re planning to do is going to help them or progress them. I think just keeping them all motivated and positive because I think overall I’m quite a positive and cheerful kind of guy.
I can keep them on the same page and just keep it all calm. People tunnel-vision and I think that having someone behind you who is able to say “you should take a pause” or “you should just relax” is quite useful and I think they could definitely use that from me. I think that is how I will approach it with them.
And is that the approach you wanted to take?
I think it is the best for me. I’m not super tactical even though I was an IGL for a bit, I played pretty standard CS and my approach is more aggressive in a style, so as a player I was hyper-aggro, so maybe as a coach I will try and bring a more aggressive playstyle. [Changing their playstyle] is not really how I want to work with this team as they have their style already and it works for them really well, as seen with them making two finals now in a row doing this style of CS. It’s clearly working for them and I don’t want to endanger that for them so it’s keeping them progressing, motivated and happy – I think that’s the best approach I can take.
As you said: making two finals in a row, what are the future plans for this team? International?
I don’t know, I haven’t really been told much but obviously the direct goals will be once we get back from the LAN, focusing on ESEA Main and hopefully getting promoted into Advanced and once in Advanced you get invites and you can progress from there so the immediate goal would be Advanced for these guys.
Maybe eventually follow the footsteps of 7AM, BLVKHVND, Viperio, trying to go overseas for events?
Everyone wants to go to international events. Overall it gets exposure which is most important to players, as if they get exposure they get opportunities to play for better teams and they can progress, or as a team you can just improve a lot just by playing internationally.
So who do you think is going to win the final today?
I think it will be close, I’m trying to give my unbiased opinion, but I think eMasters as a team are more in tune with each other than the mix of smooya and Thomas. But you never know, anything can happen in a game of CS. I am rooting for my boys to get it over with quick and just show that they can compete with everyone and that last LAN wasn’t a fluke.
How do you think the veto went then?
I think it was good for them (eMasters). I think it benefits both teams styles. So tactically I think eMasters have got a veto thats pretty much perfect for them and how they want to approach it. For smooya and co, it’s a veto that’s good for their styles and playing how they want to play, focusing on their individual stuff and keep getting away with winning on aim duels.
For a general question: This is the third biggest EPIC, what is the next step forward for the UK scene?
I don’t think we need to bring more stuff in. I think more teams need to attend and get given the opportunity, but that comes back to some teams can’t afford it so it’s not feasible for them. If you’re deeping it, prize pool doesn’t really warrant how much it costs. I’m not sure what the next step for UKCS as a whole would be, but I think it’s going in the right direction and if we keep progressing the way we are we don’t need to force anything because forcing change can negatively impact it as well. All the teams are doing better. XRAVEL was unfortunate, I think they could have done better and I think they knew that as well but they made a new change, if they keep progressing that’s another team that is looking good. You’ve got Arctic Raptors who made their change, you’ve got Clique who have solidified their five, eMasters with their changes, everyone is going through changes at the time and once they’re over, you’ll start seeing UK teams performing and it’ll help the UK scene overall if we have a number of teams who are performing well. There’s also Prem at the moment which should continue to be interested as we’ve already seen a number of upsets and it just proves that there are a lot of good individuals in the UK and Ireland. I think just keep going as we are.
Is there a really exciting team to watch for 2023? Someone who is going to break the mould?
I think Viperio are going to get their stride back. Obviously when they lost Volt, it was a big hit for them as a team but I think with them picking up Marco, who is obviously an incredible player, he’s put in more hours and effort than anyone I’ve ever seen, his mindset is unbelievable. I think Viperio are probably going to dominate again like they did. Other than them, I don’t think there’s any one team that are going to pop off unless the projects work out, like the BLVKHVND project might work out better than it started, because it’s early stages, but I think it’s still uncertain so I think the only team that’s going to do well is probably Viperio…
And obviously eMasters.