Blvkhvnd is a team that in the last two seasons has turned heads but at every opportunity, they are labelled as an underdog or the game they win is considered a life game. EPIC.LAN36 is right around the corner, and the tides have finally turned with the squad finally being considered a favourite. UKCSGO was able to chat with Josh “JAUSTERE” Philpott and Fraser “Frazehh” Sollom ahead of the tournament to see what they have in store for us. The two discussed working with Blvkhvnd, welcoming a new player and the fine line between arrogance and confidence. Frazehh is someone who is very vocal when it comes to the UK scene and was able to provide some useful and hard-hitting insights into what needs to improve for the UK scene to flourish.
EPIC.LAN is coming up just around the corner and Blvkhvnd is going to be in attendance, you’ve been vocal about the shortcomings of Iseries, what are you hoping for at EPIC.LAN?
Frazehh – I’m hoping to put up a way better performance for us and I’m hoping for a better event run, I’m expecting top two and I’m expecting to win the LAN in terms of our performance. I’m hoping the LAN in general will be way better than insomnia because that LAN was just a joke.
JAUSTERE – I just want the tournament to be run smoothly and be able to actually have time outside of CS to enjoy with the people we know.
There’s been so many changes in the UK scene, where do you see yourselves in the rankings of the UK teams?
Frazehh – I think, personally, we are around third or fourth best UK team I can think of off the top of my head if you’re including Endpoint and ITB. I think that FAMBIT and 1PIN they are kind of similar to us, I haven’t played FAMBIT (EKO) since they made the changes and we haven’t really played 1PIN either so we can’t really compare our skill level to them but in practise we are playing really well against good teams. In officials we are doing pretty well and we are still getting used to playing with a new fifth, I think by the end of this season and the start of next we will be competing to join ITB at the top.
JAUSTERE – Yeah I would agree with that, I think us FAMBIT and 1PIN are probably around the same area in terms of skill and then Eternal Pain are a little bit below us and then there’s another big gap between the next team.
Speaking of FAMBIT, they’ve made a massive change recently bringing in mad and gizmy after losing volt and dropping Ping . Do you think this new look EKO has higher potential like volt stated or lower potential than the FAMBIT roster?
Frazehh – Okay so, I think the new FAMBIT is worse. I think the players they’ve got are worse than both the players they had and I think, from what I’ve heard, they’ve changed the positions and the roles around from what they had before because the players that were still in the team wanted to swap their roles. I just think that their roles are what made them one of the best teams competing, because they fitted so well and now they just all want to be more stars I think than they did before and I just think they’ve got worse as a team. They’ve picked up worse players, I don’t see them having a higher potential. I just don’t see them dropping off massively.
JAUSTERE – I think the players they’ve picked up are slightly younger, but I don’t think that is a good enough reason to have made the change, I don’t think Ping really needed to go but I don’t know whether that was his choice or FAMBITs.
Speaking of changes, you have a new fifth, how easy has that transition been?
Frazehh – The transition in picking up TIMMO was really good, it was way smoother than I thought it would be, when we picked him up I was like hesitant to even think we would be making playoffs for the rest of the season. I was going to be purely focused on LAN but we made playoffs, he fits in really well and the team atmosphere is just way better than it was before straight away. Team atmosphere is one of the main things in the team and that’s skyrocketed since we picked him up. He puts in all the work and does whatever we ask him to do, so it really made moving a different player into the roster way smoother than I would have expected.
JAUSTERE – He’s very intelligent and he’s played in a lot of the positions we want him to play in. So there wasn’t really any issues when we were bringing him in.
How high ceiling does he give you in particular?
JAUSTERE – I think he definitely increases our ceiling because, he might be a little lower fragging power than Rhys but his general game sense and utility usage is a lot higher. Everything he’s bought from coalesce, or I guess the FAMBIT guys, has just helped. He’s helped me a lot individually with some of the positions I am playing because he used to play those as well, so I think he definitely helps our ceiling.
How much has the org helped you in transitioning with a new player? How important is it to have an understanding org when you are bringing in a new player?
Frazehh – So when the org approached me they are aware that if I want to make roster changes for me to make roster changes, so they were happy that when we started performing worse that I was willing to make a change. They gave us a lot of support, and me a lot of support, when I said I was going to make the change. They were even suggesting players, not bad players, they were aware of players we could actually try. So they were really helpful and it’s been smooth fitting him in.
How was been working under Blvkhvnd ?
Frazehh – It’s been pretty good, the org people we’ve been with have been really really nice and genuine, and you can tell that they really want us to succeed and they want to succeed. We both have the same goals so it’s really nice to work with someone like that, I think a lot of other orgs I have been with have not been that way.
How would you say they compare to the other orgs you have been with, such as CeX, London, Vexed, Chetz, Nerd Rage?
Frazehh – When I was with CeX that was just one guy who is now, I think still working with Endpoint, who kind of just paid for stuff, didn’t really do much else and was just with us at the LANs. He supported us in the server but outside of game we didn’t really speak to him that much, so that was different to this org. Vexed were trying to push things forward with psychologists and stuff but I don’t think they were ready for it either. It was new for both of us so it didn’t really work out at all. Blvkhvnd has definitely been the most supportive and more hands on than the other orgs I’ve been with.
Would you say you have the same goals for the future in mind?
Frazehh – Yeah, I think we both want to grow and succeed. I know that they are definitely growing fast and they have representation in other games and are high up as well. They have a good halo team, a good Pokémon team and stuff whereas other orgs I’ve been with haven’t had amazing teams already established.
What are the future aims of this team?
Frazehh – We want to be getting on HLTV a lot more, whether that’s making advanced and then playoffs or getting invited to cups or qualifying far enough in qualifiers to get on HLTV. We want to get a higher HLTV ranking, that’s our main goal after getting advanced and winning LAN. Any European LANs, like if Copenhagen games comes back, I’m not sure it will at the end of this year or not but they did say they would consider it. We would like to go to that and give a good performance. So we would like to represent ourselves better in the UK and show that EPS wasn’t a fluke last season and we can still compete with Endpoint and stuff in a best of three. Also in Europe, get a name for ourselves.
As a team, what kind of reputation do you want to gain for ourselves?
JAUSTERE – I don’t know, I just want to get to the point where people look at us and go “oh yeah, these guys will smash everyone here.” Like when you look at Endpoint, say Endpoint signed up for an EPIC LAN, you’d look at them and be like “oh well they’ve already won the thing haven’t they.”
Frazehh – That’s actually a really good point. I just want, not like tier one teams but bigger teams to respect you a bit. Because sometimes you can tell when people don’t respect you in a game just because they don’t know who you are. So going into a game and knowing these people are scared of your players that’s the reputation I want to have, like people are scared to play you.
This ties into your reputation, but when you guys eventually retire from the game what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as players?
Frazehh – Well I’ve already won LANs, don’t know if you’ve heard guys but I’ve won my UK LANs (laughs). So I would like to play at large tournaments, European tournaments and have good performance. Obviously it’s easy to say my dream is to go to a Major, but if I’m being realistic I’m not expecting to go to a Major in the next year or two. So just put up high performances in tier two, tier three even in the next year and see where that takes me.
JAUSTERE– Yeah I think I’m still quite young so I have a really long time before I even think about retiring, so I just want to play at the highest level and on a stage.
Where does the average UK CS player’s mentality fail?
Frazehh – I feel like a lot of people like to say they’ve put in the work but then they don’t. That’s a big thing. Everyone, even if you’re friends with people, a lot of the people want to see you fail, even people you think are your friends. They would be happy if you didn’t make playoffs, everyone just thinks they are competing with each other instead of with other Europeans a lot and I feel like that’s a big flaw.
JAUSTERE – Yeah definitely, when you look at like the German scene, the teams in the German scene just help each other and they work together to improve their own game but it’s just completely the opposite in the UK. Everyone wants to break each other down and just be better without helping anybody else raise the level of the scene.
Frazehh – Just an example of that, a lot of the higher level UK teams or even just other UK teams, they don’t like practising against other UK teams and I don’t know why because it’s not like you are giving too much away or anything like that. I don’t know what the reason is but a lot of people don’t like practising against each other even if you are at the same level.
What’s the difference between a UK IGL and a European IGL?
Frazehh – I can’t give an answer to that I’ve never played with an EU IGL.
JAUSTERE – I feel like most of the high-level IGLs in the UK could easily be a top-performing player for another team as a non-caller. Like Adam9130, if he played at a slightly lower level but as a star player, he’d probably have a very high rating, Frazehh already has a very high rating as an IGL. I feel like MiGHTYMAX would be the same as Adam if he went down a level. So I think it’s a matter of getting an opportunity to go up to a high level.
Frazehh – Another problem with the UK scene is that a lot of the UK players, I don’t know if it’s they don’t know as many EU people to get a team offer or make a team with them but you don’t really see that many UK IGLs or even UK players join a decent level EU team. Even in a high-level main team, you never really see one UK player on there to learn from them but you see Dutch people joining a German team.
What’s your honest opinion on Kjaerbye to Endpoint?
Frazehh – Never something I thought would happen.
JAUSTERE – I think he’s comparable if not a little bit worse than BOROS. It’s not a crazy move.
Frazehh – With something like that I’d hope that Endpoint, as a team, can keep up performing to a point where they can keep one of these star players that they can pick instead of breeding them for other teams. Then they can keep competing at the higher tiers.
Do you think Kjaerbye can be that player?
Frazehh – It’s possible but I also think it’s an opportunity for Kjaerbye to come back after a long break and show that he’s still got the talent to be picked up by one of these Danish teams. Like when Astralis were struggling.
What are your thoughts on mezii IGLing for FNATIC?
Frazehh – mezii is a really smart player, he’s the best player I’ve ever played with and I think if anyone can do it he can do it and keep putting up the numbers before. As long as he doesn’t take it as “I’m IGLing now I have to give up all the good roles” and play unselfish, I think he could still play pretty star roles, IGL and pull it off with the right players.
JAUSTERE – Yeah I agree. I just hope it doesn’t change peoples opinion of him too much if he has worse stats now.
What are your thoughts on Smooya announcing that he is going to be leaving into the breach?
Frazehh – (Laughs) Expected, everyone knew it was going to happen.
JAUSTERE– Shock horror.
Who is the star player of Blvkhvnd?
JAUSTERE – It has to be Frazehh really, he plays most of the roles and still ends up being the most supportive player at the same time in terms of flash assists and util damage. It’s either him or Richard (Zulu).
Frazehh – I don’t know, I would say it’s Zulu because if we are playing a worse team I will sit back and Richard will go and farm. But I feel like, I just feel so bad to say myself, I can’t do it. I think I try to set others up to succeed as much as possible but I also kind of have some good roles myself. So I think it’s me and Zulu probably.
JAUSTERE – I think a good example is on Nuke, Frazehh on CT-side plays outside and has the most impact on the team and then the flip side on T-side, he’s the one throwing the supportive util and everything. It’s probably that Zulu is set up to be the star player but Frazehh is the star player.
What needs to happen for you to be competing with Into the Breach and Endpoint?
Frazehh – Going full-time for sure, when we are able to go full-time we can play better teams in pracc, we can play longer hours, we can put in way more work together rather than uncoordinated demo watching and doing stuff in your own time. Rather being able to get on and have a schedule. People underestimate the power of scheduling and doing stuff together, I think that will push anybody to the next step, not just us. I think if the opportunity for us actually happened, people will see the difference.
JAUSTERE – Yeah I agree, half the reason a lot of UK teams don’t get a lot of recognition is because it’s never really financially viable for them to play hours that they would be working. Being able to actually play qualifiers at unreasonable times on unreasonable days will just give us so many more opportunities.
What’s the one thing that the UK scene needs?
Frazehh – More investment, more belief, more players joining together and supporting each other rather than hating on each other. That’s a few things but there.
JAUSTERE – Yeah pretty much that, more investment. Maybe another league would be good, another UK division or a separate one running alongside EPS as well.
How do you hit the fine line between confidence and arrogance?
Frazehh – We’ve been in positions in our past where we are throwing rounds because we are getting arrogant and over-confident, but I think with our team everyone knows not to push anymore because I will shout at you if you mess up. So I will keep people in check, it’s just a very fine line on when you are showing off to other teams and when you are showing off in games to the point of throwing stuff or going in too cocky and overconfident to a game. You have to make sure you take every game as it comes and you can’t underestimate anyone. That’s another problem with the UK scene, everyone wants to have good stats. We don’t have as many people who are there to sit back and let whatever happens, happen and if their stats aren’t great they don’t care. I can’t think of a UK player apart from TIMMO I’ve played with, and maybe even Rhys, he didn’t really care for stats that much to be honest. A player that would sit there and not care if somebody brought up stats.
So you guys have a new coach we haven’t really spoken about, how’s that transition been?
Frazehh – We brought him in as an analyst because before he wasn’t great with Rhys which is why we dropped him in the first place, but he’s been putting in a lot of work for us and doing a lot. So people should know about Tome, shout out to Tome. He’s been invaluable to us since we picked him up, he’s been great.
How much does a coach help with those issues of not being team-orientated enough?
Frazehh – I feel like for us because we don’t have as much time, as much as some other teams, outside of practise and playing officials for us he does a lot of research on other teams anti-stratting and tendencies. That helps us a lot. We have a rule that if we are losing four rounds in a row or five rounds in a row he’ll pause and none of us would even think to do it. I will keep everyone in line and he will keep me in line. So it’s really good for us.
JAUSTERE – It’s very easy to tunnel vision when you are in the middle of a game so having another voice who can see everything that’s going on and tell us anything we need to change is very helpful.