Some underdogs win games, some win hearts and minds. Viperio may have gone 0-3 in the BLAST Paris RMR, but the scoreline only tells half the story. The part-timers showed grit in a hard-fought double overtime defeat to FNATIC in the opener, and took a map off last Major’s Legends Sprout in their elimination game, having firmly put themselves on the radar with their performances and upbeat attitude throughout.
UKCSGO’s Dafydd Gwynn caught up with their coach, Ciaran “biscu” King, after their exit from the event to discuss the valuable lessons the event had taught them, coaching on LAN and and the future of the roster.
You came here, you were doubted the whole way through, and even though you went 0-3, you showed some incredible fight. How would you sum up your time here?
I would say our time here has been beneficial for the core and the players, to rub shoulders with some of these players is like a dream. Walking down the hallway in the corridors of the hotel and you see ropz, you see electroNic, you get in the elevator, the doors open up and there’s Jame, it’s very surreal. Especially for us, we’ve been grinding a long time now in the UK to crest into tier 1, it’s a pleasure. It’s a shame that we couldn’t perform a little bit more and show ourselves more, although I think we did in certain maps at certain times.
It’s been fantastic and maybe when CS:2 rolls around we’ll be here again, who knows?
What are the biggest things you’ve learned about your roster from this week at this LAN?
It’s interesting, I like to think that I know everything about the roster, but there has been moments throughout the week that I didn’t know. I didn’t know for sure that Callum [Girafffe] was destined to be a star, a tier one player, but halfway through [the game against] fnatic I was like “Callum’s got it, you know, he’ll probably get picked up by fnatic next year before CS:2 comes out if he continues to play like that.” Which would be a shame for us but obviously great for him.
I’m joking, but the quality and the composure that we displayed at times, it’s been lacking, and hopefully we can use that to make it a more consistent feature. We’ll just remember the lessons we’ve learned here and bring that forward. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a catharsis of things that I haven’t seen before, but I have seen some things that I haven’t seen before, and I’m happy to see those things. I haven’t seen anything negative, and we really pulled together and really tried our best at this event, so I’m very proud.
You mentioned at the beginning, all these amazing players walking around, has there been anything from the other coaches and players that you’ve seen and want to take on board, adapt to your own coaching style?
Well I’m always trying to bend the ear of anyone that’s willing to let me bend their ear, to be perfectly honest. I spoke to ash [GamerLegion coach] at the event, we had a conversation about coaching, and how you can do preparation, and what he does for an event like this. That was really encouraging because a lot of what he said resonated with my own thoughts, so that’s really encouraging to know that someone like ash somewhat agrees with the preparation, the way he would prepare. I’d like to speak to more of them, maybe some of the IGLs and players, but obviously they’re busy, they’re trying to compete, so I don’t want to bother them too much. It’s always a pleasure to get that feedback, or even just a little bit of input or advice, especially from someone who’s as experienced as ash, so I have to thank him for that.
What else I’ve seen is there’s a lot of camaraderie, even amongst the teams that don’t have a lot of camaraderie, not pointing any fingers but they know who they are. Despite that they’re always eating together, they’re doing team huddles, it’s fist bumps after every round loss, every round win, it’s “nice try”s and “good job”s, it doesn’t stop, despite whether there’s an argument going on in the team, whatever. So I’ve seen that, I’ve learned that, that’s something that you’ve got to keep reinforcing to keep it there.
Let’s talk about the game against Sprout, what changed from the first map, where you guys dominated, to the second two maps where you couldn’t find your footing?
Vertigo is one of our strongest maps, right up there with Nuke. Unfortunately no-one wanted to play us on Nuke at this event, which would have been fantastic, they really robbed everyone of a great show honestly. We’re happy on Vertigo, it’s one of our strongest maps, the other maps at the moment. Ancient is very poor for us, we have some stuff on it, we practice it, but we’ve had very poor results on it recently, on HLTV I don’t think we’ve won a map on Ancient in the last three months, for example. Anubis is a little bit stronger for us but then again it’s not super strong for us so best-of-threes were always going to be tough against these type of teams, the composure on the first half of Ancient left us and we were sort of scrambling for ideas, ways to combat what was going on.
We were maybe too quick to abandon this or abandon that and go to that, what have you, so maybe that contributed on Ancient. Anubis, we actually thought we did quite well to get back into the half in the first half, 9-6 on Anubis is typically quite good against an equally skilled opponent, which I’m not saying it is but just for hypothetical reasons, but for whatever reason our plans and ideas on the T side just didn’t work. They were there and they got us, so they won, and fair play to them.
As a coach, this is your first RMR and you can’t speak during the rounds, you can’t do anything. Especially during those last two maps, did you ever feel helpless?
Yeah, I mean as a coach, it’s a constant feeling of helplessness, any coach will tell you this, despite whether or not they can speak or not speak because all they can do is speak. I can’t play the game, I can’t make the decisions. Not saying I can do it better, but obviously the coach has a perspective that the players don’t have, so his decisions are going to be more well-informed and what have you. Having more of those abilities to speak and affect the game taken from you, it just heightens the feeling of helplessness.
Despite that though, I wouldn’t say I had that overwhelming feeling at this event, I actually felt like, it sounds almost laughable considering we lost, but I feel that during the FNATIC game and during the Vertigo game against Sprout and even the other maps, I actually felt, like, I got a lot said and done during the tacticals. My removal from the situations in the middle of the round maybe reduced the stress on the players and allowed them to play. Now, maybe in the future, I’ll just have to be more effective during the tactical timeouts, and that’s what’s expected from the coaches as you go up the levels, so you can’t complain about it.
You have to grow.
Yeah, you have to grow and you have to improve with whatever the rules are.
Now that the RMR is done, what does the future hold for you and Viperio?
I’m not really at liberty to discuss the future right now, to be honest. We’re going to have to go away, ESEA has started so we’re going have to sort that out. Our contracts are up for renewal soon with Viperio, so hopefully the renegotiations go well and we sign new contracts. It’s disappointing at the moment, obviously, you get to the RMR and you’re like one step away from Paris, so it’s obviously bittersweet, but the players have enjoyed their time, I’ve enjoyed my time. I’ve learnt, I’m sure the players have learnt, that’s going to be invaluable, and, you know, maybe we’ll bring that forward into the future and we’ll continue to trend upwards, like the rest of the UK is at the minute. Hopefully our performance here, and Into the Breach’s performance here, as well as some of fnatic because they’ve sort of got a UK thing going on as well, hopefully that shows everyone in the UK and Ireland that we can compete here, not only can we, but we belong here, and we’re going to stay.
Do you have anything to say to all the fans at home who’ve been rooting for you while you’re here?
Yeah, I would say to them, for those who are still grinding and want to play, don’t stop. It’s sacrifice, it’s dedication, and it’s hard work, and you have to build a team, you can’t just mash it all together and hope it works, you have to stick together. You have to fix the problems, and you have to work, and that’s it. I believe the UK is filled with talented players, charismatic ones too, which is important, you need that, and I just want to see us all together bring it to the scene, because it’s there, it can happen. I just hope that there’s more belief, and we really appreciate all the support, it’s quite heart-warming to be perfectly honest that anyone would cheer us, it’s almost tear-jerking to be perfectly honest, so, thanks.