We were fortunate enough to speak to Vincent ‘Happy’ Schopenhauer about Team EnVyUs, the squads recent roster changes, his thoughts on Nuke being added to the map pool and more.
Congratulations on getting to the semi-final at Dreamhack Masters in Malmo. How do you personally feel that your team is working together at the moment?
“We didn’t actually practice that much before Malmö, it’s kind of a long story, but the team decided that they wanted me back as in game leader just before the Columbus Major, so we only had 1 week to practice. It actually went very well, although we failed to win a single match. At Columbus, since we had a lot of time, we decided to change our game play, although our T side in my opinion was not the big problem, we decided to make some big changes like our positioning, mostly so that we could get our motivation back, feeling more attracted to the game and wanting to play more. So when we came back from MLG Columbus we didn’t practice at all, because we decided to go to Malmö with our old game, playing hard individually, and just trying to brute force the rounds, and just brute force any opposition we might encounter. We saw that we had some limitation in the semi-final, it was really easy for Na’Vi to just beat us. As of now, we are starting to just practice a new game plan and create new strategies, which we’ve started working on recently.”
What steps have you started to put into place to improve your performance as a team overall?
“We’ve also switched the way we practice as well, when we came back we wanted to practice and we tried for one day, and I saw that it went so badly that it was literally a waste of time. So we decided to use retake servers, where you play a clutch round, so we just went as five and tried to get some team play more naturally with each other. So it’s not standard practice, but it’s still something, and I think for the future maybe not just doing this.”
How do you feel that DEVIL has fit into the team? And have there been any role changes since he has been put into your roster, what sort of role has he been set up to play?
“When we got DEVIL, I was not the In Game Leader, so I didn’t really go to that as I wanted to keep kioShiMa and work with that. But in the end it was so difficult with him and something was broken. But for DEVIL, I think the only issue was that he had a different role with his previous team so first of all he has to adapt to us and fit in a new role, so of course it will be difficult for him. He’s a hard worker, and he will pull it off.”
What were some of the key elements and factors that led to the decision of a roster change, and kioShiMA no longer playing for team EnVyUs?
“It’s strange, it’s a pretty long story, and it happened quite far back. You need the context first, because when it happened, I was not the in game leader for EnVyUs, and we definitely had issues with kioShiMa, he was not playing as much as we did, and he was not playing as good, and we had a lot of troubles making him do what we needed him to do. So it created tensions within the team. As you have probably seen in his statement he was not really happy with our communication, and how his relationship within the team were evolving.
So it was almost the logical choice to cut him, but obviously he was a big part of our previous successes, and I think it was really hard, because we chose to play with DEVIL , and he is definitely a good player and I think he will become a better one in the future, but he has a different role, and lacks experience. So we are trying to give him what he lacks, but these things take time, it’s not like straight away he’s going to be a genius, and will just fit right in, and to just be as good as we were a few months ago. I have mixed feelings because as people know, we are not playing as well as we used to, but everything is ahead of us, and we need to play more and try use DEVIL the best that we can, and we’ll just see how it goes.”
“He’s a hard worker, and he will pull it off”
During the time of NBK taking on the role of being in game leader, did this allow you to open up to other roles within the team?
“When we decided to switch at when we were in Los Angeles for the ESL Pro League final, which we actually managed to finish in the top three. But again, we had a lot of misunderstandings, and people were unhappy with what we were doing, so we just decided to switch it up. One of the main reasons that we switched was because I was not feeling confident, and they wanted to give me a break and stuff. I actually didn’t work that much during the time that NBK led, which was 3 months, which I felt like was kind of a waste of time, because I didn’t really learn anything and my confidence got a bit shattered from that period. So when I came back at MLG, I needed to get myself within the game again because I lacked 3 months of leading a team, and watching other people’s style.”
If the opportunity ever arose where you could become a coach for a team, would this be something that you would be interested in?
“That’s a pretty funny question, I think it requires a really long answer. I think with how the game has become and how big it is, you’ve seen teams try to pick up coaches, such as mousesports, I think they picked up one coach and one analyst. At some point Fnatic had Vuggo as a coach/IGL, and maybe two or three analysts that just watched demos and would write stuff down for the coach to read to the team. So in my opinion, it feels kind of weird, as it’s not the same game as you used to play, everything is known, everything is already seen, even if you play just one game, you have so many analysts and so many coaches that you don’t have that much of a surprise when you play the game. So teams adapt more quickly to what you have been doing, so even if you have a new game or new strategies or new tricks, it feels like it is not as natural as before, as right now you have to come up with a lot of solutions really quickly and on the fly. Right now it feels like you can only use one strategy for one LAN, and then switch it up because people have adapted to it.
Going back to your question, yes I actually thought about it when I was playing for Team France, I proposed two solutions when Maniac was the team France captain and asked me what line up we wanted to play with. One was where I could play, but the other was where I could bring in another player, for example kennyS, and still have me as an in game leader but behind the players. But we decided to go with the first option.”
What are your thoughts on the removal of inferno from the competitive map pool, and the addition of Nuke?
“I’m a bit mixed about it, I have mixed feelings, because Valve has a way of dealing with stuff which is sometimes shocking, or even brutal. I think removing Inferno is definitely a weird choice, because as we have seen in current tournaments, Inferno is one of the best maps, everyone wants to play it, and it has produced such a high quality of CS. But on the other hand, if Valve really wants us to play the new map, I guess we won’t change by ourselves, so we need to be pushed a little. I don’t know what to say because on one hand we have to play it and on the other we won’t do it by ourselves.”
What are your thoughts on the new Nuke itself?
“I’ve always had problems with T sided maps, I think it should be a balance, or even a CT advantage. But this map, it’s too big. There are a lot of corners, and the outside area of Nuke is nearly impossible to hold as CT. The remake doesn’t suit me very well, so I don’t really like it.”
“The remake doesn’t suit me very well, so I don’t really like it”
How do you prepare as a team for such a drastic change like this? And were you given any prior warning from the developers that this was going to take place?
“As EnVyUs, it’s a terrible nerf to our team, because inferno was one of our best maps, the one we practised the most, and it definitely makes us think about our map pool, should we play Nuke, should we play maybe overpass. Just trying to figure out what kind of maps we want to play, and which one we want to be really good on. We haven’t figured that out yet as we have not played Nuke as a team, just watched it, but definitely some really big questions ahead of us.
The developers didn’t give me any warning of the map pools changing, but I actually talked to them when we were at MLG Columbus. We were actually talking about map pools and they asked me if we have rules on how we prepare for maps, and how we see the future of map pools, and so did we want a certain map removed. I said Dust 2, because I really wanted Dust 2 to be remade again. I think it’s a great map but it could use a little lift in a visual sense, new textures. Dust 2 can be really random in results, and I think its more about the map, not about the teams. But no, we were not given any warning of this change.”
Inferno could be undergoing an update, much like we saw with Nuke, do you feel like the map was perfect how it was, or if you could make changes to the map, what would they be?
“I actually think Inferno is the best map for CS, you can have a really good T side, but you can also have a really good CT side. There are so many smokes, you know like smoking the top of banana, and it was always a joy to play it. We have so many highlights on this map, it was just a really fun map to play, and so for me they just took off the best map they ever created, that’s why I am a little bit confused. But again, maybe we need to do that, so we’ll just go along.”
How much of a reliance as a team do you have on VOD’s? Will you spend a lot of time the night before a big game studying your opponent’s previous games?
“Actually no, we never did that, we are not used to doing that. We tried when we brought in Maniac as a coach, we tried to give him work to do, when there was an exchange between me, him and the team. But I’ve always felt against anti-stratting the team because our main focus has always been to play our own game and play it right. It has been so difficult to put all the players in the right mind-set, it’s like a never ending job, where do you find the time to watch other teams when your team is not playing up to par, so it’s kind of difficult.”
“I’ve always felt against anti-stratting the team because our main focus has always been to play our own game and play it right”
We saw your recent video of your boot camp house tour. How much do you feel having a dedicated boot camp to practice in has benefited the team? Do you feel it benefits you more than sitting in your own house and practicing with each other online?
“I think we are the worse boot camp team in Europe, so we decided to stop boot camp, because every time we did, there was so many fights… not physical ones! But there were so many problems that we decided to stop boot camping and we try stuff like online boot camps, where you play the same hours as you would in a boot camp but you play at home.”
What are your plans for assuring that you qualify for the next Major in Cologne?
“As we don’t know when the qualifiers are yet, but when you see all the teams that failed at the group stage, it could be a really hard time to qualify for the next major. So we’ve just got to wait and see who we’ve got in our groups, and anti-strat them! And just hope for the best, because I’ve never missed a major, and I think it’s the biggest event ever.”
We’ve seen a lot of leagues occurring at the same time, do you think the schedule has been a little but too busy? And do you think there should be a dedicated off season like in other more traditional sports?
“That’s a complex question, it’s really hard to answer, because I think last year everyone was kind of tired. I remember last year at this time, we were already exhausted, and this time it seems like time has flown so fast. It was a really fast early 2016, so the three leagues I think are fine right now, as there are only really those three major league formats.”
Regarding the recent announcement of WESA, and with team EnVyUs being one of the biggest founding organisations of the association, what were your overall opinions on it? And how do you feel WESA will affect CS:GO in the short term and long term? (Disclaimer: WESA was announced a couple of days before this interview, and Vincent expressed that he hadn’t had enough time to fully analyse the situation).
“It looks good from the outside, but to be honest, I don’t know enough information about it. Without any real information about it on my part, I cant really judge, so I am not totally sure.”
Your French Rivals G2 have recently had a run of good form, with them just losing out to Luminosity in a best of 5 at the ESL Pro League Finals in London. What do you make of these results, and what do you feel has been the main factor for their improvement?
“G2 is a big question mark for me, because I’ve had a set idea about this team since they were playing under the Titan tag. I mean they were always the second French team which never passed the group stage of a Major, which were really inconsistent, and not really like rivals. But seeing this tournament, it was definitely one of the biggest upsets in 2016 watching G2 play in the final of a really high class tournament like this one. I don’t know what to say, it’s a question, is it fluke, are they here to stay? What is making them so good? For me, I think each player in their team had their best tournament, of perhaps even their career, because you saw Shox and ScreaM, even RPK and Boddy playing really really good CS. You know its simple with Counter Strike, if your players are playing world class, you will definitely win matches. But I don’t know if it’s here to stay.”
“It’s simple with counter strike, if your players are playing world class, you will definitely win matches”
How has counter strike progressed since you started playing? How do you think counter strike as an eSport will progress in the future?
“I guess when I started playing, like everyone else, it was just for a keyboard or a mouse, but now you can win $100,000 just for yourself if you win a major. The growth has been impressive, I’ve never seen it before, even the salaries and the accommodation, you can have a really nice hotel, I guess we really are professionals now.
About the growth, I guess like everyone else, if we get the Asian market, we can even be better. What pleased me is that at each Major, every time there has been a growth in viewers. But right now, I think the game is in a perfect state, I just hope it doesn’t stop.”
What are your thoughts of player unions? Do you think one should be formed to offer more protection for players against certain matters or issues?
“I think its bad and good at the same time. Good because we definitely will need a single voice for all the players to make our point, and to make a stand when things go wrong, especially sometimes with Valve or tournaments. Sometimes they are messing around and not really listening to us. But on the other hand I know how hard it is to convince everyone, and it’s hard to get everyone on board, everyone thinking the same thing. So for me it will always come down to conflict of interest, there will always be this kind of stuff, and sometimes it will be good, but sometimes it will be terrible.”
We saw the inclusion of more female CS:GO players in the HTC 1v1 tournament, do you think there should be more room for females to enter the CS:GO scene and compete in larger events, like we saw with HTC?
“There is a tension between girls and guys playing Counterstrike at the moment. When I saw cadiaN lose, everyone was losing their minds because he lost to a girl, which is weird to me because on one hand people are always like “oh yea girls, its good, you should come and play more”, and then when just a little result like this happens, everyone was shitting on cadiaN, and giving him grief, so it feels paradoxical. So there’s always tension of results between men and women in Esports, and I don’t think it will ever be resolved, because that’s just how it goes.
In regards to inviting them, we are playing mixed competitions, we are not playing only male tournaments, it’s open for everyone. If you are good, you will always get to something, maybe not always making great results, but you will get there eventually. So I don’t think we should force in female teams, we just need to be aware of what’s going on, if you are bad, you will make bad results, but if you are playing really good and committing to your game, you will maybe make it to the big leagues.”
How often do you check sites such as Reddit? Do you pay much attention to the community’s thoughts?
“This is a really bad question for me, I don’t read Reddit that much, when I do, its usually watching a new smoke or like really specific stuff that pops up on my Twitter feed. So if I see a new wallbang spot, or if I see a something about me, I will read it. Sometimes I do feel a bit disconnected to the community, because we definitely have different point of view on many things, and sometimes it bugs me reading really shit comments. I’m sure some are really annoyed with how I play sometimes or how I act towards the community, so that’s why I’m trying to keep it a little bit private.”
“So winning a major and another big event would be great”
What your targets for the rest of 2016?
“Winning at least one major is a big step for professional players, so winning one major and there’s a lot of other big events coming up, like FaceIt and ELEAGUE. So winning a major and another big event would be great, so something like the FaceIt finals, but for me it’s always about consistency, if we can get more top 3’s and top 5’s, even if you don’t win, its still a pretty good achievement.”
To end on a fun note, what do you think the highlight of your CS:GO career has been so far?
“I think I always give the same answer, it was the Dreamhack tournament, the major we won with LDLC. I played really well, and the team played really good. I think its more about the context, you know with Fnatic stuff that happened and how we always lost to them, and how we finally managed to make a great French team, a team that could win a major because that had never happened before. So lifting that trophy was definitely climatic. So that was probably the best moment of my career. The second one would probably be the Deagle ace on Inferno, but the Dreamhack major win is definitely the first one.”
Photo credit: Gfinity