“Tumultuous” doesn’t quite cover Grayhound’s lead-up to ESL Challenger at DreamHack Melbourne this week. From Order’s move into administration, to playing without newest member Declan “Vexite” Portelli, Grayhound’s preparation has been severely hampered.
Snowball Esports caught up with Grayhound’s Simon “Sico” Williams following his match against paiN Gaming to talk the Aussie homecoming LAN and their plans for the foreseeable future.
You had Nuke first up against paiN, how was the preparation going into this game in particular? How did you feel the game panned out?
Going into the game we were pretty relaxed. We didn’t put too much pressure onto ourselves, we didn’t prepare much with Jordan since we had reworked our playbook with Declan [Vexite]. We honestly didn’t have much at all — we didn’t even keep any of our old stuff, so we went in super chill.
In terms of the game, it could have gone a lot better. Our comms were pretty bad, we didn’t know what they were doing in a number of rounds. A lot of it was on the fly; we didn’t get enough CT rounds, and it was then hard to muster together a T side that would be good enough.
PaiN’s playstyle, especially on Nuke, is pushy and aggressive whilst you guys have tended towards a more passive CT hold. Is this an element of the team’s game that you’re likely to change with Vexite?
We’ve become a bit more aggressive with Vexite, we do a lot more things together particularly in the mid round. [Vexite] is a very vocal guy — sometimes too vocal — but with that he brings a lot of energy. We’ve been completely different since we brought him into the team; our playbook is different, our roles are different.
One last ride with Hatz at DreamHack, and with the playbook updated for Vexite, has it just been a matter of slotting Hatz straight into Vexite’s roles here?
Yeah that’s right. He’s basically swapped in for Vexite positionally, and I’ve swapped into Hatz’s previous roles for the most part. For this event, Hatz is just having a bit of fun in Vexite’s roles.
Even through lost rounds, especially that anti-eco at 11-11, you guys were all smiles all the way through. How was the experience of playing in front of the Aussie crowd for the first time in ages?
It was insanely fun, yeah. It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t use our full roster at this event, but it was super fun anyway. We said in the huddle and decided that we should just make it entertaining for the crowd. I couldn’t hear much but I assumed it was entertaining — that’s the main thing. Obviously we’re trying to win but it’s hard to take it completely seriously given the circumstances. If we get the win along the way too, then that’s a bonus.
Your last appearance at an Aussie event would have been 2019 at IEM Sydney — is there much of a comparison between then and now?
IEM was different in that there were tier one teams and stuff, so it felt like there was more on the line. Obviously we played with the full roster back then and got a couple of wins, but it wasn’t in front of the crowd since we had to finish top eight. It’s insane that we got the chance to play in front of this crowd without having to make playoffs, and it would be cool if we could do that every time.
Is playing in front of the crowd pre-playoffs a worthy trade off given the group seedings? Many people around the scene—myself included—thought it a bit rough that the two Aussie home teams were grouped together, and with both of you losing your opening games, one of you guys will now exit a home event with a single map against international opposition that has flown all the way out here.
It’s a double-edged sword; two Aussies in the same group also gave us more chance to have an Aussie team out of the group stage, with fewer European or Brazilian teams to play first. It works both ways really, but I’m not too fussed about who we play in the groups. We’ll have plenty more opportunities to play international events and stuff.
Should you guys turn it up tomorrow and progress through to the playoffs, how much should the scene look into these results going forward into the season? Since it’s been such a last minute affair and you’ve got Hatz instead of Vexite, is this event an indicator of form at all?
No, I don’t think so. It’s a lot different right now; we don’t have any of our play book in use, we only had two days with Hatz to prep so we just scrimmed and just had fun. Josh [INS] has been calling on the fly, so yeah, as a whole it’s not indicative of anything. We’re just here to have fun and enjoy the crowd.
Looking at the Oceanic scene ahead for the next few months, were there any surprises in regards to roster moves during the off-season? Any particular thoughts about other teams in the region at the moment?
I mean there’s definitely been some big change-ups. I was surprised that Sean [Gratisfaction] is following in my footsteps and switching to the rifle; it took me a little bit to fully adapt, I think it’ll take him a bit too. I think, should Aaron [AZR] and Grat fully sign with Encore it’s a decent upgrade for them. AZR’s a decent caller with heaps of experience, and Grat’s a good player, so we’ll see how he goes on the rifle.
Vertex, obviously, we got Vexite from them, so they’ll be a bit downgraded from before, but they seem to be decent as it — they almost beat Encore in the open qualifiers [for the RMR]. As a whole it’s a little transition period and there’s some decent changes, and it’s great to see AZR and Grat back.
BLAST OCE Masters was up next, then the IEM Rio APAC RMR at PAX Australia. With today’s (and tomorrow’s) taste of the crowd are you already keen to be back on the stage?
Yeah, that’ll be a big one, we’ll be fully prepared for that one. If it’s the same situation in front of the crowd it’ll be insane, and we’ll be fully focused on qualifying for that again—super important for us
Finally, I’ve got to get your thoughts on the APAC RMR. A lot of people at home and internationally have weighed in on the APAC RMR and how it’s lacking in comparison to the other regions. Are you happy with how the RMR is set now? Would you want to see more teams in attendance?
I think, overall, eight teams is a no-brainer. It’s just outrageous that there aren’t eight teams at the RMR, especially on LAN together. That would be the best way to start growing the scene in Asia again. As it stands right now it works out best for us since there’s four teams and we’re already qualified but yeah, I reckon there should be at least two AUS slots. We really could have two AUS teams going, but for overall growth there should be at least eight teams there like there used to be.
Grayhound will play first up against Vertex in the Aussie eliminator at ESL Challenger Melbourne this morning at 11am. For our full CS:GO schedule, check out our ultimate coverage hub.