Despite heartbreak in the semifinals against Bad News Eagles, Grayhound has once again represented Australia on the international stage and given Aussie fans a taste of the month ahead.
Following ESL Challenger at DreamHack this weekend, The ‘Hounds are off to Paris where they hope to do some damage at the Major and ‘f**k the Pick’Ems’ of anyone daring to put Grayhound at 0-3.
Shortly after their Paris run, they will then join a handful of other squads heading to the United States for IEM Dallas at the end of May.
The final CS:GO Major will be the second for Declan “Vexite” Portelli, the new kid on the block in Australian CS. Last year, Vexite missed out on playing with Grayhound at ESL Challenger due to ESL’s roster rules, but in 2023, he had a chance to prove himself on the MCA stage.
“I was really upset at the time when [DreamHack] was happening last year, I thought it was a really stupid rule. Being able to play now is really positive and good and I am a much better player than I was back then,” Vexite told Snowball Esports in regards to the roster lock rulings.
Grayhound are often at the mercy of long travel days and suffer from jet lag as they adjust to North American or European time zones for international events.
“It’s really comfortable being able to play without jet lag or a disadvantage for us. If anything, we have an advantage with the crowd,” Vexite explained.
“There are always some things to be heard from the crowd like indicators here and there. It’s really cool hearing the loud noise, especially after someone gets a highlight or cool round, it’s motivating.”
The travel schedule for the team is enough to make most teams exhausted, but Grayhound pushes on through from event to event.
“We definitely jump around the world a little bit, going from Paris to Dallas and because we go through Australia every time we travel, it’s just so many hours on planes and can become draining, but we know a player break is around the corner.”
“We know what we’re doing it for, it’s for the Major and these big events. This is part of the job and we understand that.”Declan “Vexite'” Portelli, Grayhound Gaming
“I think a lot of tier one [squads] have it harder than we do; they have event after event after event but we get breaks where we come home for a bit and practice and stuff, which can be time to relax a bit.”
ESL Challenger saw Grayhound fall short to Bad News Eagles who are currently on an upward trajectory going into the BLAST Paris Major, especially considering they will kick off the event in the New Legends stage.
“I think Bad News Eagles and Complexity are the best teams here apart from ourselves,” said Vexite. “We aren’t too fussed about it though–we understand that we have to beat whoever is in front of us, whether it’s a tier one team or anyone else it doesn’t matter.”
With Bad News Eagles and Complexity heading off to the Paris Major shortly, as well as The Mongolz who qualified through the APAC RMR, there are a lot of eyes on GH for teams who may be looking to strategize against the Aussies.
- Read More: Our full recap of the BLAST Paris APAC RMR
“I don’t want to say too much about it but there are some things we do differently, but of course, I don’t want to elaborate on it too much more than that.
“Individually however, we’re playing so much better because we’ve got the crowd and we’re playing in front of friends and family, representing Australia at home so we want to do good and we’re keen and motivated to give our all.”
In the last couple of months, the removal of the team’s coach David “Kingfisher” Kingsford has been the biggest shift in the squad. It will be hard to judge the immediate impacts on the team, but Vexite spoke of the changes that have followed since the coach’s departure.
“Part of the removal of Kingfisher was that we had discussions with the team about what we think would be better and we just like the way things have been going and that has led to some success,” Vexite said.
“Nothing to do as a result of his removal by the way but the team is functioning differently now and people are stepping up more and showing more accountability–not relying on someone else to do it for us.”
As it stands, Vexite said Grayhound isn’t actively seeking a coach, or any additional support staff at the current time.
“I think that the relationship between a coach or someone who works with the team and the IGL is important, so that decision would have to be up to Josh [INS] and he might look without us because it mainly affects him.”
Grayhound will be off to Paris following ESL Challenger and will have about a week to get in any last practice before their opening match against Forze.
With the ESL Challenger Grand Final taking place tonight, catch up on how the event has panned out in our ESL Challenger 2023 Content Hub. Follow Vexite on Twitter.
Interview conducted by Bernadette Wong.