parwWhat skills does esports help to develop? Communication firstly, you have to compromise and adapt, it’s one of the most important components of teamplay, not only in esports, just like in relationship with a girlfriend you can have a crisis or piss each other off. It’s important to be able to control your emotions, there is a thin edge, you can build relationship for years, but break it in a second. Of course analytical skills are important, you constantly think, analyze what happens with the team in games. Strategies, ways to defeat opponent, you constantly think about it, also communicative skills constantly improve. Very important ability is to control your emotions, when I am bursting with emotions, I learned to control myself for years. There are exercise, I’ve attended some trainings, we do it even now, we have a dedicated psychologist. Really, when you play some important game on the stage at the world championship, during some key rounds, especially as a captain, you understand the responsibility, you’re nervous and your heart is racing. At this moment you have to abstract from it, to have a cool mind, and to make the right decision, without emotions. You shouldn’t rush, you should calm down the team, it comes with the experience, or you have to be born with it. Now I watch the youngsters and understand that they adapt to everything more quickly. Just like my parents would tell me and my brother, that they can’t keep with our understanding of tendencies and our way of looking at life. I see the same in young players, they think and communicate differently. Yes, they lack knowledge and experience, but they learn way faster. I had a long journey in esports before I won my first tournament, it was some local tournament first, then Ukraine, Europe championships. Only after10 years I won the world championship, I didn’t have teachers, I learned the hard way. There were some at the beginning, but I learned the majority myself. I made a lot of mistakes, now I use my experience to prevent mistakes, to get better faster. Can you compete with young players? Right now it’s possible, but the older I get the harder it becomes, sometimes I have to force myself to do it as a job. It’s not like when I was 20, I could play all day and night long in PC clubs, we would just buy some fast-food and play for the whole day. Now I have an adult, responsible life, you have personal life, you have to do your job plan, practice individually, practice teamplay, prepare set-pieces, study the opponent… And now the tempo is very high, the team that wins a tournament can struggle in the next one, it happens all the time. You don’t have enough time to prepare for everything, you don’t even have enough time to understand what the opponent team prepares against you, while you’re playing some tournament. Teams prepare well for the strong opponents. There is a lot of work to do, but the difference is that young players don’t have much personal life, they just play and enjoy it. However, they lack experience, but if a young player acquires experience, if he becomes familiar with the world CS, in most cases he becomes better than older players. Older players must work hard to stay competitive, your reaction gets worse and stuff. Young players don’t think about the consequences, they just go and make plays, and they succeed. While we, older players, can overthink ourselves sometimes, sometimes I wonder why did I even think about some plays. But when you are in good form, when you maintain it and prepare for tournaments, you can compete and play better. Do you want to become a coach after you retire as a player? A coach? To be honest, I try to do it. Honestly, in Gambit I think I was both the captain and the coach, Because I was very motivated, I coached, I practiced, I implemented new ideas, and I enjoyed it. I am grateful that the guys followed and supported me, we were always improving. In NAVI it’s important to gain trust from the guys, they have to follow, and I have to focus on the game. I won’t lie, the previous year was full of events, it was difficult, I was worn out mentally. And right now I’m kind of recovering. If we take a look at traditional sports, like football or something else… Yes, it’s a physical activity, but they have the regular and off season. And since it’s more about mental activity in what we do, at some point your brain just starts to melt. That’s what probably happened to me. After I joined NAVI and had to bring the team into the top 3-5 of the world right away, which is actually very difficult given the current level of competition. When I joined Gambit, they were top 25 and it was obviously easier to gradually get the team into the top 10-15. We took things slowly and eventually got there. Although it is the opposite when you join the team that has some issues, and you have to rapidly get them into the top, and it’s not really working, other teams destroy you… Plus I felt that I was giving it all I had left but still that wasn’t enough. Probaby this reset was really necessary. I think… I’m gesturing too much. I think everything’s going to be fine. What upsets you about CS:GO? What would you like to change? What bothers me is when tournaments are being run unprofessionally. If you attend such a tournament, there might be some small issues, like bad PCs for example. I think that esports has evolved to the point when tournaments are being held at packed stadiums, tickets get sold out very quickly. Also, there can be issues about the venue. It happens rarely though, but it might be very cold inside, or other small issues that can distract you or make it harder to play. Also when games are scheduled late at night and sometimes you have to play at 1:00 a.m, but what if you have a sleeping pattern? For instance, I go to sleep at 3:00 a.m, while Edward tries to hit the sack before midnight. He feels uncomfortable and doesn’t like playing late into the night. Sometimes this happens. Ideally, I’d prefer if there were less tournaments, only the ones that have gained a reputation in the pro scene and know all the nuances and details. And they would simply have higher prize pools. It would be… I think it’s heading in that direction. Because small tournaments are slowly waning away. Nowadays, pro teams are unlikely to attend an unknown tournament with unknown organizers. The only way to attract them is to throw a giant prize pool into the mix. Teams choose to attend well established tournaments mostly. I can’t help but mention ESL and ELEAGUE’s level of production. Also Starladder, they’re taking things to a professional level. EPICENTER. To be honest, the second iteration of EPICENTER took place recently and I missed both of them. NAVI attended the first EPICENTER without me, and we didn’t manage to qualify for the second one. Everyone’s praising this tournament. Do you follow other disciplines NAVI are competing in? Frankly, I’ve always been following our FIFA player, Yozhyk, he’s a great guy. I remember us going a long way together. Yes, we already were the world champions when he joined the organization, he wasn’t though. I remember how I was encouraging him and how we cheered for him. It’s been amazing following him all the way and seeing him win. As for Dota, I haven’t been watching it much lately. I used to, especially when NAVI had an all-star roster with Puppey, I watched how they won The International, and came up short in the next two TI finals. I try to watch TI every year, usually it’s in July when we don’t have much tournaments, so my teammates and I watch and discuss games, and cheer for the guys. It’s a truly spectacular and amazing tournament. I want CS:GO to have its own version of the International. I believe it’d be a huge deal as everyone has been waiting it for a long time. Mainly because of its prize pool.