The first Brit to ever feature in a CS:GO Major final, Ashley "ash" Battye saw his reputation as a coach skyrocket as a result of that achievement. With GamerLegion now playing at their first tournament since the departures of both Kamil "siuhy" Szkaradek and Ivan "iM" Mihai, the coach looks to help bed in new arrivals Sebastian "volt" Malos and Sanzhar "neaLaN" Ishakov.
After the team picked up their first win of the event against TheMongolz, we sat down with ash to discuss the changes in the team, finding the new star, and GamerLegion’s roadmap to get back to their peak.
Sam "AN1MO" McKenzie, BLIX: There's been big changes to the team recently, as the coach, how are you feeling about it all?
ash: It's just a bit of a mess. It's a big big change to make and it's the two most important positions to change. It's very hard to integrate into the team, and it's going to take a lot of time. It's a big mess and that's what I'm trying to say to the players: don't take too much for what it is now, we need to think about what's going to happen in the future.
BLIX: How is your relationship with neaLaN shaping up? How does he differ to siuhy?
ash: He's pretty similar to siuhy in a few ways. We just need to get to know each other a bit more, I'm trying to listen to what he's saying and I'm trying to get him to understand what I'm saying, we're just trying to figure out from this event what we need to do in the future. It's two guys from very different cultures, he's a guy from Kazakhstan whose gone to NA and it is a bit strange, so we're just trying to find a middle ground at the moment.
BLIX: What about volt and iM? Should it be viewed as a 1:1 swap? Are you looking for someone else to step up and fill iM's shoes?
ash: It's not a 1:1 swap, no. In my opinion, he was the best player available and I've watched him for a long time and he's got a lot of skill. He has been playing a more supportive thing and we've been lacking that's taking more initiative and the star roles, so he's taking a lot of them, not all of them, and it's going to be a big change for him. I hope he understands that it's going to take a bit of time and we'll try to work really hard with him, but it's not just 'iM out, him in', everyone needs to pick up the slack as well.
BLIX: Who else are you looking to fill iM's shoes then?
ash: Everyone. We're going to have a slight change in the way we play, we're putting some more responsibility on people. At the moment we've got very supportive players and everyone just needs a mentality shift so hopefully we'll be able to cover the bases a little bit more.
BLIX: The team has played in a Major Final now, but do you think the players might potentially struggle with some of the pressure of the added responsibility?
ash: Nah, they'll deal with it well. We've talked about it a lot, and we're not seeing this as a team that made the Major, we're seeing it as a new team that's starting again. We've got a good footing, a good base, and we'll go from there and use our experience to our advantage.
BLIX: You've got Gamers8 and ESL Pro League coming up, can you take me through the roadmap for where you want to be by those events?
ash: So this one was always going to be more of a feeler event, and I've said to a few people, we've probably had the least amount of time to prep out of all the teams in the off-season. It's been unfortunate, and we've also had neaLaN playing from Kazakhstan when we've been practicing, so we're trying to use this event as a feeler, and then we'll learn as much as we can. My main takeaway from this game is that I have a book full of notes that I want to talk about, so then we go into the next game and try and work on them and then the next tournament, we build on that and use the LAN experience. So probably Pro League will be the one where, as a team, we're more ready, but for the next two events we're just going to play them and see what we can do.
BLIX: So Pro League is where you'd set out a results-based goal then?
ash: Yeah, that'll be the one where we have more expectations for sure. These two are just more, seeing how it goes and learning from stuff.
BLIX: If this one then is a 'feeler' event, how are you feeling about it?
ash: I feel like I've learned a lot in the two games. Especially the first map today, all the time we're seeing things. There's so many things to talk about that it's just overloading for everyone, all the time. That's the problem when you have this thing to think about, and another, and another, and we're also thinking about the map, everyone's heads are kind of exploding a little bit. But from what we've had so far, it's been amazing. This is exactly what I wanted from us, we've seen highs, lows, throws, good situations, it's been really good so far from us.
BLIX: Would you say that this is your hardest challenge as a coach?
ash: Maybe. We've had a lot of situations in the past where we've lost our best players and we've had to go do it again. This is obviously a challenge, but it's always a challenge, and this is what you've got to do as a coach, you've got to look at different ways you can problem solve and the best way we can do that is to not think about what we've done, we think about what we have now and try to get the best out of it.