Bad News Eagles raised eyebrows in January after replacing their long-time coach, Klesti "stikle-" Kola, with fnatic legend Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg. The Swedish legend's addition to the team was positioned as a move to take the team to the next level as Bad News Eagles looked to qualify to their third Major.
With that goal in reach, BLIX sat down with Devilwalk to discuss his addition to the team, Devilwalk's coaching style, and what the team needs to do to compete with top European organizations.
Note that this interview was conduced following Bad New Eagles' 1-1 match win against Viperio.
Return to coaching with Bad News Eagles
Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier, BLIX: You’re now back coaching after quite a long break, how did this come about?
Jonathan "Devilwalk" Lundberg: It came about at Elisa, I went to the Finnish Elisa Masters Espoo, I’m obviously good friends with Banks and they have him as manager. Basically, they said they wanted a change and we started our discussions from there. For me it’s an exciting squad, they have a lot of skill and a lot of things that I like as players.
Obviously, there are a lot of bad things as well, but I think that’s where I come in and I think I can make an impact. Obviously meeting them there and talking to them made me ultra excited about the project, and that’s why I decided to join them without a salary. Because it’s a passion project, basically, and I really like that, I think they deserve a lot more just as people in general, so that’s why I want to be here.
BLIX: Many people might not know a lot about you as a coach these days, but back in the day you used to coach fnatic, for example. How would you describe yourself as a coach now, in 2023?
Devilwalk: I’m pretty psychologically driven, I like to be more supportive. They have a DNA and I kind of want to make it better and better and focus on the details, making sure the playbook makes sense in the way that we construct them and that it suits the players. So I think a lot about that. We’ve switched around a lot of positions since I joined, and switched up a lot of thinking and concepts that we use differently now, to make sure we are all on the same page.
At the end of the day, I believe that players are always better than coaches at the game, they have more individually based knowledge than me, so it’s more about bringing those ideas out and making sure it fits together with everyone else’s, rather than me coming in saying “you have to do this, you have to do that”. Linking them more together and making sure that they have a positive mindset, a good mentality, making sure we plan their energy throughout the year, how to peak at the right moment, that kind of thing, I think, is more my specialty.
BLIX: You mentioned James Banks a little bit before, he’s been very vocal and public about BNE and passionate about the project. In what ways does he help you guys?
Devilwalk: He’s the manager, he takes care of all the little annoying stuff that you have to deal with, even when you have an organization. He’s a big help for us to make sure that we can focus more on the game, on Counter-Strike, as we still have a lot that the players have to focus on, and myself as well, because I’m currently also doing a little bit of the managing, day-to-day.
We’re kind of splitting those tasks and just making sure the boys can focus on their things, which is the game and the relationship to the game and with each other. Yeah, that’s basically what he does, and he’s trying to talk to organizations, make sure it’s legit people he’s talking to. There are a lot of “unlegit” people out there in esports that promise a lot but can’t deliver, so he’s making sure we don’t fall into a trap.
BLIX: We both know how Swedes are, we’re a little bit more uptight while Balkans people are more outgoing. Has it been a big culture shock for you, coming into a team full of Balkan boys?
Devilwalk: No, I prefer it this way! Balkan people in general are super friendly, and I’m quite energetic myself unless it’s on Valve events. *laughs* Like this, nowadays, it’s hard to sit behind them and not be able to react as per the rules, so I prefer the Balkan way I’d say.
Building up the backroom
BLIX: I wanted to talk about the assistant coach situation. About a week ago you announced Kevin “kRYSTAL” Amend coming in, and you coached him back in SMASH. Does it help that you guys know each other from before? How does he fit with the team?
Devilwalk: We basically have a thing where I look at the playbook, say “We need something here or we’re missing something in this area” and he’s very very good at constructing things with a few… like I give him some instructions and he constructs it in that way, more specifically, so I have more time with the boys.
Obviously, it helps that we know each other, it’s a very seamless transition and I know how to work with him. He’s a very hard worker and he’s definitely helping us a lot with playing more structured in a way, which is something we want to do at the moment.
BLIX: you guys still have Kieran "KayJay" Playfair as an assistant coach. In what ways does he help with preparation, seeing as you guys have him, you, Dionis "sinnopsyy" Budeci and kRYSTAL?
Devilwalk: I mean, if you’re going to go for a Major win I think we need to be able to match the backroom staff of the big organizations, so obviously we’re not quite there yet but we’re doing the best we can with good people. KayJay also offers help, gives ideas and his opinions, prepares a lot of teams for us, and it’s a big help for everyone. We work as a team here, so super helpful.
BLIX: Does it take a lot of weight off of your shoulders, knowing that you have both kRYSTAL and KayJay helping you?
Devilwalk: Yeah, of course! Otherwise, I don’t think you can survive more than three months doing every single part of everything to maximize our improvement and our effort, so it’s vital.
BLIX: Concerning the organization situation, and I don’t know how much you can talk about it, TSM recently announced publicly they were looking to get back into CS:GO. You guys have been looking for an organization for quite some time now, can you tell me a little bit about how far into the process you guys have gotten? Are there any offers you’re considering at the moment?
Devilwalk: We look at offers, and obviously TSM is a huge organization and something we’d be interested in, but currently we are focused on the RMR and qualifying on the Major first, and then we’ll see what happens!