After nearly two years, Nigma Galaxy parted ways with head coach Ricardo “JTR” Júnior in April 2023, finishing the most successful coaching stint in the ESL Impact League’s history. Filling in his place is Latvian player-turned-coach Reinis “hyskee” Grīnbergs, who officially joined the team in late May ahead of the ESL Impact League Season 3 Finals.
While there was a growing sense among the community that the gap between NGX and the rest of the field was closing, the reigning champions showed in Dallas, Texas they remain at the top of their game, going 6-0 across all their matches in the event. This result handed NGX their fifth consecutive Impact title, but for hyskeee, he received his first trophy in his debut coaching appearance.
During the Season 3 Finals, BLIX caught up with Nigma Galaxy’s hyskeee for an interview and spoke about him working as their head coach, how his current position came about, his experience playing in the Baltic CS scene and more.
Nigma comes calling
Pedro Romero, BLIX: While it is the fifth time that NGX, in its history, has made it to this stage, for you, it's your first. What has the experience of being with the team in Dallas for this event been like for you?
Reinis "hyskeee" Grīnbergs: As you mentioned, it's the first finals for me. There's a lot of pressure because you come in as the best team in the world. They have won everything, so there's a lot of pressure, but I think the team is happy with what I do, and the results are there as well. I have been enjoying my time in Dallas a lot. It's a really nice city, and it's a nice tournament. The girls are really easy to work with, and they are very chill and nice people.
BLIX: Your joining the team was a pretty big storyline leading up to the Finals, given that JTR left after Katowice. How did that move come together?
hyskeee: I actually asked myself if they wanted to try me. We talked, and we had some practices together, I made my comments on what I saw and what we should change, and I guess they were happy [about that] and decided to continue working with me.
BLIX: I believe this marks your first time working in women's CS. As someone who has spent all of your career as a player, what was the biggest thing you took away from that time that you put into use for this NGX team?
hyskeee: Before, I was an IGL. I think IGL and coaching are pretty similar jobs, but the only [difference] is that they don't have to play. The biggest thing I would say is paying attention to the small details. This is what I'm trying to focus on right now, and afterward, we will see.
BLIX: Did you feel you had to adjust to this role by a significant amount, given that you had to transition from men's to women's CS?
hyskeee: Yeah. I would say that we have changed quite a lot. I think some of the teams are maybe a bit surprised because there have been some changes in the team role-wise, such as who plays where and tactics also.
BLIX: What has been the biggest thing that surprised you so far in Dallas?
hyskeee: Honestly, I haven't been surprised yet. [laughs] Maybe I'm a bit surprised that 9 Pandas lost against FlyQuest, but props to FlyQuest. I think they played amazing, but I think that's the only surprise I had so far.
BLIX: As the new coach for this team, in addition to the roster adjusting from working with JTR to you, what ideas have you brought into the team that differs from when they had JTR?
hyskeee: I think it's focusing on the small details, as I mentioned before. Maybe playing more default-ish CS and focusing on the enemy's mistakes and punishing them for it. That's what I'm trying to focus on the most.
The Baltic CS Scene
BLIX: I want to capture your thoughts about your time as a player. You largely roamed the Baltic side of CS, so how did you view your experience playing there?
hyskeee: I enjoyed it a lot. The problem was that there was always never any support behind it. I used to play for seven to eight years, and in all that time, I never got paid to play. We were trying to juggle our jobs and trying to be somewhat professional, so that was a challenge, but in that scene, there are a lot of hidden talent.
For example, I brought up YEKINDAR. Bymas wasn't known as well, and we played with him on LAN, and then he exploded. The same goes with broky. Of course, they are insane players, but there are many more players like this. For example, there is an Estonian team called sYnck, and they have insane players like aNdul0c0-.
BLIX: In adjusting to this new role, does it feel like it gives you a new perspective in leading this team in a different position?
hyskeee: Yeah. I would say the biggest change is I have to think not only about strategies but also the team environment and how everyone feels about each other, and if there is something wrong, I have to try to solve the issues to keep the family together. In this team, everyone calls each other family, and that's what it really feels like in the team. We talk about problems, we don't hide the problems, and if we have problems, we talk about them because that's the solution to how to deal with them.
BLIX: What's it like working with each player in the team?
hyskeee: If a player wants to watch a demo together, I always have time for that and, again, it's the same thing for the rest of the players. Individually, you can make many tiny mistakes that you may not notice, but when you review it and have someone that watches it with you, you'll notice this stuff, and you will think about it and eliminate those mistakes. No one has won a CS game without making a single mistake. You will always have mistakes, but one thing you can do is have as few mistakes as possible.