We had a pleasure to talk with GODSENT’s coach, Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg, whose team is competing at WePlay! Forge of Masters S2. In an interview for our website, we discussed their departure from SMASH Esports, how the negotiations with GODSENT went, and why the squad picked up Pavle "maden" Bošković.
Devilwalk has been working with the NoChance core since early February
photo credit: StarLadder
Beside that, we touched upon the topic of HLTV’s Rankings, which was a problem for the Swede’s line-up, working with Markus "pronax" Wallsten, and goals to achieve in the near future.
The first question is about the WePlay tournament. Given the circumstances, how much time did you have to prepare for this event?
We actually took one week off before this event. We were not playing at all. We had a 4-day bootcamp, so after that we had one week when we played absolutely nothing. It was just because we had a rough year, we’ve already had a lot of stuff going on, so we needed a mental break to prepare for the rest of things coming before the end of this year, and to have a good start for the next year.
We spent four days on a bootcamp, but we also needed to do a lot of media activity for the GODSENT announcement. It wasn’t great preparation, but I still think we are solid enough as a team. We prepared enough during the month prior [the tournament], so we didn’t need it.
While being on a bootcamp, did you already know that you were going to join GODSENT?
Yes, the bootcamp took place in the GODSENT offices. We had a contract meeting with SMASH one and a half week before our departure was officially announced, and we declined their contract offer. A couple days later, we were contacted by GODSENT, who said that they want to sign us. Everything happened really fast after that.
STYKO revealed on Twitter that you were not receiving salaries during your time in SMASH. Also, zehN, in his interview for a Finnish website, said that you believed in this project, even though you were not earning any money from it. What is the reason for that?
We had so much trouble talking to organizations back and forth, and we ended up just talking to organizations most of our time, so we thought that we would give it a shot and see what happens. Unfortunately, we didn’t come to terms with the contract that was offered, and that is basically it. They were new to esports, we were having trouble finding a home, and they needed a team. We gave them a couple of months to find sponsorships that were needed for what we required.
The other thing is, zehN also revealed that the organization wanted to remove some players behind your back. How was it from your perspective? Did they approach you or ask for your opinion as you were the team’s coach?
No, they did this on their own. We were all shocked, and we didn’t know what to do. For us, it was not okay. It’s hard to sign a contract and believe in the project if the organization is still searching for players when it already has a full line-up.
Let’s talk about the HLTV Rankings, which was quite a problem for your team. For example, there was an update after which you got dropped to a lower position but won 11 Bo3s and lost only a few Bo1s. Don’t you think that these rankings have too much influence on the market? And considering that it most likely has, do you believe that the information about how it works should be revealed to the public?
I think so, yes, but I also think that these closed events should not give any points. If you have an invite-only event where there is no chance for any other team to qualify, and you still put it as a tier-1 event where teams get tier-1 points, it will basically be impossible to reach the Top 10 because the same teams will always be there no matter what. There is no chance for a Top 40 team to break through even if it beats higher ranked teams because they are playing against them in tournaments that are "worse".
You get less points. It’s like if we would beat Liquid online in an open qualifier, it would not count at all, whilst if we were in a closed event we would get many points. Look at the BLAST events. It’s a "fun" event, but FaZe got 250 points [for winning BLAST Copenhagen], while we are struggling in Rank 30 to get five points a week. I think it’s hard in that sense. I believe that every point should be reachable for everyone.
The next question is about your latest addition to the team, which is maden. Why did you pick him up and what makes you think that he is the right fit?
We knew that we wanted an aggressive player like Thomas, who brought a lot of aggressive peeks and creative ideas. We wanted something similar. When we played against BLUEJAYS, maden’s old team, in two open qualifiers, he was just crushing it. We lost to them on Nuke twice, and he had 40 kills against us, so we were like "if you can’t beat them, recruit them" (laughs).
Speaking about Thomas, if I’m not mistaken it was never revealed why he left the team. Can you share some details behind his departure?
Personally, I really, really like Thomas, but it was also my decision [to remove him] because I think he has a lot of confidence issues. Sometimes he can tilt, and in our team we already have a lot of people who can get really mad and show a lot of emotions in games. We had no problem with him playstyle-wise, and outside the game he is an absolutely wonderful guy. I absolutely love Thomas, but I think we needed someone more emotionally stable with the same type of a skill set as Thomas to make it work so that we don’t influence each other too much negatively.
I want to point out that this is not only about Thomas. It’s just kind of like -- if you have a glass of water that is already full, you don’t want to get more as it will pour over. That’s what my thought process was behind it.
As it was announced, pronax is the head of GODSENT’s CS:GO division. How will he cooperate with the team?
I’ve known pronax for a long time, we are still really, really good friends. We like each other, we know how each other works and how to work with each other. He’s given me full freedom to do whatever I want, but if I ask him to help, he will always be there for us. I know that right now he is trying to find his thing within the organization, a role in terms of management and business, so it will take some time for him. Maybe, in a few months, he will be more hands-on and help us more in the future, but right now it will stay as it is with me doing most of the stuff.
No one on the current line-up has worked with GODSENT before. However, how do you think the current GODSENT organization is different to what it was in the past?
That’s a hard question. I think, first of all, the leadership and the management in GODSENT, pronax included, have learned a lot through the first period of the organization’s existence. They know what they did wrong, they know what they did right, and they will keep improving.
Personally, we have great guys behind the project. I can hang out with the CEO, I can hang out with the guys doing the bootcamp, and they all are super lovely guys. I met them prior to the Minor when we were NoChance as we were bootcamping in the same offices. We met some of the people that were already running the organization, we all loved it there. It was a really easy choice for us to come to the negotiation table and discuss the contracts because we all, both them and us, wanted it badly.
Now, as you finally have the support behind your back, do you think that it will speed your progress as a team?
Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind. [In six months], I think Top 20 or Top 25, or around the place, will be absolutely achievable, and it should be considering where we are.
I also think that we have the potential to move up faster. We’ve already laid the groundwork for everything, and we already have a plan moving forward - for a couple of months forward. We know what we need to improve on and when it should be improved, we already have a really good system in place.
I know it sounds weird when I talk about it, but it takes time to make the structure. Every player should have a responsibility so you all start working as a group, it’s not one guy doing everything and others doing nothing. We all have responsibilities. It’s all like gears of one mechanism. If one gear stops, it will slow down our progress. We are really aware of that, and we are working really hard with the system that we have now, so I think 2020 will be our year.
GODSENT's Devilwalk was interviewed by @EllanarkJesus