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November 25th, 2019

STYKO: "I was never worried that I would be teamless forever"

After GODSENT had hoisted the trophy of WePlay! Forge of Masters S2, we conducted a long interview with their player, Martin "STYKO" Styk, who statistically was the 5th best player at the event in Kyiv (1.17 KDR in 6 maps).

STYKO interview

STYKO's GODSENT are now the #22 team in the world, according to HLTV's Rankings
photo credit: StarLadder

In the interview, we discussed what has happened to him so far this year, why he decided to join the NoChance line-up back in March, and how he elevated his level of play after departing mousesports. Besides, we asked him to give us his thoughts on the players he has previously played with, such as Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný, Miikka "suNny" Kemppi, and Patrik "Zero" Žúdel.

Let’s summarize your last nine months after you left mousesports. It’s been a tough road for you, as you, in a way, had to get out of your comfort zone. What can you tell me about all that has happened to you so far in 2019?

After I had left mousesports, I got pretty quickly approached by Mikail "Maikelele" Bill, who asked me whether I want to join their squad in NoChance. All it took was literally one FPL game. I got benched in mousesports, I had barely played any FPL before that, and I played that one game because I had so much free time to spend.

After that game, 15 minutes later he messaged me on Twitter: "Yo, bro. Are you interested in joining our team?". Because of that game, he saw how I communicate, how I play, and he thought that I would probably be a good fit. I said to him "Let’s try it", as I had nothing else to do. I knew that they had no salaries, but that was fine for me because I was still benched in mousesports, so I was contracted to them. I asked mousesports for permission to play for these guys at tournaments, the Minor, etc., and they said yes. After that, we started practising.

Of course, I was out of my comfort zone because I couldn’t be that kind of a player that I used to be in mousesports. I moved on to the tier-2/tier-3 scene, and it doesn’t matter there. It’s hard to support your players when they are not as big of a star as oskar was, as suNny was, as ropz was. It’s just not going to have so much impact. Instead, I decided to put my support role aside.

I told the guys that I would practice with them and join their team, but I wanted to reinvent myself into the best hybrid player I can be, meaning rifling, getting lurk positions, having playmaking positions, secondary AWP, in-game leading, and stuff like that. I wanted to have everything in this package, so I took it as an opportunity for me to learn all weak spots that I would have as a player and I tried to improve on that. I didn’t improve that much in in-game leading, but on the other hand I improved a lot my playmaking and lurking skills. I’ve never expected myself to be in the role that I have now, but it’s working well. We are winning tournaments, we are climbing the rankings, and it’s fine for me.

It’s been a hard time for your team overall since you were not receiving any salaries. Also, back in the HellRaisers days, you quit your studies. Have you ever been worried about what would happen to you in the future?

I was never worried that I would run out of money. It’s because I knew that… When I looked at myself as a player, there are so many… It’s going to sound cocky, but there are worse players than me that are on good teams. I saw them not improving, I saw them still getting paychecks. I was never worried that I would be teamless forever, and that there would be no job for me in esports. Meanwhile, I worked on my social media, I worked with certain partnerships. I was getting money, though it was not a salary from a Counter-Strike team. I was still in the scene. 

I can completely see myself doing stuff that is not playing, like analyzing, streaming, casting, and coaching — probably not coaching yet, but it’s coming slowly with my experience. I can see myself doing all these things because I’m not afraid to do them. Once I pay attention to them and try to improve on them, I’m really sure I can be much better in these areas. Probably, that can launch my career elsewhere, but it is how it is. If I was teamless, I would obviously look for somewhat else of an income. But I didn’t happen, and I believe 100% it won’t happen. 

We were on the verge of the Top 40 teams, and when you look at the Top 100 teams, probably 60 of them are still getting paid. There are teams that are ranked almost #100 and still getting salaries, so I knew it was just a matter of time. People were interested in us, they were just low-balling us. It was acceptable because we were pretty low in the rankings, but we knew that we had the potential so we asked for more. Organizations just don’t want to pay that kind of money for a low-tier team. We had to wait a bit to prove ourselves, and this is one of the steps. We got signed, finally, and we proved that we can win some events.

While you were teamless, it was rumored that HellRaisers asked you to join them back. Is it true?

Yes. It wasn’t an official proposal. I got asked by HellRaisers if I would be interested to join the team. I asked who would be there — who would be my teammates, who is running the organization, and so on — got the reply, and I said "no, thanks". I don’t want to elaborate on who was or was not the problem. That’s it, I just said no right after I got the reply who would be my colleagues and bosses and who I would have to deal with. I said to myself that it’s not worth it.

Speaking about the line-up that HR had gathered. They had Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný, who is a super-strong AWPer, they had the former NoChance player Žygimantas "nukkye" Chmieliauskas, but they didn’t produce any notable results. Why do you think it failed? 

Originally, nukkye wasn’t there. nukkye was still playing with us, but it got to the point where it was really hard for him to get by. He was under a lot of pressure because he wasn’t getting paid, and he was slowly running out of money, so he had to do something. Eventually, he took the HellRaisers offer. It’s not funny playing Counter-Strike 8 hours a day when you have no income from it. He replaced Bence "DeadFox" Böröcz, and then he went to the Major with him being listed as a coach.

Why did it fail? There was just no chemistry between the players. I think they wanted to build a team just to maintain the Major spot, not to get 0-3’d and come back to the Minor. That’s why I think they did so poorly at the Major.

If nukkye didn’t leave NoChance, would it speed up your progress as a team?

We would probably make it to the Major through the Minor where we almost beat mousesports, but I don’t think… I think it was a good thing for us that nukkye left.

As we have mentioned oskar, he is teamless now, and in HellRaisers he wasn’t shining as much as he was in mousesports. Some people even say that he is hard to work with. What do you think about him as a teammate?

We were always close as teammates as we had the same cultural background, but it was said multiple times by multiple people that oskar, despite being a tier-1 player — HLTV’s Top 20 player last year — is sometimes truly hard to cooperate with. I’m pretty sure if you ask all his past teammates, they will give you the same answer. Amazing player, amazing talent, he is just a bit hard when it comes to socializing with the team. He prefers having his own free time to be in a comfort zone, to play better, and we in mousesports allowed him to do it. We allowed him to be in his comfort zone. Let’s say, he didn’t feel well practising — we cancel practice. But, for example, if I felt bad, I didn’t tell the team to not practice. I was going through the practice anyway. 

We were trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible, inside of his comfort zone, and that’s how you need to treat players like oskar. That’s also why they failed in HellRaisers because they didn’t treat him this way. If you get oskar in his comfort zone, he will carry you. He is easily a Top 5 player in the world if he gets into his comfort zone and you do not pressure him into doing anything what he doesn’t want to do.

Speaking about your other former teammate, which is Miikka "suNny" Kemppi, after he had joined ENCE, they were pretty underwhelming. Do you think that the break that he had after mousesports influenced him so much that he cannot be a star anymore? Also, was it a mistake by ENCE to replace Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen?

No, I don’t think it was a mistake. I think suNny can still be a star, the break didn’t do anything to him. I think it’s just that the meta changed a bit, the whole team atmosphere… He had been on international teams for a few years. He had played in mousesports for 1,5 years; before that, he had been playing in PENTA’s international squad. Now, he comes back to the Finnish scene. It would be hard for everyone. 

Maybe they are not doing as extremely good as they were with Aleksib, they are not making deep runs, but I think it’s only a matter of time. I think they have a really good approach to it because everytime, instead of tilting, I feel like they know they are doing bad, and they are improving. As suNny said in one of the post-match interviews: "We just need to play better, we just need to do this better, we just need to play more ballsy", — and so on. They always say these things and it’s so true. It’s better than saying: "I don’t know what went wrong.". It’s a bad attitude. If you know what went wrong and you just need to play better, that means you are on the right path and just need to take time. It’s taking more time [from ENCE] than we expected, but they are going to get there. 

suNny will be a star player again. Maybe not this year, maybe not in the beginning of 2020, but they will make it there, eventually. I don’t think ENCE need roster changes. Many people are saying that it’s a sh*t roster — it’s not true, they are really good players. They are even capable of winning the Majors, just give them time.

Some people have said to me that the players that you had in mousesports were arrogant, except for you. Was it the case or it’s just speculations?

No, it wasn’t the case. I don’t think anyone was arrogant. Everyone had their own moments of tilt, rage, but it happens with every team in every sport and to every player. Probably, I wasn’t just showing it that much as I kept it inside of me. Sometimes I was raging as well. At the Katowice Minor, when we went out, I didn’t say anything bad to the players, but inside of me, it was just boiling. I knew what we were doing wrong, and I said it in person to our coach, our management, but I didn’t say it to the players because it would not make any difference. 

Some people are outspoken, and they are talking more about this, so they are visibly tilting. You can sometimes see chrisJ having a bad game now in mousesports, and you see that he is not having fun. You see how he is getting bad timings, which triggers him sometimes. It was happening to suNny as well. If you are a playmaker, timings will not go your way in some games, so you would be not as impactful as you want to be. oskar was never tilting, in my opinion. Even if he had a bad game, or even a good game, he was always just in his zone, trying to do his best. ropz… Never seen him tilting as well. He is… Okay, maybe sometimes, it happens once in a half of a year when he smashes his desk. If I saw this happening to him, a bad timing like that, I would smash the desk as well. You got so unlucky everytime. It happens to anchor players like ropz is, these timings happen all the time. It’s not like we were raging or tilting, it’s just a part of us.

The reason I asked this question is because some people — my former colleagues at StarLadder, for example, or some other journalists — thought of mousesports as an arrogant team.

Maybe they were annoyed, not arrogant. Maybe they feel this way because they dislike doing interviews, or maybe they dislike doing media activity overall. I would be arrogant as well if I had to do three interviews per day. Maybe they just caught them on a bad timing, it’s hard to say.

The next question is also about your former teammate, which is Patrik "Zero" Žúdel. He had really good potential back in the HR days, but after that he distanced himself from the CSGO scene. What is he doing now? Do you keep in contact with him?

Zero was a sick player. Of course, I remember him. Just a few weeks ago he played on a Czechoslovakia lineup, which attended a local LAN event. 

We played together, we had fun. I know he is studying right now in a pretty hard college in Slovakia, he does a lot of streaming, he is programming a lot. You can catch him on his stream, I guess, and ask him about this as well. He is trying to play, he still has potential. I’ve always compared him to a Michael "shroud" Grzesiek type of player. Whatever he does, he always does it good. He is so good at the game, it’s insane. Unfortunately for him, it’s hard to break through in CSGO. He had played for HellRaisers before taking a break, and [leaving the scene] was kind of a mistake. I have no idea if he is ever coming back. Hopefully, he will.

Read also:
Interview with GODSENT's coach, 
Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg

In mousesports, you were on a team that aimed to win titles. In NoChance, on the other hand, you were on a team that wanted to qualify for at least some events. Did it in any way hit your ambitions?

Not really. You have to think of it in a way that you are not really lowering your ambition, but you are making it realistic. If you are a team like mousesports and you tell yourself: "Okay, I want to qualify for every Major" or "I want to win one trophy per year", — then you are obviously going to do it. And when you do it, you say to yourself: "We’ve already done what we set for ourselves", — and then you are just going to lose motivation. That’s why we always aimed to win tournaments [in mousesports]. But in NoChance, if you say: "Okay, we need to win the Major, be at the Major, or win one premier tournament per year", — then obviously it would not be possible. Setting unrealistic goals in the esports environment is not good for the health of your team. If you don’t reach your goals, you will try to change things. You would want to change players, change roster, change playstyle and roles, and suddenly you would come to conclusion that nothing works because you are not hitting the goals that you want. It’s not happening like this. 

In NoChance, it was kind of a miracle for us that we made it to the Minor when we beat Heroic, which is a strong team that attends premier tournaments. We have to think this way, we have to set realistic goals. It wasn’t like our ambitions were low, it was just a realistic approach.

I don’t think my personal ambitions went low. In fact, I think I was trying to be better than I was in mousesports and to have carry potential, which was a completely new thing for me. In mousesports, I was never a carry. In NoChance, I said to myself: "Okay, maybe I should try this because it can elevate my personal level.". Let's say, a top-team approaches me — someone like Liquid — and they want me as a player because I would fit their system. I want to be ready for whatever happens. If they want a lurker, I want to be their lurker. If they want an AWPer, I don’t want to spend three months watching demos because I want to become one. I want to have a foundation to be an AWPer, to have these basics done, and I just want to elevate my skill. 

This is hypothetical, of course. The main goal is with NoChance, now GODSENT, to be that kind of a team so no one ever approaches me, and we become a tier-1 team — the best team in the world. It’s just hypothetically speaking. Once I told myself this hypothetical scenario can happen, I want to be ready for every possible situation that can occur.

STYKO was interviewed by @EllanarkJesus