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SEMPHIS on jeorgesnorts: “It’s almost like he’s an NA ropz”


Nouns were firmly one of the underdogs coming into the IEM Road to Rio Americas RMR, but the squad secured their laborious 2-1 victory over O PLANO on the third day of play to keep themselves with a chance at punching their ticket to the Major in Brazil.

The Kory “⁠SEMPHIS⁠” Friesen-coached squad faltered in their matchup versus the Brazilians of Imperial, who eventually clinched the last Major spot, and were sentenced to a 9-11th finish, short of the top-six placing needed to secure their spot at the upcoming Valve-sponsored event.

SEMPHIS says he enjoys the “boring” part of coaching

Shortly after this 0-2 loss to Gabriel “⁠FalleN⁠” Toledo and company, SEMPHIS sat down with’s Zvonimir “⁠Professeur⁠” Burazin to discuss the final matchup versus the Brazilians, how the 33-year-old coach works within the roster, the potential of Jeorge “⁠jeorgesnorts⁠” Endicott, and what the plans are for the team moving forward as they head back stateside.

I’ll start with this series [versus Imperial]. You had a big lead on Inferno, didn’t manage to close it out and ended up losing 0-2. Do you feel like it’s a disappointing end to what could have been?

I think we would have been happier losing on the third map than just 0-2 like that. It would have probably given people a little bit more confidence going into Vertigo. Overpass is definitely a map that we kind of float but we don’t really want to play it. We had some decent results online and some qualifiers and cups and stuff, but realistically it’s not one we poured a lot of time into, and we picked up Danny [cxzi] and we didn’t have enough time to fully go over every map.

The same thing kind of happens every time you go to Europe: you go to Europe and then you realise which maps you’re kind of good on and which ones you aren’t, and then you have to decide which ones are we going to focus on and which ones are we going to still scrim a couple of times… but in a week, you don’t have enough time to perfect six maps.

So Overpass was one of those ones where it felt like we’re naturally okay at it, but obviously not enough to beat Imperial, so Inferno was really important. I think that was also one of the things that, when we lost Inferno, ruined some of the mentality because people, in the back of their minds, I think they knew that it’s going to be tough now. Whereas, if we had won Inferno or Overpass, people could have been a bit happier even when you’re losing, you can be like, “Oh, whatever”. Even though you lost Overpass, when you win the first game [map], you can win the second map off of confidence and not have that pressure of going home because you have that third map. They’re all really confident on Vertigo as well, so.

Let’s keep it on Inferno for a bit because you had the 14-7 lead and you mention now that pressure after you lost [the map]. Do you think that pressure also crept into the game when you’re supposed to close it out?

Yeah we had a talk beforehand, and I’ve played versus Brazilians for years, the old Immortals lineups with HEN1, steel, LUCAS1 and stuff, and MIBR who are still here. They never give up, that’s one of the things I was trying to tell them [the team], “don’t ever think that you’ve won versus these guys because it doesn’t matter if you’re 15-4, they’ll slowly crawl back one round at a time because they’re very resilient mentally.”

NA teams, in my opinion, you kind of know when you’ve won, excluding the top, top teams like Liquid, right? But, most of the people under those, from my experience, I kind of know when we’ve won a game, but versus Brazilians and stuff, sometimes it feels like you should win and you just somehow don’t. Or they draw it out really close in overtime or whatever.

I took some pauses and one of my recommendations at 15-10 or 15-9, I don’t know exactly, was, “you either keep playing your own game and hope for the best, or we start cycling smokes and gambling a site, you only need one round.” And that’s kind of what I wish they would have done, but I’m not the type of coach to make them do something, that’s not really how this team is working where I’m the authoritarian type of person.

If it was up to me, and this is not disrespecting anyone or anything, I just think that when you’re up that big, it’s not a bad idea to take some gambles and just stack, not five to a site, but some strategical ways to stack; give four nade sets to B, just leave a guy chainsmoking B and try to funnel them into A, or even the reverse, pretending you’re stacking A and keeping 3 on B. And if they don’t come onto the site, just save, because a lot of people underestimate that if you only need one round and you’re stacking A with 4 and 1 B, if the B guy dies, you can just save your guns and you’ll have another full-buy again. So, maybe that’s something we want to talk about in the future, but, that’s what I would have done and I’m not saying it’s the right answer but, you know?

I mean this solution didn’t work so that was obviously the better choice in hindsight. Tell me, you said you’re not an authoritarian coach, how does the team work in terms of calling and who chips in the most?

I think cynic, David, he definitely has his own mindset for the game, and he likes to do a lot of things solo. So I try to work on the personal mistakes of people, try to keep people motivated when they’re getting down — sometimes the energy can get low. It’s hard because younger people are more emotional than when they have more experience and you can see the nerves at their first big LAN. So, I was trying to explain to people some of the things that happened in the past with my teams, things that worked for us and things that happened. But, I like to do a lot of prep, however, that can be, how should I say this…

A double-edged sword in a way?

Yeah, it’s… I’ll look at the demos, write my own notes, but I’m not the type of coach where I’m giving them the notes with everything, which I would do if they wanted, but that’s not really the relationship that they want. I think a coach is one of those relationships that focuses on what the in-game leader wants and you just facilitate that — I don’t think it works when you come in and you try to “alpha” the whole team. I think the team needs to want you to do it or it’s not going to work. Maybe people disagree — I’m not sure.

So I try to watch a lot of the demos, so when I take a pause, and we’re, say, losing on T-side, I can say, “this is the setup they’re running, these are the nades they’re cycling.” I can use an example of EG, I prepped really hard for Inferno and Nuke, but unfortunately, we lost the veto and it went to Mirage, so I didn’t prep Mirage enough. But, I had a ton of notes for those games, and I basically spent a lot of time figuring out how they’re going to cycle their nades so I can say what likely setup they’re going to have based on those. You can’t do that for every team, some teams are more random, and you can’t really find tells, but I really like trying to find tells, so that’s my favourite thing to do — I have a lot of fun doing it. So, yeah, it’s a work in progress, I think it’s one of those things I wanna slowly try to implement more into it, but right now I don’t feel as useful as I could be.

Nouns were unable to make it to the Major after falling to Imperial in the 2-2 pool

Just continuing on that, what kind of enjoyment have you had so far as a coach? Are you enjoying it, is it something you want to continue doing moving forward?

You know, it’s weird because I think coaching is fun, but, here it’s not that fun because of the Major rules and Valve. I don’t really understand why they hate coaches so much. I get the whole cheating aspect and not being able to relay info and they don’t want the coach to be calling through the caller because then eventually what happens is you just have five fraggers and the coach calls.

So, they don’t want that, it’s their game, they [Valve] can do whatever they want, but I just really don’t get why I can’t high-five people, it just seems so ridiculous to me. There are so many times when someone does a good round and you just want to hype them up or the energy is low to get them up. But, you don’t want to waste a tac pause to just do that, but sometimes I have to. Sometimes you can tell when you lost five rounds in a row and you gotta take a tac to mentally reset everything. At other events, it’s a lot more fun, here, not as much.

I actually think I’m in the middle of: I like coaching, but I kind of like the analyst stuff too. I think I maybe prefer… I’m really good at putting on podcasts or music and just zoning in and just writing. I’m really good at doing boring things. When I was a professional in CS, I would DM for like four hours straight — and I didn’t even find it boring. Now, I do bodybuilding. I literally eat the same five meals every single day of my life and I’m just a robot — it’s how I am. So, I actually think that I might be better at that analyst side of things. We’ll see, it’s still a learning process for me you know? I haven’t figured it all out.

You also got some support from Nouns for this event. Is this a long-term thing or how is it developing with Nouns and the team?

I think this was more of a test run for them, see how it goes for our team and how the Nouns brand works in esports. I know they want more exposure for some of the things they’re doing with their sponsors and their cryptos. I don’t know everything since they’re so new and it was so fast; we just came to Germany. So, I haven’t actually fully talked to them about everything, but I know the idea was that if it’s a good fit, they’re willing to sponsor us more long term. If we made the Major, they said that they’d give us a long, extended bootcamp, and support us a lot more. Now that we didn’t, I think we’re going to have another talk and see what goes on. I definitely think these guys have a lot of potential in the scene to grow. Other than the EG academy teams and ATK, we’re the only ones that are at that next level, I think. I think most people would agree with that.

Jeorge [jeorgesnorts] had a pretty insane tournament for a player that is playing his first big event against the biggest names in the game. What do you think about his potential, is he someone we can expect in an EG or Liquid down the line?

I think Jeorge is one of the people that when I first joined the team, I knew he’s one of the guys that’s going to be really good. I can pull up some old Discord logs, I have proof of this, and be like, “this guy is going to be really good.” Obviously, he has a couple of things to work on, he’s younger, his comms could be up a bit, and maybe he zones in a little bit too hard. But, these are things that are minuscule in the grand scheme of things and they can be worked on.

So, if he reads this, it’s not a negative… he knows I’m not shitting on him or anything, it’s just, he’s not a complete player yet. His mechanics are really insane, and he has really weird… it’s almost like he’s an NA ropz a little bit, he looks up to ropz a lot. But, he has that very similar passive lurk playstyle and he’s very hard to kill. He would definitely be very valuable for Liquid or any of those teams eventually. So, I definitely think you’ll see him doing big things in the future, personally.

jeorgesnorts posted a 1.21 rating at the RMR, 7th highest

Wrapping it up, you did say you don’t know what the future with the support is, but with this five, what are you planning to do next? With this experience, what do you think you can accomplish until the end of the year?

We’ll probably play whatever qualifiers are coming up. I can’t remember off the top of my head what we’re in. FiReLEAGUE royally screwed us by giving our spot to Spirit, which would have been nice because we could have gone directly from here to there.

What was that situation?

Oh basically, we got second place to Team oNe, and Team oNe had a weird situation where ESL Rotterdam and FiReLEAGUE are on the same or similar dates, and they had to pick one, and I guess they chose Rotterdam because it’s a more prestigious tournament. So, we were like, “are we going to be invited as the second-placed team?” We asked them and they said, “we’re checking,” which to me is like, “No, we’re finding an excuse not to give it to you,” personally, I’ve been in esports for a long time.

But, I found it really weird that they gave it to Spirit of all teams. It’s an NA qualifier, it’s Americas’ qualifier. That’s why I was so mad, it wasn’t like, if they gave it to another NA team or an EG academy team or something, because they had more points than us — fine. But, I couldn’t comprehend it and they just ignored me. They ignored me on Discord, they ignored me everywhere until I tweeted about it. And once I tweeted, and started calling them out, then I got responses. It’s disrespectful — that’s how I see it.

Any closing thoughts or anything you want to add?

I guess about our team going forward. I do think we need an organisation to give us a little bit of salary and stuff to stick together. One of the problems in NA is just, you can get five good players but if you don’t have at least some support, it’s hard. People quit, they need to make money, go to school, and you’ll lose talent that way. Hopefully we can figure something out but I think it really depends on an organisation supporting us for the team going forward.


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