The ESL UK & Ireland Winter Premiership for Rainbow 6 Siege concluded earlier this month at the ESL Leicester's studio.
After Team Secret emerged victorious at the event, ENUK'S Craig Robinson sat down to talk to their British players Matthew "meepeY" Sharples (far left) and Ryan "Lacky" Stapley (second from left) in a post-finale interview.
Craig Robinson, ENUK: Congratulations on your victory. You guys were the favourites coming into this tournament and you took it. But you’ve had quite a day. Unnamed gave you a good series and Vexed had a great final map against you. In the end, you came out on top. What was going through your minds today?
meepeY: We started out the day a little cool and needed time to warm up, I think. If we had a warmup scrim or something, we would have started a little bit stronger. But at the end of the day, Unnamed came out firing on all cylinders and they did really well. I think overall, Unnamed was quite a difficult opponent to face. Just the way they’ve played, their playstyle, what they used with their operators and how they pushed.
When it came to Vexed, they were a little bit easier to read. They didn’t use as much meta operators as Unnamed did. Instead, they relied heavily on their fragging power and outplaying potential. It’s a little bit easier to counter that as you tell people to stop pushing and stop peaking because they are going to do that for you.
It was clear you had this strategy against them. At one point in the game Leon was on top of the carpark on Bank with an ACOG and he caught a roamer out on the top floor.
Lacky: It’s all about knowing when the team is playing aggressively. Vexed is known for making the more monkey plays, more aggressive ranked plays. They will peak you if you have given them the time. It is better to take what you need to execute and let them come to you. Because they will come, it’s just a matter of when.
"I think some of these ESL Prem teams will be in Challenger League… that’s for certain. The level of skill in Europe and around the world is on the rise massively."
Yeah, there were several moments in the game where you demonstrated this. There was a castle lurking and you flushed them out. And in the Bank lobby, Leon duelled another lurker in the manager’s office. Would you say there was any point in the game were their style did work against you?
Lacky: In the first few rounds on Bank it definitely took its toll on us. I’d say the first two maps we were very much ready for it. I don’t know what happened in the first half of Bank in terms of being ready for it. I think something just slipped and we didn’t work together quite as well. The communication and teamwork weren’t quite there. Something happened, and we immediately got to it. After the first half - like the Unnamed games - we managed to reset the tone and pull it back.
— Team Secret (@teamsecret) December 8, 2018
Another question on this Bank game. I know you (meepeY) were a Smoke main. What made you put StIZze on the Smoke as it really paid off? You know he is the resident support player for the team but suddenly, he’s become a hyper carry on that shotgun.
meepeY: Yeah, StiZze really stepped up on this final Bank game, he is definitely the MVP of that last matchup. He went absolutely insane against Vexed on Bank and is probably one of the reasons why we won it and pulled it back in the end.
The reason why I stepped down from Smoke is that when the game changes, so do the playstyles. The new operators that release change the way that everyone plays the game.
StiZze is supposed to be a slow, thought-out and passive player, and that generally leads to a good Smoke player because they conserve their gadgets and use them at the right time. Beforehand, StiZze had been playing flex. Sometimes, those flex roles would require roaming which StiZze isn’t really comfortable with: He’s a voice that doesn’t want to roam, he wants to stay on site, be on the cameras and be there in the last few seconds to get the clutch. And that is fine by me.
I’ve played flex for a long time now and made the switch months ago to put StiZze on Smoke since the SMG-11 got nerfed. He’s slowly coming to the role and has arguably become one of the best Smoke players in Europe, and I am very proud to have him on my team.
Going back to the start of the day against Unnamed. Players like Jugger, TankNinjaz and Meadzzz were in Challenger and Pro League and they put up a good fight against you today. Do you reckon their calibre is still Pro League and Challenger League material?
Lacky: I think the problem is the calibre of teams has gone up so much over the last year and a half, especially so in Europe. I mean just look at next season of Pro League. ENCE has just come back up and is a popular team, but even then, they look like they might not be doing too well in the offseason.
There’s such a high calibre of teams and it’s extremely cutthroat; you can’t slip up nowadays or you’re just gone. Team’s like Vexed and Unnamed have really solid players but I feel like they don’t quite have the consistency just yet.
"I think Vexed Doki is slowly coming towards making a new type of player and a new role within Siege. If he learns to control when it is good or bad to make those kinds of moves, I think he is a player we will see in the Pro League."
I'd like to ask about your team’s mentality. In the Unnamed match, you had to pull it back to tie 6-6 every map and the Bank game vs Vexed was at match point for a while. How do you keep your head in the game, keeping your nerve and coming back?
meepeY: I think one of the key things is to try and not point it out. When it comes to Siege, the previous round never impacts the next round. So, it doesn’t really matter what the score is, it can be 0-5, it can be 5-5, it really doesn’t matter because every round is new. Everyone picks new operators, and defenders have the choice to play a different bomb site, whilst the attackers may try a different map approach with new operators. The problems of the last round generally don’t affect the next round unless there are repeated issues.
When it comes to making sure no one is worried, tilted or scared because the opponent is on match point, is something you must train: it’s a mentality thing. You get yourself into those situations and you become not necessarily used to it, but you understand what you need to do, and you try to not allow the numbers to let you down.
Lacky: When it comes to the round by round, if you let the problems of the past weigh you down then you won’t be prepared for the future.
Speaking of preparing for the future, there is a Season 2 of the Premiership planned. During the regular weeks you beat teams left right and centre with one draw against MnM. But today teams have really stepped up and gave you a good fight. Next season, what do you reckon UK teams will be like?
meepeY: I think some of these teams will be in Challenger League… that’s for certain. The level of skill in Europe is on the rise massively and not necessarily Europe but the world in general. Everyone is starting to realise that the way we used to play is countered pretty hard by just pushing and shooting. A lot of people in this game rely on a hard-coded strategy where you stand here and look for this thing and this is how to react to it rather than letting people be free and letting them independently make decisions to impact the game.
If you are not weighed down by a strategy, it allows you to be more creative and allows you to play off your teammates as well. And I can certainly see some of these teams here in Challenger League going very strong. In the next season of Prem, whether they are playing in CL or not, we will see them here at LAN.
— Lacky (@Secret_Lacky) December 8, 2018
For these teams that you think are going to make a good run in Challenger League, do you have any tips? You guys were in there at the start of the year and went flawless and qualified for the Pro League from what you did.
meepeY: I think consistency is key to these kinds of games. I think a lot of things can change and many things are unpredictable. The game is sporadic, it’s random and it’s chaotic at times. I think when it comes down to it having a level head and keeping yourself calm and consistent is an absolute necessity.
If one round you’re happy and laughing then the next you’re tilted, or not playing the right operator via miss click, or not reinforcing the right wall because you're thinking about something else then you are doomed to fail. The moment you figure out the consistency is the moment you rise.
Read more:IDK on joining the Challenger League
Lacky: I think one big tip is if you come into an issue with your roster, a lot of people go straight to thinking: "I know this great player and he’s LFT. Why don’t we just replace this player I see as a problem and swap him out and that will fix all our issues?"
The reality is it doesn’t fix any of your issues as it’s never just one player. The issue will be fundamental to your team and the way you play together, so working out those issues long-term will be better than a quick fix.
"G2 are still a level above at the moment. But the time will come where they are not some god amongst men. That divide between them and everyone else is getting smaller and smaller. If you ask them yourself, they’ll admit it."
Regarding UK talent, are there any particular players or teams that have impressed you throughout the tournament? How have people improved during the Prem?
meepeY: I think when it comes down to performances and things like that, one player that has surprised me very much is Vexed Doki. He has a very very aggressive and carefree playstyle. It is surprising how effective it is. One particular round I was playing in generator and I knew he was on the white stairs. No sane person would push white stairs into generator when you have no support and have 5 alive versus 5 alive. He just did it and instantly killed me. It caught me completely off guard.
But the thing is though, he doesn’t just do that once or twice a game, he does that every single round. It is a specific type of play style that gets a player known. The same way that Alive is known in Europe for playing Ash and entering a building quietly, crouching around and finding picks, he plays a lurking role. I think Doki is slowly coming towards making a new type of player and a new role within Siege. Because you have your entry fraggers, supports, hard anchors, flexes and what Doki is doing is very good. If he learns to control when it is good or bad to make those kinds of moves, I think he is a player we will see in the Pro League.
— ESL UK (@ESLUK) December 7, 2018
As you’ve said, EU and the rest of the world are getting more stacked. In Pro League, Mockit improves so quickly after Paris Major, Millenium/Lestream are consistently top 4, Penta went from the bottom half to top half very quickly. How do think Pro League will pan out when it restarts?
Lacky: It’s kind of anyone’s game really. I think G2 are still a level above at this moment. But everyone is saying that soon the time will come where they are not some god amongst men. That divide between them and everyone else is getting smaller and smaller. If you ask them yourself, they’ll admit it.
Right now, they will probably always make LAN finals next season, but that second spot is up in the air. We just hope we can bottle down any small issues we have. Our issues are small issues that can enlarge themselves throughout games. So, if we can sort them out then we are hoping to get that second spot and head to LAN.
Is there any team we should watch out for next season? I know Team Empire have got quite a bit of buzz surrounding themselves from their successes in Russia, Challenger League and Milan.
Lacky: Team Empire have got a lot of talent on them. They have some strong fraggers, good aimers, but their main problem is they play the same way; they don’t change. So, they are quite readable. It’s not a sentiment that is new or unknown. It’s echoed a lot in the community that they need to change some things up.