ex-coach of Virtus.pro: "matchfixing is everywhere"
Former Virtus.pro coach Alexey "Flatra" Zlobich said in an interview with online portal Metaratings that in eSports match-fixing is played at tournaments of all levels. At the same time, the Russian specialist notes that he has not personally encountered such cases in CS:GO, which, moreover, are difficult to prove. Full interview translation is available below.
- You used to coach the Virtus.pro CS:GO squad, but left the team in August 2020. Tell us, how did you end up there in the first place?
- I joined the team together with Maxim "MaAd" Goncharov. Even though I was initially offered the head coaching job, I asked for two weeks to prepare and sort out the team. That was good enough time, I decided to take it.
In fact, we came to the team that was ready. I believe that if you come to work in a team you shouldn't come alone, but together with people who will help you.
- Tell us about the Virtus.pro team itself. How do you find working with the new team? Is there anyone you would like to point out?
- I don't really want to single anyone out. The fact is that all the guys are playing pretty well, as you've seen lately. A lot of work is done by Jame, who also parses maps and does a lot of useful things.
YEKINDAR also puts a lot of time into all of the processes. The guys are responsible, prepare for matches and constantly strives to improve.
- You played CS 1.6 for a very long time, but then had to take a break. Tell me, is it hard to get into the game?
- When CS:GO came out, at the time it was very difficult to switch to it from 1.6. Now, though, you have to admit that it would have been a lot easier to transition. The game itself is constantly changing, the developers introduce some tips and all that stuff. So it would have been easier to adapt now than it was back then.
- How did you come to become a coach in CS:GO?
- I just got an offer to become a coach and I decided to try my hand at it. When you get an offer from a team like Virtus.pro, it's silly to turn it down.
It is quite possible that I will continue to coach, but it's still too early to say. Although I've worked with Virtus.pro, I still don't know if I've been of any use to the team. It's better to ask the guys themselves.
- Are you currently playing CS:GO yourself? Do you watch the matches from the major tournaments?
- I do play CS:GO, but I only go there to spend time with friends. But I do watch tournaments, of course. I think all my former professional players watch big tournaments with top teams.
That said, I watch games and evaluate players' actions not only as a former eSports athlete, but I also look at them from the coach's point of view. I think about what I could have done in this or that situation, to make some kind of muve. Very often I find something new for myself.
- The beginning of 2021 was marked by great results from CIS teams. Do you think this trend will continue throughout the year?
- Our teams performed really well at the beginning of the year. But here we should look at the distance and how the teams will perform. Wasn't it a one-time flurry? The answer to this question may be given by ESL, where our teams will play with the serious teams.
Moreover, we must take into account that after these results our teams will be prepared in a completely different way. Especially for Team Spirit and Gambit. We will have to prove our worth in the next tournaments.
- Now there is an online era because of the coronavirus pandemic. Tell us about your experience, are LAN tournaments very different from the online ones?
- Yes, there is a difference. For example, if you're playing at home or from a bootcamp in a comfortable environment with all the conveniences on your computer, it's different for LAN.
Also, do not forget about the pressure from the audience. Not all players can handle it. But Valve promises to start LAN tournaments soon and that's what everyone expects. There will be a very different atmosphere that everyone misses.
- Lately a lot of teams have been making six-man lineups. Do you think this lineup has a future?
- I can't say for sure if the six-man lineup has a future. There are several nuances and factors to consider.
For example, some players are released on one map and very rarely. This can affect the other player being replaced. It is possible that he may start thinking about being replaced soon. The psychological factor is present.
Here you have to look at the distance, what will be the profit from it. Some have begun to try this model, and some have already given it up. Plus do not forget about Valve, which will dictate their rules.
- A lot of talented players have appeared in the CIS. Can you single out anyone?
- I would like to single out sh1ro. He's a young player who was the MVP of IEM Katowice 2021. I should also mention YEKINDAR, although I don't know if I would call him young.
In general the trend in the region is that if before we had a shortage of Maine AWPs, now there are a lot of them. A lot of cool performers.
Who else to highlight - I do not know. There are seven more people that could be included in the top three. There are really a lot of good up-and-coming players right now. Let's see how they develop and realize themselves.
- There are no players from the CIS in the top European teams. Why do you think that is the case?
- The language barrier plays an important role here. One can move to another country, especially if they offer good conditions with a salary increase. But mostly guys who are 18-20 years old play here with their friends. They are happy with everything here. They are comfortable. That's normal for that age. But how are they doing in English - I do not know. Probably of all our teams, only the top 5 teams don`t have any problems with it.
Plus we should not forget that everything is different in Europe. I also had offers to try myself in a European team in my career, but I refused because everything suited me here. If our guy from the CIS understands that he can win a big tournament here with his team, then there's no reason for him to change the team.
- Our teams also almost never call for foreign players. Is it the language barrier as well?
- I guess it makes no sense. To invite a player from Europe and give him a lot of money is not the main problem. The problem is how to build communication with him. Should we make the whole team speak English or teach him Russian? There may be some problems with that.
It is, after all, easier to communicate in your native language. You don't have to adapt to anybody. Plus, we do not have such a hard shortage of players. So this money is better spent on other things.
- Nowadays in Dota 2 there is a lot of scandals around matchfixing. Tell us, how is it with Counter-Strike?
- I personally haven't dealt with matchfixing in CS, but I can tell you that matchfixing is everywhere. And CS:GO is no exception. They play such matches not only intier-2/3 tournaments. These types of matches are also in other eSports disciplines. There's no getting away from it, so we have to fight it somehow. But so far it turns out that you are not caught - you're not a thief. Although it is very difficult to prove the matchfixing. But that does not mean that we should not fight with them.
- When you came to Virtus.pro as a coach, some people were ambivalent about it. For example, OverDrive was quite adamant about it. Is there some kind of conflict?
- Yes, I saw what he said. I was sent some of his statements. There is no conflict. Everyone has the right to say what he thinks. Everything is okay here. I just don't understand why a person can't become a coach. It's one thing if he had nothing to do with Counter-Strike, but it's another thing if you've been following him for a few years and then you get such an offer that it's stupid to turn him down. I think that Alexey himself wouldn't refuse it either, if he were offered to head some serious team.
There's a living example in Zonic, who finished his career as a player in 2012 and three years later became a coach. Now he coaches one of the best teams in the world. Everything depends on the person and his desire.
The latest proven case of possible match-fixing on the CS:GO scene was an investigation by the Australian eSports Integrity Commission (ESIC) into suspicious betting in Australia.