In an exclusive interview with Dexerto, German Counter-Strike legend Fatih ‘gob b’ Dayik talks about his return to CS:GO to coach BIG and the decision to leave Valorant behind.
gob b was exhausted from competing, but he wasn’t ready to walk away from Valorant. Not yet. Not until the team he had helped build in the summer of 2020 — extending his playing career into another game after he had reached the top in CS 1.6 and CS:GO — had a strong foundation.
In the fall of 2021, as the BIG organization assessed its options after CS:GO head coach Dustin ‘DuDe’ Großmann stepped down from the role due to personal reasons, it turned to gob b for assistance. However, as much as it pained him, he could not take the job. He was not done with the Valorant team yet.
But when he guided BIG to the VCT EMEA Challengers, the highest tier in Valorant in Europe, he knew that, if he returned to CS:GO, he would leave the team in a good place.
The players understood his reasoning, even though the mood was somber. Initially, he had planned to compete one more season, but after some consideration, he knew that moving on was the right decision. It would give the Valorant team enough time to rebuild before VCT Stage 2 while allowing him to come to the CS:GO team’s rescue heading into PGL Major Antwerp — a season-defining tournament.
“I felt that the CS team needed me more than ever,” he tells Dexerto. “I also felt that tabseN needed a deeper connection with the coach than before. The two needed to be more in sync.
“[Going back to CS] was just a matter of time, and this felt like a good time because the CS team needed me and the Valorant team could begin a new chapter.”
Brightening the mood
gob b is affectionately known as the ‘godfather of German Counter-Strike’ for his role in some of his country’s most successful teams between 2006 and 2019. To this day he is still revered as one of the most astute tactical minds in the history of the franchise. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in esports who doesn’t speak highly of him.
The Gobfather is back. 👑
Please welcome home @gobelante as he returns to Counter-Strike as our new head coach! 🇩🇪
— BIG (@BIGCLANgg) May 1, 2022
No surprise, then, that the announcement of his return to the team as a coach has been received with joy and enthusiasm by BIG’s supporters and the CS:GO scene at large. After peaking at No.1 in HLTV’s world ranking in the summer of 2020, the German team went through a long slump and fell out of the top 10, dropping down to 19th at the start of April, mere weeks before the Major qualifier event in Bucharest.
Expectations surrounding BIG were modest in the lead-up to the RMR, with many doubting their ability to finish top eight in a stacked tournament in which they were only the ninth-highest ranked side in attendance. But they proved everyone wrong by going 3-0 in the tournament and booking a Legend spot in dominant fashion, averaging 8.5 rounds lost per map as they stormed past SAW and Outsiders in best-of-one games before beating world No.1 FaZe in a 2-0 series.
“I think motivation was the biggest thing,” gob b says about the team’s issues. “I had been staying in Berlin for the past few months and I had a deep connection with the team.
“I could see that their work was very good, that they had good ideas about the game. They were just lacking a little bit of leadership and belief in something bigger.”
Fans were surprised to see gob b with the team at the RMR as he had not given any indication that he was stepping away from Valorant. He was cagey in interviews: A “maybe” was all he let out when asked if he would attend the Major with the team.
Legends. Simply Legends. 👑 pic.twitter.com/biHZKn4PCr
— BIG (@BIGCLANgg) April 18, 2022
The upswing in form and results was sudden, but gob b does not want to overstate his impact. He wasn’t involved much in the pre-event preparations but had numerous interactions with the players in the lead-up to and during the tournament to make use of a special trait he has: the ability to analyze mistakes and the reasoning behind them.
“For me, it’s easy to see why someone is making a mistake and I can help them to fix it,” he explains. “For me, it came down to team spirit and motivation, and I tried to provide this.
“While the tournament was going on, the practice room helped us a lot. I had one-on-ones, prep talks, I helped tabseN to go through the game plans… [Coach] enkay J and [analyst] jansen helped as well. It was a big achievement from all of us.
“I was not too involved before the tournament but while it was going on I had a big impact on the players, I believe. I showed them that I understood what they were going through and talked to them about the problems they had and how to solve them. I just provided motivation and a good mood so that, as a player, you’re like, ‘Damn, I want to play today’”.
Getting that extra edge
One of the most exciting aspects about gob b’s appointment as head coach is his reunion with Johannes ‘tabseN’ Wodarz, BIG’s in-game leader. tabseN soaked up knowledge from gob b during the years they spent together on multiple rosters, eventually taking up the mantle from his friend in 2019.
The burden of leadership has weighed heavily on tabseN at times, so fans will hope that, as a coach, gob b will be able to bring out the best in tabseN as he did when they competed together.
“I may sound a bit arrogant for saying this, but I feel like I can help every player in the world by showing the path to reach their best form,” gob b says. “I have gained so much experience and I have worked with so many players [over the years]. I also feel that my time in Valorant has helped me grow as a person.
“It’s funny because I told tabseN, ‘Maybe it would help you to play KovaaK’s [an aim traimer] because it will help you have better mouse control’. If you saw the last frag he got against Twistzz, which qualified us, he was moving his mouse very quickly on the pad. I believe that came from the practice on KovaaK’s.
“That showed me that even a player like tabseN, who is world-class, can benefit from something that someone outside of the game tells him. He just needs to believe what that person is saying and test it out.”
Another player that seems to have benefited from gob b’s guidance is rookie Karim ‘Krimbo’ Moussa, promoted by BIG from the academy squad in March. He was the team’s best performer in Bucharest, averaging a 1.35 rating — the third-highest overall, only behind NAVI’s Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev (1.40) and Heroic’s Martin ‘stavn’ Lund (1.37).
- Read more: PGL Major Antwerp coverage hub
As the tournament came to a close, tabseN hailed Krimbo as the “best talent” Germany has produced in years. Such comments came as no surprise to gob b, who already knew Krimbo from his short time coaching BIG Academy in early 2020.
“I was involved in the decision to bring him to the main team,” gob b says. “Maybe it would have been better to give him a few more months in the academy circuit, but sometimes you need to jump into cold water.
“I knew that, while he was probably not yet 100 percent ready, he would give everything in his power. He has a pretty good mind for the game for someone of his age. I knew that, once he got this experience of tier-one and tier-two CS, he could become one of the best.”
gob b points to Krimbo’s clutching prowess in Bucharest as an example of the improvements that have been made in the short amount of time he has been with the team.
— BIG (@BIGCLANgg) April 26, 2022
Prior to the tournament, gob b suggested that Krimbo should change the way he plays clutch scenarios. And then in Bucharest, he led the RMR for clutches with seven, one more than his closest suitor, Dzhami ‘Jame’ Ali — whose team played over twice as many maps as BIG.
“He’s definitely the biggest talent in the German scene,” gob b says. “And I’m here to show what he needs to do to have the right state of mind.”
The excitement surrounding this new version of BIG is building, but gob b doesn’t want anyone to get carried away by the RMR run. For him, it is paramount to analyze what the team did well in Bucharest and why it was an improvement on what they had done before.
BIG will have the luxury of skipping the first stage of the Major, giving the team extra days to prepare and alleviating some of the stress.
Three wins and they’re through to the playoffs, and if there’s anyone the players would like to have on their side for this ride, it’s gob b, who jokingly calls himself the “king of best-of-ones”, in a reference to BIG’s playoff run at PGL Major Kraków 2017 after winning three best-of-one games. (Since the IEM Katowice 2019 Major, teams have to win at least one best-of-three to qualify for the playoffs)
“I still have a good feeling for the kind of game plan that is good against certain teams,” he says.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, it will be very hard to beat anyone. There are no easy opponents in the Legends stage, that’s for sure. Every game will be a bloodbath, but I have to say that I felt the same about our RMR tournament, which I felt was the stronger of the two, with much more interesting matchups.”
gob b does not want to set any goals for the Major just yet, saying that “anything can happen” at a tournament like this. In a week or so, he adds, he will have a better feel for where his team stands.
“I’m a very positive guy, you know?” he says. “I have really high expectations and dreams. So of course I’d like to win a [Major] trophy and maybe even start an era.
“But I also know what needs to be done and the hard work required.”
gob b doesn’t know exactly how to answer when asked if he considers himself retired as a player. He makes no secret of his ambition to be “the best coach out there”, but he’s still working to keep the reflexes sharp. He knows that there’s always the possibility that he’ll have to fill in for a player in case of illness or injury.
I'm back pic.twitter.com/hJruKn9l2m
— Fatih 'gob b' Dayik (@gobelante) May 1, 2022
But deep down, that’s not the only reason. He continues to display the same burning passion for the competition that he did when he began his career in the mid-2000s, when some of today’s rising stars weren’t even born. That’s a big part of why, at the age of 34, he was still able to be in the company of Europe’s best Valorant players and why he wasn’t pushed out of the game, but left it on his terms.
“I have a theory that age is just a number, that it just depends on how much you want it,” he says. “I could see that I was more dedicated than other players.
“I understand that, as I get older, I need to play more than I did before. That’s the only thing that has changed. I’m happy that I proved to myself that this theory is true.”