CWL Birmingham champion Joshh is back on top of European Call of Duty esports.
Choosing Epsilon over guaranteed qualification into the Global Pro League with Splyce, his gamble has since been rewarded with the first European open event title of the season and a place in Group Yellow of the league, pitted against eUnited, Luminosity and compatriots Millenium.
With two weeks to prepare, we talked to him about the risk of leaving his former team, unlocking his new teammates’ potential and that unprecedented double sweep in last weekend’s grand final.
A huge risk in your move to Epsilon has paid off spectacularly, with Pro League qualification and a European championship when the competition has never been greater. Are we witnessing the start of a team capable of something special in the Pro League, and even a major title?
The risk I took with Epsilon is something I don’t think any other person in our community would do. Many thought it was just a ‘friendship move’ but for it to pay off feels great.
I mean, it’s hard to just go out there and say we can win the Pro League because the last time we played against American teams, we struggled. At the same time, we struggled against European teams too but Birmingham suggests we’ve improved a lot since Dallas. And that’s the thing, when I first joined, myself and Stevo said it’d be tough at the start but after a good month or two of proper practice, we knew we’d improve quickly. We’ll have to see how far we can go in a couple weeks time.
Another year, another sudden rise in your performance around the season’s half, both as a leader and player. Why do we always have to wait?
It’s like a kick up the arse. At the start of a new Call of Duty, I obviously go hard but it’s not until halfway through the season that I try to figure the game out, seek constructive feedback, and simply work with my teammates to get more out of my game.
With Splyce, the dynamic was different and I probably put people off from wanting to give their input. My own knowledge was also lacking but since I joined Epsilon, Stevo has become like a son. His knowledge has come a long way since I left him last year, and now we’re able to bounce ideas off each other until the best solution is found.
Champs proved your teammates had it in them when they reached fourth while representing FAB Games. Is it fair to say you’ve helped them rediscover that potential as their new captain?
I’ve always known about their potential from the moment I picked them up on Black Ops 3, though having said that, Steve just carried out instructions without having an opinion and I thought Hawqeh was a bit of a kill whore. I didn’t team with Dqvee but we’ve always been good pals.
Much has changed since then. I’m not as stubborn anymore and instead focus my energy on pushing them to another level. Stevo helps a lot and perhaps his sharing in responsibility helps my own attitude.
A double sweep in the grand finals doesn’t lie, even if every map was hard fought. Towards the end of the second series, you must have felt more than a cut above Splyce…
Even though we lost in the winner bracket final, that it went to map five proved that they weren’t as unstoppable as the casters made Splyce out to be.
Like I said in the pre-grand final interview, if we take the Hardpoints then we win the series. It’s that simple. I have the best SND and Uplink Knowledge in Europe, so most of the time against European teams, I’m confident that we’ll win. The opening Hardpoints of both series against Splyce gave us all the momentum and confidence that we needed going into our superior game modes.
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After performing at that level in the finals, does CWL Dallas feel like a missed opportunity to make a statement in the States?
After playing so good throughout the final, and the whole event for that matter, it proves what I said earlier about improving quickly is true. We didn’t expect immediate success, so top 24 in Dallas wasn’t a shock but obviously we wanted to do better for momentum going into the Pro League.
Still, to win two 2ks and then the first European open, there’s no question about our position outside of North America. We’ll have to wait until the Stage 1 Pro League and Anaheim to find out how good we really are.
That result sets very high expectations. You’ve shouldered similar pressure before when riding with Europe’s best players but your new teammates, both at Champs and in Birmingham, succeeded after entering under the radar. How might their new-found status as arguably European favourites affect their mental game?
I don’t think it will bother them in a negative way. They’ve got Daddy Joshh to look after them and as long as we just keep up the hard work over the next few days, don’t take our foot off the gas or get complacent because we won CWL Birmingham, then we’ll be fine, If anything, I think it’ll benefit us because they should have no more doubts about how good they are.
One last word on Birmingham: Do titles on local turf feel extra special at all?
Not really. It’s great not be hours away from home but that’s pretty much it. Well, that and the fact that my family could come to the venue and support me. That’s always a nice little addition.