Chiefs have been extremely volatile since their 2-1 loss to Athletico at the Zowie eXTREMESLAND Regional Finals, with a fifth place finish in ZEN League, qualification for the IeSF Finals in South Korea, a semi-final finish in the IEM Oakland Asia qualifier and a second place finish in CGPL Spring. While these performances are a far cry from the team’s period of dominance earlier in the year, the Chiefs are taking steps in the right direction, currently sitting atop the ESEA MDL ladder with a 9-1 record.

I sat down with Chiefs’ captain and in-game leader Tyler “tucks” Reilly outside PAX Australia for a chat about these results, role changes in the lineup and the state of the top five teams in the region.

What do you think went wrong at the eXTREMESLAND Regional Finals, considering you were knocked out by Athletico using a stand-in?

On Mirage, we played our T side really badly. We played really passive at mid. They just pushed up – we knew they were pushing up – and every time they pushed up we died to them. We never killed them first. We also won an eco but lost a force-buy back because they pushed up mid and one beat us with a deagle. We really fucked up a lot of rounds. With our Nuke CT side, at the time, we didn’t really understand how to deal with teams doing walls of smoke and playing slow. I was useless top-side. We played two top when it should’ve been me playing outside as well and having three rotate outside. They abused that and beat us. We got eco’d on one of the final rounds – pan1K pushed through a smoke and killed three of us. That just shattered us. I wouldn’t say they played good; I’d say we played pretty bad. Our CT side on Nuke wasn’t sorted out at all. We just fucked it hard, I think.

ZEN League also didn’t go to plan, with the team placing fifth out six. What are your thoughts on your play during the event? Are you worried by the potential of relegation?

I don’t really know how relegation works. I have no idea if it’s going to run next year. I have no idea what they’re doing. I kind of wish they’d just get rid of ZEN League and bring back an ESL AUNZ with eight teams and a four team LAN. No one gives a fuck about playing the teams in the Asian ZEN League, to be honest. I don’t think any Aus team is looking at these teams and going “man, I really want to play against those guys”. I would preferably play an Aus team LAN. eXTREMESLAND was an awesome LAN – top four teams and a crowd there. People complain about crowds, but we haven’t had a top four team LAN inside that ESL Studio, except for eXTREMESLAND. It was packed and it was awesome. I would rather bring back four team Aus LANs. CG’s awesome, but it’s in Adelaide so you don’t really get the crowd experience and fan interaction. Back to the question, ZEN League was a shit-show for us. We were playing really bad at the time. It was really bad timing for us and other teams were playing really good. Tainted made roster changes, Grayhound made like three roster changes, Kings were still a new lineup, Athletico made roster changes. I think we really struggle playing online. We get tired pretty quick, I’d say. Playing all of these leagues really fucks with us. Ideally, we’d love to do great in all three of them. We played shit in ZEN League last season too. We had positive scores, but we still played terrible compared to how well we were going. We went 6-6 last season but we didn’t made top two because we lost 2-0 to Athletico (Dark Sided at the time) or something. Compared to how well we were playing back then, we were still going shit in ZEN League.

Lately, yourself and aliStair have been juggling the AWP role back and forth. Do you think this is indicative of the team lacking an identity in this period?

Nah, I don’t think so… Well, yeah, I think we did. After the CG LAN and the WCA Qualifiers, we came back and lost ESEA to Grayhound with a sub and that destroyed us. We felt like that was an easy win and we felt like, with our form currently, we could go to that Mountain Dew LAN and win it or play really good there. Us losing to Grayhound was super shattering and that snowballed. We were really tilted and lost the freshness of what we were doing. Other teams were making roster changes and looking at what we were doing. I think we did lose our identity a bit. The role changes are pretty good. I really like how we’re playing right now and I think we’re improving a lot. aliStair’s secondary AWP now, so he AWPs on some maps, like Inferno, where having an AWP at B is really strong.

“aliStair has stepped down from the sniper role in Chiefs” (Source: ESL Australia)

Where would you rank the team right now?

Tough to say. I think every CS player loves to think they’re good online, but I couldn’t give two fucks about online results, apart from going to LAN. We’ve been losing a lot online, we’ve been playing bad. Grayhound are incredible online players. Every time we’ve played Grayhound on LAN, we’ve beat them, and every time before LAN, they’ve been beating us. They’re always good online. Kings have been really good… I don’t think there’s a number one team, I don’t think there’s a number two team, number three team. Athletico beat us at LAN, but I think it was really dumb to get rid of Dick and Willem (badge). I think they’re definitely number five. I mean, we’ll see at the CG LAN, but I think, between us, Tainted, Grayhound and Kings, anyone can beat anyone. I wouldn’t rank us at all. Honestly, I think our peak’s higher than everyone else’. Maybe Kings, individually. Tainted are a really good team, hard to play against. I really like how they play; they play really slow and strategic. It really feels like they think things out. They make you think about what you’re doing. I just think anyone can beat anyone.

“I think, between us, Tainted, Grayhound and Kings, anyone can beat anyone. I wouldn’t rank us at all.”

With all of the controversy surrounding the Asia Minor, do you think your team deserved an invite, despite you yourself being unable to play?

Nah, I don’t think so. I don’t see why we would. We weren’t winning online, and I assume they just based the invites off ZEN League results. Tainted placed top two, and I assume that yam had some sort of play in getting invited to that event, because it’s fucking ridiculous that they got invited over Grayhound. But nah, I couldn’t give two fucks. I don’t think anyone could give two fucks about being to the Asia Minor, especially without me. I mean, there should never be invites, but what can you do?

What do you think about that invite-only stance the event took?

I think it’s ridiculous. I think Grayhound got robbed completely. I think a team like MVP, even though they played well, they should never get an invite. If invites are happening, they should invite the best teams. Yeah, MVP did really well against Kings, but I think Grayhound, Tainted and Kings probably would brush them at the end of the day. I think Aus teams deserve more invites because we’ve proven time and time again that we’re better than the entire Asian scene, except the Chinese. MongolZ, yeah they beat us in the IEM qualifiers, but online results shouldn’t really determine it.

“If invites are happening, they should invite the best teams.”

Speaking of which, what do you think went wrong for the team during the IEM Oakland qualifiers?

That was our peak of badness. That was our peak of poor performance. If we went now, I think we’d easily cruise past that qualifier. I fucked up the veto against MongolZ. I didn’t look into it enough. It’s really hard cause we were there a day before it. We didn’t prepare as well as we could have. Picking Train was stupid by me. I think we definitely should’ve gone with Cobble and we lost a 1v4 on Inferno to lose the game. That was fucking shattering. I’ve never been more depressed in my life after a loss. We took a really big risk going there and it didn’t pay off.

I want to get your gauge on the other top teams in the scene right now. I think the most notable roster change recently was Tainted bringing in yam. What do you think of that team at the moment?

I think yam’s really good. He’s really sharp. He can be a bit too aggressive, but he’s really smart, obviously. I think he really fits well with that team. I respect that lineup. I respect zewsy, ofnu, ap0c. chuch, I respect him as a player, but it doesn’t feel like he’s on the same wavelength as those players. If I was to ever predict people being in a team, I would never predict chuch being with that core of players. I respect them a lot, though. As I said before, they play really good CS. They’re still coming together, so I don’t know how high their peak is and I don’t know how much better they’re going to get. I’m really excited for the CG LAN coming up because it’ll prove who’s playing well right now. People have been getting really carried away with online results, I feel, because that’s all we’ve had for a while now. So I’m really excited to see how Tainted go there.

“tucks is excited to defend his team’s title at the CGPL Spring Finals” (Source: Red Bull)

Do you see the bubble bursting for Kings, considering their semi-drop in form lately?

They’ve been extremely dominant online. They won the eXTREMESLAND Regional LAN, but they shouldn’t have won that. Grayhound were up 14-13 on the second map. Kings had one AK and won the round, then they brought it back. If Grayhound win that round, Grayhound wins that event. Kings played really good against Athletico. They have extraordinary players. Sico and liazz are playing really well. I think Hatz has had to take a hit for the roles. He’s not playing as good as he could. I think he could be the best player in that team, I’d say. emag’s done a really good job IGLing. I doubted his leading when I found out he was doing it, but he’s done an extraordinary job. His team praise him really highly, so he’s obviously doing something right. They’re been playing good, but when you form a team like that, with really good players and you’re getting paid and everything’s started really well, you’re always going to have good results. With those kind of players, working hard for it, you’re going to have great results. But it’s never going to last, especially when other teams are trying to work their shit out. They were never going to be this super dominant force people thought they were going to be. They’re always going to be as competitive as every other team in Aus.

They have dayV1D acting as the team’s head coach. Has there been any desire for Chiefs to get an international presence to help with the team?

We’ve been looking into getting a coach. I can’t name names. We want the right coach. We need someone that can be like a player five days a week and match our practice schedule completely. I want someone that has experience. I want someone that can lead the team, someone that will put their foot down when they see something wrong. A real coach. Not an analyst, like dayV1D is. Someone that can teach us how to be better. You’re not going to find that just anywhere. There’s a very select few players that can do that and we don’t have the budget to bring in an international figure – at least not someone that can do what I want to be done. dayV1D does a good job but he’s more of an analyst. He looks a lot at the teams. I see Kings getting a lot of flack from like PeetyG and others, saying that without dayV1D they had all of these bad reads. I don’t think that at all. I think emag is doing a really good job and dayV1D is more of an analyst for them. He could’ve helped with some mid rounds, but I think he could do everything he does for them online regardless. He looks at the teams’ games, sends them the analysis. I’m just assuming, but that’s how I see it. I don’t think not having him there at LAN had anything to do with it. I think Kings just choked that MVP game.

“A real coach. Not an analyst, like dayV1D is. Someone that can teach us how to be better. You’re not going to find that just anywhere.”

tama and raesos were with you guys at eXTREMESLAND, with raesos behind you on stage during the match. Was that planned as any sort of permanent solution?

They actually know CS quite well, but they didn’t really help us much. The thing with eXTREMESLAND that was quite big for us was we didn’t know coaches could talk during the game. It was sort of my fault cause I didn’t ask about the rules. I assumed it was normal LAN rules where coaches can’t talk. I told raesos before the game “you can’t talk”. After the game, we found out that coaches were allowed to talk. PeetyG was talking the whole game. We could hear the casters, so we were questioning whether PeetyG could hear them too and was telling the team where to go. raesos said “yeah, I heard so much stuff the casters were saying – I could’ve relayed that”. Obviously, you don’t want to cheat like that. But yeah, raesos and tama are good mates. They didn’t help us, CS-wise, but I think it’s really good for us to have them around. They keep us composed and we’re really good friends with them. It was a trial thing. We sort of were looking at raesos as a ‘coach-manager’ type of thing, but he’s doing really well with Empyre (ex-Lucid) now.

Moving on to Grayhound, dexter’s come into that team and they seem to have really stabilised in terms of playstyle. From your brief time playing with him in early 2016, what are your thoughts on his impact on this team?

I think Grayhound are probably the ‘puggiest’ team in the top four. They play really loose. I think they’re really easy to read. You sort of know what they’re doing, what to expect, and they’re really sharp. They do use each other quite well. We played them in ESEA recently and we got destroyed. We were just going for individual plays. Like, we didn’t use flashes for each other and just died to them. Whereas, if you throw a flash against them, you’re going to get one or two kills every time. They’re really sharp so they’ll punish you for not doing that. I remember dry peeking and erkaSt instantly killed me when Josh (INS) said he could flash for me and I just did it anyway. Mistakes like that really let you down against those guys. They punish you for it, but I don’t think dexter’s brough any sort of ‘tactical-ness’ and strategy to them. erkaSt is calling now anyway. I think dexter’s one of those players that doesn’t want to IGL. He wants to be just a player, which is fine. It sucks for them, because I know that erkaSt didn’t want to and that’s why they got dexter. Obviously, dexter is still a really good player. He’s a very smart player, pretty sharp. It might work out better with erkaSt calling. They did play pretty good when he was calling anyway.

“Grayhound’s newest member, DickStacy, will join Chiefs at the IeSF Finals in Korea in place of INS”

DickStacy looks to be joining Grayhound, and he’s a player that could be an option for that role, occupying it during his time with Athletico/Dark Sided. What do you think of him as a player, considering he’s come out of nowhere, basically?

I don’t think DickStacy is an option for IGL at all. I don’t think he ever actually IGL’d in Athletico. I think it was like a group thing and they all sort of just called. That’s why they got rid of him, because they wanted a real caller and they thought they could get a player that could fill the role better if he wasn’t IGLing. But I think Dick is a really good player. Where he came from was a bit shady, but, when you pop up as fast he did and play as good as he does, there’s obviously talent there and there’s something special about him. He’s coming to Korea with us and we’re excited to play with him.