Journeyman in-game leader Chris “dexter” Nong has had an immediate impact since joining Grayhound. Freeing up the dangerous erkaSt and bringing a more refined tactical style to the team has seen their results improve significantly, most notably taking down Kings twice to win the ROG Masters Australia qualifier.
I was joined by dexter in the leadup to his team’s match against Kings in the Zowie eXTREMESLAND Australia finals to discuss his Winterfox tenure, the evolution of prakM and their upcoming opponents.
You weren’t part of Winterfox during the lineup’s drama with the organisation. Can you talk about your time with the team in North America?
Oh man. That experience was definitely unique. It put me in this position now, which is, in my opinion, much better. It taught me how to deal with people better and how to treat people better, and how you can just get results off being a better leader with your team. Other things within the Winterfox team I probably shouldn’t, and won’t, discuss.
When you returned to Australia, you joined Tainted Minds, and that was a team that went downhill quite significantly after your arrival, in terms of results and roster moves. What are your thoughts on the initial period in the team?
The initial period was really good. Everyone was just amazing. Good attitudes, all that kind of stuff. What sucked the most was my internet line got burnt down, pretty much. I couldn’t practice for a month and a half and that really hurt our momentum, carrying that from the initial week into the later games. By the end, not qualifying for enough LAN events, or not qualifying for any LAN events, kind of hurt the team morale.
As you have with many rosters in the past, namely Chiefs and SYF, you took over the in-game leading duties of Tainted. Was that a team decision?
It was definitely a team thing. Everyone was just trying to look for a fresh step. I didn’t even do it for that long. The way I want to call takes a lot more preparation – at least a week of bootcamp without scrims – to understand how we play. But with Tainted, we just jumped into me callin. I was using old things and just didn’t feel comfortable.
After a period of inactivity under Tainted, you’ve now joined Grayhound and have become quite the journeyman. Can you put that down to anything in particular?
From Chiefs to Winterfox, it was like why would you turn that down? It’s a chance to play in America. It doesn’t matter who or what you’re playing with, it’s just a crazy opportunity. So, yeah, I had to do that. The thing is, I didn’t leave Winterfox. I got kicked for – I don’t even know – having a good attitude, I guess. With Tainted, it was just the low morale and the end of seasons hurts more players than it hurts me. It influences people’s playstyles too much, especially in this scene.
Grayhound are a team that were able to qualify for various events while using a stand-in. Is there anything in the dynamic of the team that you’ve noticed allows for this?
Firstly, we have three really adaptive players, which is BURN, erkaSt and Gratisfaction. They’re really good at adapting around people; playing their own style while adapting as well, which is very rare. In Australia, everyone wants to play their own style and are very adamant about their own style. Like, “I wanna do this, I wanna entry and that’s it”. But these guys can just revolve around people really easily. Mon [prakM], he wasn’t in the team before the minor. He’s good. He’s still very inexperienced, in my opinion. But he’s growing very fast and trying to develop his own playstyle now.
You’ve taken in-game leading duties from erkaSt. Were you initially brought into the team for that purpose?
They wanted me to be the in-game leader. I didn’t want to be an in-game leader. I didn’t think about being an in-game leader or anything like that, but they wanted me cause I’ve called with BURN before in Chiefs. erkaSt just didn’t have that feeling of being an in-game leader anymore because of constant lineup changes and all that kind of stuff. He just felt burnt out, in that respect. That’s why they wanted me. Just revive the team a little bit.
How much are you building off the system that erkaSt put in place? Or is the team completely revolving around the implementations you talked about previously
Everyone’s in the role that I kind of want them in, except for Mon. I felt like, when I first came in, I instantly realised that he wasn’t comfortable in his role. This was a supportive entry-fragger and you never put someone who’s inexperienced into a support role. That’s what you’ve always got to grow into. For me, I was all about getting the frags, and you grow into a support player. From being the really good player that gets headshots, into the player that flashes for everyone and all of that kind of stuff. You know how to clutch, you know how to play late round situations with teammates. In my experience with Winterfox, I learnt how to put players in the roles they’re best for, so the first thing I changed up when I officially went into the in-game leading role was putting Mon into a role that he’s most comfortable with.
Kings have really come out of the gates firing in the past month. How do you go about preparing to face such a talent-stacked lineup?
Have a higher talent-stacked lineup. I don’t know, our team’s full of really talented people that can do everything. We don’t have a player that gives their life away, let’s put it that way. We have smarter players. I reckon we have a lot smarter players. Without trying to ‘bm’, I feel like they’re playing 4v5 a lot of the time.
With ESEA roster locks in place, what’s the situation with the Global Challenge event that the team qualified for?
Moey’s [MoeycQ] still in the lineup, technically. So, he’s going to go over for a nice little vacation; bring his wife along too. I assume they’ll be using the things I set up, cause it’s been a month, month and a half, now, at least. They’re going to use my system and all that kind of stuff, and we’ll see how well they do.
With the team practicing for this international event, do you think there’s a problem with the approach to practice of teams in the region?
The main problem now is that no teams play during the day. All competition matches are during the night and that’s when everyone else practices, so no one practices during a season. When any league starts, there’s only going to be one day where every team gets to practice, and that’s kind of crappy. Over in America, everyone starts at like 1pm and end at like 6pm, then the matches are on at 7pm, 8pm, whatever. In general, I think Australia’s been getting really good at practice recently, to be honest. A lot of up and coming teams have surprisingly got their heads into the game and not trying to be too aggressive or whatever. They’re trying to play the most consistent style. They’re not just throwing their lives away because they’re vsing us or they’re vsing whoever. They’re trying to learn and grow more. I think it’s getting a lot better, actually.