Kings have done serious damage in the domestic scene since their inception in late June. Despite players’ roles being vague initially and Chris “emagine” Rowlands’ venturing into in-game leading for the first time in his career, the team managed to win multiple domestic events and participate at two international events, including the Asia Minor.

With results falling off slightly, I spoke to emagine at the ZEN League Season 2 finals about whether their first three months were a honeymoon period, the dominance of AWPer Sico, and Chiefs IGL Tyler “tucks” Reilly’s comments on Kings’ coach Matt “dayV1D” David.

eXTREMESLAND was your first international event since forming Kings. How did you feel about your team’s performance at the event? Was the 3rd-4th place finish a disappointment?

We wanted to win, for sure. Obviously, we hadn’t had a chance to measure ourselves against the international teams. Pretty much where we ended was our minimum expectation. We didn’t want to lose to anyone but the Chinese teams. Losing to Flash was disappointing – we wanted to win that – but I think, out of any team to lose to at that event… They went on to win it. The Chinese are pretty good.

What do you think went wrong for you guys in that series against Flash after winning the first map?

Overpass, we were down 11-4. We felt really comfortable on our CT side. It’s probably our most comfortable CT side of all the maps. We 12-3’d the CT half and came back. That’s probably pretty lucky, but we were pretty happy with it. We knew we had a rock solid CT. Cache was the one that was haunting us because it was 16-10 in the end and it was the worst game we ever played. Like, if you watch our T side on that, you’ll see some of the worst rounds. Miscommunication, people clustered; just horrible rounds on the T side. Cache was the one we felt like we could’ve won. Inferno wasn’t even close. It was 16-8, but even that’s flattering. We weren’t in that game, but Cache is the one where we know we could’ve won that.

Can you point to anything specific that was problem for you guys?

On Cache, I think it was our misplays that cost us. Like I was saying, on the T side, we only got five rounds and I think it could’ve been eight or nine if we didn’t horribly misplay some rounds. On Inferno, we just didn’t have an answer for their banana control. They had such a strong banana control and we were still sort of developing the system we have now with Simon [Sico] and Jordan [Hatz] working together.

You then went on to play at the Asia Minor, where you lost to MVP PK in the group stage elimination game. What can you tell me about that match, considering you were in a good position to win it on the third map?

We were stoked with the groups. We were confident we could top that group. We were confident against Renegades; we thought we were going to beat Renegades and we knew we could beat MVP. We played MVP in the first match and beat them 16-9 on Inferno and played them again in the BO3 and lost to them on the same map, so it was infuriating. Obviously, that was a really hard loss. Felt like a completely different team to when we played them yesterday.

Did it feel good to get revenge against them in that elimination match yesterday?

I think it was more salt in the wounds. Like, where was this at the minor? It was a good win, but where was this at the minor?

Ultimately, what do you think you took away from the international events you attended?

I could talk about specifics. Like on maps, we’ve developed more stuff. We make more reactive plays. We’re developing our CS over time. As the sample size grows, we just learn more situations, more reactions, things like that. The trip in general solidified how much need there is to practice. We really know that we need to practice more and that’s where we were struggling.

Sico has found some serious form with Kings and looks to be one of the most impactful players in the region at the moment. Is there anything you or the team is doing to facilitate this?

We give him a lot of freedom. He has paths he likes to take with the AWP. We try to set up around him. liazz is even playing a more supportive role now. We’re trying to really set up around Simon’s AWP. He’s been having heaps of impact. Before we went overseas and even now, he’s carrying on with his form. He’s trying to refine a few things, but he’s such a strong AWP that we’re basing it around him now.

“Kings Gaming Club during ZEN finals” – Photo by ESL Australia

How do you feel about the team’s roles at the moment?

For the T side, I’ve sort of come more into an entry style. I’m sort of like duo’d with Hatz a lot of the time, which I’ve obviously never done – I’ve been a lurker. So you’ll see me entrying with Jordan a lot and also Trav [wizard]. If wizard isn’t doing lurky stuff, like a passive lurk, he’s entrying as well. So, that’s the core three we have: Simon, Jordan and myself as a three-pack; Jay [liazz] is a lurker, wizard’s a lurker, but he also plays entry with Hatz. And then on CT side, it’s sort of become liazz and myself doing the supportive roles, Trav and Hatz are on the sites and Simon, as I said, has freedom with his AWP to move around.

Tainted have looked really good in the past few months and is made up of your former Winterfox teammates. What do you think of them as a team? Do you see them running into the same sort of problems that Winterforx did?

I can’t comment. They’ve been going so well that I don’t know what else to say. They’ve had really good performances with yam. It’s obviously meshing well with them. They have good roles. chuch is a really good entry for them as well. I think the roles they have are working quite well for them now. It’s hard to say if it’s honeymoon or if it’s going to continue, but time will tell.

Do you think you guys had a bit of a honeymoon period, considering your strong start as a roster?

I think it was half-half. It was obviously a bit of honeymoon, but it was also – as I was alluding to with Chiefs last interview – when you get to the top, there’s more of a target on your head. I think, after we started winning all these domestic events – ESL, Zowie Qualifier – people started paying a lot more attention and watching our stuff. People seem to be a lot more prepared for us now than they were initially. You have to be so on your toes when you’re at the top. You have to be really aware of what you’re using, what you’re showing. The thing with such a close scene like Australia is the top teams – Grayhound, Tainted, Chiefs and us – all know pretty much the whole playbook of these other teams. Unless you’re making new stuff, it’s mostly mind games, which is sort of sad.

Not to get too specific, but how often do you feel you have to throw fakes or almost counter-strat yourselves to avoid being read by other top teams in the region?

A fair bit, actually. That can hurt you pretty badly, so we don’t try to go too deep into thinking that. If you think the opponent knows everything you’re doing, that absolutely screws you. It hurts your confidence and stuff. We look at what they do and what we’ve done but we go in and just play our game. We keep in the back of our heads everything we know about them.

In my interview with tucks at PAX, he talked about dayV1D as more of an analyst than a coach. What are your thoughts on that statement?

He has some valid points but I think dayV1D, in the same way as I’m learning to IGL, is learning to coach. We have to be patient and give him some time because it’s true; he was an analyst. He was an analyst at CLG. If anything, I think that gives him a foot in the door to become a better coach. I think he can develop. We’re patient with him and he’s growing.

Chris ’emagine’ Rowlands commented on the recent departure of Travis “wizard” Richardson and Kings’ mindset moving forward

What was the reason behind this roster move?

wizard’s a great guy but, like he said on his Twitter, the main reason was he was not able to commit as much time or energy as was required, which resulted in us not getting enough quality practice. After a few chats with the guys, we had all decided this was the best decision for everyone.

kyoto played with the side during the ESEA MDL finals. Is he a player that the team is considering?

We had added kyoto before the roster lock as a sub, but, as far as a replacement goes, we have a few options in mind already. Dylan [kyoto] was able to help us out and play the playoffs over this last week and did a great job filling in on short notice.

With such big shoes to fill in what many consider to be a “superteam” and the majority of experienced players locked in the top 4 teams, how do you go about finding wizard’s replacement?

While we have a few people in mind, we are not in a real rush with the off-season approaching. We will take our time and make a decision that we feel will give us the best results for next year.

Are you able to comment on any of these people the team has in mind?

I can’t name names but we have received a number of interesting offers. Hopefully, all will be announced in the next couple of weeks on the team’s twitter, @KingsGClub.