G2's NBK: 'I think I have one of the best understandings of Counter-Strike and how the game works'

NBK, the in-game leader for G2 Esports. Provided by DreamHack/Adela Sznajder

SYDNEY -- Historically, French teams would have been competitive at a tournament like IEM Sydney 2018. With a bracket weakened by domestic competition and Astralis as the only truly dominant team, G2, with its stable of France's best, should've been on the playoff stage. But even with hyped Spaniard Óscar 'Mixwell' Cañellas, in the ranks G2 failed against Mousesports and Fnatic in best-of-threes.

With a new player, and Nathan 'NBK' Schmitt taking up calling duties, G2 is increasingly becoming a team defined by role instability. ESPN talked to G2's new caller about his approach to the game and what problems he sees with G2.

ESPN: What did you see within Mixwell's game from previous lineups that made him so desirable to bring into G2?

NBK: I think he is a very complete player in the sense that he can do many things in a game. A lot of things for him go through communication ,and he can understand the game. And when he has information about the teammates, the enemy and specific things. I think that is when he will develop at the highest level. So even without that he is very confident, very solid, very calm in-game. So he is a player you can rely on in many aspects of the game. I think that what was very attractive from him. Because he is very versatile in that sense.

It's a matter of finding his part within the team, especially with communication, understanding everything properly. At the basis, his gamestyle, the way he approaches the game and overall righteousness means he plays right in a sense.

ESPN: Based on Mixwell's past results and under performances, what do you think G2 offers him to grow that other sides haven't in the past?

NBK: I think we have in general, a more developed approach to Counter-Strike than the other countries in-general. We dig deep into what we are doing. So there are a lot of things he has to learn in terms of communication especially: French in-general, reacting in good time, understanding everything that's going on around him, new position names, new tactics, new principles and the way of naming those principles. These things are very specific to France even though we might've stolen them from other teams over time. But these are things he has to learn and be comfortable with if he wants to perform at his best level.

So I think we can widen his horizon in a way in-game and that just takes time.

ESPN: Given your previous experience with the in-game leader role role, and time playing under callers like Kevin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans, how would you define/compare your in-game approach to others and previous variations of NBK?

NBK: I think I have -- and it's going to sound like I'm bragging or something -- but I think I have one of the best understandings of Counter-Strike and how the game works. I also love the coaching perspective in the sense that I think a coach can do so much for a team. So I love the part of just being in the background and not being able to play and just purely working on that side of Counter-Strike. I think I have a very good understanding of all that. I think my main strength is understanding why we lose, or why we have problems. To me, as soon as you identify the problem you can find a solution very easily in Counter-Strike, it's no genius thing. In Counter-Strike, there are problems and you know whether you can fix the problem or whether you cannot.

I think that's the my main strength, analysing what you can do to get better. I have a basis of what I want to do, regarding maps, regarding players, how I want to put players in situations and how I want to work on the map at a global level. And from there just playing, playing, playing, finding problems, and finding solutions.

ESPN: When you talk about having one of the best understandings of CS in the world, what do you think separates yourself from other players?

NBK: I have been playing for such a long time, under so many different IGL's. Ex6tenz had been working with maniac the entire time I was playing with him, Vincent "Happy" Cervoni Schopenhauer, Richard "shox" Papillon, all them have very different ways of solving problems.

So I took a lot of things from them. I'm someone that learns very easily from other people, I just grabbed things that just subconsciously make sense to me. As soon as I see something in a team that I like, or a principle or whatever, I just grab it. A lot of the principles we have in France, I took them from just watching teams and thinking "yeah, if we play a round that way, there's a 95% chance of the time we win the round." I think all of [those other French IGL's] plus my own understanding and approach of how I want to work on a map, and what not to take.

ESPN: By the way you set it up, it sounds like this G2 roster is a culmination of the best qualities of France's callers coming into one team. Is that sort of what you're getting at?

NBK: Well [laughs], yeah that's sort of what I want to do with my in-game leading. The only problem is that approach takes a lot of time. When we started out that way, I worked for like, 10-12 hours a day to perfecting that style and working to find solutions to our problems constantly. And there are some things that you cannot fix, some things that are just human nature.

I think a lot of people saw we improved in small ways in the way we approached the game. The way we changed pace, although we still make -- I mean, I make a lot of mistakes -- in calling and finding the right solutions. I think overall the quality of our game has improved. And also trying to remove all the trash we have in the game. All the 5v2's we're losing, all the crappy rounds. That's what I'm trying to remove and to push on not to happen. You need to fix the bad rounds before you can outplay a team.