After his playing days in CS: Source and the early years of CS:GO, Casper “Ruggah” Due came back into Counter-Strike in 2016 as the coach of Dignitas. Since then he has coached North and now finds himself on OpTic in a project that has seen mixed results so far.
OpTic qualified from the EU Minor to the Major, but after the player break has seen poor results at Zotac Cup Masters, Dreamhack Masters Stockholm, and then FACEIT Major going out 2-3 in the Challengers Stage.
We spoke with Ruggah as OpTic prepares for StarSeries Season 6 in Kiev on October 7th.
You had taken some time off between the end of your time with North and the beginning of this spell with OpTic. Was the OpTic project what brought you back or were you looking to get back into coaching already and this just popped up?
I was exploring different options within the CS:GO community. My first priority was always to return as a coach for a professional team, but I had a couple of casting/analyst gigs lined up should that not be the case.
During my off-time, I did a lot of freelance coaching for different teams all across the world (online). That was a fun experience for me and made me explore different play styles that I haven't been used to previously. I didn't jump the gun in terms of choosing a team which ultimately landed me the OpTic contract with a really talented lineup.
K0nfig, Cajunb, and Gade had just come off a failed roster than had seen Stanislaw and Shazam cut. Having worked with them before, did you notice any difference in their mindset or attitude as players and teammates from their time in North?
I think both players I worked with previously developed a lot by living abroad, gaining a lot more perspective on things in and out of the game. They've tried different environments and encountered a new way of playing CS, meaning they have more ideas and depth in their game than what I've been used to with them.
You came into the project at the same time as Snappi and Jugi were brought in from Heroic. What was the adjustment period like for you three coming into the team?
It was obviously a flow of getting everyone on the same page, it still is, it's a process of building a team that can last for a long time. For me, personally, I've also had to adapt to a new IGL and his way of thinking CS, that has been the most difficult part for me since our old system in North pretty much was "my way of thinking CS" (ish).
So, with Snappi onboard we've tried to merge the best from both worlds and that's what's still happening on a daily basis. The same process back in my start of Dignitas took roughly 6-7 months before we had a system in place to challenge the best teams out there.
The team had decent results at ESL Pro League Finals and then Dreamhack Summer and obviously the Minor in London. After the player break most of the progress the team had made seemed to disappear with poor showings at Zotac and Dreamhack Stockholm. Do you contribute this to just rustiness after the break?
The break was a weird one for us, since we had to play the StarSeries qualifier and ended up being only a semi-break, since we had to return for practice a week after the qualification. On top of that, we prioritized attending Zotac, which at the time was one of our only tournaments in the second half of the year, since we wouldn't want to miss out on tournaments.
That was a bad call, and it was made prior to the break. We never found our mojo on the three-tournament span which ultimately made us crash out in last place at Zotac, group stage exit at Masters and a close-to-Legend stage loss. We had a good thing going prior to the Minor with a lot of good practice routines, but we couldn't replicate the same work due to lack of time before taking off for Hong Kong. In the end we want to support the Player Break, however, it feels a little weird to stand here today thinking back, that we could've performed better if we hadn't prioritized rights for the competitors. That's a dilemma for the coming season as well.
Let’s talk about the Major. You lost on the first day to Liquid, but then bounced back with wins over Virtus Pro and then Tyloo in a crazy match on Inferno. Were you feeling confident that you would make the next stage at this point?
Yeah. We were a loss against force buy from making it. That's close.
The team lost a close match vs Hellraisers and then were 2-0’d by BIG and were eliminated from the Major. I had heard originally the plans were the team would stick with the same five and try to work out the issues. Was this the case or was a change planned?
It was. Gade wanted to return to North.
Did this come as a surprise to you or the team?
Yeah. I expected a move to happen but didn't know which player they would end up with. After their win in Stockholm I thought they would give that roster a fighting chance for the Fall season, but ultimately, they decided to bring Gade back, to get a player who knows what it means being a North player. CadiaN was a surprise, but since they swapped the IGL to the AWP I did have my gut feeling it was happening. We even spoke about it at the Major.
With Gade going to North that left you looking for a 5th. Can you talk about the decision to bring Niko on board? Rubino stood in for two MDL matches, was he ever seriously considered or was it always going to be Niko?
Ruben was definitely in our thoughts and his good performances made it an even harder decision. He is a super guy, motivated as ever and can fulfill whatever role needed. Class player.
Niko was a no-brainer after it was clear North didn't want to buy him. He fits the team very well, have previous experience playing in Snappi's system, a very skilled individual and a good team player.
Finally, I know as a family man it can be difficult to be away so much for events, boot camps and you even are on broadcasts on Danish TV for CS. How has your time back full-time coaching been for you on a personal level?
Due to the timing of my return, there were some obvious hard times being multiple weeks on the road, but it's part of the job and the broadcasting is self-chosen in my spare time. I love the job and wouldn't change it for any, despite the rough times away from the family.
Did you like our interview with Ruggah? Comment below and a special shout-out to Mr Mertle for helping to facilitate the interview!