Endpoint is a team known for its ever-changing roster, with many of its former players going on to make a name for themselves in big tier one organizations. Regardless of who leaves the team, Endpoint seems to always find another young star to fill the void, the most recent of which being Mohammad “BOROS” Malhas. With their relegation from ESEA Premier, the team made the huge change of bringing in Guy “Nertz ” Iluz whose experience in the Israeli scene included IGLing. Wanting to get to the core of how Endpoint is able to continue to be successful, I had the opportunity to talk to Endpoint’s in-game leader, Max “MiGHTYMAX” Heath, during the player break. We were able to discuss the potential that this current iteration of Endpoint has, the role that Nertz will play as a secondary caller, and how the culture they have created on the team allows for new players to thrive. I also go on to talk to Max about his personal opinions on the current state of CS:GO, including the European tier two and his role on the CSPPA.
First of all, how would you define tier one and tier two?
I think there’s obviously a lot of opinions about the rankings and what tier one is, is it just the top five teams and is tier two 10 to 15? I’ve always really seen it as tier one being the best teams in the world, not just the top five but anywhere between the top 10 to 15 because that includes all the tier one events, you know? So that’s how I see it. And when you go to tier two, it’s more like anywhere between 20 to the top 50 because I think tier two tournaments are really competitive and you find a lot of the same teams in and around the playoff spots, the Swiss stages and stuff like that. So, it’s kind of how I see it.
With that in mind, what tier would you consider yourselves right now and what do you think you can peak at?
As of this interview (player break), I think we haven’t played anything said like our ranking is really low. But I would consider us tier two for sure. I think we’ve teetered on the edge of tier one a couple of times now. But yeah, for sure. We’re happy to consider ourselves a tier two team and a strong one at that. Obviously from tier two, there’s only one objective and that’s to get into tier one but it’s a really difficult process. When we’re having to rebuild rosters constantly every season, it’s a tough ask but that’s our main objective.
That leads to my next question. What effect does it have on your mental game having to rebuild the roster multiple times?
It’s something that you don’t really think about too much when it happens. Obviously, it sucks at the start. When we lost flameZ for example and lost mezii to Fnatic you think you’re at this good point and then one day you get told they’re being bought out by a bigger team and it’s like, Yeah, OK, well, fair enough. And then second of all what do we do? Who do we get to replace them? And you have to, there’s a lot of work involved in it. First of all, building the team up and then second of all, we have to rebuild it because you have to find someone suitable to replace them. Whether that is buying someone out or trying to find someone who is unknown and not on the radar of people, which is often what we do. We don’t have the budgets to buy out these big players that the big teams do. So, we have to always find new talent and there’s something that I think we’re pretty good at but it takes a lot of strain mentally and you get kind of knocked down a peg when you get told that one of your best players is leaving and you have to find someone in a quick time frame to compete next season or even during the season. Doing that whilst also trying to maintain where you’re at, it is really stressful to be honest with you.
I’ve spoken to your General Manager about finding new players in a previous interview and he explained, without giving too much away, the system that you guys used to find these players that nobody else is already looking at, and it has worked multiple times. How much are you personally involved in that?
I’ve been less involved recently. It’s just the nature of our team. When we found flameZ I was really involved because we were quite amateur in the way we did things. So, a lot of my responsibility as an IGL also coincided with responsibilities outside the server. So, me and Ross would talk about these suitable replacements and stuff like that. But in terms of actively looking at the stats nowadays, I’m less involved. I fully trust Ross because we’ve done it before, with flameZ and mezii and hopefully we’ve done it again with BOROS and with Nertz.
What does Nertz bring to the team that you didn’t have before?
The big thing that Nertz brings is he’s a bigger voice in the team and obviously he was in FPL as well, so we know that he’s highly skilled. It was a net positive and he brought something we’ve lacked for a while. As the in-game leader, I call the shots a lot of the time but when things aren’t going too well or when situations occur in the middle of a round, we struggle to find a cohesive response. Nertz solves that because he was an IGL in the Israeli scene. So, he kind of understands the quarrels I have with the IGL responsibility and he’s a massive help in terms of setting up the team and helping mid round.
Is he secondary calling?
That’s essentially the role that he’s going to be going into. It’s been quite a bumpy ride for us in terms of getting two new players to compete this season, we have had to play with stand ins and then play officials and then practice. That’s the old ultimate objective is for him to become this bigger voice in the team.
Not only have you brought in Nertz but also BOROS, right now who is Endpoints’ star player?
It’s between BOROS and Crucial to be honest with you, we got BOROS to be the really aggressive sort of star player that we had with flameZ in that regard. I think an AWP has a big impact on teams. So, it would be BOROS but at the same time, I think Crucial is also a star player.
And do you think they both have the capability to be those stars in tier one?
Yeah, for sure. I think when we played with BOROS we looked at him before his stats in terms of opening duels and stuff like this were absolutely outrageous. It was one of the highest in the world in terms of rifles. So, if we can figure that out and improve upon that. Then there’s no doubt why he couldn’t be a tier one player, you know? And same for Crucial he shows signs of excellence in games, and it’s whether we can maintain that. And that’s always been our goal, really. We always built around me Crucial and Surreal, and then we find two star-players. So, I think with BOROS and with Crucial and with Nertz we have a really pretty high firepower team right now.
How do you allow players to feel comfortable when they first join your team?
It’s something that we look at every time we bring in players and there’s no point bringing in a player and then making them play roles and positions that they don’t want or don’t like and never played before. I never understood that. I think some tier one teams have done it before where they sign big names and put them in B apps mirage. Like, I don’t really see the point of that.
When I spoke to the General Manager of Endpoint, he was saying that BOROS was in the top one or two percent of aggressive players in CSGO. How do you utilize that as an IGL?
Obviously, the main thing that comes to mind is entry fragging right? But stats are purely just stats. Something that we figured out is that with BOROS his aim is absolutely incredible as well. So, it’s like we’re trying to nurture whether he should be an entry because the stats obviously showed that or whether he could be the second or third person into a bomb site. I’m happy as IGL to run him first in order to get one kill or die and then get traded instantly. And if BOROS is there to kill three people, then the round is won. So, we’re trying to play around with it whether we play more into his aggression or his aim but it’s hard to tell without playing many, many matches.
You’ve not only transitioned with two new players but also a new coach. How easy has that transition been?
We basically transitioned from Ross as our coach, so he went to the general manager role and then we brought in Allen, who works on a bunch of broadcasts doing commentary and analytical stuff. I think I reached out to him when we were playing Pro League and basically just asked him for some advice on some stuff and then he gave his input and I was really happy with it. Then when we realized we were going down this route of a general manager role for Ross, I thought it was kind of a no brainer to at least ask Allen and he was quite interested in doing it. It worked out really well for me because we have the same views on CS and we have kind of the same work ethic and we enjoy working together. So, it’s a win-win.
You said you have similar views on CS, how much of that is statistical and how much do statistics come into it when you two are leading the team?
I think it’s a fair amount. We like to back up claims when we’re asserting our philosophy on a match where it is probably wrong or it’s good when we can back it up with the stats. We can say that we play a lot like this team and they have whatever win percentage in the world on this map or vice versa, we’re not doing this like this team and we’re doing quite like old meta stuff and obviously, our win rate reflects that. I think that stats play a big part in CS in terms of and a lot of things, such as picking up players or when it comes to building teams and then figuring out who should be playing where and obviously, you want to always copy the best teams whether that’s a tier one team, or even a tier two teams who are the best on a map. You always have to look at the stats and say, ok well, this team is doing better on pistol rounds, etc., etc. So, we take into account a lot of that stuff when it comes to our team.
So obviously, you’ve been with Endpoint for a very long time. How has the organization grown or changed since you’ve been there?
Yeah, I’ve been here for more or less my entire CS:GO career. So, when I first joined, it was a very, very small organization and we would just go to the UK tournaments and UK LANs. But now if you compare that in 2016 to now, they’re paying us to play full time Counter-Strike, they’ve got a general manager, they’ve got social media staff, they’ve got an elite team and the Rocket League team were just at the major that was this week or last week. You see when you compare it to now it is massive and is always rapidly growing. I think it’s really nice to see and I think it’s really nice for the owners of Adz and Pete to finally get some recognition because they’ve done a really great job.
In your long career in CS:GO, who is the easiest player you’ve ever IGLed?
Probably mezii, he is very easy to work with so it’s got to be either to him or flameZ, I think both are very easy going but are also two completely very different players.
So, tier two and just all the tiers below are in a really good state of the moment, as you mentioned earlier, especially in Europe. Is this the best tier two we’ve ever seen?
Yeah, I think so. You’d be surprised how hard it is to compete in tier two. People assume only the good teams are tier one but to win a Tier two tournament now you have to play a lot of good teams and sometimes even in the tier two tournaments, the tier one teams get invited. It’s incredibly competitive in the tier two scene right now.
Who’s the most promising UK player right now? So maybe not the best. Just the most promising?
It’s tough, I’ve always been sort of stuck between two players and you probably know who I mean. A lot of people have the same opinion. It’s between mezii and smooya. They’re both very different players but they’re both really, really good. I think I would probably lean toward mezii in terms of promising just because he’s had less time on a tier one basis than smooya. I think everyone knows smooya is really good, but having played with Will (smooya), he is the British ZywOo. It’s incredible to play with him, he’s a really nice guy and a really great teammate. It’s nice to see him doing well on Fnatic. For me, I’d lean towards mezii for that reason.
You’re a part of the CSPPA. What is one issue in CS:GO esports that you wish could be tackled?
The biggest issue is probably just the schedule of all the events because it’s always tough, especially as a tier two player, to find the time to play the best tournament that you can be playing. Whether it’s tournament organizers or whether it’s Valve, the schedule always gets a bit rammed. You don’t know what’s going to happen. As an example, we were going to play a tournament before the player break and then out of nowhere, Valve announced the RMR’s and the major. You can’t really account for that. It’s something that you know we’re trying to work on in the CSPPA is to figure out the schedule. Obviously, players provide their input at times as well but it’s always tough, it’s the hardest issue to solve in the CS landscape.
Since this interview, Endpoint have had some great wins over teams such as SKADE and Spirit but have yet to find a consistent form. Only time will tell if they can live up to their potential and fight their way into tier one events or if history will repeat itself and another young star will leave the organization.