We sat down with the World Champs for a chat about this season, their SnD improvement and returning to LAN.
Recently, ESTNN had the chance to sit down with Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro and Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal ahead of their Home Series event. We discussed the season so far, their infamous Round 11 play and the return to LAN.
Looking Back on 2020
After the 2020 Champs win, you’ve kept the same core players. How does it feel to team with each other yet again this year?
Shotzzy – “We had the same mindset going into this season, the same game plan. Just to make sure everyone's on the same page. We were just excited to get into the new season because everyone thought Modern Warfare was a fluke so I wanted to prove them wrong this season.”
Crimsix has been a massive part of the Empire squad. Has it helped playing with a veteran such as himself?
iLLeY – “He’s definitely helped us mature because myself, I've never competed before, and so I didn't really know everything. He shows us the mental aspect outside of the game and in the game. He’s taught me a lot.”
Shotzzy – “Porter’s been involved in every scenario. So he's been through it in his career, he just teaches us and then we just grow from there and learn from it.”
The 2021 Season So Far
What are your thoughts on Cold War now that we’re halfway through the season?
Shotzzy – “In terms of mechanics, I definitely feel like it's way more clunky compared to MW. I feel like MW was way more smooth in my opinion. But overall, it plays really good. With better maps I think it might play differently, but other than that it's really good.”
You’re yet to reach the heights of 2020 with a 2nd and 3rd place finish in the two Majors this year. What needs to improve for you to reach the top?
Shotzzy – “The first major, we could have easily won that. We lost it ourselves honestly, we weren't making plays that we normally make, and I messed up at the end. And then in the second Major, we were slowly getting back into our groove. We weren't really good at Hardpoint and SnD, so we focused on those. And then we just ended up getting placed third. It was a weird time.”
You drastically improved your Search and Destroy for the Stage 2 Major, going 4-1. How did you improve so quickly?
iLLeY – “After our loss against Optic, we finally said enough is enough. Our Search was very inconsistent and we were just not making the right plays at the right time. So we all went into the Envy offices and we took a whole day and went over every single map and SnD we’d played. We took a whole day and dedicated it to really improving our SnD.”
A New Heir to the Throne?
You recently announced Tyler “FeLo” Johnson would be joining the roster. How have you enjoyed teaming with him so far?
Shotzzy – “Tyler’s humor is something else, he makes me laugh for some reason. So that's a plus, but he's actually a really good AR player too. Sometimes my comms aren't that good, and when you have another AR with really good comms you benefit from it because I can focus on myself. We're probably not the best with Tyler, but we're slowly getting there and I’m excited to see where we can go.”
iLLeY – “I’ve really enjoyed being with Tyler as well. It's just another good COD mind on your team. Last year before champs he was helping us out in SnD and it definitely helped the team and made us see from a different perspective. So I like playing with Tyler for sure.”
This move sees you move to an SMG role iLLeY, how have you found the transition to a Sub?
iLLeY – “It's been like a week and a half, and I'm really enjoying it because throughout my whole career I've been an SMG player and I'm just very, very comfortable at the moment. I’m still improving, but I’ve made a lot of progress and I'm feeling very comfortable. In no time I feel like I'll be the best. I’ve got to keep grinding, getting better every day.”
That Round 11 Playcall
In case you missed it, here’s the Round 11 fake that saw Dallas Empire defeat Minnesota ROKKR.
This play call was excellent. Who made it, and what was going through your heads as it happened?
iLLeY – “At first, they saw us at B. We were going to rotate over but I said “Porter [Crimsix], go A side and when they see you, we’ll wrap back to B”. He did an even better play by throwing nades too, making it seem as though there were two people there. And then right as we knew Lamar [Accuracy] had seen him, we wrapped back to B and won the round.”
Map Pool, Current and Future
You’re yet to play Apocalypse, why is that?
Shotzzy – “It's kind of another Hackney Yard. If you pick it, you get bad side and the opposition could easily chain P1 and P2, which leaves you at a 120 point deficit. We're slowly getting good at it. But I’m not sure if we'll pick it in pool play or a Major.”
Standoff is coming later in Season 3, would you like to see it in Stage 4?
iLLeY – “100%. I used to play Standoff back in BO2, and it was a fantastic map. I think it played really good competitively. I wouldn't say Cold War has the best maps at the moment, soI think Standoff is definitely just a plus and everybody in the community will be happy to see it.”
Shotzzy – “I’ve never played Standoff so I don't know. Everyone gasses it up though, so it better be a good map”
iLLeY – “It is, it’s a good map.”
If you could bring back one map from a previous COD game and bring it to Cold War, what map would it be and why?
iLLeY – “I’d say Fringe.”
Shotzzy – “The nerdy side of me says Breach, but if I'm being smart I’ll pick a BO2 map… I don’t even know any BO2 maps”
Shotzzy’s response created this hilarious clip, proving the fact that he played Halo as a kid, not COD.
I’m truly a halo kid https://t.co/TDbaAOKzeO
— Empire Shotzzy (@Shotzzy) April 30, 2021
Empire’s Home Series Matches
Tomorrow you play the Guerrillas, before facing Florida and Minnesota at your Home Series. How are you feeling going into these matches?
Shotzzy – “We're feeling really good. Our Hardpoint is getting a lot better and we're slowly improving on a lot of stuff. I'm taking routes I've never really taken with the sub. So I'm finding a new balance for myself and I'm finding new routes to take, new pinches to take which is pretty cool. I'm just excited to implement this into the game against LAG.”
Returning to LAN
We know LAN will be returning later in the season, how excited are you to be returning to the Main Stage?
Shotzzy- “I'm definitely excited. For some reason, it's hard to get into the groove sometimes because there's only one match in the day. I feel once LAN comes back, it’s a good environment and you'll get into your groove more easily than you can now. So I'm definitely excited for LAN to return.”
iLLeY – “I’m definitely excited for LAN. Last year, we didn't really get to experience it. The events we played we placed second and first so I’m excited to get back out there on the Main Stage again.”