BOSS NASTi: Interview Pt. 1

Justin Silva (Boss Nasti) is a character who has generated a generous amount of buzz recently within the MLG community. Many community members would love nothing more than to see him fail. But others, his defenders, claim if you give him a chance there is truth and wisdom in his videos. This vocal minority, I must admit, caught my interest.

Silva had (has) an infamous reputation on the MLG forums. But behind that reputation, he claims there is the knowledge and ability to change the face of competitive gaming. I, for one, am intrigued by this claim. Some of the concepts put forth by Silva I have agreed with in principle, but not in execution. Others, I have disagreed with entirely. And still others, I am completely in the dark about.

I have done my best to downplay my own voice and ideas during this interview (which will likely expand into multiple parts due to length). My own thoughts and ideas will be presented in a later article as a followup to the interview(s).

Gilean: I’d like to begin with the obvious question on everyone’s mind: How did you and Naded come together and dream up this new team and gaming house?

Silva: Well a lot of people don’t know that I’ve known Naded since January 21, 2011, when he first messaged me about some videos I made that he thoroughly enjoyed and, more so, agreed with.

Now, of course, this was a while back, as I have been in contact with Brett since then.  Fast-forwarding to MLG Providence. On Sunday night of the event, a couple hours after it ended, I heard my phone ringing upstairs. I run up my staircase to check my phone and I saw two text messages from Brett. The first message said, “I’m ready to team up and I want you to coach me;” the second was him telling me when he’s going to be home so we can talk.

Two days passed and now it was Tuesday. Brett got in contact with me and I told him what our options were [at the time]. The one thing that we both agreed initially was that we didn’t want to team online(seeing as how he lived 45 minutes away from me). I proposed a “Team House”(now Brett was all excited). It’s funny because there really are little to no cons in doing a team house if you are able to build a solid foundation during the recruitment and interviewing stages before move-in. Being able to work hands-on with your team will always be greater than working online.

So I told Brett some of the ways that we would benefit from doing a team house. First, a real coach is involved in it where I will actually be teaching, transferring my knowledge and experience to players in order to develop them, which will result in their placings via tournaments/competitions. Secondly is being able to show them my strategies that I’ve created for each map/gametype in real-time and in multiple forms to better break it down to them. Thirdly is being able to review film together as though we’re sitting in the a theatre and watching it from multiple angles so they can better grasp everything I’m teaching them. So many benefits with once again little to no Con’s.

We talked about it for hours that day, so long we lost track of time because ideas were flowing right away. I told Brett this was something I attempted in the past and have already done a great amount of research on “Team Houses”. After I explained to him a lot of what I wanted to do, he was just onboard that much more. What really made it official though was the decision to create our “Promo Video” that we first came out with to really mold and put the idea into something that we can show the public.

Gilean: You said that the recruitment and interviewing stages were essential to the success of a team house. But this sounds a little bit like Naded and Karma’s “Golden Ticket” opportunity, which didn’t turn out too successfully. Did you adjust your strategy from what Naded had tried in the past?

Silva: The recruitment stage to a team is by far the most important because it sets the foundation for every team. Meaning that the majority (99%) of teams (including the Golden Ticket team) did/do not set a proper foundation for themselves. Instead of asking questions to get to know the “Person” and find out their way of thinking towards competitive gaming or a team, they opt to recruit individuals based off the “Player,” not the “Person”. This is an ineffective and inefficient way of going about it. This is proven to this day through watching how many Pro teams break up right after MLG events, and I’m sure the number is far greater [for amateur teams]. The majority focus on the short-term, which is playing games/customs with players a maybe asking them a couple questions along these lines:

-How good are you? (When all they’re really asking is how well can you aim/move your fingers on your controller.)

-Do you communicate well? (Which is funny because this question is a contradiction, because you cannot expect anyone to be on the same page as you with every form of communication in-game.)

-How consistent are you? (Which is them just looking for how positive they go in-game as well as how consistent they are, which gauges nothing because they haven’t even started practicing.)

-Some may ask, what’s your schedule? (The low standard (99%) reply is, as an example, “ I can be on everyday.” “I can be on any time after 3:00 pm.” “I can be on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.” Notice how all of these are very broad)

The Long-Term/Higher Standard players (1%) will ask questions that are based off the “Person,” not the “Player,” the reason being that every player can always improve and potential is never maxed out. Remember that your teaming with a “Person” first and a “Player” second. This is best shown in the Brake vs Demon D altercation.

Demon D was talking down to players in MM and to Brake’s viewers on his stream as well. Brake was simply trying to explain to Demon that this is how you lose viewers, especially if your teammate is talking down to them as well as people they meet in MM. This is just not how you create a positive image at all, and Brake was trying to explain that to him. Demon D, from his actions, was acting very unprofessionally also adding that Brake was trying to control him and tell him what to do, which was absolutely not the case at all. It was simply constructive criticism at its finest with evidence being provided from Brake, and Demon D just showing his low self-esteem by not being able to accept the cold hard facts. This is a prime example of teammates who are not on the same page at all whatsoever, did not setup a proper foundation, and went about recruitment in a low standard way.

This is why I asked questions such as:

-Do you drink (Alcohol or Energy Drinks) and/or smoke? (We don’t want any outside factors to affect this team.)

-You’ll be gaming 60-70 Hours/week, what do you think about that?

-A time in your life where you showed true dedication and commitment to something?

-Living together in a team house, everyone will have responsibilities. What do you think they are?

-How long should a team train before attending their first event?

-What is the difference between a “Coach” and a “Player”

-When working with a “Coach,” how would you describe your job as a “Player”?

-What sensitivity do you play on?

These are just some of the question I asked over 200+ applicants between the application and interviews. So I will say that this is nothing like “The Golden Ticket” in any way. TGT was online, OPY is hands-on in a Team House, I would say that’s the biggest difference right there. My application and Interview process is totally different than what TGT did, I’m actually prepared where they weren’t. We know our teammates as “People” first, then “Players” second. Yet the most important difference is my team has a real Coach, it is my responsibility to get them prepared in every way and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Gilean: Asking questions about the person and not just the player is certainly conducive to a long-term team. But some people claim you have maybe focused *too much* on the person, and not enough on the player.

An alternate view to your proposal, I feel, would sound something like this: Examine the players who first have the skill to win. If they don’t have the talent to make it in the top ranks, then they’re not worth your time on the team. Once you narrow down the pool of potential candidates, where their skills are essentially even, you then begin asking the questions that reveal a player’s personality. The personality becomes a “tie-breaker” of sorts, a means of finding the most compatible player with your team who still possesses the talent to win.

What would you say to those who feel you focus too much on the person and not enough on the player?

Silva: Let’s define a player’s skill/talent. Ultimately, it is just their ability to aim or more so move their hands on the controller (moving analog sticks & pushing/clicking buttons). Now, I have never seen someone who could never get a kill at all in a shooter game.  This would define them having little to no skill because they would not have been able to aim on their opponent’s body consistently enough to put damage into them therefore ending in a kill. So someone would have to show me one in order to counter what I’m saying. Which, let’s face it, no one will ever be able to prove that, thus referring back to the point which is that everyone can shoot, everyone can get a kill. What it comes down to is how to do it in an organized fashion. This is what a player’s skill is defined as, making 1% of a team. As a player, 1% is Individual Skill, and 99% is Mental Skill (executing a strategy, anticipating/predicting player movement, communication with team, individual awareness of surroundings, etc.)

So under this it will nullify anyone’s proposal to put the “player” first because a player can always improve individually. Even more so in this situation where my job as a real Coach is to teach, mentor, and once again transfer over my knowledge and experience to the players in order to develop them, which is essentially why looking at them as a “Person” so much more important. The misunderstanding a lot of people have is that we’re picking up players that are of lower skill, this is not the case. Remember that everyone can always improve, which it is my job to develop them no matter how much skill/talent they have coming in. But remember the thing that is not so common right now is “the ability to learn,” and, even more so, “wanting to learn”. This has been one of the biggest characteristics I look for in gamers, because this opportunity demands it. 99% to the Person and 1% to the Player.

“Relationships are made from establishing a foundation of common characteristic’s people share, not how good you are at your job”- BOSS NASTi

Gilean: More than once, you’ve mentioned the importance of a coach’s role in your team. How does your coaching style differ from others’? What qualifies you as an authority in Halo, since you will be “teaching,” as you put it, your team how to play this game?

Silva: “In sports, a coach or manager is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople. This type of coach gets involved in all the aspects of the sport, including physical and mental player development. Sports coaches train, develop and mentor their athletes to become better at the physical components of the game. The coach is assumed to know more about the sport, and have more previous experience and knowledge. The coach’s job is to transfer as much of this knowledge and experience to the players to develop the most skilled athletes [possible]. Combining these aspects of the sport, the coach is accountable for the overall performance and results of the team or player.” -Wikipedia

This video is of Sundance DiGiovanni (CEO of MLG) and Jerry Prochazka (LordJerith, President and Owner of vVv Gaming) clearly stating that Sundance not only regrets calling these people “coaches, and more so pro coaches,” but he also talks about how someone needs to lead a standard for “Real Coaching:”

A “Real Coach” shares the same relationship to their players as a Teacher does to a Student. Which is clearly defined in the definition provided above as well as in the video from both figures. The Low Standard the majority is at now believes that a Coach is more of an Assistant/Helper than someone who actually Teaches their players. It’s more of the players need someone who can Assist/Help them in minor things such as timings, an extra set of eyes, cheering/motivating, etc. Basically an MLG Coach is a title that has no set qualifications, expectations, or requirements to meet in order to call yourself a “Coach”. All you honestly have to do is be able to time things and you have the job of an “MLG Coach.” I for one will not adhere to this Low Standard. Any one of us who has ever had a Real Coach in sports knows that they actually taught us a lot of things we were unaware of and we learned so much from them. I’m just embodying something “Real” that’s been proven to work in Major Sports, why is everyone else soiling the value of a “Coach” by using the title when they only Assist/Help? It’s disappointing.

Here’s a list of the majority if not everything I do for my team as a “Real Coach”

1. Creating/Teaching Strategy

a) Setups

b) Transitions

c) Choke Points

d) Positioning

e) Angling

f) Routes

g) Route Times

h) Quick jumps

i) Pre-Nades & Nade-Placement

j) Improving their aiming consistency

k) Predicting/Anticipating player movement/actions so they will know where their opponents are at all times and what they’re doing

2. Communication

a) Simplifying callouts in order to utilize more mic time

b) Having more callouts than the norm in order to provide more detail about opponent’s whereabouts/exact position

c) Using short phrases/keywords to execute a play/transition/setup/defense/offense etc…

d) Using a low composed tone throughout the game, to the point of where they will never raise their voice

e) Tactical/Strategic forecasting

3. Mental Fitness

a) Communicating before, during, after a fight

b) Keeping composure in a fight

c) Playing our game no matter the score

4. How to Study

a) Reviewing Film from multiple angles

b) Utilizing overhead maps

c) Creating a play-through/walk-though

Everything that I have listed here is just a partial amount of what I do for my team “In Preparation for a Tournament/Competition”

My qualifications are that I played and co-developed strategies for the #1 Undisputed team in Conker: Live & Reloaded on Gamebattles at the time. A lot of people didn’t know that CLAR was played very competitively on GB with 200-300+ teams where 80% at minimum were actually Active. My team name was “No Radar” and my old GT at the time was “dirtydan711,” which some may remember me by. The reason why my team was #1 for two seasons in a row and was the KOTH 32 Tournament they held at the end of the 3rd season was because of the foundation we had as a team, which is a foundation that I carry with me and build upon to this day. The majority of what I have listed above are concepts we implemented back in 2005. Around 7 years later, we’re still at a Low Standard, and it is disappointing. I’ve studied Strategy in one area from researching other coaches in professional sports and looked at everything they did for their team across Soccer, Football, Basketball, Baseball, Tennis, etc. I played chess competitively growing up and competed in some tournaments. I’ve experienced and researched multiple areas in the world where strategy can be applied in order to gain enough knowledge along with some experience to qualify myself as a “Real Coach” If you want to be a Real Coach, you need to be able to do everything I can and sum up the definition at the top of this response.

Asking me how my coaching style differs from others is not correct. I am a Real Coach whose responsibility is to teach, mentor, transfer over my knowledge and experience to develop my players and the team in order for the result to be Winning Tournaments, if not at the very least Monetary Placings. I am responsible for where my team places at a tournament, because it is my job to prepare them. My players are responsible for executing what I have taught them and what they have learned. It is a team effort at the end of the day.

In order to prove that you’re a Real Coach before a Professional one at that, you need to be able to take a team from nothing (ex. AM) and turn them into something (ex. Pro). Ex. A Team would have to go to an MLG Event compete in and make it out of Open/AM to a Top 16 Placing because of what their assistant taught them and the players executed to a tee.

But remember, in a state of disarray where no one right now (except myself) knows how to actually reach the Higher Standard (for the games/areas I am involved in). Someone has to step out and be the Higher Standard so everyone will know what it is and how we can all get there. We cannot be afraid of change or trying new things, because even if they don’t work out, nothing is lost, meaning that we can only improve.

This concludes the first portion of my interview with Justin Silva (Boss Nasti). I hope to expand upon this with some of your own questions in the future, as well as more of my own. But I feel this is a significant amount of information to chew and digest as it stands, and I want to keep the focus on the specific claims and ideas presented here.

You can look forward to my own commentary (and may others’, if there is an expressed desire) in the future on the content above. In short: Silva and I, surprisingly, share a number of beliefs about the philosophy of coaching and teams. But we would see these ideas implemented through vastly different means. The best analogy I can give is two Senators form the same party who share the same goals of helping people, but can’t decide on just what bills to pass through Congress in order to do it.

I would like to thank Silva for his time and for the great effort of putting his ideas down in writing for myself and others to examine.

@Gileann–For updates and regular information about all things related to eSports, Gaming, and whatever the hell I feel like. — Stream for OPY