Following the signing of Fumiya "Fuji3" Fujisaki as a coach, APAC North side Cyclops Athlete Gaming (CAG) has signed Riccardo "Hybrid" Massimino Font, formerly of SCARZ, as its new analyst.
The move comes just over two weeks before the Six Invitational 2021, the first international event CAG has qualified to since its only previous appearance at the Six Major Raleigh in 2019.
The signing of two support staff also comes in the wake of the departure of Hibiki "XQQ" Motoyama at the end of the APAC North season in November 2020, after the coach had spent two years with the team.
XQQ had left CAG and Rainbow Six itself on his own accord, but had been involved in throwing an APAC North game in order to secure a higher seed in the November Major -- an incident for which he was banned six months for and the team was fined US$5,000 for.
Now, as CAG dusts off its November Major loss to Cloud9, the team has signed a coach and an analyst in its bid to claw background on the league leaders of Cloud9 and Giants Gaming in APAC North and strengthen itself for the Six Invitational 2021, for which it had to win the Closed Qualifier.
To know more about the signing and the team's preparation for the Invitational, SiegeGG spoke to Hybrid, as well as Fuji3, and team manager Kyouhei "KYON" Nishio.
Congratulations on signing with CAG, Hybrid! What enticed you to this Japanese roster and how did the move come about?
Hybrid: This team is undisputedly one of the best among all the APAC North contenders. They are all mechanically skilled and have what is needed to compete against the big teams, but what I most like about them is their unpredictability, though sometimes this can also be dangerous. But, you don't become a champion without taking any risks.
What went wrong with SCARZ and how do you plan to ensure things will be different with CAG?
Hybrid: The problem with SCARZ was that it was a young team and due to the lack of experience we had a hard time to face certain problems. CAG's players have been together for more than a year and they proved that when something wasn't working they were capable to solve it.
Fuji3 and me will ensure to solve any problem before it even is able to hurt the team. With SCARZ I learned that if a player is overthinking the problems of the team, he will not perform at his best. I definitely will not let it happen again.
As an Italian in non-English speaking majority teams, how were the language barriers overcome at SCARZ and how will they be done so with CAG?
Hybrid: I have to be honest, SCARZ's players had a better level of English, and even though sometimes the communication wasn't the best, everything would get solved also thanks to Revi's bilingualism.
With CAG it is a bit more difficult, but with the amazing help that all of the CAG staff is giving to me, and the fact that I'm mainly focusing on the analyst role, I think everything will run smoothly.
When did you start work with the team?
Hybrid: I started doing some work with the team during the last part of the SI APAC Qualifiers, but my real focus now lies on preparing them to face all the teams in Paris. Our result in Paris will then show whether the addition of Fuji3 and I had an impact.
How are things going to change after XQQ's departure and Fuji3 and Hybrid's arrival? What will the coaching setup look like?
KYON: The arrivals of Fuji3 and Hybrid will strengthen the team both from a mental and tactical point of view. Thanks to the addition of Hybrid as an analyst, we now will be able to find minor adjustments which we could not notice up until now. His analyses help to improve the fundamental strength of the team.
What are your goals for the Six Invitational and how are you working to achieve them?
Fuji3: Our goal for this year's Six Invitational is to advance to the playoffs. In addition, our aim is to show the same performance of what we have had in online and domestic tournaments, but this time at the global stage of the Invitational.
I joined CYCLOPS recently so I am focusing on understanding our players' characteristics and their ways of thinking. Also, I seek to find the weak points of our current tactics so as to broaden each player's perspective and help their skills grow.
Who will be the six team members heading to the Invitational?
Hybrid: We decided that Fuji3 will go with the players (Ayagator, SuzuC, gatorada, BlackRay, and Anitun) to Paris since he is the coach and can communicate well with them, but we are really looking forward to when the whole team will be able to unite in future events.
Having counter-strategised against CAG during your time with SCARZ, what are the key weaknesses and strengths CAG has that you aim to solve?
Hybrid: As with most teams, sometimes we simply are not able to fix our mistakes during the games, thus causing a snowball effect and ending up with even more problems. Fuji3 will help them become aware and fixing these kind of mistakes, whilst I will try to prevent these mistakes from happening in the first place.
Where do you see this CAG roster headed in the long-term?
Hybrid: After SI 2019, the Japanese scene did not perform up to the standards that we were used to. CAG is the team that finally will bring Japan back to where it belongs and we are tired of being considered underdogs.
Catch CAG in action next on the 9th of February, at the kick-off of the Six Invitational 2021, with the Japanese team getting ready to leave for Paris for its week-long pre-event quarantine.