At 19 years of age, Jake ‘Stewie2k’ Yip is one of the youngest IGLs around at the top level of CS. Having only played since 2014, it takes a brave soul to pit himself against the well versed minds of leaders like Fallen and Zeus. Despite this challenge, Stewie is often cited as the hottest talent in NA CS right now, and has plenty of years to catch up—or even surpass—the greats. We spoke to Stewie about the difficulties of leading, and the path he sees for his future.
As a younger player, it’s to be expected that Stewie didn’t fall naturally into the role. Most big name IGLs have been competing (and often leading) since the days of 1.6 or source. Coming to the role, Stewie seems surprised by just how little most fans and even players know about an IGL’s work.
“Too be honest, I think they’re completely oblivious to what an in game leader would do,” says Stewie. “(Becoming IGL,) it’s been eye opening because you have to do a lot more work that you don’t want to do. For example when practice is over, your teammates get to hang out with their girlfriends or whatever, do their own thing. But for you? You still have to find new things for your team, find out why you did this wrong or lost this match. It takes a lot of time and really depends on what kind of personality the person is, if they have true leadership qualities then they’ll fit the role.”
Taking the mantle of leadership is no simple task, but the best way to improve? Experience. As America’s favourite side, Cloud9 need a leader, and as no one else was wanted to take charge, Stewie was ready to step up and gain the skills needed.
“For me I wouldn’t say I’m a true leader,” Stewie says. “I say I’d be the second leader to help the main one. But if it makes my team play better then I’m willing to take that role. I think especially playing in the summer run helped me a lot with my in game leading, it makes me more confident in my calling, makes things more structured and easier for my teammates to listen. Over time I think experience is probably the main thing.“
Stewie is open about his mistakes while captaining Cloud9, and it shows a core desire to improve for his own sake, and his team’s. He has the drive, and is looking to learn from the best.
“I’m starting to learn how to call in different styles, slow or fast, but I’m not looking into different strats in enough detail,” Stewie describes. “So sometimes there are flaws in it, little flaws that cause us to lose a round, so that’s what I lack. I like to ask around Fallen and other good IGLs that are experienced how to improve and get better as an IGL.”
Fortunately, Cloud9 seems to have made a good fit. The team’s mentality is solid and their current roster isn’t prone to anger. It helps to have the cool heads of players like n0thing or shroud around. One of the country’s top teams may not seem the most logical of places to develop a new IGL, but somehow C9 have been making it work, if not to perfection.
“It’s definitely hard for me to support other (players) because my main role is entry or going second,” Stewie says. “So when I know that I’m better at that than calling then it definitely gets in my head. But our team rarely ever tilts. If (anyone) ever tilts it’s mainly me but I’ve tried to keep myself composed, especially during the summer run. But now that it’s over we can kind of speak our own feelings and say why we did things wrong.”
There’s a definite sense that while his team isn’t quite reaching top five in the world now, given time, Stewie could develop into one CS’s legends. Taking the chance to lead a side like Cloud9 early in his career will provide vital lessons on his road there. As for his long-term future as a leader? At least for now, Stewie’s not so keen.
“In game leading… I hope I don’t have to do for very long fully,” Stewie sighs. “I still like to do it because I have a good feeling for the game. I like to be the second leader and help out the IGL, but I wouldn’t want to be the main one.”