​Welcome to DeKay Mailbag, a semi-regular feature in which Counter-Strike reporter and insider Jarek "DeKay" Lewis answers questions from readers on Twitter. In this edition, DeKay talks about FaZe Clan's post-Major roster inquiry that didn't come to fruition, the status of Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev on Natus Vincere, and how he helps players receive delayed payments in CS:GO.

Do you have a question for DeKay? Tweet him @NWDeKay or email dekaycs@gmail.com, and your question might end up in another edition of the mailbag. Now, onto the questions:

DeKay: ​​All I can give is my personal opinion, which is three LAN events. We’ve already seen one of them and it’s clear NBK needs more time to get things straightened out. If after two more events there aren’t significant signs of improvement, you have to make a change. Shox is too good of a player to leave on the sideline indefinitely.

DeKay: The more independent sources corroborating the same information, the better. There are many times in which I have only a single source that I don’t feel confident enough to publish, and the official announcement will come through before I can get a confirmation. In some specific situations, a single source is enough to go with, but that doesn't happen often. As a rule of thumb, two to three sources is where I feel most comfortable because the number of false rumors I hear can really make things tricky.

DeKay: Natus Vincere. It’s not even close. Replace Edward and replace him as soon as possible. His one decent map per event isn’t enough to warrant playing on a team with s1mple. Give me a nice support player like bondik, and it’s a wrap.

DeKay: I’ve never had aspirations of playing Counter-Strike professionally, so I’ll answer this as if I was choosing any team in history to coach. My answer: Team Liquid with s1mple. I wish I could go back in time and somehow make that lineup work for a bit longer. I truly think they could have been one of the best teams in the world.

DeKay: Just like professional sports, CS:GO is a game of copycats. It only takes one person to use something that is overpowered before everyone is using it. Before everyone used the UMP, it was the CZ-75. Over time, the game is rebalanced and something is nerfed, making the next best thing “overpowered”. In my opinion it’s just a natural cycle of life and is inevitable.

DeKay: Quite recently after the Boston Major I was told by multiple people that FaZe Clan was interested in either gla1ve or shox to replace Karrigan. I was extremely intrigued at the time (though obviously there wasn't enough to confirm, and it didn't happen), but looking back I’m not entirely convinced either of those leaders would have been better than Karrigan. Shox has already sacrificed his own play to lead a “superteam,” and it didn’t go very well. On the other end, gla1ve uses a rigid structure that would almost hamper players like NiKo or Olofmeister.

DeKay: SK definitely had an era if you are someone who puts a ton of stock into winning Majors. Their map pool at that time was out of this world and they consistently placed high at almost every event while having two of the best players in the world in Fer and Coldzera.

Olof’s FaZe would beat old Fnatic eight out of 10 times, in my opinion. I think the game is at its highest level right now and many of the teams Fnatic faced were still learning the meta.

DeKay: Astralis without a doubt. They have the structure to rely on when dev1ce isn’t feeling it and can match any other five players in the world man-for-man right now. I think they can make 2018 their bitch, and who’s gonna stop them?

DeKay: Too many to count at this point.

DeKay: See the above question. I really don’t see a team knocking Astralis off consistently. They are their own worst enemy right now.

DeKay: I don’t have a ton of insight on the matter, but I’d say it’s pretty likely.

DeKay: Esports is still in its infancy. Prize pools and interest will continue to grow as Twitch and gaming become “cooler” and more mainstream. Many organizations have bought in and operate at a loss to this day, hoping that one day it will all pay off. I think it will, it’s just a matter of time.

DeKay: It’s basically networking. It was hard before I started going to events, but once you show yourself in person it becomes much easier. I spend a lot of time helping players get paid overdue prize money or passing along helpful information to organizations. That’s the stuff that doesn’t get published, so it’s not as well known. All in all, it helps strengthen the number of contacts I have and the people who trust me.

DeKay: He doesn’t really have a choice right now. He wanted to join SK but Na’Vi made it clear that he was not to leave before July, so we will see what happens then. I think that his time on Na’Vi is coming to a close if they don’t make some changes. They need to start winning tournaments and I just don’t see how that happens with Zeus and Edward in the same lineup. The guy can only do so much.

DeKay: They never wanted to change orgs, they just explored other options because Astralis/RFRSH had not yet offered them new contracts. They have since re-signed.

DeKay: I think on a good day, it can be quite beneficial. If nitr0 is feeling good with the AWP, he will contribute heavily with it but also be lethal on lower buys because he is an exceptional rifler. That said, on a bad day it will hamper them because it limits their options. Throwing the big green gun to the next man up isn’t guaranteed to work and might even exacerbate issues on CT side without that stable AWPer in place. It’s a high risk, high reward system.

DeKay: Strength: Intuitive and endlessly enjoyable. Even your grandma can tell who is winning and who is losing in Counter-Strike. CS:GO will always be enjoyable to watch at the highest level. Who gets tired of watching deagle aces or 1-v-3 clutches to force overtime? No one.

Weakness: Lack of proper scheduling and developer communication. Dust2 just got ​randomly re-added last week for no rhyme or reason when it should have been added the day after the Boston Major. Panorama UI was supposed to get implemented in 2017 (we only even knew this from a random Reddit comment from Valve) and we are nearly five months into 2018 with no ETA. Players have to play endless amounts of online Counter-Strike before, after, and even during other offline events. The list goes on and on.

DeKay: It’s a large combination of reasons. My work exists in an environment in which people aren’t held accountable because it’s so easy to hide behind an online alias. This makes the vocal minority feel more confident criticizing something they don’t understand. Additionally, investigative journalism is a foreign concept to most people. In their eyes, I’m just spoiling every roster move and not actually providing anything to the community. They ignore or are oblivious to the other work I do that exposes wrongdoing, corruption, and the twisting of narratives.

I’ve learned not to pay much attention to it though, because those people are microscopic in comparison to the total amount of people consuming my content on a regular basis and enjoying it. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t like it if everyone loved me or my work. That shit would be boring. 

Photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack