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Interview with mastercyb, the present U-20 Hattrick

World Champion
November, the 3rd 2008

Hi, mate.

First of all thank you for your availability and the opportunity you give us to
learn more about mastercyb.

Hi all, I've always been quite close to the Portuguese community,


as I have been constantly talking to Sunfire(your u20 coach for 3
times now). And thank you too for deciding to talk to me:).

1) Can you tell us who the person behind mastercyb is? Where do you
live and what do you do in real life?

My name is Dragos, I am 27 years old, married. At the moment I


live in United States, and I am a PhD student in mathematics.
Hopefully, I will end up having an academic career, but we'll
see what happens in the future.

2) Although you had become known by the HT’ world community after
the conquest of the U-20’ World Cup, you already have a long way in
this game as you started in April 2003. How did you get in the game?
Somebody convinced you?

In April 2003 I was a college student in Bucharest. I had plenty


of time online, and was unsatisfied with the games that I was
playing(CM), because it's not that fun to play against
computers. At some point you do understand how they work,
and then you can win whatever you want. But what is the
satisfaction of doing that?

Therefore, when in April I saw a link in a sports newspaper to


hattrick, I immediately signed up, excited to finally be able to
compete against other people. So, I didn't need much
convincing, all it took was a link in the Romanian sports
magazine:).

3) How was your team’s start? Did you managed to understand the
game in a short period (did you have a mentor?) or you just got used
to it with time?

At the beginning I was training with intensity lower than


40%(and of course general or stamina), as I read in the rules
that lower training intensity decreases the chances of a
player getting injured. And I didn't want my weak players to
get injured:)).
At the same time I was writing a lot of htmails to the best
users in Romania, trying to find out as many things as
possible about the game. When I realised that in order to
progress you need to train well, I decided to go for
goalkeeping, as it really is the best training as far as learning
the game and developing your team is concerned. With this
training I was able to quickly promote to the IV'th
division(1season in VI, 3 seasons in a very difficult V series).

Then in the IV'th division, even though my team was still


evolving I was having a lot of troubles against much better
teams which better financial situation. Therefore, a good
friend convinced me that I should start a more profitable
training, as this is the only way of achieving my dream of
reaching the top division(he knew I was dreaming like that,
he knew I was obsessed with tactics, but he also knew that I
was a disaster at making money, at buying and selling
players, etc:). Anyway, after two seasons in the IV'th division,
I decided to go for defending, bought 10 defenders and
trained them as well as I could. After 4 seasons my team was
already much better, and I was starting to think about the
promotion which at some point I didn't think it was possible.
Finally, the training cycle was over and I decided to attack
promotion, even though I didn't have the best team in the
series, nor the highest salaries(actually I have never been in
the situation to have the best players). I didn't have patience
to build an unbeatable team, because I was in ht only for the
tactical side of it, so once I smelled blood(i.e. chances of
promotion) I went for it:).

4) On the period between November 2006 and June 2007 you won
straight your series, on seasons 18th, 19th and 20th, and reached the
Divizia A. This was a golden period for your team but after it you
seemed to have slow down. Any special reason for that?

The period was certainly a great one for the club team,
especially as I managed something that nobody really
thought I would be able to do. Anyway, the true is when I
reached Divizia A, my team was not good enough to play
there and I didn't have a very good financial situation(I
needed a new plan but no friend to help me and save me this
time with his advice:D). Moreover, when I got to the Romanian
first division, I was starting my first season as U20 coach, and
the time spent for the club team was decreasing more and
more. Anyway, I did everything possible to not relegate from
Div A, and I almost did it with a way weaker team than my
opponents. At the qualifying game, my opponent bought
some huge players, he had salaries two times bigger than
mine, so even though I gave him a great tactical battle, he
was able to win in extra time and relegate me. I still regret
not trying to buy at least one midfielder, which could have
saved my place in the first division.

Anyway, after relegating, I sold almost all my team(as expected,


with very low prices) and started buying other
players(younger, etc). It was the biggest mistake that I ever
did in hattrick, as it weakened my team a lot. Moreover, I
didn't have time to think a plan to rebuild my team so
basically the next 3 seasons I struggled in the II'nd division,
without really training anything and with little time to think
about my club team. It really was a miracle that I didn't
relegate, all the seasons had some amazing finishes which
somehow saved me:). Now, that my adventure with U20 is
over, I decided to start training again(as the club team is also
not very exciting now after coaching a nt time for so long),
and maybe in the future I will have a team good enough to
win the first league.

But to answer your question more specifically, I would not say I


have slowed down. As I told you I only play ht for the tactical
side of it. So given the fact that I had an amazing season in
Divizia A, and then 3 great seasons in II(with a team with very
low salaries and weak compared to my opponents), I can be
quite satisfied with my overall performance, tactically the
challenges have been great and I managed to play well
against them.

Now it's time to train again, especially in a moment when I don't


have much time for ht, as I have a PhD to finish. That's why
now I'll probably relegate, the team isn't strong enough for
the III'rd division, so it's not a surprise that this season is a
disastrous one for me. I hope that I will make up for the many
economical mistakes that I made while being an U20 coach,
and at some point I'll have a decent team again(I don't really
want to create a monster team as it would be no fun to win
the first league with clearly the best team in the competition.

5) Why did you decide to become the U-20 national coach? Was that an
intention which was already in your mind or a number of special
factors made you move forward in that intention?
Becoming U20 national coach was my biggest dream since I
started understanding hattrick. U20 World Cup is really my
favourite competition in ht, because there are so many good
teams, and even the weak one aren't weak enough to not
have to worry about them. Once I got the chance to run for
U20, and I felt I can win an election, I went for it as I wanted
to try the ultimate challenge in hattrick, coaching an U20
team and trying to win the gold medal. During my first run as
U20 coach, I was eliminated in a group with Italy, England and
Norway. I was very dissappointed, but my team was weaker
than all the opponents, we had lower experience(which is
important at the u20 level) and very poor specialties.
Therefore, even though I tried everything, the opponents
were too strong, I was too unlucky(with forms and game
engine), too unexperienced, so I had to accept my loss.
However, I ran for the second time, as I knew all the
combination of bad luck cannot come together again, and
even though we had a really really poor generation, I felt I
can achieve something great with it.

6) Your U-20 staff was carefully selected and/or did you take in
consideration any relevant criteria?

In my first term, I had a carefully selected team which


couldn't continue for the second one. Therefore, in the second
term, I made a team made according to requirements. I knew
which people I was going to talk about tactical stuff, I knew
which people would help me with following the opponents,
scouting the players, etc..So this second time, it wasn't a
small team, but in fact I involved the community more, I let
more people help me with everything while I just focussed on
the tactical preparation of games, training plans and squad
decisions.

7) Before the U-20 World Cup (Finland) qualifications what were your
expectations? Did you really have the intention in becoming world
champion or even winning a medal?

Yes, I was dreaming and hoping I can win a medal, but I


knew(and still know) that in order to do that you also need
some luck along with great tactical decisions all the way.
Before qualification, I was just trying to get to the world
cup(as I had a difficult group); if you want to win a medal, you
first have to be among the participants:D. But really, my goal,
and my dream has always been the medal.
8) Romania started the Qualifications with a 1-0 defeat in Lebanon and
also had drawbacks on match 4 against Liechtenstein and on # 5
versus Austria. By this point were you still confident? Later you
played home against Austria, in a decisive match, and won 3-1. How
was this important match prepared?

Wow, that was an amazing campaign, at some point I wasn't


really convinced I can make it, but as I always do, I played as
well as I could 'till the end, hoping miracles will happen(and
they did:D). The game against Lebanon was a memorable one,
it was the most embarassing loss in the history of Romania
and in my ht history. However, that loss motivated me even
more, as these are the kinds of games that make me love ht
and not a computer game(even a weak team can take
advantage of your overconfidence, carelessness and create
big surprises). I can certainly say that it was my game to lose,
I gave Lebanon a chance of winning which they happily took:).
Then there came the game against Liechtenstein where
Romania was quite unlucky, but also I didn't play as well as I
should have. The game against Austria had a different story
to it, I knew that if I lose I have to win all the 9 remaining
games to just stand a chance. Therefore, I decided to pic, in
order to at least have good chances of winning everything
there after. I still believe we deserved at least a draw, but the
red card we received at the beginning of the match was
probably more important than I would have liked it to be. I
pic'ed, I lost and now I had 9 extremely difficult games to win
and I knew any more lost points would mean elimination.

I really think the most important game of that season was the
one against Macedonia(away), where we won 3-2. We couldn't
affort to mots, we were playing away, Macedonia was
eliminated at that point but decided to mots us. The score
was 2-2 in the 68'th minute and Romania was 22 minutes
from elimination...I think that game was the one that I lived
to the maximum, at 0-1 and 2-2 I was really seing my dream
destroyed by another bad luck game...

Then the “final” of that first season was the game against
Austria, that needed just a draw to qualify. We had to win but
we had home field advantage, ts advantage and an amazing
confidence. I'm not doing math for nothing, so I just decided
to maximize my chances of scoring in the best way possible
and that was attacking on all 3 sides, having better
specialities, a sp taker and a midfield decent enough. And
luckily, I did enough to get the win and basically assure
qualification. Anyway, I feel the need to repeat myself, this
match against Austria was made easier by two other factors:
the pic in the first away game to Austria(which made us
competitive for the rest of the competition and also helped
me build ts and confidence), and the win against a home
motsing Macedonia. Somehow, after the loss against
Austria(away), I felt and I knew that if I get the chance to play
the qualification against them at my home, I will be in a
better position than them(even though they needed just a
draw from that game). Of course, I was extremely nervous
when the score was 1-1, but the idea is that the preparation
of the game itself was easier, as I knew what I want to play
and how I want to try and win this game. Of course, at 20:00
ht time, the coach's job is done, and all we can do is watch
the game and hope the game engine is nice to us:).

9) After the previous difficulties you had a more relaxed qualification on


Round II but on Round III you faced Spain and Hungary. These were
two very exciting matches only decided at the very end. Versus
Spain, Romania suffered the 1-2 at the 78th minute and scored
immediately upon (79th minute). Against Hungary, and although you
won 2-1, the match was draw 10 minutes before ending, and you
knew that a goal from your opponent would give them the
qualification. What was the match in which you suffered the most?

The game against Hungary(and the final of course) was really


the most difficult game to watch. But first, let's see what
happened against Spain. Indeed, they scored in the 78th
minute, but we had the experience event working for us, so it
was really a surprise we didn't end up winning the game(the
event came at 1-1). But I must admit, overall 2-2 was the fair
result, I didn't play the best tactic possible, as I admit being a
little bit afraid of the biggest country in ht and of the fact
that we always lost to Spain in offical games:). I should have
been more aggressive, but it doesn't matter now. Anyway,
this is the only game which I didn't watch live(all of it) as in
the second half I attended a talk:P.

Then the game against Hungary was an amazing game, I


knew they would mots(wow, we really had a lot of mots'es
against us). However I knew their confidence was really poor,
so I played accordingly: good defence and midfield and one
side attack which I hoped would guarantee us at least the
draw we needed. We won, but indeed at 1-1 I was imagining
again they would score and my dream would be over(even
though I knew we played well tactically and deserve the
win/draw)...Anyway, this game was really the most painful to
follow, somehow it was the match where I felt most nervous
during it.

10)On round 4, with 2 easy victories and a draw, your matches were
more relaxed. Did you took that chance to definitely improve your TS,
with PIC all the way or you played normal against Deutschland to in
order to avoid Spain on the semi-final?

I pic'ed against Argentina as my goal at that point is to go all


the way. Moreover, I knew that if I lose with pic, then I have
two more matches to use the ts and try to qualify to the
semifinals. Fortunately we won quite comfortably against
Argentina, and we also pic'ed:D. Then came the game against
Croatia, which again I expected to mots(and they did mots
us). Therefore, I decided to go for normal here, trying to
assure qualification from the second match. Everything went
perfect, so the game against Germany was just a formality for
us, I did try to win it but at the same time the defensive
approach which I had to take didn't help too much. I was
thinking about losing to Germany to avoid Spain, but then the
strongest team in the competition was Italy and I preffered to
play them in the semifinal than in the final:D. Moreover, I
cannot play for a loss, so I just played as well as I could
against Germany, not caring about the other group:).

11)On the semi-final you were again brilliant guessing correctly the right
wings both on defense and attack. On this match you again
confirmed your tendency to play 3-5-2. Do you think 3-5-2 keeps
being the better option in hattrick?

We all know 3-5-2 has the best balance between defence,


midfield and attack and even though sometimes it's useful to
play all offensive or all defensive, generally a balanced lineup
gives you better chances to succeed. Indeed, 352 seems to be
a good option almost always, but for example, even though I
mostly played 3-5-2, I used all 3 of my coaches to the
maximum(5games with defensive coach, 3with neutrual and 3
with offensive). When I prepare a game I try to choose the
lineup which takes advantage best of my players and of what
I think my opponent will play, and then I decide how to
arrange the players..Of course 352 almost always is a
formation to consider, but there is so many ways in which you
can play the 3-5-2 that it's not fair to just say 352 rullz:D. For
example, during the world cup only once I played the same
type of 3-5-2, all the games had a different setup and tactical
idea behind it.
12)The final was a match to remember. With uncertainty until minute 83,
when Spain equalized 3-3, you had an outstanding final period,
scoring 3 goals more. Tell us, as near as possible to reality, how you
lived those intensive moments and celebrated the goals.

First of all, the preparation of this game was unbelievably


difficult. Probabilistically the formation that I had to choose
was the all offensive that I finally used. However, everybody
knows that I am a more defensive minded coach(though my
real quality would probably be neutral), so even though I
thought about this tactic since Friday night, I needed two
days to convince myself that I will play it. My other option
was a strategy similar to the one against Hungary, but that
would have been wrong. I had to use my sp taker, confidence
and specialities. Moreover, after losing with defensive
tactics(two seasons ago), I wanted to finish this world cup
campaing on attack, especially as this tactic was the one that
showed our strength to the maximum.

Then the games was quite crazy too. Spain lead by 1-0 and
(as I don't like all offensive) I was really thinking they would
trash us:). Then we scored two and I was starting to hope.
However when their next two goals were scored on special
goal events(which we were dominating) I was thinking the
game engine is really bad to us.......My wife came home at
halftimebut she didn't really follow the game...Well, up to the
83rd minute, when she saw me all red and very nervous...She
joined me, asked what happens and saw these are the last
few minutes of my adventure and everything can happen.
Luckily, the moment she started cheering for me, we started
winning, and then the experience event and the last 2 goals
sealed the win for us.

13)After this achievement with the Finland U-20 World Cup what shall we
expect from you on the times to come?

Well, I hope my PhD is the next big thing coming out for me:).
As far as hattrick is concerned, as I told you earlier, I'm
starting to rebuild my team, even though I have to admit I
don't really care about it too much. I feel the club
competitions are more financial than tactical, and that makes
me distance myself to creating big goals for the club team(I
don't like the idea of spending too much time on economical
sides of the game, especially as I have quite a busy real
life:D). And I really play ht just for the tactical side, it's
enough that I have to make money in real life(I'm bad at it
too:D) to not have to do it in ht:).
So the real answer is that the moment I'll have time again to
play ht seriously, I'll run again for a national team, most likely
an U20 team as this is the place where I feel the tactical
aspect of the game is the most important.

14)Do you have the intention to try the Romanian A National Team in a
near future?

I'm thinking about it, but at the moment I will not run for
anything. And when I'll get back to playing the game, I will be
tempted more by an U20 team...However, the idea of trying to
win a gold medal for the national team is also a tempting one,
so you never know what will happen:D.

Thank you for your time, mate.

Noroc