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Minnesota Rokkr: An Interview with Head Coach Brian “Saintt” Baroska

Minnesota Rokkr

The Minnesota Rokkr have one of the best teams in the CDL thanks to a strong roster. Leading that roster is their head coach, Brian “Saintt” Baroska, a veteran Call of Duty pro. Interestingly enough, he got his start with Gears of War before hopping over to Call of Duty. And not only is he the coach, but he’s also the general manager, doing some double duty.

Only retiring and becoming a coach in 2018, he has quickly gained experience, being with three teams. He spent time with eUnited and Midnight Esports before heading to the Rokkr. He now has already risen as one of the best coaches in the CDL’s inaugural season. They have surpassed their expectations going into the season.

While the Rokkr have yet to win a home series, they have still shown to be a strong team. They have constantly stayed within the top five of the CDL power rankings since Launch Weekend. Now, in an off-weekend, the Rokkr look to bounce back in their own home series next month. The Game Haus had a chance to talk to Baroska about life as a coach, the team’s success, and his top three Call of Duty games among other things.

TGH thanks him for his time.

Colin Mieczkowski: You guys are having a great season. How does it feel to be the head coach of one of the best teams in the CDL?

Brian Baroska: It feels really good. After a really disappointing latter half of the year for myself last season, it’s great to be back in title contention. Not to mention the group of players and staff I get to work with on a daily basis, they make it even better.

Minnesota Rokkr

Rokkr Head Coach Brian “Saintt” Baroska. Image courtesy of the Minnesota Rokkr.

CM: You’ve played and have been a coach. When you first became a coach, what was the transition like going from player to coach?

BB: It was a bit of a slow transition for me, but it’s never easy to make that decision to stop competing. I was in a position where it was overwhelming to balance competing and going to college full time, and I inevitably ended up having to choose the latter of the two. I still miss competing every day as I’m a very competitive person, but coaching still brings back that feeling — albeit a bit different and more rewarding in certain aspects.

CM: What’s the work routine like for you as Rokkr coach?

BB: A standard day for me consists of getting to our practice facility around 11:45 CST, going over film with the team until 1 CST, generally having practice from 1-6 and then I’m trying to get into a rhythm of reading/working out/watching streams of other teams when I get home. Although, it has been a bit hard for me personally to find the motivation to stay fit with the gyms being closed due to the COVID pandemic.

CM: How important is it to have good communication between yourself and the players in practices leading into gameday?

BB: Communication is paramount to this team. Making sure our communication is concise and that we’re all on the same page is what we stress the most before matches. When the team is communicating well, you’ll see them playing with more synergy on the map, which is what wins most games on the top level, especially with the level of talent most of these teams have.

CM: GodRx has been putting up MVP numbers this year. Many fans are even calling him “GoatRx”. What has it been like coaching him?

BB: GodRx is fairly easy to work with. He’s someone I used to play with back when I was competing, so I’ve known him for quite some time. It’s amazing seeing him finally reach the potential I’ve known he was capable of.

Adam “GodRx” Brown. Image courtesy of the Minnesota Rokkr

CM: Have you had a chance to follow Exceed and TTinyy’s (Rokkr substitutes) progress in the CDL Challengers? If so, how do you think they’ve done with Rebel Esports so far?

BB: I’ve actually been following them quite a bit. They’ve had a lot of instability with their rosters this season, which hasn’t helped them. Being a bit hands-on with them recently has helped me figure out what a lot of their challenges are and I hope they can continue to make strides throughout the rest of the season.

CM: Is it true that you’re an avid snowboarder? If so, how are those skills these days? And what other things do you enjoy doing?

BB: That’s not as true these days, unfortunately (laughs). A slew of injuries and the Call of Duty schedule over the past few years has kept me off the slopes a bit. However, I’d like to dust off my board and get out west to Colorado or Utah sometime next winter!

CM: What do you love most about Call of Duty?

BB: The community. I’ve been involved in the competitive Call of Duty scene pretty much since its inception and the friendships and connections I’ve made are what I value the most.

CM: What are your top 3 Call of Duty games of all-time?

BB: These are pretty easy picks. #1 will always be Black Ops 2. I personally didn’t get to compete in the game much due to school, but it is easily the most competitive game in the series. My personal #2 is MW3 as it was the game I was playing my best — I feel like that was when I really made a name for myself. #3 is going to be Black Ops 3. I had a bunch of fun playing Search and Destroy in that game and it was good to watch competitively.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 cover art. Image via The Escapist Magazine

CM: Finally, what do you think has been the biggest highlight for you and your team this year whether it’s on or off the stage? 

BB: The biggest highlight for the team this year had to be our grand finals appearance in LA. That was the first grand finals for Asim, GodRx, and Alexx. Even though we have been in a bit of a rough patch these past three weeks, we’re always able to look back on that last LAN event and know that we’re able to win a championship. I also have to give a nod to the opening weekend here in Minneapolis that kicked off the season. Going 2-0 there and seeing how many fans came out to support us was a surreal feeling.

Colin Mieczkowski covers the Minnesota Rokkr and Call of Duty for The Game Haus! He can be followed on Twitter @GhostPandaColin! Also, make sure to follow TGH @TGHEsports for the latest and greatest from the Call of Duty League! 

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