Interview with 30P Gaming

Andrew Holt-Kentwell speaks to the recently formed Swedish side 30P Gaming ahead of their first tournament as a team – on home soil no less – which will take place in March.

After a decent performance by Blight Gaming at DSRack #3 in Copenhagen earlier this year the announcement of 30P’s new Counter-Strike source team might’ve have come as a surprise to some. Clearly the chemistry in the team drove the Swedes far in the tournament, spurred on by the hilarious cheers and jeers of Christoffer “Helblinde” Nilsson across the row of BENQ computers.

Adastra, Berlin Allianz and Vitriolic flavour the background and experience of this new 30P roster, sprinkled with a generous helping of new and upcoming talent.


Friberg and Helblinde at DSRack #3, Copenhagen.

Now living in Dublin, Ireland together – save for Oscar ‘XperteN’ Westling who remains in Sweden – the guys sat down together for this interview to talk about the importance of team chemistry and the outlook for 2011.

So guys, thanks for taking the time to speak to Cadred. First up, where are you guys doing this interview from?

Well we are actually hiring a house in Ireland right now, mainly because Fifflaren decided it would be a good idea to force everyone to come over. Me and haunted just arrived today after the worst travelling experience ever. Also we didn’t even receive our luggage yet. Anyways it’s good to be here with everyone and we are all looking forward to starting the new year with a bang.

Some of the most reputable and best funded organisations offer a similar setup for their teams – how advantageous do you think it is to be sharing a house as a CS:S team?

Fifflaren:

I think it’s a good opportunity, because it’s much easier to communicate and go through things together. Surely the team chemistry will improve as well! Another thing that’s good is that we can abuse friberg in real life, and teach him how to play on LAN.

Helblinde:

I fully agree, doing this will also add some extra motivation to the team that I’m sure we will need. We are all old as the street after all.

Friberg:

I think it will be a valuable experience for me to play with so experienced players, especially Helblinde. He is really good with the AWP!!

Player chemistry is obviously key to a successful team and I thought at DSRack the spirit some of you guys showed as part of the Blight lineup took you a long way. Just how essential is that team spirit for you guys as a Swedish lineup going into the 30P LAN in March?

Helblinde:

team spirit for me is personally one of the most important factors. I haven’t really enjoyed the game at all for the last year or so, and I’m only still playing because of these guys. We are all good friends in general so I will be looking foward to competing with these guys.

Friberg joins Xperten for some shoutcasting at DSRack #3, Copenhagen.

Haunted:

It is very good that we are this close to each other, because then it will be easy to tackle difficult situations that can occur on lan. If someone gets sad we know how to cheer him up, and if someone gets mad, it’s not that bad.

How do you feel that team chemistry has developed in the actual game? Are you seeing positive results?

Haunted:

We all know that we are really bad online, and it’s a different ball game on LAN. We tend to get “the pitt” as we call it in swedish, but as long as we do the rounds correctly we are all in good spirits.

Helblinde:

As Ted said, winning online rarely happens to us. I remember back in vitriolic when we boot camped before TeX and lost every single game we played before the lan, we even thought we were gonna go out in the groups. Not all that surprisingly teams that have beaten us online with 26-4 went out early in the tourney.

Fifflaren:

But yeah going back to the original question, we are seeing good results thanks to our chemistry. I’m sure they will be even better when the time comes to compete offline.

What is it that still drives you guys to compete in this game at this level – on an individual level, and a team level? Helblinde mentioned he’s only still playing for that team spirit, but what really connects you with this game?

All:

The passion to compete, it’s just that simple. If we were good at something else I’m sure we would have tried to compete in that instead, but unfortunately we suck at everything else. It’s still fun to attend events and meet all the players, play close games (and win) and all the stuff that’s related. That’s why we all still play the game.

Fifflaren playing for Berlin Allianz, CGS Season 1.

2010 was seen by many as a revival year for CS:S and most of you have been around Source longer than the average person – do you think that’s a load of bullshit or do you really see things getting brighter for the game?

Helblinde:

Personally I’m very happy that more and more events are starting to pop up, if it keeps up we might even see teams like the previous reason-gaming coming back (and who wouldn’t want that?) The actual scene though is still acting like a bunch of 12 year olds, crying over such a thing as a removed map. It was a disgrace to read.

Friberg:

More and more lans, including teams from all around the world traveling to these events. It’s a good thing, and hopefully we will see bigger events picking up source during 2011.


And on that note: rumours are starting to appear stating IEM 2011 and beyond could see CS:S featured. Can you put into words what exactly that would mean for the scene, and how it would have to react?

All:

It would elevate CSS to something completely dfferent, it would be able to compete with 1.6 when it comes to being picked for huge events. This would attract more players, and the community would grow stronger. The scene itself will be forced to stop living in the past, and push forward instead. If this happened I’m sure we would be more motivated to play, and could possibly reach a higher level.

Friberg: on several occasions you’ve been referred to as the Swedish “up-and-comer” in the game. How easy have you found it to slot into this lineup of individuals particularly, and how easy do you think it is to break into the game nowdays?

Friberg:

It is much easier to play with people that you bond with in real life, it also adds to the fun factor even outside of the game. To break into the game you need to be able to do many things, not just aim and make headshots. Lan experience is very valuable and also playing with players who can actually teach you something. Just playing online won’t make you good enough to play in a good team.

Christoffer “Helblinde” Nilsson playing for the Swedish giants Vitriolic.

What goes up must come down. What in your eyes is the key to toppling such a dominant team like Verygames?

All:

Playing enough, it’s all about that really. They spend alot of time doing things that no other teams care to do, that’s why they are the best, and that’s why they will keep winning until someone decides that they want to change things around.

I’m sure you guys have been following the TTL (Time Travel LAN) – were you surprised to see Volt Gaming there and not a team like Vitriolic?

Helblinde:

I would have put Adastra there instead really, they did so much to the scene back in the days that I missed. Vitriolic only lasted for 2 events so, not much to go with there really.

Who’s gonna win it, Salvo or VG 2008?

All:

It’s hard to say considering they were two different teams from different times, back then it would be even, but today? VG would win it.

(Friberg is nodding furiously)

Finally, are you guys bringing sexy Counter-Strike back to Sweden?

Not only that, we will bring sexy wrestling as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFZX2YAVhgc

Guys, thank you kindly for joining me tonight and taking the time to answer some questions. Any last words?

We would like to thank 30P and all of our sponsors for the support, de_train is a great map, and Ireland is such a weird country. See you on the battlefield boys!

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Written for Cadred.org

White-Ra, Duckload: Already at a beta stage test Starcraft 2 had caused to itself a great interest. Many high-grade games can envy such popularity. I think SC2 is the new engine of all cybersport for the future.

In recent weeks the popularity of Starcraft 2 has probably escaped few of us, exploding with absolutely brutal energy into electronic sports. True, hype for the game has been long in the making and the beta provided a fairly solid outlook of where the game was headed, but the sheer scale on which Starcraft 2 has galvanised is admirable.


Starcraft 2 Winners at Global Challenge Gamescom.

Players, organisations, Blizzard and Korea are the ones to thank, and I’ll tell you why.

I could spend several paragraphs explaining which infamous leagues, websites, LANs and organisations are endorsing the game with open arms in order to explain just how popular this game has become competitively. It’s actually easier to tell you that Starcraft 2 features in nearly all of them and will soon dominate those it hasn’t already.

So why has the game become so popular? Obviously its predecessor carries some weight for Blizzard in sales but to me there are several factors involved.

For the game to have exploded so successfully on a competitive scale there were certain conditions it had to meet. Blizzard had to deliver the intricate yet enjoyable gameplay that makes the game so competitive in the first place, and to do it well. This was probably the most crucial of the factors involved. You could have all the people in the world waiting for game release but if the game itself wasn’t worth playing, you’re left with nothing.

Blizzard are masters of their domain. Whether you or I think World of Warcraft is the most nerdy thing ever to have touched the earth’s surface, it’s a multi-award winning game played by millions of people across the globe because they made the game properly and they marketed the game properly. The same obviously goes for Starcraft and Starcraft: Brood War.

It’s probably a bit unfair to compare the two but when Battlefield Bad Company 2 was released for Beta, people were genuinely flabbergasted by the unfinished form the game took, even at full release. At the same time, S2 Games had released Heroes of Newerth for what seemed like an eternal Beta period, but what they ran in Beta (the very same as Blizzard did for Starcraft 2) felt like something we could love and cherish immediately. In game Betas, one of two things happens:


Protoss vs Terran battle, courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

1) People endlessly whine and complain about how unfinished the game is and threaten to cancel their pre-orders. The level-heads whine and complain at the whiners and complainers, reminding them it’s only a Beta.

2) People wet their pants at how the game has lived up to their expectations and get all excited about the competitive future for the game. They play the beta religiously so they can prepare themselves for full release.

Blizzard don’t fall into the first category and probably never will. Blizzard know what their fans want, and more often than not they don’t announce a release date until they know for sure that polished, near-finished look in Beta can be achieved. When Diablo 3 is released, you’ll see what I mean.

Fan fiction or fan art may or may not be a term our readers are familiar with but more often than not it symbolises an almost cult-like following of a particular game, book or television series. I thought it would be interesting for our readers to have a little insight to some of the fan work that’s out there for Starcraft 2 to give people a real taste of the following the game has besides in esports and the public domain.


Fan Art from Blizzard.com; Author Anonymous

Fan fiction is in particular a way for people’s creative flare to run wild by using the detailed and intricate world created by Blizzard, in this case, to develop even more detailed stories or poems for other like-minded people. People enjoy immersing themselves so thoroughly in the game world, much as World of Warcraft might draw people in with its story arcs, and so fans of these games are free to create their own stories. Here’s an extract from a story called, “Parralax” by Mirari1:

The first inkling Captain Melissa “Stubs” Rhodes had that this day was about to go very sour was the metallic chime in her ear.

“Aw, hell,” she muttered, eyes flicking to the icon in the corner of her banshee’s HUD – blinking an ominous red now – that monitored her cloaking device’s power level. Ten minute warning…they’d already obliterated the air defenses of this particular Tal’darim outpost, but, like most banshee pilots, Stubs always got a little jumpy in plain sight.

“Getting low on juice here, sir,” she said, punching in the com signal for Banner, her squadron leader. She knew he could see the state of her batteries – as well as those of the rest of their squad mates – on his own display, but a little pointed “reminding” never hurt.

“I know, Stubs, trust me,” he replied. “Fritzy’s been bitching for ten minutes now.”

She snorted. Fritzy hoarded his power supply in much the same way as the Kel-Morian Combine hoarded mineral rights. He’d even – unbeknownst to Swann, who probably would’ve stuffed him headfirst into one of his own lift turbines – hooked up an extra generator he’d filched from a busted wraith to his cloaking rig as a backup. The additional weight threw off the handling of his ship and the power load blew out his capacitors more often than not, but he claimed it made him feel “safer.” Safer. Right.

Sure, the creation of your own stories in fantastical worlds created by computer designers may seem geeky, but the very act and following of fan fiction for Starcraft 2 gives you a real sense of its popularity worldwide and the lengths people are willing to go to in order to immerse themselves or affiliate themselves with the game and its brand.

In many ways, Blizzard are particularly lucky in that electronic sports has been suffering from a lack of high calibre competitive games and people have been somewhat disenchanted since Modern Warfailure 2. We’ve all played our respective games for years but most of the time find ourselves trying to reach the top or look for something new and different. By the time you reach the top you have the best view of the dying game you’re playing and realise just how little there is out there to get stuck into. This has changed now Starcraft 2 is on the scene.

Do many of us at Cadred see the game as a saving grace for electronic sports? What appeal does the game have to the average player? Why is the game so immediately popular? Some of these questions are easier to answer than others and some can’t be answered without being packed full of opinion.

So how is Starcraft 2 appealing to the average player? Well for a start as football fans appreciate watching football and tennis fans appreciate watching tennis, Starcraft 2 fans appreciate watching Starcraft 2. ESL provides at the very least 5 community match streams for each nightly cup it holds, whether it be Go4SC2 or a Gold/Platinum Cup. Demos uploaded by the pros of their mammoth clashes in various finals or ladder matches at ESL have never been easier to download and watch with the SC2 interface. The interface itself is packed with a variety of options for slowing down the game, offering different game perspectives and showing the all important build orders.

In addition to this you have the Youtube channels created by Day[9], Husky and several others which seek to help new or developing players to improve their game. There are other forms of this for other games such as Juansource or NetcodeIlluminati but nothing as easily digestible and directly applicable as those on the scene at the moment for Starcraft 2.


Apollo and Day[9] Shoutcasting at Global Challenge Gamescom.

The game’s interface itself nurtures playability. Ladder matches are so simple to participate in and creating custom matches with other players is also piss easy. Furthermore, playing vs the AI gives players a decent opportunity to try out their new builds or their own tactics in preparation for league or ladder matches.

So in short, the game has such a following already – thanks partly to its predecessor – that following your favourite players or trying to replicate their strategies has never been easier. Being able to watch those epic finals live on stream or with commentary afterwards gives fans that buzz and the fleck of hope that they too will be a hero of the Koprulu sector one day.

Starcraft has been called the national sport of Korea, and not surprisingly. The heights to which the game has climbed there is probably fairly hard for many of us Europeans to grasp. In many ways, they set the bar for the competitive scene in Starcraft and whatever the Koreans do, the rest of us wish for competitively.

Because of the following the game has in Asia, you have this niggling feeling that a company like Blizzard cater almost entirely to that audience. I can’t explain why exactly, just that because the original game was so staggeringly popular there – spanning into everyday life and becoming as visible as the “WeBuyAnyCar.Com” or your regular toothbrush advert – Blizzard would be mad not to make a sequel just for them.


Memegenerator.net

The sheer calibre of player produced through the institutions of competitive gaming in Korea are mind-blowing and they, more often than not, are the players to beat. That said, it’s a relatively short period of time before players from across the rest of the world aspire, improve and win. Setting the standard is a sure way of nurturing further competition further down the line.

I hope that in a relatively short article I’ve been able to provide an insight into the cult that is Starcraft 2 for those who are not in the know. I for one admire the game because of the massive success it has already achieved and I will enjoy watching it develop as one of the world’s most entertaining and popular esports games immensely.

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Review: Razer Imperator

Price:

€79.99

$79.99

Specifications:

  • Ergonomic right-handed design
  • Adjustable side buttons
  • 5600dpi 3.5G Laser sensor
  • Razer Synapse™ On-board Memory
  • Up to 200 inches per second/ 50g acceleration
  • Seven independently programmable Hyperesponse™ buttons
  • 1000Hz Ultrapolling™ / 1ms response rate
  • On-The-Fly Sensitivity™ adjustment
  • Zero-acoustic Ultraslick™ Teflon®feet
  • Approximate size: 123mm(L) x 71mm(W) x 42mm(H)

Included in the Box:

  • Quick start guide
  • Master guideMac and PC
  • Product catalogue
  • Razer certificate of authenticity
  • Razer Imperator information card
  • Razer logo stickers x2 (green)
  • Razer mug coaster

Veridct:

Packed flawlessly into a matte black box, the product catches your attention immediately, putting the worn out older mice from other companies you may have bought to absolute shame. The box is well designed and tucked into the corner are the words, “For gamers, by gamers.” You know that buying a Razer product is so perfectly tailored to your gaming needs – the whole package – that it gives you that excitement other manufacturers just can’t provide. The box that comes with it, the coaster, the stickers, the well-designed manuals, all make the experience of unpacking a Razer mouse special. Having such good presentation does mean, however, it has to live up to expectations. Razer have that one covered though…

Plugging the mouse in illuminates the soft glow of blue neon lights through the scroll wheel and the Razer logo on the back end of the mouse which slowly fades in and out. It’s a damn good looking mouse, frankly: the soft blue glow, the matte black surface and sleek sides give it an almost sinister character of its own.

Coming in at only a little smaller than the Mamba, the mouse signifies a new direction for Razer in its ergonomic design, more reminiscent of the Logitech series than any previous mice you might’ve bought from Razer. Placing your hand on top, moulding it to the mouse, you have an immediate command of all movement and all the buttons in very close proximity. Additionally, Razer has introduced a malleable braided cable to this mouse so you don’t find it disappearing down the back of the desk.

One of the great features of this mouse is undoubtedly the adjustable thumb buttons along the side of the mouse, giving players with all sorts of styles the ability to customise it to their own desires. Additionally, the sensitivity adjustment buttons just behind the scroll wheel give you the option to choose between five different pre-set sensitivity levels on the fly.

The most noticeable feature in just holding this mouse is the grip. Not just in the way the contoured thumb grip cradles your hand, but particularly the matte black plastic which crafts most of the mouse as well, ensuring your fingers aren’t slipping hopelessly as you try those sharper manoeuvres.

After an easy download for drivers from the Razer support site, you’re ready to go. The “Imperator Configurator” programme gives you a wide range of options for customising the mouse to your own personal needs, including macros, the ability to save several profiles and even an option to turn off the lights on your mouse – not that you’d want to.

Jumping into a game of Call of Duty 4 to really put the Imperator’s 5600dpi precision 3.5G laser sensor and 1000Hz polling rate to the test, I immediately set this mouse the insatiable feeling it has to play with apart from other mainstream mice I’ve tried. It’s smooth, deadly precise, and reacts so well to your movement. Mice that are built of this calibre mean you can truly bring out the potential in your game. After a while the mouse feels so synchronised to your style that it makes playing so easy and enjoyable.

In summary, this mouse feels and looks as fantastic as it does on the box. When you look at the Imperator and play with it, you know instantly it has been expertly crafted by Razer for gamers of all styles, and that’s why people buy their peripherals. If you’re looking for a new mouse, I would strongly recommend you buy this one.

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Battlefield 2 Nations Cup 2010

I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity to speak about the Battlefield 2 Nations Cup being held at ESL, since I think its popularity this year has surprised most of us Battlefield fans.

In around April time this year we saw the release of Battlefield Bad Company 2 and hundreds upon thousands of crazy Battlefield and FPS fans flocked to the shops (or Steam) to buy the game in the hope it was the next best thing since sliced bread. It didn’t live up to expectations, unfortunately; a bit like how the Bond girls kinda expect that little bit more commitment from James but, instead, he discards them as quickly as those little bits of tissue you find in your pocket sometimes.

The competitive element to the game was lacking, but, my view is that DICE never intended for it to be a massive competitive game anyway. If they’d wanted to, they could’ve absolutely destroyed the competitive scene with a name game, especially with one so dimensional with the assistance of the Frosbite engine.

I don’t think we should give DICE too much grief on the subject of competitive gaming, considering the recent events. At the end of the day their partnership with EA is a business and their jobs are to make money to feed their children, buy alcohol, go on holiday, cigarettes…whatever. Of course it should piss us off as competitive gamers, but there’s plenty more out there with far better gameplay. Unfortunately, as Lucifer said to me the other say with a sigh in his breath, “I just wish Battlefield 2 had the same reg as Bad Company :(“

So while I was away in the Mediterranean working on a cruise ship I couldn’t help thinking about the Battlefield scene and just what was going on. I know after having a quick glance at the ClanBase ladder from an internet cafe that Relapse were top and only 7 teams remained. It wasn’t the most positive start for the early ideas of a Nations Cup.

Anyway I got back and found out that the Battlefield 2 scene was more or less dead, but with a shit load of individual people still playing it in gathers and dicking around on public. So, with my Danish and Swindonian counterparts, we gathered until the night was young and the birds began to sing outside. We agreed at some point along the line to form a new team which would help the ClanBase ladder get a little active again, trying to encourage those teams out there to reform and have some fun.

Unfortunately, The Onlajners haven’t played a game yet, but I think we still intend to at some point just for a laugh.

I think the idea was conceived for a Nations Cup just randomly asking a few people what the chances were it could happen. Originally, I only planned on inviting 8 teams to join the tournament and Mujka from Unreal suggested we should all play each other once in a group stage, and the four best teams go through to a semi-final.

Anyway before we knew it we had nearly 16 teams which was a shocking thought. It was at this stage I think people started getting excited at just how much of a success it could be. Oh, and obviously, fist33r was there right on cue at the ESL forums with his flame-thrower in hand.

Out of the blue about a week ago, Stoner linked me to the DICE Community Manager’s Twitter page to find Zh1nt0 was tweeting news about the Nations Cup this year…shock! I was admittedly surprised Battlefield 2 was getting any sort of exposure from DICE at this point, especially after what happened with the 1.5 patch. Still, I was happy to see this move made.

I made contact with Zh1nt0 on the Electronic Arts Forums and we proceeded to swap e-mail addresses. Incredibly, he suggested to me that we could offer the finalists of the tournament a place in the DICE office with a live stream and an after party. “Well fuck me”, were my original thoughts, “I can’t believe it.” My main concerns were, however, how to get the players of both teams there. If one team couldn’t pay their way, the finals and therefore the cup would probably be a floundering mess towards the end.

I think this year’s Nations Cup holds a lot of promise for Battlefield fans and gives an opportunity for those still playing the game to get what they can from it. There’s always a certain excitement for people playing competitive games for their country in a tournament like this and it provides a new challenge for the players. DICE have injected a lot of interest into the tournament, as have our friends across the pond with their Battlefield counterparts.

RushZoneTVhttp://rush-zone.com

Serious congratulations have to go to Stoner and the rest of his team for the effort they’ve been putting into the new mod over at RushZone. For even having the crazy idea to mod Battlefield 2, let alone accomplish the things they have, is commendable.

Last year Stoner and his team did what I thought was an incredible job as the Nations Cup live stream partners, and they’ll be doing the same fine job this year I’m sure.

In the past, Stoner and the guys were criticised for their ability to shoutcast by several members of the community, but things have changed so much since that first cast they did nearly two years ago now.

I think the confidence of the RushZone team is going to be high, having done a season of ESL tournaments prior to this one. They have the knowledge of the scene and the belief in their own abilities as shoutcasters to really take it to that next level and make this year’s event a special one. Just recently one of last year’s American lineup commented on how funny he found the streams and quality at the same time, and that he looks forward to hearing from them again this year.

The RushZone Team this year:

  • Stoner: Executive Producer and Shoutcaster
  • iAndrew: Lead Developer and Coder for RushMod
  • Campez: Shoutcaster
  • Hawk: Shoutcaster
  • 2sweet: Shoutcaster


  • One of the other significant turn of events in this year’s tournament will be the return to European shoutcasting of TheSwede who will be making guest appearances on Sunday matches at RushZoneTV with Stoner and the other guys. TheSwede for many represents the old days of Battlefield 2 and is known for his passionate and excitable persona in casting. We all, I’m sure, look forward to hearing him back in action for some Battlefield 2 casts and we’d like to thank him in advance for his support! For those who don’t know him, check out this video:

    For the duration of the tournament I want to use this site as a place for people to offer their opinions on the matches, to comment on the Rushzone mod and hopefully as a place for interviews with various team members participating in the cup. Thanks once again to all the people who have put the effort into helping this NC become what it has already and fingers crossed for a successful tournament!

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    SC2: Interview with mouz|MaNa

    At only the age of 16, https://i2.wp.com/play.fnatic.com/public/img/flags/pl.gif MaNa from Mousesports has faced some of the biggest names in Starcraft across Europe and across the world. Yesterday, MaNa made it to the finals of the ESL Steelseries Go4SC2 Cup and faced WhiteRa, a former Mousesports team member who now plays for Duckload on loan.

    Mousesports.

    I caught up with MaNa after the final to get his insight into the performance and his take on the new Blizzard game so far:

    Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, MaNa. First up, can you tell us a little about yourself and about your Starcraft background?

    No problem, so, my name is Grzegorz Komincz Iam from northern Poland and I am 16  years old (in December 17). I’ve started to play Starcraft since I was a child and I really liked it, after I learned, that good players are famous and earn money by doing it, my brother (fnatic.funkyy) and I started to practice more, to become better players. At the beginning of the 2010 year my team (ESC) joined  to mousesports as a division of Starcraft, after the beta was realised, everyone of us started to play it more than SC1. After playing only Starcraft 2 Beta, we changed our division from SC:BW to Starcraft 2 and atm, we are one of the best SC2 teams in the world. Of course we plan to stay on this position as long as possible.

    How do you feel the game’s (SC2) competitive scene is going in these early stages? Does it have the potential to replace SC1 in people’s memory in terms of competitiveness?

    I think this is awesome at the moment, and I hope it will stay like this, or become better, because there’s so many tournaments to play in SC2 and you can win many money on it. In my opinion SC2 will become much more popular and for sure it will replace SC1. I wonder, how it will be in Korea …?

    Your brother as you mention is in one of the biggest rival organisations to Mousesports – is there much competition between the two of you? Have you ever faced off in a tournament against each other?

    Well, we are brothers, there must be some competition between us but I think there’s more friendship, we are always happy, when one of us win some tournament, or win vs better player, its cool because we can talk about the game and our experience go way faster than lonely players. Yes we did face once in polish league (Terran League) and I won 2-1 but I think we are same skilled, we even met twice in ladder, the score in ladder is 1-1 atm 😀 It’s all about knowledge of opponent, we know each other so much, and we know what we will do in match, that’s why it makes match much harder than vs other opponent

    On Sunday you participated in the ESL Steelseries Go4SC2 Cup and faced WhiteRa in the final. How did it feel playing one of the great names in Starcraft before you started?

    Stress, that’s what I feel always in big tournaments. I faced White-Ra in grand final so I was stressed x2. I’ve played Ra a couple of times in ladder or in other tournaments, but this was the final of Go4SC2 and he played awesome, his Build Orders were great, beautiful played by him. Hope , that I will become better, and I will be able to take a revenge on him^^

    The round which you won against Ra today was a pretty ballsy move! Did you feel you’d just try your luck with nothing to lose, or were you aware of how exposed he was?

    It was already 2-0 for him, game 3 was like ‘who will kill base faster?’ I had nothing to lose, because I know I was going to be defeated anyway so I tryed to do some cheese, unfortunately he did same cheese as me. It was all about micro, but ra did huge mistake, he did three gateways on one pylon, I easily killed this pylon and he wasn’t able to create more army than me, this was the only reason, why I won.

    Are you typically quite an aggressive player against other opponents, or more calm and calculated?

    I am an aggressive player, I can’t stay at main and sit how my opponent is running on the map.  I do want to change my style to be aggressive, but to be calculated also, I want to become perfect player, who doesn’t know, what mistake in game is :).

    I’m sure you don’t want to give too much away, but what tips can you give to those aspiring Protoss players out there?

    Just use Your mind and play, this game is so young, maybe You will be the creator of the best strategy for some matchup ? Really, use your imagination, and practice!

    Which tournaments are you most looking forward to this year online and offline?

    I always try to play every tournament online and offline if it’s possible. Some day, I would like to win monthly Go4SC2 final, and I would like to participate in some invitational tournament I try to make people believe, that I have potential to play and to show some great play. I’m really looking forward to zotac and go4sc2 because they are sure weekly tournaments, and it is always fun to play them

    well thank you very much MaNa for taking the time to speak to us! we hope to see you one day as one of the world’s great SC2 players!

    Thank You too 🙂 I would like to thank everybody who believe in my little gaming skill, I do it for You guys 🙂 and of course thanks for mousesports for letting me become better player!

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    Great Britain?

    Great Britain?

    It’s nearly two years ago to the day that British team Birmingham Salvo brought home $500,000 from the CGS finals in Los Angeles, crowned champions after beating US side San Francisco Optx on home soil. The gaming scene has since seen some turbulent changes, good and bad, but how have British organisations, players and events come off in the world of gaming as a result?

    Birmingham Salvo 2008: Courtesy of TheCGS.com

    In recent times, British players have been left in the wake of dominant European teams to contemplate, “Do we have teams capable of bringing home the dough like Birmingham Salvo did?” They’re right to question this and, in doing so, embark as I did upon a pretty rocky road to find out the truth, a bit like the innocent archaeologist Indiana Jones who sets out on the quest of truth (or for a hot chick) and finds himself in a pit of snakes.

    Donning my khaki hat and vicious whip in hand, I made it my task to speak to some of the top European gamers from across CS, CS:S and CoD4 to try and discover what the real issues were in British gaming, if indeed they were to be found.

    Setting off, I was quite proud to be making a case study of gaming in the UK, a chance – I thought – to get a real insight into the best we have to offer; the cream of the crop. With Multiplay’s Summer LAN drawing close, it gave me inspiration to seek out these issues and in some ways try and solve them. On the bright side, it seemed I was at least following the right path and some questions were being answered. The bad news was that the pit of snakes was getting closer.

    Since 2008 and before, the domestic CS:S and CoD4 scenes have been kept healthy by a variety of individuals – both players and management – whose names are not unknown to fans. They were and still are the elite that drive some of our former and current top teams forward: Crack Clan, Power Gaming, Dignitas, Reason Gaming, Team Coolermaster, Fragmasters, Yoyotech, Imperial and many others. These teams at one point or another have been at the very best in their disciplines and they’re still some of the biggest names in Europe.

    I caught up with some of CS:S’s big names to see if I could get any further insight into the British scene:

    FeTiShMB, Reason Gaming: It’s a strange scene, they got a top team and then that’s about it. All the teams seems to be switching players very often, even with EPS.uk. I haven’t heard of any upcoming uk talents since re1ease so I guess there’s a lack of talent as well. If there’s anything holding back the scene it can only be the players themselves.

    CajunB : One of the big problems I think the UK scene has is that they need to keep in mind that they have to stay together and the grass is not always greener on the other site. Besides that then, people on the UK scene don’t have a team like “g33kz” on the Danish scene who have  stayed together in bad as well as in good times. I don’t think the UK scene lacks individual skill and talent because they have some really nice people over there who can do a lot of damage.

    Ruggah: The talent in the British CS:S scene is not lacking, it is more a problem of teams failing to stay together as a solid lineup…”the grass is always greener on the other side”, is the phrase that comes to mind.

    MAS: Because of the stability. Of course, they got a lot of good players but their teams are always changing players.
    of course they got a lot of good player

    So, are we really lacking the individual talent to create successful teams, or is it the mentality of these players? The responses above give you a fairly mixed bag of opinions but the overwhelming response was that there is absolutely no stability in the UK Source scene. There is more than enough talent around, according to those I spoke with. In fact, there is experience and talent oozing from the UK Source scene, but it seems to just slip through the proverbial fingers onto the ground.

    There have been accusations lately that those who do rule the roost in CS:S from the UK form a “clique” that’s preventing new talent from reaching the top. Cadred.org recently put this to HudzG, to which his reply was:

    Hmm that’s hard one really, I just think that very few top players are willing to give people a try anymore, I mean look how good ben0 was for that.. He gave me my break as well as a lot of the best CS:S players in the UK today. The problem is that there’s no one really doing that with a sponsor behind them and no one willing to work with less known people anymore. I’d say though that if you’re good enough and keep playing, go to a lan with friend and do well eventually you will get spotted. It’s just a matter of time because people cant deny raw skill.

    I think one of the organisations who are really good for that are Rasta. Damage and arky, from the times I’ve spoken with them really do try and develop people so I have massive respect for them, I genuinly really likes those guys, good trustworthy people.

    On this issue, one of the CS:S greats .PhP argues the British scene is actually quite strong and that it’s no doubt the bigger, better players don’t take risk with new talent:

    I actually think CS:S scene in Britain is very strong, but I guess it could be stronger. There is handful amount of very talented players, but some care more, and some less. Why can same players dominate scene for long time ?
    Because they are best, and they know that there is noone better to pick up. They would need to start loosing to other teams from same country first before they would question their roster and consider picking up someone else. Yet there are players who weren’t known and became part of very good teams.

    Is CoD4 ruled by the same cliques of people, the hardcore elite from previous CoD titles whose names crop up time and time again? Frankly, nah, I don’t think so. Those who are at the top of the game are in fact powerless to stop new talent rising to the top or not – I think most will agree that the CoD4 scene is fairly liberal and accepting of its new teams in the way it lets them succeed or fail. By and large, it’s easier to 1) grab a steady lineup and 2) succeed if you have the right players.

    miRACLE, H2k-Gaming: The cod scene is really tight nowadays. I think we’ve reached a level that more and more teams can do upsets and challenge the bigger teams.. Both Reason and Dignitas is still great teams, but the reason why they don’t achieve as much as before is cause the scene is a lot more competitive now. On AEF for an example.. Where both us H2k and Dignitas failed in groups:

    Dignitas got Fnatic early in the playoffs, and we got Reason early as well which means 1 of the big teams will lose and not achieve top 3 which is every top team’s goal for each event. The reason the big teams fail in groups is because the smaller teams are getting better and better – example PGS vs us on AEF, Dignitas vs Derailed or Team Thermaltake. I don’t think it has anything to do with that they are British.

    The insight miRACLE gives us to the CoD4 scene is actually quite a sobering one, that the scene has become so competitive and so healthy that simply the opposition has become a lot tougher. When big teams clash in such early stages of the playoffs in tournaments, you’re bound to have upsets, and Dignitas and Reason unfortunately fell victim to this.

    The behaviour of British CoD4 and CS:S players has, however, been called into question and they were harshly judged by Michael “Trigger” Sowa during a recent interview with TEK9:

    But, there was always some bitching. To me, that is typical UK attitude – in game bitching and whining from Diablo and Danny. Diablo is the most whiney person I know, but hes a cool guy.

    Doesn’t paint the prettiest picture, does it? In fact, the picture is even less appealing when players have given the same comments about the British scene with regards to its maturity in other games as well:

    Warcl0wn: Well after what I’ve experienced I think its a problem with the general mindset of the UK people. In almost every UK team I’ve seen (in CS:S) there’s always drama, always people who pick a fight about stuff that doesn’t matter – and worst of all, people always seem to think “Well I bet the grass is greener on the other side”. UK has got so many talented and insane players. So if I could combine five UK players of my choice, and replace their mindset with f.instance the old Reason-Gaming team.. then we would have the best team in the world after a few months. The general flaw in the UK scene is just pretty much about the drama – as the skill of certain players there are, in many situations, at the very top of the scene.

    Friberg, H2k-Gaming: I don’t have so much about what’s happening inside the teams, but I would say that people talk behind others backs. A lot of UK players are whining a lot when they play against teams, if it’s the same when they play with eachother that could be a reason. Otherwise I would think that the topteams don’t dare to give new, upcoming players, a shot in their team.

    UK got some really good players in CSS and it suprises me they don’t put more time into their team – since they could easily be a topteam. Power is probobly the best team at the moment in UK but they still have teams like TLR and FM!TOXIC who could compete with them if they keep their roster together.

    While these storm clouds coloured by some players don’t give British fans much reason to be optimistic, they can rest assured that the sufficient talent in each game is present from the comments above. This issue with attitude seems to be one you can’t easily shrug off, but are there positives, or is there an answer for this?

    D1ablo, Reason Gaming: Most definitely. In CoD4 at least there seem to be some British sides that aren’t roster shuffling every LAN event – take us for instance. We’ve had a solid core for a good year now and that’s something the British scene has been lacking extremely in all games to date.

    With regards to individual players, it can be strongly said that there has been a great uproar of new UK talent with the new positive minded CoD4 scene, which is fantastic for the games growth. Anyway, I dont find the english drama too daunting, it provides the scene with consistant entertainment.

    So, a more competitive CoD4 scene gives us something positive to take from British gaming. Indeed, there are a number of teams – especially visible after the recent AEF tournament – we can think about being proud of.

    There are of course solid competitive teams outside the usual names, and those are perhaps the ones which give the brightest outlook for the UK scene. A number of these teams have recently come to the forefront in various relaunches – Infused and 4Kings being the most prominent, and Imperial have established themselves as a solid organisation in the last year or so, managing to pick up the talented Danish uber G33kz at their peak. After what you could call a slump in activity from the top, these British organisations show promise for the coming years as they look to rebrand, wipe the slate clean and crack on again with championing the UK scene.

    A mention must also be made to the new Derailed CoD4 team and others like them who are probably the best example in recent years of creating a new team from experienced and talented players and achieving some decent results. Admittedly, we didn’t see them win the AEF event, but we saw them beat Team Thermaltake and Dignitas in the group stages before we watched as they acquitted themselves admirably, finally falling to Fnatic in the playoffs.

    With time, maybe Derailed will give inspiration to more UK players to do the same and to give it a try at the top.

    The Derailed Lads at AEF, courtesy of http://www.teamderailed.eu

    Players aspiring to be at the top have to have independence, to a certain degree, and the opportunism to move on from teams that don’t suit them or aren’t making headway. Individual talent and game knowledge is your own. With this knowledge and experience, you can find bigger teams already formed that have the match strategies in place – and you take it from there.

    How do you get that big break playing amongst the people you may have idolised for so long, though? Well for starters, when you get to a certain level, you won’t idolise these people anymore – they’ll be your worst enemies on de_dust2 or cp_crash. When you’ve found your competitive sweet spot, how easy is it to build into a team and battle your way to the top?

    The truth is, it’s not easy. If you’ve been playing the game for a relatively long period of time, the chances are most UK players know who you are, and you know who they are. The chances are also that they know you for being the “alright guy who started X years ago, and featured in one or two teams I came across once” or simply you’ll just be, “that lowie.”

    Breaking past these portrait pictures that the top level players are bound to paint is probably half the battle. Once they can recognise a batch of UK players who have in fact been around for as long, if not longer, than they have and accept that 1) they might have got pretty good in that time if they’ve had the right training and 2) with the right team, they could really shine.

    Insomnia40, Multiplay's Summer LAN - Picture courtesy of Multiplay

    Very much at the forefront of the UK gaming world recently have been Multiplay, having just given an insightful set of answers to even more insightful questions from the Cadred community as pressure mounts on them to produce a successful i40 summer event. These events, in my opinion, have had a massive impact on the UK gaming community and questions have been raised about the calibre of LANs Multiplay are really capable of providing. To give you an idea of some of the issues, here are a selection of questions and comments Cadred community members asked Multiplay in the recent interview:

    Whilst I understand the logistics of running a LAN, and various costs that are involved, the prize money is slightly poor compared to other various EU events…

    Are you worried about the numbers that will attend your lans? Surely more people will start to realise that its cheaper to go to LAN abroad than it is to go to I-series…

    Are you going to pay money out quicker in the future? If so, what steps have you made to stop these late payouts happening again?

    As a LAN event there is never really much done to attract the best teams around, is there any onus to do that for you guys?

    When will you cater SOME events for the bigger teams to help the growth of the competitive scene?

    For the first time there looks to be serious competition to I-series on the horizon, with huge companies like HMV taking more and more interest in competitive gaming, how will I-series move with the times to stay ahead of the competition?

    Calling a number of issues into question, the Cadred community in all its wisdom really cut to the heart of Multiplay in this question and answer session and raised the issue: are the UK’s #1 LAN host holding back the British gaming community? Multiplay cater for a wide range of gamers – professional and casual – and have had good success of doing so in the past. I’ve heard players on a number of occasions say that this is exactly the problem – the event organisers are adamant to put on a LAN built for all whereas other European events such as Dreamhack, TeX and AEF are much more competitive gaming driven. But the questions raised about payouts and the lack of attendance at the CoD4 and CS:S tournaments by big-name teams really draw attention to Multiplay’s efforts in the last few years and it leaves us wondering if it will ever challenge the European events as a top LAN.

    There is a certain excitement for British teams that travel abroad, let’s face it. The thought of an event like Dreamhack where the women are beautiful and the games come hard sure beats the rainy/cloudy/windy UK and that corner shop you see every day for fags/beer/noodles. By the same token, is there really anything that attracts foreigners to the UK events if it’s not stiff gaming competition and decent prize money at the LANs? Multiplay are known for hosting some fantastic exhibitors and the atmosphere there, at least at Stonleigh, is hard to beat in many respects. The hodge-podge of gamers in attendance adds something different to the experience, but a different experience all together from foreign LANs.

    The Choice is Yours...

    I have to give attention to the issue of whether Multiplay pay out or not. I had a friend approach me the other day from Denmark who asked me if I could write about Multiplay still failing to pay out from their 1st place competition at i35 in 2008. We’ve just recently heard of the cash-in-hand payouts at ASM LAN and the issues of prize money payouts isn’t particularly anything new. I have to say when my Danish friend first told me, I was a little shocked it had been so long.

    Competition in the form of HMV Gamerbase does look hopeful for competitive gaming in the UK, and maybe it’ll kick Multiplay into action. The HMV Gamerbase has already hosted a handful of quality events, at which big names were willing to participate. But what does Gamerbase need to do in order to attract the bigger names across the rest of Europe? Do they have the resources to start something on the scale which Multiplay attempt to do once or twice a year?

    Some of the biggest prize pots and fan followings have been seen of late in Counter Strike 1.6, a competitive scene which has been going strong for nearly 10 years now. GoodGame.Ru recently published their cash rich list for 2010 so far for 1.6 teams and the British omission is noticeable for Blighty fans:

  • 1. Natus Vincere: $86,250
  • 2. FnaticMSI: $48,000
  • 3.  mousesports: $28,500
  • 4.  UNiTED: $23,550
  • 5.  SK Gaming: $23,400
  • 6.  mTw.dk: $16,550
  • 7.  forZe: $16,100
  • 8.  PiNG: $15,950
  • 9.  WeMadeFox: $15,000
  • 10.  EG: $14,000
  • 11.  oXmoze: $8,650
  • 12.  Ravens: $8,450
  • FnaticMSI 1st Place Arbalet Europe - Picture Courtesy of Fnatic.com

    In fact, there isn’t a British team anywhere in the list out of 75 teams. Surely there are UK teams out there capable of picking up or forming teams that can win $900 to make it to the top 75? Well, British fans would’ve thought Dignitas capable but judging by their recent performances this isn’t exactly realistic. I questions GuardiaN on the best British 1.6 has to offer:

    Because low players. Low practice + low players = no achievements. It’s the same like Czech and Slovak scene:  they only want money and full support and they did nothing to earn it. Just look at the old eSuba lineup with pHp…they paid half the price of LAN79 themselves because they wanted to show what they were capable of. They ended up winning it of course. After that, they had a lot of offers from organisations. But in 1.6 it’s like, “I won’t pay 50-100 Euros for LAN and anyway, I won’t win…FU.”

    Dignitas best British 1.6 team? It’s a shame…I can make a team and beat them without practice. They should practice more if they want to be a top team…where is jungleboy from dignitas…we need more JUNGLEboys!

    Swedish powerhouses Fnatic and SK-Gaming, the Ukrainian lads from Na’Vi, Mousesports and Tyloo seem to dominate the game across the world, but is there any space for a UK team to break into the upper echelons of Counter Strike, or do we even have the players in our midsts capable of doing it? Would Multiplay hosting a 1.6 tournament increase our chances in nurturing teams with a real hunger for the top?

    I think the age of the game plays some part in this and many people new to gaming pick up some of the newer titles, or games that are a little more favourable on the eyes. Don’t get me wrong, 1.6 is a fantastic game and in my eyes is well up there with what it has to offer in terms of gameplay, dynamism and competitive potential. The gap in skill levels in 1.6 is something to be reckoned with since the game has had such a healthy lifespan. For  new players individually to reach a decent enough level is hard enough, let alone form teams capable of conquering the heights of success.

    Interestingly, many of the names I mentioned at the start of this article aren’t associated with the UK or British gaming. They’re organisations with connotations of various teams, players and European nationalities, and that is something the British scene can be proud of – Imperial and the Danes; Reason and the Czechs/Slovaks; Power Gaming CoD4 and the Czechs. In the last ten years some of the biggest names in the scene have passed through British organisations and won major titles with them. However, this is still to be shown at a consistent, dominant level of the likes of Fnatic or SK-Gaming on the world stage.

    Those who currently manage British organisations are tasked with upholding a successful reputation in the UK and across Europe, bringing in players with enough skill and experience and managing them well enough to compete at the very highest level. I leave it to you to discuss what our community can do better to improve the situation and take it to the next level.

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    Welcome to HighCalibre!

    In this, my first post, I wanted to go into a little more detail about what I’ll be publishing here for readers and why I’ve started this blog.

    This is the first project of this kind for me and really it’s a challenge I’ve set for myself to test my creativity and to prove to myself I have what it takes to publish. The biggest tasks will be keeping this blog up to date and making it entertaining and interesting for people to read.

    Alongside my responsibilities at Reason Gaming and writing a feature article each week for Cadred, I hope to provide insights here into the gaming world to its fullest extent from game reviews to community studies and, in particular, to the world of competitive esports which has been a passion of mine for the last few years now. I love gaming. I’m fascinated by gaming and those who play it and I want to dive into some of the issues I think face the gamers of today.

    Along the way I want to explore the reason why people play games, what draws people to competitive gaming, and what the future holds for the competitive scene. The culture of competitive gaming also interests me: are Nordic people better at FPS gaming than the rest of Europe? What are the differences in the gaming cultures here in Europe, the United States and in Asia?

    If you have any issues or topics in gaming that interest you from any genre that you’d like to share and discuss, or a game you’d like me to review, please let me know!

    Finally, a big thank you to Richard “Gonzo” Lewis who has been kind enough to share his experiences in writing and publishing with me and for giving me the inspiration to start this.

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