Paris ‘nova’ Larkins: Australia’s lost star
In Stage 1 of the FACEIT Oceania League, The Chiefs were a force to be reckoned with, taking second place narrowly behind Team Immunity. 2 years and countless roster changes later, zewsy, ofnu and ap0c of this lineup have found their way onto Winterfox, competing in North America, while Lightstep has been at the helm of some of the best teams in Australia. The missing link here, however, is Paris “nova” Larkins.
A star in that Chiefs roster at just 16 years old and touted by James Bardolph as one of his “favourite OCE players”, nova had the potential to be a top level player in the scene but never flourished and eventually dropped out of competitive Counter-Strike at the end of 2016. I spoke to him about his short-lived career.
Thanks for your time, nova. Could you give us a brief recount of your introduction to CS and the leadup to joining Qlimax Crew?
I started my competitive CS career in 2014 with auXesis (Catalyst, Twinky, ReIgN, and Fras). We placed 3rd in CGa that season but decided to part ways. Soon after, I joined Dynasty (Kronos, tucks, zewsy, prophet). Prophet and Kronos stopped playing soon after, and were replaced by snakew0w (Lightstep) and m0nt. Soon after we started playing, Tucks got VAC banned and we picked up braKe in his place, which was the lineup that became Qlimax Crew.
What was the transition like from amateur leagues to CyberGamer Premier?
The transition from CGa to CGp was very abrupt for me, particularly as I had only played 1 season of competitive CS at that point. While it was quite a dramatic (and exciting) change, I was in a position in the team where most of what I had to do was just consistently rack up kills, so I didn’t have to change much.
How did the replacement of braKe and m0nt for dizzy and ofnu come into fruition and how did it affect your team’s play?
The replacement of braKe and m0nt came as a result of our unsatisfactory performances at the CGPL S2 and Azubu Australian Masters LANs. dizzy and ofnu were both brought in by snakewow, and their additions changed our team a lot. Ofnu brought a lot of experience to the team as a reliable player, with dizzy bringing adding a lot of raw firepower.
You guys then went on to sign with Chiefs and, soon after, established yourselves as top 3 in the region. Did this new sponsorship change anything for your team?
The signing with Chiefs was definitely an exciting time for all of us, and I think gave us a lot of energy and motivation with such backing behind us. We went on to have a number of good performances (2nd PeetyG’s Nationals, 2nd Faceit Oceania S1, 1st ESEA-AU S18), but struggled to solidify a spot in the top 2.
dizzy would then leave the team and you brought in ap0c in his place, but it didn’t seem like your results and performances took a hit; if anything it could be argued that you improved. What do you think the reason for this is?
The change from dizzy to ap0c, while they are completely different players, didn’t impact on the team too much. I think at the time, while it couldn’t be argued that Dizzy had exceptional raw skill, his experience and particularly restraint was lacking. What ap0c brought to the team was a wealth of experience and the ability to turn a round on its head all on his own. So I’d say while they were very different players, without a strong AWPer to create big impact, it kind of averaged out.
ofnu and zewsy’s departure was a huge shock to the community at the time, and I remember it being one for you too. Looking back, can you give any insight into why the two left to join Exile 5 and why you remaining Chiefs members decided to go your separate ways?
While the manner in which it happened was a shock, I think in a few ways I was prepared for it. I had been enjoying playing less and less (CS and year 11/12 don’t mix very well), and with ap0c not being a permanent addition, the rest of the team was keen to bring 2 new players in. I won’t go into too much detail as it was pretty messy, but there were a lot of different expectations and alliances that didn’t all pan out. As for the remaining players (snakew0w, ap0c, and I), as mentioned I wasn’t enjoying playing so I decided I didn’t want to try and pick up the pieces, and ap0c was only a temporary addition to the team.
You would eventually link up with players like MoeycQ and teddyt in Streamline, essentially creating a reject squad, and sign with Vox Eminor. What were your expectations going into this lineup?
My expectations for the lineup at the time would be best described as realistic. While I was optimistic we could do well, we were a bit of a ragtag bunch with an unusual mix of skillsets and experience, thrown together in a hurry so we could compete at ACL Sydney (I think the team was less than a week old at the time of ACL Sydney).
After some pretty sub-par results and a lot of changes, you guys looked to have found the right mix by bringing Sico and rbz in. Unfortunately, this lineup was short-lived. What was going on in the team at the time that caused this?
Yeah, we did seem to hit our stride quite well with Sico and rbz, including some decent results. I think the main problem was that for a number of reasons we didn’t practice hard enough, and the chilled out atmosphere meant we never really addressed our problems. We had a good time and did relatively well, but by the time we were getting into gear it was too late, Sico was already on his way to Immunity.
You took a hiatus from CS shortly after this change, dropping back to a substitute role for Vox. Why was that?
After the loss of 2 of our players to Immunity very close to the start of the CG season, and I was in my first year of uni, I decided it was a good time to take a break. I just didn’t feel like I wanted to struggle through another season of CG with a lineup pulled together within a few days, especially with so much going on for me outside of CS.
You came back to the game for a bit, playing with SYF Gaming in the IeSF offline qualifier. What was playing in that event like, considering it was broadcasted on TV?
Coming back to fill in for SYF and making it to the IeSF final was a bit of a fluke really. I hadn’t played for a while and saw the IeSF qualifiers looked like a good opportunity to get to another LAN or possibly go overseas. Since only Australian players could play, I spoke to a few teams with NZ players and offered to fill in if they wanted to play. Gratisfaction ended up leaving SYF and they took me up on the offer. Through a pretty messy qualifier (forfeits, delays, reschedules) we made it to the top 2, and headed to Sydney for the finals. It was an awesome experience being a part of the first free to air esports to broadcast, and the all Fox Sports people did an amazing job and were clearly passionate about it. All in all it was a bit of messy experience (the qualifiers, the rescheduling of the LAN leading to forge not being able to attend, squishy getting a kidney stone a few days before the event), but one that I enjoyed, although one that I’m sad I didn’t get to share with my Vox Eminor teammates.
You’re back to not playing competitively. Did that brief stint with SYF not reinvigorate you?
Playing with SYF definitely tempted me to get back into the scene, but for a few reasons I decided against it. I was at Uni full time, and wanted to spend more time with my girlfriend. On top of all my real life commitments, since about April last year I’ve been pretty sick and still haven’t gotten to the bottom of what it is or how to fix it, so I just didn’t have the time or energy to keep playing.
Looking back on your time in the game, do you have any regrets? Do you feel like you could be at a higher level had things gone a different way?
I think if I had a single regret it would have been taking myself too seriously. Oh, and not putting all my prize money into my savings! At the end of the day it’s just a game and could only be part of my life for a brief period. I think I sacrificed a lot of things that probably weren’t worth sacrificing. I absolutely had a lot of fun and had a lot of great opportunities, but I think I was at the point where to keep going the sacrifices would have been too large. I think I could have been a better player and achieved greater things if I had tried harder, and dedicated more to the game. But as I said, every hour I put into the game came at a price, and eventually it wasn’t sustainable anymore.
Finally, do you have any final words or shout outs you’d like to give?
I’d like to thank all my past teammates from the pre-CGa days all the way up to SYF, thanks for the fun times! Even though I’m not sure if I’ll ever play again, I’ll definitely always remember what I got out of this game. I’d also like to thank my parents and more recently my girlfriend Mim for supporting me to play and try my best (even if at times it was hard to), and to Alicia for believing in me and providing me and the rest of that Vox Eminor lineup an absolutely awesome 6+ months. And to Chris and Moe, thanks for the great fun, laughs, and memories, I had an awesome time as that core 3, and it still feels weird not playing with you.