A staple at the top of the scene since their breakout performance at the ZEN League offline qualifiers in January, Athletico have struggle to solidify a ranking position above third-fourth. Recent performances in the Unikrn Showdown and now at the Zowie eXTREMESLAND Australia finals, however, have seen the young team push past powerhouses Grayhound and Chiefs.

I spoke with Willem “badge” Clarke after their 2-1 win over Chiefs about their recent LAN attendances, the support of coach PeetyG and having to use substitute player pan1K.

You guys haven’t had the greatest LAN record lately, going out last in ZEN and third in CGPL, compared to some impressive results online. What do you think is the reason for this?

I think with our LAN results, we always, even online, are a team that qualify for a lot of tournaments but then we always make it to like second to fourth place. We always come really close. In Unikrn, we knocked out Chiefs, we nearly knocked out Kings. We’re a team where we all know we have the potential and the skill to win a lot of tournaments. We just struggle with inconsistency. I don’t really think our LAN results are that bad. Besides ZEN, because ZEN was definitely our worst performance, we knocked out Grayhound in CGPL, we took GODSENT to overtime in London. Even though the results on paper will be like third to fourth place – same with online, besides a couple of wins – that’s just the nature of the game. The nature of the game at the moment is that the top four teams are all really close. We’re just biting at the heels and we’re looking to secure first.

Why do you think you were able to perform so well at the ESEA Global Challenge, despite there being much more pressure?

Everyone agrees that playing on LAN feels much better than playing online, so everyone kind of has that excitement. The computers feel better, frame rate’s better, 240hz potentially; all those little factors that make you more comfortable. Another thing is, we went over there with a nothing to lose attitude. We had everything to prove, nothing to lose. We just came out swinging and we were winning aim duels.  

I want to talk specifically about Texta’s rise over the past half year. Would you attest his insane performances more to the dynamic in the team and his role within it or just his individual talent?

I’d say it’s like 60/40 individual skill and then dynamic in the team. Texta, individually skilled-wise, is really, really good. A lot of people assume he doesn’t have the brains, but he’s got the international-level aim with really high-level CS IQ. He’s very good at decision making. Also, in the team, we know that he’s the star player, so we play around him. He’s in a lot of good positions. His role in the team is just to frag, like drop a 30-bomb. Individually skilled, he’s nuts, and, in the team, he’s a really good team player. He fits into the team well.

Badge and co. broke into the top of the scene after qualifying for ZEN League Season One – Photo by Zen Esports Network Twitter

flickz won’t be competing this weekend. How much of an impact did that have in practicing for the event?

It was a little bit of a pain, practicing, because we’d have to get pan1K into scrims. flickz would be playing in scrims and pan1K would be in the coach role just watching what flickz does. But then, for about two weeks before the LAN, we pretty much just scrimmed with pan1K. We filled with pan1K to qualify for this, so that was pretty good.

To touch on that, is he the kind of player that’s able to slot in to different roles comfortably, seeing as he filled for Sync during the qualifiers?

pan1K’s infamous for subbing at the moment. He subbed for Legacy, others I can’t name. He’s just one of those players that you know has good aim, so you can just put him into position and his goal is just to get frags in those positions. He’s perfect for that cause his aim is really good. Also, having PeetyG just kind of helping him; not backseat gaming, but giving little hints and all that sort of stuff helps him feel more comfortable in the team.

You’ve had PeetyG coaching you guys since joining Athletico. What does he bring to the lineup that may have been missing during the Dark Sided days?

In a LAN environment, for example, PeetyG adds a lot of reassurance. Say you lose a 3v2, a round you technically should win but you don’t, instead of getting all emo after the loss, Peety’s kind of like “look, we made our mistakes but we’ve got to keep playing”. He just keeps the team morale good and solid throughout the game, and, if we’re ever in a point of struggle, Peety can see something blaringly obvious and point it out to us, and then we can make the adjustment. It’s really good third-person help, pretty much.

We’ve seen Chiefs struggle lately, despite having the same lineup that were so dominant not too long ago. You guys have also kept the same lineup for quite some time now. What are your thoughts on making roster moves to keep things fresh and avoid plateauing?

It’s so hard to talk about roster changes, but Chiefs have had really good results like a month before recent time. They were the solidified number one and, recently, have just had rough results; they lost to us in Unikrn, lost to us at Zowie. At the same time, I don’t think a roster change is warranted. In tucks’ pre-game interview with Unikrn, they had played so many events, they haven’t really had a chance to decompress and just calm down, I guess, and focus on prac. The scene in Australia is so competitive now, where the top five teams can all beat each other. Whoever’s putting in the most prac now is going to be the ones at the top. I think, recently, Chiefs have just been really busy and haven’t been putting in as much work as they would like to. That’s all speculation, but that’s my gauge on it all.

You’ll possibly be facing Kings at this event. What are your thoughts on that roster that’s come together?

On paper, they’ve got a really solid lineup. emag is the in-game leader, dayV1D from ex-CLG [is coaching], Hatz, liazz and Sico are all really solid players and they work together well as a team. The struggle for us is Kings play really similar to us, and, based off recent results, they’re better than us at the moment. Kings is a really interesting matchup. It’s pretty much 50/50 at this point. It’s going to be who’s hitting headshots, basically.