Before Team Immunity lies not just another set of international teams, not just a chance to appear in the PGL Krakow Major Qualifier, but an opportunity to make a global statement. The Chiefs and Dark Sided performances at IEM Sydney and the ESEA Global Challenge demanded the wider communities eyes look at Australian CS:GO. Now, in a pool of competition far more manageable than either Chiefs or Dark Sided faced, Immunity can turn those casually looking eyes into the stares of believers. Believers in the depth of Australia’s CS:GO talent pool, and believers in the recent, unparalleled growth in the scene.
For Immunity, none of the players truly earn the title of ‘professional player’. Extraneous pressures like work, study, and family often impede into their CS:GO space, forbidding the team to make ‘the plunge’ into full-time play. This in many ways makes Immunity a solid representation of where the majority of the Australian scene is at right now. The overall ecosystem doesn’t have the resources to grant full-time play to top sides, but the opportunity of international travel and competition is becoming more readily available to Australian teams.
This perspective and context makes Immunity’s upcoming run at the Asian Minor take on a whole new light. Not only are they battling on behalf of Australian CS:GO, but also looking to prove that how much can be accomplished with more passion than salary.
Out of all the players in iM, Mohammed “MoeycQ” Tizani might be the one who has struggle the most to make high-level CS:GO a constant in his life. In August of last year we saw Moey take a break from CS to welcome the birth of his daughter. On top of CS and his family, Moey also works a full-time job.
Moey in many ways typifies the grinding mentality required to make it in the Australian CS:GO space. As a result, I asked him a few questions to get a better idea of the iM team and how he functions individually with so much going on outside the game.
In regards to his individual practice Moey said that “These days I watch a lot of YouTube povs and vods during commute hours […] most of my personal practice comes on Friday/Saturday nights. When everyone’s asleep and I can’t click the mouse too loud so my daughter doesn’t wake up. I jump on at around 1-2am and play until about 5-5:30am.”
These 1am to 5:30am practice sessions help keep Moey more-or-less in-line with the constantly evolving landscape in domestic competition. That’s not to say that these time commitments doesn’t stylistically affect Moey’s game. “I’ve had to make a lot of individual adjustments.” Moey said. “I find myself winning less aim duels and then also having games where I’m untouchable – it’s super inconsistent. My team-mates have always seen me as versatile where I’m able to AWP, lurk, entry or just be in the middle of the pack. The versatility lends a hand to me as I can still have a high impact for my team in multiple ways during a match.”
These individual sacrifices due to outside pressures also manifests itself in team practice as well. “It’s no secret practice in Australia isn’t up to scratch compared to the Europeans and to some extent North America.” Moey affirmed. “We’re culprits of losing focus during scrims for what-ever reason such as winning by a large margin, over playing or just wanting to get as many kills as possible.”
Moey’s time spent away from CS:SO is made up with other members of the team assisting where they can. “We still have the time to anti-strat other teams and the boys who have more time in the day usually do a lot of the theory. They keep me in the loop via videos/documents on Facebook or Discord.”
In regards to how the team moulds around his out of game commitments: “Generally all iterations that I’ve played – namely James and Erkast – respected my practice schedule and adjusted to suit me, which was really nice of them.”
Even in spite of these hurdles both inside and outside the game, hopes are still high for Immunity to make an impact at the Minor. Placed in a favourable group, their biggest opposition will be the Mongolz and Tyloo. These two sides represent some of Asia’s most seasoned LAN talent and will be no small feat to overcome – but the possibility is definitely there.
The potential for an upset is very real, and Moey is cautiously optimistic: “Australians will always be underdogs and I enjoy it. If there’s ever an opportunity to beat renegades and Tyloo it’s probably now. Flash are unpredictable and the Mongolz are solid. We’ll see – I wish we were more prepared but we are doing what we can and we’re aiming for the minor qualifier not just a good showing.”
One of the reasons for Moey and the rest of us to have some hope headed into the Minor lies in the recent roster change that saw James leave the team. James, a long-time IGL, was kicked as a result of the poor team environment at the time – something which seems to be a high priority for the core. “James emotions and competitive nature reflect on his calling style and when it works it really works.” Moey said when asked about the kick. “To be honest the roster change had nothing to do with James capability as a proven in-game leader and fragger.”
With a gap in the rosters calling, erkaSt stepped up to take the mantle. Erkast’s showed a clear affinity for the IGL role back on Corvidae, where he played with now teammate, Gratisfaction. In a very similar way to how he plays, “Erkast is different because he likes to see everything logically.” Moey said on his new IGL. “We definitely have pocket strategies but [erkaSt] enjoys Counter-Strike in its most simple form. When you have players like Cal and Sean who can turn rounds with explosiveness you see some magical things. We’re still working out the formula but Erka and I bring some great mid-round qualities which is evening out the team. Add Travis in there with a level head, great decision making and able to hold his own and you could start to see something brewing…”
Given the relatively short space of time to adapt to a brand new style of calling, Immunity’s strategies and macro play will be an interesting point to watch in China. It will also be a point of interest in how erkaSt’s individual level shifts based on how he calls for the team. In one way he could structure the team more around himself and his own strengths – much like we saw Niko do in Mousesports. Or, we could potentially see a drop-off in form as he has to delegate his own fragging responsibilities elsewhere. Either option could work in this side, especially given the level of talent present and historical runs of form each player has had.
Regardless of how Immunity shape-up, the potential is there. A solid showing in China can provide the mounting domestic evidence that Australian CS:GO is entering a true golden age of play. One laced with opportunities to break the brutally enclosed eco-system the scene has, and that has so much room to further grow.
More so if a team like Immunity, who face a multitude of struggles and pressures on their in-game actions, manage to make an impact. This Minor, in more ways than one, represents a much grander idea than just the on-paper names of Immunity. The chance is there, now it’s just a matter of getting the realised potential to meet it.