Since the sixth CS:GO Major – ESL Cologne 2015 – there has been no other Australian team to reach the most prestigious tournament of the game by its developers, Valve. We had the opportunity to speak to one of the most successful Australian players in the scene, Iain “SnypeR” Turner. He is currently the team captain of Athletico, but is recognised for his time representing Australia at two different CS:GO Majors in the past, under the brands of Vox Eminor and Immunity at EMS Katowice 2014 and ESL Cologne 2015 respectively.
Could you give the audience a brief history about your competitive gaming career to start off the interview?
SnypeR: Sure, I started playing Counter-Strike when it was in early beta and played every version since. I’ve won numerous national events including CyberGamer Premier League and been to multiple international events with varied levels of success and failure and now I find myself playing again after spending some time off providing analysis for ESL Australia.
List us three of your most enjoyable moments that you achieved in CS:GO.
SnypeR: Firstly, going to the first Major with Vox Eminor and meeting a bunch of professionals and scrimming the likes of Virtus.pro (Poland), Ninjas in Pyjamas (Sweden), Fnatic (Sweden) and VeryGames (France) was probably the dream come true for me.
Attending FACEIT with Team Immunity was where we raised the Australian dongers defeating Liquid from North America and only just putting in a good showing versus Ninjas in Pyjamas in our first game with USTILO.
Lastly, my team defeated Cloud9 on home turf at the Crown’s $55,555 Invitational in Melbourne (the largest Australian CS:GO LAN event to occur) because it was personally one of my best events.
Following your departure from Immunity as a loyal player and short stint as coach in early 2016, you decided to go on hiatus from the competitive scene. What was the reason behind that and what did you do during that period away?
SnypeR: It was kind of a mixture of everything collapsing at once. I had to focus on my work because there were rumours of redundancy and not practising gave me a lot more free time to spend with my girlfriend. The free time on weekends was obviously enjoyable, I got a lot of things sorted in that time just getting ducks in a row. When I decided to play again, the time and energy drain aspect was hard to resume.
Staying connected with the community through Twitter and providing analysis and shoutcasting for ESL Australia at their offline events, how does that compare from your days as an active player?
SnypeR: I found it pretty easy to stay in touch with the scene that way, otherwise I would’ve completely lost any idea of who was in which team and who the great players were. It allowed me to bridge relationships that had really been nothing but interactions in the past. When I was so focused on success as a player, I literally put everything else to the side. Everyone else was just a number so to speak, and the step back made them no longer a threat to me. At the same time, I didn’t have any ego or agenda to hide behind, so it was a great personal realisation.
Returning from your break, you formed a mixed team with other top Australian players under the name “plusvee” and soon joined Athletico Esports. How is the team fitting together so far and any difference with your practise schedule in comparison to your Vox Eminor/Immunity days?
SnypeR: It’s been a pretty wild ride from resurrecting my teenage team of plusvee in Counter-Strike 1.6, which was initially how I broke into the Western Australian LAN scene as an In-Game Leader. I feel like using that platform of just gathering people who were teamless and looking for exposure that ended up working in the long-run, but things didn’t turn out how I expected. The team ended up being far greater after being picked up by Athletico. I could basically hand-pick anyone I wanted and I’m pretty stoked for both that opportunity and the outcome.
The practise regime is pretty standard across all premier teams, which begins on Sunday to Thursday from 6PM to 11PM during the night. I’ve been using the extra time to focus on myself and get back in shape, that has helped me a lot in performance. I’m no longer affected by daylight savings, which really was an issue for any team I was in previously. The team is admittedly coming together slower than expected, but we’re focusing long-term and putting everything we have into the vision so far. Yes, we’ve had some ups and downs, but the focus and determination is still as strong as ever.
With Renegades and Winterfox staying overseas in North America competing full-time with salaries for over a year, their fans have yet to see them win any events internationally. What are your thoughts on that and their recent struggles?
SnypeR: Winning an international event for an Australian team would by definition mean defeating a Tier 1 team at the top of their game and during a high pressure match, such as a Grand Final. We have yet to see it happen even in a group stage since Gfinity 2015. I wouldn’t expect to see Renegades or Winterfox win an event this year until they at least get to the level of Tier 1 or 2 such as E-Frag/MK (Bulgaria) or North (Denmark) were at the beginning of their successful runs into the top end of the tournaments, defeating EnVyUs (France) and all other Tier 2 opponents systematically.
Renegades have been pretty successful and that’s because they’ve grinded over 2 years now despite numerous setbacks, but coming second the first time is almost required before crossing the line to achieving first. It’s about experience and at the top level, we just don’t ooze it like the big time professionals.
Although the region is getting more opportunities to compete locally and internationally, Why do you think the Oceanic scene is so far behind the rest of the world, especially North America and Europe?
SnypeR: The whole thing is a bit of a cluster bomb to explain because you’ve got the chosen few, who’ve had a great time living in North America but impart nothing on Australian soil. Then you have the Aussies who are stuck in ELO hell down here, who qualify for events online and the competition is pretty fierce at the moment. When the occasion does arise, you see that gap between home soil performance and international LAN teams worth their salt.
It’s really a bitter pill to swallow considering we currently have 2 Oceanic teams taking the game full-time achieving less success than when they were competing part-time. Also, it doesn’t help any teams down here and potentially [they] arent even better than the teams down here by a clear margin for all we know.
I think realistically the right mix of frag and teamwork just hasn’t been found and probably won’t be for some time, but the focus for Oceanic teams and organisations just needs to be inserted on the Asian teams now. As they’ve clearly overtaken us from being way behind in 2015, to being able to develop the same talent quicker resulting in them being better. By the time the next Asian Minor (qualification process for Valve’s CS:GO Major) comes around, it could be our last opportunity to have 2 teams qualify which was always what I envisioned to keep Australia incubating.
Considering the internet here in Australia isn’t great, we’ve noticed you’ve just recently began streaming on Twitch including some of your pick-up games (PUGs) on ESEA’s newly announced Rank-S in Australia. How’s that been going so far?
SnypeR: Haha yep, it’s been a pretty crazy ride from looking for a house to buy, to now having to rent. However, I’ve finally found a place with NBN and it’s made a huge difference. You can’t understand the time I saved looking up VOD’s, demos, Youtube clips and more. It certainly makes research so much easier and efficient.
As for Rank-S, it’s the same old story so far. $500 prize money for first place isn’t going to get sensible Oceanic players committing a month of their time to winning it. So far the pugs are hardly being used as a method for improvement, which should be the original intention. Like I said before on my stream, ‘mixes/gathers/10-mans’ or whatever you want to call it, used to be organised privately between the top players and they were taken very seriously. It was a great platform for friendships and even scouting. All these pick-up game services have made the whole give that ‘pugger’ match-making feel and it certainly has lost that special touch, perhaps because it’s too easily accessible and taken for granted by the users.
Any advice for the next generation of upcoming players?
SnypeR: Just get in a team, stop playing pick-up games or match-making all night and compete in any leagues or ladder. Grow yourself as a player and learn set strategies and executes. Know how to hold your bombsites and make sure you are a great team player that isn’t fazed by clutch pressure. After all, it’s just a computer game and no one is unkillable, just pixels on a screen. You must reinforce this message every game. Otherwise, you’re going to fail when the pressure is on.
Before we wrap up, I’ll give you the pleasure to say your last words and shoutouts.
SnypeR: Props to every Australian organisation and sponsors for doing the right thing for their players. Special thanks to Athletico Esports for their support during my transition back to full-time playing and our sponsors AEMG, ASUS ROG, Intel and BLK. I’m having a great time playing again and owe it all to these guys. Shout out to the Admins running all the leagues at the moment – ESEA Premier, CyberGamer, ESL AU & NZ – and most importantly the server companies such as PacificES.net, who have a great community focus and really glad they came to help when the scene was struggling with crap servers for online qualifiers.
Make sure to follow @OfficialSnypeR on Twitter and his organisation @AthleticoES to stay on track with his team’s adventure and upcoming tournament matches including the three aforementioned leagues in the interview that they’re currently participating in.
Photo credits to ESL Australia, Team Immunity Facebook and HLTV