Kings’ AWPer Simon “Sico” Williams has had a storied and controversial CS:GO career. From early accusations of cheating to being labelled a ‘LAN choker’ to now being an integral part of one of the region’s top teams, Sico has played with Avant Garde, Dire Wolves, Chiefs and Vox Eminor in the past.
In the leadup to his team’s participation at the Zowie eXTREMESLAND Asia Finals and Asia Minor, I spoke with Sico about his history in competitive Counter-Strike.
Mid-2014 is where you first made a name for yourself, playing with Avant Garde alongside the likes of USTILO and pzK!D. What can you tell me about your beginnings in, and experience with, CS leading up to that period?
The beginning of competitive CS for me actually started in an all-Kiwi lineup under Converge – they were known as ascension at the time – with players such as RaZ, afends and BlackouT. I had known BlackouT previously from Source and after playing pugs and mixes with him I found myself in a core spot playing the next season of CGp. In terms of role in CS, I actually didn’t start awping until a few months after Avant died when I returned from a break. Under Avant I was more of a secondary entry behind USTILO who used to open up a lot of space for the team.
The Dire Wolves/Chiefs lineup of yourself, DANZ, rbz, BlackouT and wizard was infamous for its experiences at LAN, be it not progressing to the finals at ACL Sydney (which you weren’t able to attend) and ACL Melbourne or not showing up at CGPL Season 3. Why do you think there was such a contrast between online and LAN for you guys?
I don’t feel like there was necessarily a huge disparity between online and LAN performances, given the sample size of LANs. For example, I couldn’t attend ACL Sydney due to a cluster of Uni exams on at the same time. It’s always difficult to use a sub and try cram info in their head in place of someone, especially considering it was sibe and he didn’t even AWP or play the same role. ACL Melbourne involved a bit of a blunder regarding the map pool and not properly accounting for the veto process. We let maps like Cobble and Overpass slip through easily which we weren’t very competent on. Overall for ACL Melbourne, I’d say we just lacked the experience and leadership to close out the important games.
To contrast these LAN results, your teams performed outstandingly in Season 2 and 3 of FACEIT’s Oceania League, placing third and equal-first respectively. In Season 2, you guys even had the chance to attend the league finals in Valencia, due to Renegades and Immunity pulling out. How come you didn’t take that chance?
At the time, Dire Wolves as an organisation wasn’t flourishing near as much as we see it nowadays. We really wanted to take the opportunity and did everything we could to try get to Spain, but with limited time and money to organise and pay for a full trip to Spain, it just made it far too difficult.
What can you tell me about your short time on Vox Eminor, considering that was a team that looked promising?
We were only really a team for a couple of months and had some decent results but it’s too hard to gauge what level we could have been. There was an underlying issue of not practicing enough and kind of just going in expecting to win our games, failing to actually address issues or talk about problems. This was probably all due to too much of a relaxed atmosphere within the team.
You linked back up with wizard and pzK!D in Alpha Sydney and managed to finally get out of groups at a LAN event, CGPL Autumn 2016. Was there any feeling of relief there?
Yes and no. I mean, if you put it into perspective it wasn’t really an unobtainable goal at all, considering we stacked up pretty well against most teams at the LAN. In saying that, though, it was still something I hadn’t accomplished yet at a national event so it’s always good to see progress.
The Oceanic scene is known for its short-lived lineups and this Alpha Sydney team’s transition to Avant Garde, replacing ECH0 with pay8ack, in May 2016 was as short-lived as they come. What was the reason for this?
I can’t remember the exact reasons, but the team was more just having fun and taking it easy. We weren’t really practicing or committing near as much as you should when trying to be a consistent top team.
When it was announced you were joining Parallax in place of jokes in September 2016, many were confused and saw the move as an attempt by the org to make a New Zealand-majority lineup. What can you tell me about that period, both in joining and being part of the roster?
As cool as it was to have a majority NZ lineup when playing as Parallax, there were other underlying issues they had which led to the lineup change which were irrelevant to me so I don’t actually know. In terms of me joining, I had only recently come back from another break as I focused more on my job and such at the time. At the start, I really enjoyed the team and the work ethic they had; it motivated me to take the game more serious and watch more demos, etc.. A bit later down the track, I started to feel fairly uncomfortable within the team – a little bit of internal conflict if you will – so I decided to step down and eventually returned later once a spot opened up as RaZ moved on to Winterfox.
CGPL Season 9 was a strange season, with its lack of top teams and online finals. How did you feel after managing to win that with Trident, featuring your regular running buddies rbz, DANZ and BlackouT?
It definitely wasn’t the most glorious run to victory. As you said, it lacked some top teams and had online finals. Nonetheless, it’s always cool to win something and earn a bit of prize money with some mates you’ve played with for a while.
DANZ and rbz are two players that you’ve played with in multiple lineups over the years. Why do you think they haven’t been able to get back into the top tier of the scene?
Rough question this one. Without going into much detail out of respect as mates I think probably mentality would be a big one. I guess for me, when I left I had the change in mentality where I actually wanted to play seriously; reviewing demos, focusing more on self improvement and being a better teammate. Our teams never really put in the required effort to improve properly and elevate the team to a better level.
You linked back up with Parallax, alongside kyoto, after jokes and RaZ left the lineup and would, again, transition over to the Avant Garde organisation. Considering the BO3 loss to Dark Sided, did you go into this lineup’s first offline event, the ZEN League Season 1 qualifier, with any expectations?
Yeah, I think we felt like we had a really good chance to qualify. We only had to win one BO3 against Dark Sided, which, for a lot of them I think, was there first lan event. We were quite new and, under LONSDALE’s IGL system, it proved we needed more time to develop our game. Dark Sided showed up and gave a strong display to take the win.
You managed to win Season 3 of the ESL ANZ Championship and place second at the CGPL Season 10 finals in your time with this Avant Garde, a stark contrast to your early days of LAN. What do you think changed for you when it came to offline events?
I would probably say I just got better from experience and improved my game over time. Avant was the first team where I made a serious effort to improve my game, mostly due to seeing the work ethic of teammates like Hatz or LONSDALE and their hunger to improve.
Kings are currently making their case for being the best in the region, after wins at ESL ANZ Season 4, the Unikrn Australian Showdown and the Zowie eXTREMESLAND Regional Finals. What do you think the team is doing well?
Kind of hard to answer this one without blowing our own trumpet. The main reason I’d probably say is motivation and dedication, and having everyone on the same page when we started the team. Things such as having everyone comfortable in their roles is always important. We also get along with each other really well out of game.
How much impact does your coach, dayV1D, have within the team?
dayV1D is really useful when it comes to preparation, research and developing various strategies. He is very innovative and willing to add new things to our game. A lot of kudos has to go to emagine for the in-game aspect. He has embraced the IGL role, recognising he would be best suited for it in this team, and is only improving as we go on.
You’ll be attending the Asia Minor at the end of the month, but the event has been shrouded in controversy, namely the lack of any qualifiers and no invitation for Grayhound. Do you have any thoughts on your team being directly invited while Grayhound, who placed third at the last minor, miss out?
It was great news for us to receive the direct invite. Any form of shot at making it to a major is always motivating. However, there definitely should be qualifiers and not having the qualifiers can set a bad precedent. If you look at it logically, in my opinion, Grayhound were robbed and at least deserved a shot at qualifying.
Kings Gaming Club will be attending eXTREMESLAND ZOWIE Asia CS:GO 2017 in Shanghai from the 19th – 22nd October 2017. The team will compete against the best from the region for a share of the $100,000 USD prize pool.