Yaman “yam” Ergenekon’s return to the Australian scene has been very successful, teaming up with a combination of experienced heads and young talent on Tainted Minds to win CGPL Spring 2017, attend the ELEAGUE Boston 2018 Asia Minor and place second at the ZEN League Season 2 finals.

I spoke to the ex-Renegades player at the ZEN League finals about his time in North America and the success he’s found so quickly back home with Tainted Minds.

I’d like to start with your time at Renegades. It seemed you weren’t able to find your footing when you first joined the team. Talk to me about the initial period with them.

It was a bit of a different experience. When we transitioned into Renegades, we were quitting all of our jobs and taking the next step. We were all still really inexperienced then. Although we had been playing the game for so long, we hadn’t been living overseas or anything like that. When we moved there, there was just a whole learning curve. I’ve learned heaps since then, but everything was hard; transitioning into it, all the roles, and just finding our footing. It took a while.

Moving further down the track to when SPUNJ stepped down from the team and you brought in Rickeh, you took over the in-game leading. How do you feel you handled that role? Had you IGL’d before?

Not on this level. In 1.6, I did in-game lead at times, on and off, but nothing like the commitment I gave in Renegades. I hadn’t led to that calibre before. The team needed someone to in-game lead and we had the potential to get Rickeh into the team and AWP, so we just thought “screw it” and I thought I’d do it. It was ok at the start, but things drag out. I really didn’t want to in-game lead towards the end but we couldn’t really do much about it. And then I just really needed a break.

yam leading Renegades at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas

You did leave the side due to personal reasons. Looking back at the team now and the success they’re finding with Nifty and NAF, how do you feel about that?

I’m happy for them. We always put in a lot of work in that team; I put in a lot of work as well. But they’ve been playing really well at the moment. Nothing but happy for the guys.

Coming back into the domestic scene after your break, did you receive many offers outside Tainted Minds?

Yep. I had a couple in Australia and some overseas as well. But I chose to stay in Australia because it’s what I wanted to do at the time. I’m still not sure if I’d want to return overseas yet. Possibly at some point.

Your first LAN as a team was the Asia Minor in Korea. How do you feel you guys played there?

It was obviously not the best. We got demolished by TyLoo and kind of by Flash. We should’ve done a lot better. A lot of the guys on this team are really inexperienced at that level, playing on LAN overseas. I think if we were to play the same competition today, I think we’d do a lot better.

You then went on to win CGPL Spring. What were the keys to the team’s success there?

Honestly, it was just not losing to ourselves. There’s a lot of talent on this team and, as long as we keep our heads in the game and everyone plays their own individual game, we should always win. Even yesterday, it sucks that we lost to Grayhound in a BO3 and I think we should’ve won it.

What can you tell me about ap0c in-game leading, considering he’s a player that’s never really committed to that role?

Yeah, fine, I guess. I think he did do it sometimes in Winterfox. I think ofnu was calling and he would do it sometimes. He’s doing fine. He’s a really smart guy. It’s been going good with him.

Coming from leading Renegades, how much input do you have on strategy and team decisions

Not a whole lot. It’s just if I’ve got ideas or something I’ll say it and normally we’ll do it. I’m fine with that and I just give my input whenever it’s needed.

Tainted Minds at the ZEN League Season 2 finals, where they placed second – Photo Credit: ESL Australia

chuch is definitely the least experienced member of this lineup. What are your thoughts on him as a player and teammate?

He’s definitely got a lot of potential, but, yeah, he’s really young and inexperienced. He could be really good. Same with zewsy as well. zewsy’s quite young. He’s been around for a bit longer, but there’s still a lot of room for growth. Like I was saying, if we had a chance to play that Minor again today, I think the results would be a bit different. We’ll have to wait and see.

You played this event with deStiny and we’ve seen that his level hasn’t dropped off at all since his period of inactivity. Why do you think he hasn’t managed to land a spot on a top team?

I’m not sure he wants to. I’m not entirely sure, honestly. He could if he wanted to, I believe. But I think that he hasn’t. I think he’s fine not being in a team at the moment. He still plays casually and has obviously still got a lot of talent. But yeah, I think he could if he wanted to.

What’s on the horizon for Tainted after ZEN League?

We’ve got the Mountain Dew League finals but, after that, I don’t think there’s that much… There’s the CG Masters in Adelaide in December, but, other than that, that’s pretty much it for the year.