Today’s interview is with Brazilian Counter Strike Global Offensive player, Raphael “exit” Lacerda. He is currently playing for the line-up of the Portuguese organization Sharks Esports. The athlete is 23 years old and will tell a little of his story in Counter Strike. Raphael told us about his beginning in Counter Strike, the most remarkable moment until which player he has as the greatest inspiration in the game.
Today the Sharks Esports line-up is made up of the players Raphael “exit” Lacerda, Leonardo “leo_druNky” Oliveira, Jhonatan “jnt” Silva, Luca “Luken” Nadotti and Olavo “heat” Marcelo. The Coach is Hélder “coachi” Sancho. Check out the conversation we had with Raphael:
How did you start on Counter Strike until you became a professional player?
I started playing Counter-Strike in 2008, when I won my first computer. I was very young, I was 12 at the time, and I played with friends I met on the internet more to play with. Even because my mom wouldn’t let me go to the lan house. After that, when 1.6 died, in 2011 or so, I stopped playing and came back (already at CS: GO), in 2015. In the same footprint, with friends and more to have fun. I was playing some championships and realizing that I had potential and I started to take the game more seriously, until opportunities appeared for me
What was the most remarkable moment in your career as a CS athlete so far?
I think 2 moments were very remarkable in my career. The first was the victory of LaLeague Season 1, against FURIA. The second, victory against North at the ProLeague Finals in Odense, in 2018. These are two moments that I will never forget in my life.
Have you ever thought about giving up being a professional player? Did you try your career in some other modality?
I believe not, since 2015 that I’ve been taking the game seriously, giving up was never an option. But I can say that I already doubted my potential at times, I thought I would never be a player who could make a difference or win the big championships, and I think that this LaLeague S1 that I said above was a game changer for me, I proved to myself that I could do it.
Unfortunately Sharks will not participate in the ESL Pro League 11 due to the Coronavirus aiming at the health of the athletes, what is your opinion about this difficult decision?
It was a difficult decision but I believe that it is totally correct. The health and well-being of the players must always come first, and I am grateful to Sharks and ESL for having managed to reach a consensus that would benefit everyone.
How is the routine at the Gaming Office in Portugal? How many hours a day do you practice?
During the Bootcamp in Europe, our routine is very strict. Basically it is like this: Wake up 10am; Tactical training from 11am to 1pm; Lunch 13h to 14h; Practical training from 14h to 17h; 1 hour break; Practical training from 18 to 21h. After training everyone is free to do whatever they want.
Unfortunately you were not successful in the Closed Qualifier of the Americas for ESL One Rio, even so, what was the expectation of playing a Major in Brazil?
The expectation was the highest possible. We hit the post on the last Berlin Minor and that left us with a bitter taste. For me it was even more special because I’m from Rio de Janeiro, besides everything I would have the possibility to have all my family members present, I would play in my state. But unfortunately we did not deserve the vacancy and now it is time to move on to the next one.
Psychology Applied to Games today is normal in Esports teams, do you work with a psychologist to improve performance within the game?
Yes, we work with the psychologist Carlos, an excellent professional that Sharks hired to help us. He is very important in our growth. I believe that the mental part is one of the fundamental parts for the esports competitive, mainly at a high level.
Which CS: GO player do you have as your inspiration?
I don’t usually get inspired by other players, i just try to do my best and always evolve. Try to be a better player every day and help my teammates. But one player I always liked to watch was autimatic, who now plays for Gen.G.
As mentioned above in a question to the player, Sharks Esports was preparing for the ESL Pro League dispute, but due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 the team asked not to be part of the competition. As much as the ESL’s decision was that the games were played online, the travel restrictions in Europe, the health and safety of the players, made it impossible to participate in the championship. The club reached an agreement with the organization not to join the championship with the guarantee of returning next season. The announcement was made in Portuguese on Sharks’ official Twitter.
COMUNICADO OFICIAL | ESL PRO LEAGUE
Os yng Sharks anunciam que não vão marcar presença na 11.ª temporada da ESL Pro League, que acontecerá entre os dias 16 de março e 12 de abril, devido à evolução mundial do surto do coronavírus Covid-19.
Siga a thread ⬇ pic.twitter.com/eagjoSwmvt
— yng Sharks Esports (@sharksesportsgg) March 13, 2020
Interview: Giovanni “gio” Deniz – Professional CS:GO Coach
This interview with Gaming Net talked a little with the Brazilian Giovanni “gio” Deniz. He tells us a little about how he started in Counter Strike, the problems that are faced every day in the profession. In addition to Coach, gio is an analyst, narrator / commentator for Counter Strike Global Offensive.
Giovanni is also a professor at Games Academy. Games Academy is an online teaching platform that seeks to help Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) players improve performance in Valve’s game. Created by the Brazilian pro player Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, who currently defends MIBR, the platform offers classes by subscription.
How was your first contact with Counter Strike?
In 2001 ~ 2002 once a week my brother and I went to a Lan House here in the neighborhood to play Tibia. One day he went only with friends and I couldn’t go, he came back cracked in Counter Strike. He introduced me, took me the other week to play and I never stopped playing.
You started your career in Counter Strike as a Player and today you are a Coach, tell us about your career in the game.
I even competed in smaller teams on Counter Strike 1.6, I didn’t get to the professional level at the time because it was much more restricted than it is today. I played championships between 2009 and 2010, and then I came back in 2015 already at CS:GO. At CS:GO, as a better PC was needed to play, I ended up studying more than playing. I used my knowledge to act as a coach, trying to develop myself as a person and professional in the best possible way.
Not only the players, but the coaches also encounter some difficulties during their career, did any of these lead you to think about giving up this profession?
I think my biggest difficulty has always been financial … As I got “old” on the scene and without a financial structure behind it, life charged me a lot. I sold a company just before I dedicated myself to Counter Strike and I managed to pay off in time. When, through community analysis, I managed to make a salary, since the teams I worked at the time did not even pay a living allowance.
Much is said today about the work of psychology with eSports players. In situations within the game, can the Coach guide the players in order to control the emotion or something?
The coach only talks in the clubs, so the preparation is pre-game, when exchanging halfs and between maps. The work of psychologists and sports psychology is always done during training. The player needs to be used to the techniques of emotional control.
You as well as Coach are Analyst/Commentator/Narrator/Teacher, do you think that all these functions that you end up adding to each other?
Without a doubt! It also gets in the way of trying to produce content where I need to focus more on analytics or coaching. But I have been looking for a very strong balance in relation to this and it has been good!
You had a passage last year by the Brazilian team of W7M, what is your expectation for the Brazilian scenario for the next years?
I believe that the Counter Strike scene tends to grow in 2020 and 2021 with strength. But for that, not only do organizations depend on making this delivery, but players (in general) need to have more maturity. More professionalism and taking Counter Strike as a job. I think there is a little lack of that on the Brazilian scene. Comply with schedules, respect training, train properly, focus on evolving the collective and help the scene as a whole. We have a lot of arrogance on the professional scene and this is detrimental in the long run.
Finally, what was the most remarkable moment in your career in Counter Strike so far?
I believe that as a Coach, the XLG Cup final was an absurd career milestone. First face-to-face final played at a Comic Con. As caster and influencer, without a doubt ESL One Belo Horizonte. That event was surreal in many ways. I did the narration that opened Mineirinho, I narrated SK’s first victory on the Stage, I received an extraordinary affection from the audience… It was the happiest moment I had working with Counter Strike, without a doubt!
If you want to check out Giovanni “gio” Deniz’s social networks:
Interview: Benjamin Panah, Project Manager of Valnir Rok, a Viking RPG Game
Valnir Rok is an online sandbox survival roleplaying game produced in Cologne in Germany, inspired by Norse mythology. Players will awaken to find themselves on Valnir Island and must do whatever it takes to survive in a land of wild animals, mythical beasts, and violent men. As a hardened Viking warrior, butcher your enemies in bloody combat, build and improve village structures, and form a clan to expand your power and reputation.
What was the original inspiration for launching the Encurio game studio?
The game was founded in 2015. It had always been a dream of the Valentin, Erik and Sebastian to develop a game. The brothers Sebastian Rahmel and Valentin Rahmel (Sarazar) started with a first concept of the game. Erik Range (Gronkh) joined immediately. Inspired by the Viking tv series, Game of Thrones and Survival titles like DayZ and Rust they created a first concept of a game with survival and roleplay elements.
RPG games have been one of the most popular genres for many decades now. What differentiates your games from the competition?
Actually, the mythical Viking setting. Still today most survival games are based in the modern days and far less in the medieval time period. And there our studio did decide to go for a Viking setting.
You recently launched the game Valnir Rok. What type of player would be attracted to this game?
We are focusing on two types of players. Those who enjoy a challenging survival game where you have to manage your resources, stay healthy and build your own home. But we also cater to those who just want to enjoy a mythical Viking world and experience the story of Valnir Rok as well as the lore behind it.
We don’t often come across games that are inspired by Norse mythology, what was the inspiration behind this storyline?
It’s our passion for Viking history and mythology. Many of us are interested in the Scandinavian history from the times when the Vikings were present and some of our developers even visit events and conventions where they can re-enact the dark ages.
As the main character you wake wake up on a beach, half-naked and exhausted, what happens to the character next?
Alone and with nothing on you but old and dirty clothes you have to search for other survivors and find out who lured you into this trap and caused your ship to wreck.
The game offers the feature of worshipping Gods and being able to win the favor of certain Gods. Could you tell us more about this?
Valnir Rok is based on Norse mythology but we decided to create our own pantheon. There are three gods which rule over the island and each one of them has their own domain. Everything you do in the game can and will change your relationship towards one of the gods and in return they will grant you favors which make you stronger, increase your vitality or increase some of your skills.
What are some of the professions and skills that a character can learn?
The players will need a lot of skills to survive in Valnir Rok and those naturally lead to professions. We offer several fields that players can specialize in. Those include for example blacksmithing so you can craft advanced weapons and armor. Or you could become a builder and create everything from single houses to full size cities for you and your companions.
Can you tell us about the ability to build houses and fortify them?
Our housing system is based on a modular building system. The players can pick from a large array of building elements such as walls, furniture and decorations to create their own Viking home. As with most survival games you start out with a small wooden shelter and as you progress you will unlock the ability to create more sturdy homes, made out of stone. As a measure of security, we have also added palisades and gates to the builder’s arsenal so that you can protect your homestead against enemies and other players.
Fighting in the Arena sounds like one of the most exciting parts of this world. What creatures will we be fighting?
The arena is a proving ground for all players where they can challenge the creatures and beasts of Valnir Rok in a fight to the death. Those who are looking to truly test their skills can also challenge other player in PVP combat.
How large is this multi-player world?
The map is about 16km².
Is there anything else that you would like to share about Valnir Rok?
We invite everyone to join us in Valnir Rok and experience the world we have created. We are still in Early Access on Steam but our team, together with the community, is working hard behind the scenes to release the full game within the next three months.
To learn more visit Valnir Rok.
Interview: Aleksi Halsas – Co-Founder KOVA Esports
This week’s interview is with Finnish Aleksi Halsas, who besides being Co-Founder of KOVA Esports is Direct Response Marketing specialist.
KOVA Esports is a Multi-Game organization, with players in several popular games. The organization seeks diversity, doing professional digital marketing in addition to video production. Check out what happened in our conversation with Aleksi, he told a little about the history of KOVA and about the sports they have.
When was KOVA Esports created? Who was the creator of this project?
KOVA Esports was created in early 2019. We were working on this project for a few months before the official launch. The creators were me, Aleksi Halsas and Antti Hirvonen.
Besides Counter Strike Global Offensive, what are the other modalities you have?
Today, in addition to Counter Strike Global Offensive, we have 5 more modalities. Rainbow Six Siege, Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Fortnite. We have a team of Streamers too.
Are there any plans to create new teams in new modalities?
We are constantly open to new possibilities, but nothing is desired in stone.
What about women’s modalities, do you have any intention of creating women’s teams?
Yes, we have intention, if they can compete, it will be created. We really don’t care if the team has women or not. But yes, if they are able to compete.
Does KOVA Esports have any Gaming House for training its athletes?
Not our own, we have a partnership with JAMK University (Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences). We use their facilities for training.
How do you work on athletes’ mental health? Is there a specific area of this within the organization?
We have our trainer Perttu Leppä who is responsible for the general health of athletes. And our General Manager Timo Tarvainen, who is responsible for all the team’s programming.
The CS: GO team will dispute the Closed Qualifier for ESL One Rio, what is the expectation for this qualifier?
A very high expectation, we are looking to qualify, we are the “underdogs” and this situation is good for us. We are very confident and it is a very important qualifier for us. But in the long run, it is just one of the classifieds and we believe that, even though it is difficult, we do not classify the list with a bright future.
What is your expectation of the KOVA Esports brand for 5 years from now?
We are looking to create long-term sustainable growth. Having a global brand that people in eSports in general know about. Long-term planning is one of the heads for us. The 5-10 year window is definitely the right one we are looking for.
The Counter Strike Global Offensive team consisting of players: Samu “uli” Leirilaakso, Lauri “pietola” Hietala, Samuli “Twixie” Herrala, Petteri “peku” Jaakkola and Nikita “Derkeps” Sirmitev played in the Europe Minor Closed Qualifier of ESL One Rio 2020. Was defeated 2-0 in both clashes, against Heroic and OG.
As mentioned in the interview, KOVA Esports had a very difficult path in this qualifier, but Aleksi strongly believes that in the near future they will be more prepared to compete for a Major.