BLVKHVND came into EPIC as one of the favourites for the title. The Fraser “frazehhh” Sollom led team have made a bit of noise over the past few months, in particular with their impressive run in ESL Spring Premiership. A second-place finish in their group behind only ITB, arguably the number one UK team behind Endpoint, was followed by a close semi-final loss to the dominant Endpoint team. The team’s impressive displays during the EPS season attracted the attention of BLVCKHVND a North American org looking to get into CS:GO and whose scouting had led them to keep an eye on this UK roster. After a disappointing loss to emps kid’s in the upper bracket BLVKHVND have fought their way through the lower gauntlet and played a great rematch in the final. UKCSGO’s Dafydd Gwynn caught up with their head of EU operations, Troy, who gave an insight into the organisation’s decision to pick up a UK team, why the org wanted to get into Counter-strike, and the plans for the org and team in the future.
This is your first EPIC.LAN, how have you enjoyed it so far?
Yeah it’s my first EPIC, I was at Insomnia68. I’m actually from Australia so they were the first two UK LANs I’ve been too. They are different to the major LANs around but they are bigger than the Australian LANs.
How do they compare, have you enjoyed it in comparison to the Aus LANs?
LANs always good, no matter where you go. Its great to meet people in the community, I love esports so every LANs fun to me, doesn’t matter what it is.
Have you enjoyed watching the team? how do you feel about the teams performance?
So far they have been doing really well. They came up against a hard team in the first bracket of winners, but that’s just how the bracket goes sometimes. Since going into lowers we have been pretty dominant, we have been playing well and are excited for the grand final to get that rematch.
I just wanted to talk a bit about the org itself, what made you get into Counter-strike?
CS:GO is a major title, like its huge. We are actually a American based organisation, but I live in the UK. We launched a European division, we have a EU Halo team which was originally a full UK team but is now a EU-mix with a couple of UK players. So we wanted to get involved in Counter-strike and we thought we would start with a UK team and build up from there. So I done a bit of scouting and these guys, I reached out to them during the last season of ESL UK premiership, just when it had started. We liked how they were playing, and we met them and they were all really nice guys so we started supporting them, then they got third-fourth and took Endpoint to three maps so we were really happy with that result. The UK scene is still developing but everyone is really nice and its going in the right direction.
What are your thoughts on the UK scene?
I think personally, that there are heaps of talent and room to progress in this scene. There are a lot of dedicated people who really love the game, funding is a little bit short but hopefully that comes. There’s a lot of potential in the scene though and as organisations like ITB and us develop I think that’s really good for the scene. The beyond invitational is good hopefully we get more of them, having two regular LANs in Insomnia and EPIC is great as well. I know EKO just went and won a LAN in Austria, there’s a lot of promising things for the UK scene.
Obviously you are not from the UK but would you consider yourself part of the UK scene now?
(Laughs) Yeah I guess so. I might as well be.
What are your long term aspirations, for the org and this roster?
We want to be a tier one team, but we aren’t trying to immediately get there. We want to do it organically and grow roots within the CS:GO scene before we get there. We have been really open with that with the current rosters as well, that we want to grow and grow and this team might hit a ceiling at some stage. We are committed to this team for the foreseeable future, until they hit their ceiling and we were very transparent with them in the first place so it wont be a surprise if it does happen, in like a year or two time. They aren’t at their ceiling yet, they are continuously growing and improving.
How involved are you day to day with the running of the team?
The actual running of the team not too involved with. They have their coach Tome who we brought in two months ago and they organise all their own scrims and they are really committed so we don’t have to micro-manage much. When it comes to events and stuff, like we were at Insomnia and we are here today and we also broadcast all their matches on our twitch channel, so we are really involved in their games and when they are playing but their practice and stuff we leave to them.
What advice do you have to upcoming players who are trying to form teams and get their names out there?
Good question. I think in this period of esports because there are a lot of investment in other areas and other regions sometimes players want a lot more than what a organisation can give them. So I think its a position of you have to take what you get and then work with brands to build up your personal brand. If you work with a brand that has 2000 followers then you can use that to build up your personal brand and that will benefit the longevity of your career.
What’s the one thing you think the UK needs?
More events. More events and maybe some bigger scale events, we have EPIC and Insomnia which is great, we have two LANs when some scenes have none. So that’s fantastic, but getting some bigger prize pools in and more HLTV, that’s what we need. It will come, I think it will come in time, but that’s what we need.