Zvonimir “Professeur” Burazin seems to have done everything. His resume includes running HLTV, hosting a successful podcast, organising a CS:GO awards show, and now working as an analyst at the last-ever CS:GO Major (where a UK team made the top eight for the first time, by the way). After his final game on the desk at the Legends stage of the BLAST.tv Paris Major, UKCSGO’s Dafydd Gwynn had the opportunity to talk to Professeur about his experience and the dynamics of working as an analyst.
Professeur also provided some incredibly honest insight into the backlash he received when he was announced as talent for the last-ever CS:GO Major. Many people saw his selection over other analysts as an injustice, to which he said, “I’m not deciding this, I’m not deciding YNk isn’t getting hired because if you ask me, I would hire him.”
The interview not only touched on the backlash, but also the jump from the pressroom to the analyst desk and how his experiences before and during HLTV helped him be ready for working at a Major.
Just to start, how are you finding your first Major as an analyst? You’ve done events before, but how are you finding it at a Major?
Yeah, I did a few tournaments before and did a lot of stuff in the local scene. I don’t know, I don’t really feel much, I’m just in the moment right now. It will take a few days to let it settle and take in everything. I’ve had a good time, I think I did a decent job. There were no hate threads, so I guess I was okay. Especially this last game, I feel blessed to be able to have worked on that and be a part of that storyline and how that will be remembered. It’s kind of crazy that I got that opportunity to work the last CS:GO Major, as everyone’s hyping it up to be, so yeah, it’s kind of crazy.
You’ve worked an RMR before, which is probably the closest you’ve come to a Major, so what’s the difference?
Obviously, it’s a different tournament operator, therefore a different production, a completely different production vibe. A lot more stuff is happening in the BLAST tournament and segments versus PGL which is, like, kind of barebones. We had some assets and stuff, but it was a lot less than you have here, a lot of b-roll, a lot of things you need to plug in, so there is kind of more pre-planning of a segment, for example.
That’s the biggest difference, at the RMR we freestyled a lot more so it was more reliant on having a good conversation than utilising assets and building storylines beforehand. Obviously, we did do that, we did research and stuff like that, but the full segment was a bit different.
So which is tougher?
I don’t know. Both have their own difficulties and things you have to deal with, it kind of depends on the person. I think for me, going into analyst work, if I jumped directly into a BLAST event like this, it would be much more difficult, because I’m coming from a lot of podcast work where you have a lot of time. So I did Katowice first, and the RMR after that, and both of those events were kind of a ramp-up of intensity, I did the Katowice group stage which wasn’t too many crazy games.
Then you realise how much less time you have when working a desk versus working a podcast, the whole segment is seven minutes, which feels like a lot, but you actually get two minutes to speak alongside this bit of content, and that bit of content. It’s a lot about understanding how to be concise with what you’re saying.
You’ve got to get a lot in, right?
Yeah, and not over-expand on things, using the right words. I’m not that great at it, but at least I understand, even if I don’t know what to say — let me rephrase this, this is a perfect example — I don’t want to take too much space and too much time, so I’d rather not say anything, rather than try to break down and expand something. You simply have to give up on some ideas that you want to say because it doesn’t make sense, you would just have to give too much context, so that’s something you need to balance.
We were just talking about differences there, from Katowice to the RMR, so what’s the big difference from being press to working on the desk? That’s got to be a huge jump.
I think it’s a natural jump, as I said, it’s obvious for people to be like, “ah this guy never did anything,” which is fair, I don’t have a Liquipedia profile, therefore I shouldn’t work a Major. But, I mean, I started following CS when CS:GO came out, and a year after that, I started doing tournaments, casting, streaming, all of it, and content creation, of course. I have a decent amount of experience in front of a camera, it doesn’t really come out of nowhere.
I understand that some people read what is good or what is bad, and it may be stupid, but every time I watch a broadcast, I’m thinking, [about] what I like, what I don’t like, how I would do something better, or worse. Maybe not worse, but breaking down the broadcast because it’s something that interests me, because I did work as press, but I never really considered myself a journalist. I was a CS writer, I did press, I did interviews, but I was always interested in content production, live productions, and stuff like that.
I have a decent amount of experience in front of a camera, it doesn’t really come out of nowhere.
I organised a bunch of LANs, casted some LANs and online events that no one watched like CounterPit season 4, which was won by DJL, who is now potentially in the playoffs, so I have some reps. Probably more than people think. Then I got the opportunity to do Katowice, and things got rolling.
You just mentioned something there that I want to touch on because it’s the elephant in the room. When the talent list got announced there was criticism aimed at you, Jake Lucky on the after-show, and even TechGirl, even though she has also done an RMR. So when you saw that criticism, what were your thoughts?
I mean, I can roll back to getting the first offer for Katowice, like I didn’t even reach out to anyone to work a desk even back then. So, when I got that, I was like, “why the fuck are they asking me? Couldn’t they find anyone better”, and then I’m like, “okay, they’re doing this huge eight analyst rotation for Katowice, this makes sense, they just want to try someone new,” and then that was fine. There was a bit of backlash there, but everyone that was supposed to be there was there, no one really cared, it was okay.
But at that time I’m like “okay, it’s not my problem, I’m not deciding this, I’m not deciding YNk isn’t getting hired” because if you ask me, I would hire him
Then the [PGL Antwerp] RMR came around, and I was asked to do that, and I’m like, “this is kind of weird because that means YNk wasn’t hired for that one,” but there’s a reason why PGL didn’t want to hire him, but that sucks for me because I’m put in the position where I’m replacing YNk, which is again happening now. But at that time, [I was] like, “okay, it’s not my problem, I’m not deciding this, I’m not deciding YNk isn’t getting hired” because if you ask me, I would hire him. I think him and Maniac are the best with Maui, these are the three best guys, and Bleh is also awesome. They should be hired for the biggest events, in my opinion. But if someone doesn’t want to hire them, I can’t influence that like, “okay guys, I really like your offer, but instead of me, hire this guy,” it doesn’t work like that. So then you just accept it and deal with what’s coming, and I wasn’t really surprised at all.
So now, backlash aside, how have you found the dynamic? Is it easy to slot in? Or have you had to carve your way in?
In terms of, like, the social dynamics?
Just on the desk, obviously, there’s always different dynamics depending on the trios.
Obviously, here I worked with Maniac the whole time, and then we swapped hosts for reasons, every tournament does that differently. In Katowice, I worked with everyone, and [at] the RMR I also worked with, I think, everyone there. I think every duo kind of has something different, and also the host that comes in. For me, I think what I did at the beginning was kind of just felt out the vibe and try to fill the gaps, which is kind of my forte in general. I don’t think I’m super good at anything, but I’m pretty versatile, and I can adapt to whatever situation and social situations as well. So that was kind of what I did.
At the RMR, for example, we did a bunch of desks with Pimp, BanKs, and me, and there was a lot of banter and fucking around. Me and Pimp were constantly going at each other like he would say something, I’d make fun of him, and then we’d go back and forth. Then if we had a different setup like me, Sjokz, and Maniac, that was super serious. Obviously, there were jokes and stuff, but let’s talk about the game; there was less fucking around between the two of us. So, yeah, I think it’s about figuring out who does what and what you can add to this conversation.
For people that are doing desks consistently, like Maui, Maniac, YNk, they have their style more defined, and definitely, as a new guy, you should be more adaptable rather than forcing them to completely change what they’re doing, like “no, I am now going to be the hot-take machine” that doesn’t make sense if you have Maui there, and that’s kind of his niche. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all; he does a great job. So yeah, that’s kind of how I approached it.
So is this a permanent move for you? Are you trying to move more into analyst work as your main venture?
No, not really, like I want to do more. Even the things I did last year, it’s kind of funny I got asked to do Katowice, I got asked to do the RMR, and I even got asked [to do] the Antwerp Major as well, but I said no because I had to do HLTV stuff and I also had imposter syndrome at the time. I was like, ‘shouldn’t I be doing this, blah blah’ and in the end, they got Devilwalk for that. So yeah, when I got asked for this Major I couldn’t say no to a second Major; that would be kind of dumb, and the last CS:GO Major, so I was like, “fuck it, we’ll make it work.”
I even got asked to the Antwerp Major as well, but I said no because I had to do HLTV stuff and I also had imposter syndrome at the time.
What a time to do it!
So, is it a permanent thing? I didn’t reach out to PGL, I didn’t reach out [to] ESL, they reached out to me, so I’m like okay, and after I did those events, I reached out to some people and was like I’m open to [doing] more events. It doesn’t have to be the biggest events, I don’t know why people only call me for the big events. It’s kind of weird, I agree, like ‘did nothing, now working the Major, working Katowice.’ But no one is asking me to do anything else, I can’t really force myself into a broadcast, hijack and parachute myself into an ESL Challenger studio, but no one asked me to do anything. To answer the question, it’s not my goal to work analyst stuff full time, but I’d like to do it here and there, I have enough time in the year to do a few events, and I think it’s fun; it’s a good thing to do.
It’s not my goal to work analyst stuff full time, but I’d like to do it here and there
So when you got your current role at HLTV, it was kind of a big move. It was semi-out-of-nowhere, I remember you saying you were kind of thrown into that role, and you had to adapt. Do you think that experience has helped you become adaptable in terms of being an analyst?
Umm, I wouldn’t really say so. I’ve always been like that, I did a lot of things before. In the Croatian scene, we started something like what you guys are doing with UK CS for Croatian CS that went into the Adriatic region. We did coverage, we did videos, we did podcasts, so I did all of these things; I was an admin, I was creating graphics, I was doing logos, I was setting up the stream. That’s kind of how I always have been, building small teams and working with people. I don’t think that was a thing that helped me, but it’s just one of the things that I do.
My last question is, with CS2 just around the corner, what’s the thing, either with HLTV or yourself, that you’re looking forward to the most?
I’m just going to speak for myself because HLTV stuff is like HLTV stuff. Just talking for myself, it is just observing what is going to change and how much it’s going to change things, especially in terms of the players and the teams that are good today, how many of them are going to be affected, and have a tough time transitioning. That’s the biggest storyline for me, and obviously, there are going to be so many new things, new maps, tricks, and stuff like that. There is going to be so much to cover in articles, videos, podcasts. I think there is going to be so much to digest that that’s going to be super fun, how we’re going to attack that.
It’s fucking amazing that we have a game that’s been going on so strong, and on it’s end of it it’s still peaking and breaking the records.
There are going to be new content creators coming in and new ones coming back, like Summit, who has been playing ESEA Open, and stuff like that. Everyone is trying to get their foot in the door as CS2 is coming. I don’t think it’s going to be anything crazy, new, or different, but you know how people are when there’s a new refreshing thing; it just brings people excitement. It’s fucking amazing that we have a game that’s been going on so strong, and on its end of it, it’s still peaking and breaking the records.