It may not be the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major, but the UK has some of it’s own domestic LAN events to look forward to. The first UK LAN is always a highly competitive affair, mixed with a lot of intriguing results, new lineups, and incredible drama to boot. With epic.TWENTY around the corner in the next couple of weeks, I have started sitting down with various team representatives and their thoughts on a wide ranging array of subjects going over previous LAN results, their thoughts on the UK Scene, epic.LAN in general, and their own team and what they are hoping to achieve with the current roster. This is the final of six interviews with various team captains and team players. This time we speak to Callum “skuxz” Bristow, who is team captain of former Bulldog eSports, who are heading to LAN under the organisation Chrome Gaming.
Callum “skuxz” Bristow, originally started life in the CoD4 scene back in around 2007. Although it should be noted that he did play other games prior to CoD but never took as seriously. Between 2007 & 2014, Callum managed to play around 5,000 hours in total of CoD4. After flirting with higher echelons of CoD4 and just shortly after the game’s scene decided to eventually die off, Callum moved to both League Of Legends and CS:GO in around November 2013. He found he didn’t enjoy CS:GO back then and decided to stick with LoL, however after playing with a group of friends, he decided to take CS:GO seriously.
It was mid 2015, when Callum went to join a team with Tazarini, saMM, doomy & famous YouTube & Twitch sensation, Phantasy (who was a top level CoD4 player), they ended up going to insomnia56 and ended up getting smashed around by the CS:GO community. It didn’t deter Callum, and he eventually played with a few other teams before settling down with both IGI.eSports and his now current lineup at former Bulldog eSports. Callum and the boys ended up heading to Kettering Conference Centre in October 2016, and went on to win epic.NINETEEN over Radix.eSports. It has been a long haul, but Callum finally has made it and here is his interview.
Talk me around your team, and the roles within your team, and how all of you came to be?
Our current roster is: skuxz (entry) wafu (support/CT IGL) bmagic (T side IGL) JT (support rifler) Nukeddog (awper/second in). bmagic, wafu and nukeddog have been together around 10 months, I was a recent addition around 5 months ago and JT is the newest addition we made after iSeries.
Our playstyle is usually heavily influenced on playing defaults and tactically taking map control with proper utility and we have a much more tactical approach to our games than most UK teams which tends to work well in our favour as we’re not really a ‘stacked’ roster in terms of raw talent, we aim to play smart instead of just trying to run around and frag.
The original roster with bmagic, nukeddog and wafu goes way back to Impulse Gaming White when they played along side wAVE and kplus.
You won epic.NINETEEN in October last year by beating Radix eSports at the time, which included Owen “smooya” Butterfield, talk me through that game, and what it meant to you?
Yeah that was a pretty interesting LAN, obviously known for not having any of the top teams / mixes like FM, Endpoint, CAZ as they were all away at WESG in China so we basically went into it thinking that we could get a top 3 finish if we play it correctly after looking through the teams that attended. Although nobody gives us credit, we still played pretty well and beat / outplaced good teams such as VATIC, Dragon, Dog, uFrag who had good previous placements so it’s not like it was just a complete easy walk in the park there was still notable teams there that we had to beat.
To talk you through the game, we basically went in with the expectation of losing, we played them in a BO3 in the upper bracket final before and they basically farmed us all game, although our minds wasn’t really in that game. It was intimidating they basically had the (In my opinion) best 2 AWPers in the UK on their team being Smooya and Luzuh which was scary to think about going into the game. The first game ran very smoothly, we beat them extremely comfortable on Nuke and didn’t think much of it, we knew that was our map vs them easily. Then came Overpass which we won by literally rushing B every round as we knew Smooya was playing A as he always does and our game plan was to stay as far away from him as possible. We’re now 2-1 as they started with a one map lead and was getting hyped knowing we only had to win one more map to take the series.
We went into dust2 and we had very low confidence on the map at the time and decided our mindset was to just show absolutely no respect as they weren’t hitting shots on the previous 2 maps and we all were, we basically just ran around like morons jumping through smokes at them and they literally couldn’t do anything we ended like 12-3 or something first half and then eventually won 16-11. The game meant a lot to us as it was a great confidence boost to have a LAN win under our belts especially when I was a knew addition to the roster so we was still in early stages as a team.
Was it a total surprise that you ended up winning the event, or did you feel confident in you and your team’s abilities at the time, and just expected it to happen?
It was definitely a surprise, we set our goal as a top 3 finish and I know nobody really had confidence we was gonna win the final before the it started, however once it got running because we was winning in dominating fashions every map we basically knew the final was ours, Smooya wasn’t turning up for Radix which was big for us because when he does turn up he can be so annoying and hard to play against.
He was whiffing a lot of shots he wouldn’t usually and nobody really stepped up in their games which is important for mixes as they rely on just basically out-aiming opponents consistently and they were almost never winning / holding sites, they even stacked B as 4 multiple times and we still cleaned them out every time so I think they mentally gave up and we was just confident in our ability to keep beating them with our execs / aim and everything just ran smoothly. We was definitely surprised in the event and the thought never really popped into our heads of winning the whole event because prior to the event everything in the team was going wrong and we was playing some of the worst CS ever.
Has winning a LAN event in the UK changed your overall perspective towards your achievements or expectations?
Not really, I guess all we really got out of it confidence-wise is that we turned up after playing absolutely terrible online and played well almost every game / series during the LAN showing that when we go to LAN even if we’re playing bad online (Like we currently are..) we can still perform at the LAN event and hold ourselves to high standards to beat teams just as good or better than us. We still performed really bad at the most recent iSeries after going out 9th/12th which kind of knocked our confidence a lot.
You and your team headed to insomnia59 in December, but didn’t quite come away with a Top 8 finish by unfortunately finishing 9th – 12th, were you bitterly disappointed by that, or did you take some positives from the event?
That was such a weird event, I don’t really know how to explain it. There was all sorts of problems from the start. First up we straight up knew we was removing kplus after LAN no matter what and he was extremely problematic pre-LAN and everyone was already annoyed with him going into the event due to the actions prior to the event. That was mentally draining knowing we was playing with someone who we had to remove straight after the event, also one of our players was very ill leading up to the event to the point where I was thinking he wouldn’t even be able to attend and even though he had EAC he didn’t turn up until the Friday as he was bed bound due to his illness.
Hats off to him he came to the event regardless and I respect that he came even though he was incredibly ill the whole event and basically wanted to go home, but it definitely hindered his performance and the teams performance as his mood was very bad (expected when you’re incredibly ill and have to sit and play cs 10 hours straight).
Our first game we lost to a team who we should of definitely beat as we was something ridiculous like 9-1 up on T side mirage whilst literally just running at them, then they got a few rounds, tilt happened between certain players which then caused arguments and a really awkward environment for the whole team, we ended up losing in overtime and we basically mentally gave up at this point as immature as it sounds – it’s the truth. We got to the upper brackets after comfortably beating wAVES mix, maxxyb’s mix and then came up against FM eSports which we pretty much knew we lost from the beginning, they smashed us on Nuke then beat us on overpass 16-9.
Then we went into the last game vs London Lynx, we mentally gave up very quick again due to everything and they just played so good, perfectly timing smoke pushes and making huge plays, we gave up first map and second map everyone was just tilted, there was no communication and they just walked all over us again.
We took no positives form the event, only disappointment. We were very disappointed in ourselves as we’re a team who usually never get tilted during games and can keep a clear mind, but everything went wrong that event everyone was getting tilted and going quiet, something that normally never effects us.
Talk me through the roster changes that happened post insomnia59 and the reasons for it?
I don’t want to go into too much details about kplus as I don’t want to bring that stuff up to the public as it’s private and wouldn’t be right to publicly state. We weren’t enjoying playing with him and he had real life commitments to attend to, he just started his first year of uni and had personal issues meaning there was problems with him attending prac and so on and he just generally didn’t even seem to be enjoying the game.
We chose JT as we don’t have any real experience in our team and him coming in has helped us develop a lot, it helps to be able to have someone who actually knows the right decisions and can point out why our things don’t work, we didn’t really have that before – we knew things didn’t work but we didn’t have the solutions, JT being much more experienced and knowing how to play better basically helps us choose the right way to play situations and he teaches us a lot individually. Another reason I got him is because we got on really well personally and I knew he had the right personality to fit in with our team, as we all have a really relaxed approach to criticism and so on.
Turning to epic.TWENTY in a few days, what are your thoughts on epic.LAN as an event, what attracted you and your team to the event, and how do you see the event in terms of success?
We really like the event, it’s much smaller than iSeries meaning you get to meet the teams on a more personal level and get to speak to everyone in the scene which is a really nice feature, as I don’t even see some teams at all who are attending iSeries because it’s so big. Also the prices are much fairer (Not a fan of paying £5 for a pint at iSeries) and the tickets and hotels tend to come to a much cheaper price. My personal experience is that it’s a fun event which is ran smoothly and much more sociable than iSeries.
How confident are you about your team’s chances at epic.TWENTY? Where are you realistically looking to finish?
Quite confident, despite our bad online results as of late, I still believe we can go into epic.LAN with a complete fresh mindset and just focus. There is a lot more good teams attending which didn’t attend epic19 such as Impulse, Endpoint mix, Radix mix (although they did attend, this lineup is much more stacked) so they’ll always be scary to play against. We’d be setting our goal at a Top 4 Finish whether we reach that or not is another story, but I’d personally be happy with anything top 4 or above.
Is there any team you are potentially looking at, like a dark horse to be worried about?
I think Impulse are going to do great this event, I don’t think you can really call them a dark horse as they’re known but people seem to have this negative opinion about them and say they’re not good, I personally think they’re looking very strong and they’re practising so much. They have also been bootcamping at ESL TV Studios in Leicester, I’d really like to see them finish above top 3 because of the amount of work they’re putting in. I think waves money crew can do good and cause upsets, they have strong unknown fraggers such as Trials who is looking very strong, if he plays really well and his team play up to standard I think they’ll cause upsets.
I think teams going into a game against them would under estimate them and Trials can catch them off, also wh1sk has the potential to play well if he’s hitting his shots and can carry. But it all depends how they cope and who turns up on their team
In your honest opinion, who is the star player on your team, and outside of just the game, what do they bring to the table?
I think the ‘star’ role varies between me and nukeddog, although when nukeddog plays really well he controls the game due to his role giving him the best spot to have impact all the time as he’s probably got the best aim on our team. He brings raw aim and he’s really good at picking players with awp, so we play slow defaults and let him pick down the team before we make our moves, so if he’s hitting shots he can single handedly win the game for us where as me playing well isn’t as impactful unless I play unreal and just keep getting double entries / winning clutches.
So basically, he can have much more game impact easier due to his roles, but he always plays really well at LAN so I’m looking forward to the carry.
What are your thoughts on the UK Scene currently, do you feel it is a much tougher scene now or do you feel there is still much to do within the scene?
I feel like it’s getting better, there is more UK specific leagues doing lots of great work like UK Masters, UKGT, and ESL Premiership and it’s moving away from top players to just playing in mixes to them actually forming teams such as Endpoint, Excel, and fm-eSports. Also there is more money being pumped into organisation’s to help the scene grow.
There’s still a lot more to be done, a milestone I’m looking forward to seeing is when a UK team qualifies for a minor, this would be a huge step and could bring lots more money into the UK scene if there’s a UK team playing at a minor. It’s still pretty rough as of now but it seems to be on a steady climb.
How have you found your online games in the various leagues and events you participate in and how much do you read into any surprising results you may suffer?
We’ve been playing pretty poorly in the qualifiers, we flopped in the UKGT qualifier final against SKUM and played terribly, also we didn’t qualify for EPS after losing to FM eSports (expected loss) and Impulse who we can be much more competitive with than FM but we didn’t manage to win the game. We’ve played the first UK Masters qualifier so far and lost to Fish123 which isn’t terrible, they’re a good team, however we played very poorly, losing to multiple eco’s and losing a 3v1 which would of won us the game. However we’ve just finished two ESEA Main matches beating ggrab 16-10 who played in Premier last season and Unknown BLX 16-13 starting off our season at 2-0 which was good.
We read into our online results and critique ourselves pretty harshly, it breaks confidence when you fail multiple qualifiers in a row, especially when we keep getting really close such as when we flopped in the UK Masters qualifier final last season losing a bo3 series after winning the first map 16-3 and choking on the second map. It definitely effects us mentally and hinders performance when we play other online games.
Any final shoutouts?
Shoutout to Bulldog eSports for supporting us through multiple events and shoutout to Luzuh my favourite player of course! Finally shoutout to our new organisation for this event, Chrome Gaming who are helping us out this event.
Chrome Gaming are heading to epic.TWENTY with the following roster:
Callum “skuxz” Bristow
Nicholas “bmagic” Friday
Joe “JT” Talbot
Alex “wafu” Belcher
Harry “Nukkeddog” Jenkins
This is the last of the interviews, however there will be much more content to be put out over the coming days, so make sure you keep in touch with UKCSGO in the run up and during epic.TWENTY through our Facebook & Twitter pages.