Ben “ghil” Nicholson is a well-known character in the UK scene, known for his jokey attitude and blundering his way into a clip every LAN. Well this LAN he’s no longer doing Jaeger bombs in the inters tournament, instead he’s taking scalps and making his way into the top six of EPIC39.
After his triumph, UKCSGO’s Dafydd Gwynn sat down with ghil to discuss making top six, his Ruby League streaming career, and how has been able to improve over the last year.
Just to start off, you just made top six at LAN, what was the journey like and what’s going through your head?
To be honest I don’t know because we came into the LAN realistically thinking we should have been a pot two team, but we weren’t upset that we weren’t. Because we looked at the pot three teams and realistically any of those teams could have slotted into pot two. We played group stage thinking “oh this will be fine, pot three. We’ve got two hard teams in our group.” We weren’t expecting to get 16-0ed. The 16-0 kind of threw us off a bit, we were a bit tilted. We formed the other teams that were below us and then nearly got 16-0ed again, which was TERRIFYING. The server crashed as well. Terrifying.
We thought that a double 16-0 from a pot three team would be the first in UK CS history, maybe ever I don’t know. That definitely knocked our confidence but just coming in today it feels like we are playing a totally new game. Even when we played Overpass first game of the day, our spacing was really good, our trading was really good, util usage was good, Max has been calling really well. Joss has come in – a lot of people were saying he’s not played the game in two years – but he has been farming. Same with Trouto, he’s been playing sick as well. People are already know he’s a sick aimer, every time he comes to these LANs he’s always upsetting good teams, our entire team has been playing sick. It’s just kind of me sitting at the bottom there, I thought this was my LAN to come in, Ruby League King, and take over but my entire team are just carrying me. It’s crazy.
It’s funny you mention the Ruby League. I wanted to talk about your growth recently, it’s been huge and out of nowhere. If you look at the last summer EPIC.LAN you were doing Jaeger bombs on LAN whilst playing in the inters tournament and now you have made top six at this LAN. What led to this change?
In our TeamSpeak, it’s funny, it was a joke, it was an argument, about who was the better player – me or VUK? A lot of people were saying me and a lot of people were saying VUK, and I think VUK is shit (laughs). It’s just a piss take, just a joke about kind of thing, but even before then I’ve just been at Uni, I’ve had loads of free time, especially in the summer, to just sink loads of time into CS.
I was playing a bit of Diamond league here and there with some friends and as soon as I saw Ruby league was coming out it kind of negated the fact that you have level 9s and stuff on your team that might lose you the game. So I started playing it and I lost my first eight games in a row and I kept playing until I got my first win. Even though I lost eight games, I literally came to TeamSpeak right after I lost eight games and I just said “Ruby League is fucking Brilliant, it’s unreal.”
So I’ve just been grinding that, grinding pugs anyway. I kind of wanted to be in a team by this point to grind with, but an opportunity never really arose. I think me and haste were talking about a project, but nothing is really set in stone so all I’ve been doing in coming on and grinding pugs because that’s just brilliant. So Ruby League has just taken that pugging that I like doing and it’s letting me do it with UK players.
I know I get to meet new UK players, a lot of them are really under elo-ed or good and honestly it’s just brilliant, Ruby League is brilliant. Since I’ve just been enjoying it so much, I’ve just not stopped playing. Until my internet cut-out I had 130 hours in the last two weeks, I was the first to hit 100 games. I think I’m on 140 now. That’s all I’ve been playing. To be fair even if Ruby League wasn’t there I’d still be just grinding pugs. Whereas before, back last year, I wasn’t playing the game as much. I was still pugging and stuff, especially with a few friends on TeamSpeak, but I’d be lucky to have 60 hours in the past two weeks. I wasn’t really grinding, I didn’t really want anything out of the game.
Now I’ve actually been asking people for tips and looking at how I can improve myself. I think I have seen quite a bit of growth.
You’ve always had a jokey reputation as a player, are you trying to shake that reputation?
I definitely want to keep the jokey reputation. I come to these LANs and I don’t feel like I have a problem with anyone. I came last LAN with square and that, we got grouped but we were just playing for fun, it’s not nessecarily that I come to LAN for competitive gameplay I love just meeting people from online, all my friends. So sinking pints, having a laugh, drinking and get whatever clips posted of me I love that. But also, this LAN, being able to play into the Saturday and not in Inters, and actually take down some decent names has been a lot more impressive and fun.
But you are getting tired now.
Yeah definitely, I’m absolutely knackered to be honest. I don’t know how teams like Verdant come into these LANs every single LAN and just play all through the Saturday, like four best-of-threes, it’s crazy. Whoever is making it to the final tomorrow I feel bad for them.
It’s whoever has the 9am game that will be suffering.
That is brutal. That is brutal. Oh! I forgot about that. I remember Arctic Raptors played it last time. If I was in that situation I’d almost be gutted to make the Final on Sunday or have to play in the morning because Saturday night is one of the best nights of LAN. Because everybody is nearly out of the tournament at the point, everybody is coming together, everybody is drinking.
You meet new people, you get to go out with your pals. You don’t even need to stay at the LAN hall but when you do you aren’t in bad company at all. There’s definitely two aspects of LAN. The playing and stuff is really good and I really enjoy that, but I would come to spectate as well. If I knew a LAN was coming and I couldn’t get a team together I would still come to spec because I like drinking and the social aspect.
How are you feeling about playing Linx Legacy?
[editors note: this interview was done before the Linx Legacy versus gentexe match]
I’m not too sure because it’s a UK LAN. I used to come into LANs and look at teams that we were going to play and say “oh they got this many rounds against this team so maybe we have a better chance because I think we are better than that other team.” It does not matter at UK LANs. I’ve come in and I’ve see Linx Legacy take down Verdant, which is a team that was pegged to win it, we got 16-0ed by Al Fattiaq, we are never meant to win that games but [we should have won] a couple of rounds. You just never know with UK teams and I just feel like this LAN is the same. There is this top echelon, the first three pots are really good, but the bottom three are really bad. So there’s not really that upset potential this LAN.
There’s definitely a chance you can upset. I’d say we are in the decent echelon. There are the decent echelon and then those teams that have just come for fun. I feel like we could definitely be in that top echelon and upset some teams. Looking at their [Linx Legacy] results, taking down Verdant it’s obviously really impressive and I’m good friends with moz, but I have no idea how they play and I don’t know what maps they play. We have only really looked at two maps before coming in and it was just from five-manning pugs, we have no preparation so it’s literally going to be a full team style against a full pug style. You never know what might happen, especially depending on the maps. I think we definitely have a chance to get an upset.
Trouto is actually so so sick. Our players 1-1, they have the experience behind them and are a team – they have a lot more team experience – but I think our players aim wise match them pretty well. I think if it comes to silly rounds they will be way more prepared for that. They are not going to have that instability that we might have. We might lose a 4v2 by taking stupid fights, they will be a lot more disciplined than that. So it’s just trying to feel out how we would play. I don’t think our players are unmatched at all. I think the match is good.
My final question is, you have done a lot of streaming at the moment and you are finding a lot of success with that and in the UK CS scene we don’t really have a lot of streamers outside maybe Edeninho. If you could choose your career path going forward would you like to join a team and make your way up the ESEA ladder or find more success doing the content side and streaming?
That’s actually a good question… I think… I think for longevity probably teaming wise. I’m in a situation where I’m a bit more realistic, I don’t think I’m going to be playing on the stages or Cologne and stuff you know? At the same time I think the streaming is really good and really fun, but it’s a lot of time. Although I am just playing video games, my streams have been nine to thirteen hours. It’s a lot of time, it’s like playing a LAN. I have that space, I can walk around in my house, it’s not like I’m sat playing the entire time.
I also think when I first started streaming Ruby League everyone was kind of new to it, I was getting a lot of viewers and stuff. It’s dropped off a little bit, I’d still say I average about 18 viewers still. This LAN I’ve had quite a good viewership. But if Ruby League starts dying off I don’t feel I’m going to have the same pull playing normal five mans or Prem pugs because a lot of the pull is that you get to see UK players playing against other UK players that you know. A lot of my viewership is UK. I don’t have any people outside the UK scene, maybe like one or two here and there, but I think that the pull from my stream is that it’s our scene. Everybody knows each other.
So I’d say for longevity reasons I’d say teaming just because I don’t think I’m going to have a massive drop off, but with streaming you never know. If Ruby League drops off and I started streaming five mans there might be less interest and less viewership, if there’s no people wanting to watch it I’m not going to go out of my way to do that. So I’d say teaming but I don’t think I’m going to go pro or anything.
Thanks ghil, that’s all the questions I have, is there anything else you want to talk about?
I just want to add that Al Fattiaq might have 16-0ed us, but we still got a higher placement so it’s unlucky for them.