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An Interview with TheGenius - Part II

Thrustworld - sponsors of Four Kings
Top: DanFrag (Dan Lucking, 21), oppie (Freek van Workum, 18), Liquid (Marc Mangiacapra, 17) Bottom: Grim (Doug Wright, 20), TheGenius (Jonny Neffgen, 20), Darth (Pieter Kwak, 18).

An interview with TheGenius - Part II

I wanted to learn more about how Four Kings had managed to retain such a vice-like grip on the number one spot in the UK for so long. So before TG headed off to Dallas, I managed to sneak in a few questions. I knew they practiced a lot - fives times a week, in fact, but did a practice session mean the same thing to TG and 4K, as it does to most other gaming folk?

TG: Well, in CS the most important thing is being able to handle all set situations in such a manner that your team always has the advantage. For example we have to practice a certain way of defending the other team's attacks in the way, which is most advantageous to us, you can't count on winning random firefights, so we have to be positioned and backing up faster and more efficiently than the other team can attack.
We don't really practice set things like firing upon certain positions, however generally we all have set roles that we play on different maps and practice matches just get you more, and more used to the best way of playing them. The real key is varying the way you play, as an opponent will quickly see what's happening if he dies in the same way, by the same method more than once.
However, individually we have to make sure there are certain things we can do really well, like some knife jumps (Jargonbuster - The player takes a running jump onto a clan mate, whilst wielding the knife, the lightest weapon. This, obviously gains the player extra height for jumping quickly to a higher observational and tactical position. This was allegedly banned during the recent Word Cyber Games in Seoul, as it was considered 'unnatural', but then, apparently, eating dogs is not - so go figure.). The top glass on de_prodigy is a good example of knife jumping. Being able to boost or be boosted quickly, planting the bomb silently and so on are all important skills for an individual player.

CFC: Do you or any of the guys play any other games?

TG: Not seriously, Doug plays a bit of Quake 3 and most of the rest of us enjoy the odd bit of Q3 Instagib, but really CS is our only game.

CFC: Are there any recently released games that you have taken up and/or see as possible future pro games?

TG: Well not really, CS is really at the very peak at the moment, with an amazing level of competitiveness and plenty of competitions. There isn't really a reason to look elsewhere for gaming. I don't think CS will disappear anytime soon. Its got at least another 18 months.

CFC: Looking back, can you see games that really gave you the foundation you needed to take gaming into a more professional arena?

TG: Counter-Strike is the first and only game I've ever really played, I wasn't much into computer games before it (unless you count Championship Manager!). I think a couple of the others were gamers before CS, but not seriously.
I think it does help having played a different game beforehand, in that you have an idea of the basic concepts of how to play. However, it can also be very negative, you can be stuck in bad habits or playing a style suited to one game and not the other.

CFC: Do you really see yourself as a professional gamer or do you think that the industry needs more time to make that possible - in financial terms and in terms of organisation?

TG: I think the best we will get to - which we are pretty much at - is to be a fully-sponsored team, where everything to do with computer gaming will be paid for in full, from software to airline tickets. In essence this is what a 'professional' computer gamer is described as at the moment, which doesn't make much sense as 'professional' means you are getting paid, which no-one is. The terminology in gaming is all very wrong, trying to push the games and tournaments as something they are not, for instance the Cyberathlete Professional League World Championships has about eight or less sponsored teams from the many going, none which are paid a salary.
I think gamers earning salaries for playing - and not just through prize money - won't happen while I'm a player, but I'm sure it isn't too far off. I'm quite happy where we are at the moment. We don't have to pay for much and we get to play at pretty much any event we like.

CFC: So what does the future hold, do you see yourself still slugging it out at tourneys in five years time?

TG: I don't really know, depends on a lot of things - mainly time. I've been playing CS for this clan for about two and half years now. It's more fun than it ever has been at the moment, just there is a lot of pressure and its a lot more uptight than it used to be. I'm 20 now. In five years, I haven't a clue what I'll be doing with my life, it might not be a cushy job in IT near home and I might have some other commitments.

CFC: Do you see any up and coming clans in the UK capable of the success and dominance that 4K have attained or any individual players that have made a good impression in all your recent events?

TG: People always ask this question, and time and time again, we see clans who come along and challenge for a short while, then disappear again. I hope noc (Nocturne, 2nd Seed in the UK) can pull it together, but I have high hopes for clan Ui (Uninspired, who came fourth in the UK qualifiers for the CPL World Dallas event). They aren't kids, they have no problem with taking a beating and they behave maturely. I think as long as they are patient for success, they can definitely become a big player in UK CS in the future. As for individual players, Renegade from noc is one of the best at the moment, but going back to Ui, Landshark was very impressive on LAN.

CFC: Looking ahead to the CPL Dallas event, what do you think of the organisations GUI, do you prefer it to simple config (Jargonbuster - game configurations/settings) rulings, which you get at other tourneys?

TG: The CPL GUI is quite cool, configs along with cheats have made Internet CS virtually unplayable at times and the trouble with unlimited configs at LAN events previously, a lot of configs have made it into the major tournaments. People have noticed and complained, but there is nothing anyone could do about it. I think the CPL WC will, for the first time in CS, be a fair tournament.
What we really need is pro-mode CS, with something like locked variables built in, for example rate 10000, cl_updaterate 50, etc.

CFC:How confident do you feel you are on the CPL maps for Dallas?

TG: Most of them we are pretty confident on, the two wildcards are really de_clan1_mill and de_clan1_fire, which are the custom CPL-created maps which have been played in American competitions before, but never in Europe. Looking at the schedule, we shouldn't have to play either of these maps, however we need to be prepared to play them to an adequate standard just in case.
Our strongest maps are all the older ones, de_dust2, de_train, de_nuke, de_prodigy and de_aztec. de_inferno, we had never really played before a month ago, however have found it to be a very good match map, especially quite hard for CTs.

CFC: You mentioned x3 and Xeno at the qualifiers as clans you'd like to play, apart from NiP, are there any clans you've heard about or researched since qualifying that will be very challenging or worrying draws for you?

TG: Well, the American clans with the big names are X3, DoP and GB. Xeno are Canadian, but also have a good reputation, we have looked over a couple of demos are not worried about meeting them, however NiP would be a worry. They are in my opinion undoubtedly the No.1 team in the western world at the moment and unless something miraculous happens, they aren't going to be beaten.

Well, looking back from the vantage point of having seen the finals - it was close, but NiP appear unbeatable on the pro circuit.