However, at IEM's Global Challenge in Cologne at gamescom, k1llsen rubbished everyone's predictions and remarkably won the event, and in style, defeating two of the top four Quake Live players in the world on the way. The family man spoke to SK Gaming about the tournament and gave his thoughts on competitive Quake Live at this moment in time.
You just picked up your first major international Quake tournament win at IEM's Global Challenge in Cologne. Many will claim it was the best Quake Live performance from you since the IEM 4 European Finals where you topped your group but fell 3-2 to av3k in the first game of the knockout stages, so how does it feel to finally have a big tournament win and massively raised your presence in the Quake scene?
It's a great feeling, I mean finally I did it, I wasn't just there to finish in 2nd place at a major tournament. I really hope I can continue and build on this.
You've also secured a spot at this year's IEM World Finals. Having missed out on the season 4 climax how much does it mean to you knowing you'll be at this season's final?
I mean, it's good to know that I don't really need to care on which place I end up at the IEM European Finals, but I'll still try to give my best to place in the top 3, like I set my own goal at gamescom to place top 3.
Obviously everyone heads into a competition looking to win, but as you said, you set your target as top three. What would k1llsen really have been happy with? How had practice been going?
My practice was ok, I didn't really feel that confident on placing in the top 3 but I knew I still had the experience to do such things. My first day wasn't really a success even though I went through to the knockout stage; I didn't play very well. After my matches I practiced some games with Cooller at the event and that made me very comfortable for the next day. I would've been really happy with 3rd place, but the moment I was in the final I knew I could win it.
Let's talk about some of your matches at gamescom. After proceeding through to the knockout stages you faced strenx in what could have been dubbed as the 'easiest' fixture of the four but all of the maps finished with relatively close scores. Was getting past that first knockout game a big deal for you?
Strenx is not an easy player to play against, everybody knows how to play him but it's still hard to beat him. I would have really liked to have played against DaHanG since his styles suits me very well and it could have been an easier game for me.
Arguably the highlight of the weekend was when you played av3k. At 2-0 down versus one of the game's most aggressive duelers, what exactly kicked in to help you take three maps straight? Did playing at 'home' have any part in the come-from-behind win?
I would say it was not the playing at 'home' part, it was a good feeling to have the crowd behind me but overall I just knew how to beat av3k even after I failed on the first map and forgot about the frags he made there and I was just realizing it when the game was over. I was so focused that I forgot about the frags :)
I could have lost the game because of that, I just told myself after being 0-2 down that I really needed to do something. And this time luck was a bit on my side.
At that stage in the tournament your aim, railgun in particular, was really starting to excel above every other element of your gameplay. Would you say it sometimes carried you through certain situations and maps? If so can you recall any examples?
So nothing had changed since q3, I was already known for my railgun in q3 for which I can be very thankful. I mean if you ask strenx if his LG is carrying him through some games or the most games since the LG is on nearly every map available, what do you think his answer could be? I just went with a bit more self-confidence into the tournament after I changed my sensitivity and accel a bit, my aiming improved and I already knew that my rail was already at the top.
Following the win over av3k you were in the grand final of your first big tournament for nearly two years. What was going through your head after you lost the first map, dm13? In rapha you have a player who can easily string together a ton of map wins but also come from behind when in the worst of situations, so how was you handling being 1-0 down?
I knew that I also could have won that map since he won a few fights with low hp and one time he killed me with 2hp because I failed a rocket jump which wasn't seen on the stream because they were on rapha's POV.
Everybody knows about rapha's strengths but also about his weakness. I was still in a good mood to win and even if I would have lost the final against rapha, it would not have been a bad thing. That is what I was thinking about but I was also thinking that I was so close to the very top and that I needed to step up now!
Having beaten two of the current top four players, who do you see as the best right now? Would you say you're in contention for a spot in the upper echelon of Quake Live duelers or is consistency more important to you?
Of course consistency is very important. If I can keep my shape I see me as a top 3 candidate for the world finals. Just after this event I count myself as a top 5 player since Cypher and stermy weren't there but I already beat Cypher a few times and I really know what to do against him but sometimes he pulls off unbelievable moves. Cypher's presence could have changed the whole tournament.
How big an impact was Cypher's absence on gamescom? What do you think could have played out differently if he was there?
I really missed Cypher there because it could have been a whole different story. And also I would have preferred to play Cypher in the final, or at least Cooller than rapha, since Cypher & Cooller reached another level at the Qcon final and I would really like to face that in a final.
Had he been put in the group with DaHanG and strenx he could have potentially faced you in the first quarter final. How do you prepare for someone who carries multiple styles of play as well as the fiercest aim of the elite players?
I don't really fear Cypher since I know what kind of a player he is and how to beat that kind of a player. His aim is just unbelievable with some incredible moves to add to it. I beat him already and I know I can do it again. I really like to play Cypher or av3k; it makes it a lot more fun for me to play them than any other player. And also we understand each other very well, I think. :D
Do you think the addition of Aerowalk and Battleforged played out in your favor? What about Aerowalk in particular? You looked pretty impressive every time you played it.
Most players played those maps already in a competition at Quakecon, so I think the guys from Quakecon got a slight advantage. I didn't really like Aerowalk in q3 and I still don't in Quake Live. Overall since dm6 got removed I don't have a favorite map anymore. Everything I know and try to do is to play well on every single map.
What was, for you, the biggest moment out of all of your games? Pick out one defining battle or item pick up etc that was a game winner.
I think my grenade work against av3k was absolutely big when I killed him on Aerowalk in the beginning at the rail with double grenade direct and then hit him midair. Also on Furious Heights when he was coming to RA with 200/180 or something like that and ate two grenades which made the kill possible.
Give the readers a little insight into what Quake Live is like in the German EPS. What are the Intel Friday Night Games like as a player? What's your favorite thing about the whole set up?
IFNG (Intel Friday Night Games) are there to bring the eSports community closer to the players as opposed to just seeing them on the stream. We got different locations for the IFNG's so that the most people who are interested can come and follow the players live.
I think the German Quake Live EPS is good for some newcomers. In my opinion they have a reason to practice more to place top 4 and earn some money.
You mentioned in your segment on Live on Three that the German EPS has introduced a new map pool, including ones that you need to pay for. Firstly let the readers know what maps they are, and then give your take on them and whether or not the whole initiative is a good move.
The maps are Aerowalk, Battleforged(past), and the new map pool of the EPS and IEM will include Dismemberment, Hektik, Aerowalk for which you need to pay to play them... paying to play a map pool that's used. I mean how fair that is for new guys getting into Quake Live? Every EPS player already needs to pay for Premium and Trusted Level 3 and now also for Quake Live Premium. Not every player has an organization behind him which pays for that. It makes it harder for them to pick 2 or 3 players because it costs more since you need to pay for a whole year for Quake Live.
You received a mountain of praise following your gamescom triumph. It's easy to say that it gives a confidence boost but what does it give you knowing that a lot of eyes will be on you at the next event?
I'm ok with that; I like the feeling of being one of the players with eyes watching them. I mean if you want to be a professional gamer you need to handle that when you really want to achieve something in eSports. The win at IEM at gamescom and the moment of the ceremony gives me something back on for the time I sacrificed with eSports. Sometimes it's not so easy for me to get some time to practice because there is one thing which is always first, and that's my family :)
Any final words/shoutouts?
First of all I want to thank the people who cheered for me, then Machtext my sponsor which has supported me for a long time. I also want to thank my clan ESC.icybox for bringing me to gamescom and giving me a good home in eSports. And lastly thanks to my whole family, who is also cheering and watching for me at home.
Photographs credit + copyright of ESL / Julia Christophers
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