Gambit's HObbit: 'I think that every professional team should have a sports psychologist'

by 6d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of ELEAGUE Twitch

Abay "HObbit" Khasenov is a rifler for Gambit Esports and one of only a handful of players from Kazakhstan competing in the upper echelons of CS:GO. Gambit recently finished in the Top 8 of DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017 and they will be hungry for better results at the SL i-League Season 3 finals in Kiev.

HObbit took the time to speak to theScore esports about the Kazakh CS:GO scene and the added pressure of being a rising star in 2017.

You’ve had a very rapid rise in 2016. You earned an MVP award at DreamHack Winter, your first big LAN. Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko named you one of his Top 10 players of 2016, alongside Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and Marcelo "coldzera" David. And Na`Vi’s Egor "flamie" Vasilyev believes you’ll break into HLTV’s Top 20 in 2017.

What are your thoughts on how you’ve grown in 2016? Given your breakout year, do you feel more pressure overall in 2017 than you did in 2016?

I’m very pleased with my progress in 2016, but I did a lot of training and was thinking about CS all the time. I didn’t miss my chance and just showed myself. Of course I can be stronger, but at the beginning it's very good.

Yes, I feel that in 2017 many people have high expectations for me, like entering the Top 20, and I'm feeling a little pressure, but I will find a way to deal with this and show that my time training is not empty.

Gambit were notable absentees for IEM Katowice. You guys weren’t invited to either the main event or the qualifier, why was this the case?

We don’t understand why we were not even invited to a closed qualifier. We didn’t have time to go through the open qualification and we missed such a wonderful tournament like that.

You’re still on loan from Tengri, but according to your Tweet there’s only a month left in the loan. Are you concerned about this? Is this something you’re discussing with the team or Gambit?

Well, these issues are being solved at this stage and may be already solved. Right now I can’t answer for 100 percent what will happen next, but I'm not worrying about this because I'm trying to focus on SL i-League StarSeries.

You guys have put Kazakhstan on the map. What are your thoughts on Kazakh CS:GO talent? Could we see a Kazakh player in a powerhouse mix-team like FaZe Clan or a Kazakh player imported to an NA or EU team?

I want to say that there's a lot of talent in Kazakhstan that can play very well if given proper conditions and opportunities. To our great regret, we can’t play with Europe or with Asia with good ping. This is a big problem in Kazakhstan. Desire and talent we have, but the Internet breaks all dreams.

Yes, I would like to see players from Kazakhstan in teams like FaZe or in NA.

In an interview with Gambit you mentioned that confidence is a big part of your game. Considering a big storyline from the ELEAGUE Major is Astralis and their sports psychologist, have you, your teammates or Gambit considered working with one?

Yes, I'm sure that psychology in such Major tournaments is important in 50 percent of the percentages. I think that every professional team should have a sports psychologist.

Of all the Lord of the Rings races to name yourself, you chose the Hobbits, why? What does LotR mean to you?

My brother gave me that nickname after watching the LotR movies. LotR are the best movies for me, I watched this movie several times.

How is the team preparing for your next event, SL i-League Season 3, in Kiev?

Our training equals 20 percent of how we can prepare. This is all due to the news that you will learn later.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

Gambit Esports acquires an academy team in CS:GO
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Gambit Gaming

Gambit Esports expands by acquiring a team of up-and-coming players in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. We see big potential in forming an academy team in CS:GO and from our side we will provide all the needed resources for the young players to develop.

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Gambit's Zeus on leaving Natus Vincere: It was ‘tough mentally and psychologically’

Thumbnail image courtesy of Helena Kristiansson / ESL

Daniil 'Zeus' Teslenko is a veteran of the Counter-Strike scene.

He's one of only a handful of players to have attended every single CS:GO Major so far, continuing that streak with a Top 8 performance at the ELEAGUE Major in January.

theScore esports caught up with the Gambit Esports team captain to talk about his transition from Natus Vincere, his feelings on playing on Infer-new and his thoughts on each of his Gambit teammates.

In 2016, we saw your departure from Natus Vincere after nearly seven years with that organization. Tell us about your transition into Gambit.

I want to refresh the chronology of events that happened in 2016. We took a lot of second places in a row. There were a lot of such defeats, let’s take StarLadder in Kiev, where we gave up to and got the second place. That was a pity. All the time we understood that the victory is so close and we play better but we could not prove it with the first place.

Some teams, which couldn’t win the tournaments and met us then at the finals, had a kind of confidence they would shut us down. That was the reason for a psychological problem in the team. However, because of our taking second places all the time we became a stable team and thus in the middle of 2016 we got to be the world's top one team.

The problem of our squad was that when there were hard times some members just couldn’t be like a part of the team, they separated somehow. When someone outdid us we needed to pull together but we just became weaker and lost. As the result, you already know from my profile that we didn’t make it work with Natus Vincere. I thought about what I would do next for several months and decided that I go on playing. That was how I got to Gambit.

I don’t know what awaits us further but I feel like playing with these guys and I think we can succeed. The more we were training the more I enjoyed the gaming process itself, that was something I didn’t have in the previous team. I’m happy that today I play with them. We have a chance to prove ourselves. Now we’re in Las Vegas and we want to show good Counter-Strike. We still have loads of tournaments ahead and whatever we perform here we won’t be desperate in case we lose, or over-the-moon in case we win. We see there is a lot of work ahead.

Joining Gambit went smoothly and relatively fast. Quitting from Na’Vi got to be a difficult process. It was tough mentally and psychologically. I have special relationships with some of the players from the team and generally I have positive memories because still we played together for a long time.

How did you feel about the number of events you played in 2016, was overplaying an issue? Will you look to reduce event attendance in 2017?

Actually I don’t think it’s anything special here. I don’t think there was a problem with the number of tournaments we took part in. It’s just the opposite, thanks to the tournaments we were little by little becoming better. We try to participate in the majority of the tournaments.

As we are a young team and we haven’t yet fully established ourselves among the top teams we don’t get a lot of invites, so we need to play at the qualifiers. We lose some qualifiers, we’re not in the first division in some leagues, sometimes we play at the qualifiers to play at the qualifiers. It’s okay.

I think it’s fair to say that you’re the most experienced player on the team. Do you consider yourself a father figure or bigger brother on the team?

I realize that I’m the captain, the example for the team and a lot depends on me so I need to keep myself with dignity. I’m a fair man and I try to make the fairness work for the team as well, so that there wouldn’t be a space for my supporting someone more and someone less. I try to do away with the conflicts, to get rid of the difficulties and move further. This is concerning my role in terms of the psychological component in the team.

How would you describe each of your teammates?

Talking about each player: mou is a strong player, whose game is built upon motivation and I’m still puzzled about what it depends on. It’s for sure not about the prestige of the tournament or the prize fund, it’s something else he gets it from, and I still haven’t found the answer.

Rustem is a calm player, and as a rule the team needs such players.

Dosia is very calm as well, and very experienced. He has his own style and his own extraordinary vision of the game, which appeals to me.

Misha is stable, he can play better but he needs a good motivation and discipline.

AdreN is one of the emotional and strong players, who works the most. He is an example of the man, who wants to achieve something, to win.

After HObbit got MVP DreamHack Winter, he relaxed, but now, when he got the visa, came to the Major and got the Legend status, he pulled himself together. I think he should move further, develop and listen to the captain. He has a great future!

You were the subject of one of Player Profiles for the Major. How happy were you with the short film?

The profile turned out really cool. I enjoyed the way we filmed it. The film crew are professionals. Everyone, who took part in the video, my parents, my girlfriend and me also, were satisfied. Actually I’ve been doing different videos for a long time so it’s not an unusual process for me. Everything went great so the result of the profile occurred cool. When I saw the video I felt encouragement. I hope it had the same effect and was interesting for the spectators as well. Thanks Valve for having made such a nice profile!

Right now you are still a top contender, but have you considered your career in esports (or outside esports) beyond being a competitor?

For now I haven’t thought about that. Now I want to play, win and take part in different tournaments. I want our team to succeed. I’m highly motivated now and I think that situation with Na’Vi worked well for me so now I’m more serious about the game. There is more inspiration for me in this team so now I want to play, and will see what’s next.

Are you happy with the team’s performance at the Major? What needs to improve going forward?

We weren’t psychologically prepared for the tournament. As for the game, the team was ready much better. I’m pleased that despite the psychological stress the team had, we managed to fulfill our minimal task. First of all we need to hire a psychologist, for example, Astralis has one and he helped them to cope with the difficult situations and with the hard match and the strong team. All in all, I think the team needs a psychologist.

And we should work on our game, make it better, to unite the team, to work on the mutual understanding, team play and all these.

DreamHack Masters Las Vegas comes just a handful of weeks after the end of the ELEAGUE Major and notably features all Top 8 teams from the Major. Do you look at DHM Vegas as a “revenge tournament” for the Major, or is it just like any other event?

To be honest, we had a lot of different troubles. They were connected with HObbit getting his visa for a long time before the Major. We almost got confident we wouldn’t get one. Really, it was kind a magic he got it (he got a one-off).

Now he was getting the new one and that’s why we couldn’t do a full preparation, so we used a bit different [training] system ... This tournament hasn’t as much at stake compared with Major. Maybe each team has the same feeling so they will play a bit more relaxed and will be able to show themselves from the other side, I don’t know.

This tournament can only work for us. We must be less nervous, approach this tournament calmer and play a bit differently.

DHM Vegas will be the first event to use the latest map pool, so Infer-new instead of Dust II. What are your thoughts on this?

The exclusion of Dust II wasn’t a problem for us. We had a good attitude to the comeback of Inferno to the map pool, we like it and the team plays on it, and I hope we will manage to show good CS on it!

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

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