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SK TACO on becoming an entry fragger: 'I learned a lot of things watching apEX, but now I've created my own style'

by Dennis Gonzales Feb 28 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Helena Kristiansson / ESL

Epitácio "TACO" de Melo is the entry fragger for SK Gaming and is a two-time Major champion. His team has entered 2017 on a high note as they debuted at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas with João "felps" Vasconcellos, finished in second place against Virtus.pro and look strong going into IEM Season 11 World Championship Katowice.

Ahead of his games, TACO spoke with theScore esports about taking up the role of entry fragger and looking for revenge against VP on home soil.

2016 was your biggest year so far in Counter-Strike, winning both Majors of the year, however it was somewhat marred by a drop in performance in the tail end of the year. How would you sum up 2016?

In 2015 we were considered a good team, but not absolute world class, however I think 2016 was an almost perfect season.

We won every Major in 2016 plus ESL Pro League Season 1. We had second places for example at IEM Katowice, IEM Oakland, ESL Pro League Season 2, ECS Season 1 and third place at ECS Season 2, just to name a few.

In CS:GO there are so many great teams that I think it was an amazing year for all of us. Even during the tough times we performed really well but we can do even better and I am hopeful that for 2017 we can bring more trophies home.

Though you weren’t featured as one of HLTV’s Top 20 players of 2016, Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo considers you one of the best players in the world as well as the best entry fragger, however, in your 20 questions with HyperX you said it was a role you didn’t even choose.

What do you think of FalleN’s assessment? Who were some other entry fraggers or players that you looked to for inspiration to get you where you are today?

My team thinks I'm doing a good job and this is what really matters for me.

It's a good individual award to be in the Top 20 players, but this is not what brings trophies. It's really good to see that interview with FalleN and see that he is satisfied with my job, it makes me more motivated to keep practicing and learning.

I have two really different roles in my team. As CT I have to play passive as I'm always holding the B bombsites almost alone. For that, since the beginning I never liked to watch players that focus mostly on aiming, so I always choose the smart ones like KRiMZ [Freddy "KRiMZ" Johansson], pronax [Markus "pronax" Wallsten], etc.

As T I'm the entry fragger and being honest, I learned a lot of things watching apEX [Dan "apEX" Madesclaire], but now I've created my own style. With the experience I gained last year, now I'm always trying to create things that fit with my style and make me comfortable to play.

Everything I do in-game has one main goal: help my team.

You guys had a strong showing at the ELEAGUE Major with Ricardo "fox" Pacheco, some would say an unexpectedly strong showing. Why was he not kept in the roster, assuming that was an option? Was it a choice between fox and João "felps" Vasconcellos and you guys decided on felps?

It was clear from the beginning that fox would only be a stand-in. To play with us he would need to move to California, but he will be a father this year and of course wants to be with his family.

He did an amazing job playing with us, but it was communicated from the start that we wanted to play with felps long-term.

felps has a pretty similar playstyle as Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, how has he been worked into the lineup? What’s the team’s current role setup and has it been affected by the results from DreamHack Masters Las Vegas?

Everything is pretty new and it always takes time to find roles. We had to do less adapting than with fox, as he was primarily an AWP player. DreamHack was a good start and we could already see that this lineup will be very strong in the future.

We only lost to probably the best team right now in really close games. Virtus.pro are like our end boss and we hope to take revenge on their home field this week.

Though you guys played a whole LAN event at DHM Vegas, you guys have yet to play the new Inferno, though it’s usually the last map you guys ban in a veto.

What are your thoughts on the map replacing Dust II? How does the new Active Duty map group affect the team, since I believe Dust II was a pretty strong map for you guys?

It was not good for us since we were pretty comfortable on Dust II, but actually we can play Inferno and we are practicing the map. In Vegas we didn't have any reason to pick it since we have a lot of better maps for us to play, like Train, Overpass, Mirage etc.

In general, I think it's a really good thing for the game to update, since the fans can always watch something new. I really like the new Inferno and If they make some more updates it's gonna be a really great map.

Going back to your 20 questions with HyperX, you mentioned that if you weren’t a CS:GO pro that you’d be a Dota 2 pro. Who are your favorite heroes to play? Which teams do you cheer for?

I haven't played Dota in a long time but I was really good playing with Mirana, Shadow Fiend and had a lot of fun to play with Pudge.

I don't watch too much Dota 2 tournaments, but I like to watch teams like OG and Evil Geniuses when they play.

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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