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
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