Braxton "swag" Pierce is a sponsored streamer for Cloud9 and currently has a lifetime ban from competing in Valve-sponsored events. It's a ban served after he and several others were exposed in a match-fixing scandal and is a recurring topic of discussion within the CS:GO community.
In April, swag had the chance to play with C9, subbing in for Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham, at the cs_summit, to the delight of much of the community.
With the cs_summit said and done, swag took the time to talk to theScore esports about his experience competing.
Let’s start with the cs_summit, how did it feel to be at a high-level tournament again? How much do you miss being able to compete?
It felt really good to be able to compete at summit. Although it was missing some teams, it was still one of the most enjoyable tourneys I have attended. The atmosphere and environment itself was really cool; it was like playing from home.
How much practice were you able to get with Cloud9 before going to the tournament? What value did Rank S have as far as preparation?
I played a total of two scrims the day before the tourney started. Besides that, I was only practicing my individual skill through Rank S and DM'ing. Playing in Rank S helps me keep my individual form, and is the best practice I can get right now.
You were one of the highest HLTV rated players at cs_summit, but what’s your assessment of your performance?
I don’t really like judging players off statistics and ratings, as it doesn’t show everything you do for the team like utility, in-game comms, and what you sacrifice for the team. All of these things are as important to winning just as much as fragging.
I was content with how I played overall but personally don’t feel like I played up to my own standards, especially in the last series versus OpTic.
What are your thoughts on the cs_summit itself, how do you feel about the more casual atmosphere of the tournament?
I can’t praise Beyond the Summit enough for running an event like this. I think the double elimination and best-of-three format is the best. The atmosphere was really laid back; you could go outside and relax when you want.
I believe there was around 40 PCs total in different practice rooms at the house so you can play as much as you want which I think is a good thing because it gives everyone the chance to play at their best.
They also made sure the players were comfortable by providing unlimited access to food and drinks so you didn’t have to leave the house unless you wanted to. It really felt like you were at home.
How did you feel about casting a game at cs_summit? Is that something you’d pursue, similar to your former teammates Sam "DaZeD" Marine or Joshua "steel" Nissan?
Honestly, I don’t enjoy casting as much as DaZeD and steel. I know I'm capable because I understand the game very well, but I have a hard time relaying my thoughts. This is something I may consider in the future, but for now I would rather play CS.
When people talk about your play, they always highlight things like crosshair placement, game sense and positioning. How did you develop these mechanics? Were there any players in particular that you based your playstyle off of?
I think it’s important not to copy a playstyle from someone, but instead create your own playstyle that you're comfortable with. You can watch other players and take things you see them do that could benefit you as well, but to replicate how another player thinks and plays is impossible.
Things like crosshair placement, game sense and positioning are all things you need to be a top player, but most of my intuition comes from trial and error which involves you playing. You could have the best aim in the world, but if you get pop flashed or out positioned then it means nothing.
Some players I would recommend watching POVs of include: coldzera [Marcelo "coldzera" David], flusha [Robin "flusha" Rönnquist], Xyp9x [Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth], fnx [Lincoln "fnx" Lau], NEO [Filip "NEO" Kubski] and Snax [Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski].
Do you believe Rank S or another system is an effective way of fostering CS:GO talent? What about in-game leaders?
I think it’s good for young players to get noticed but ultimately it’s just a PUG and is a way to practice individual skill against players around the same skill level.
It’s rare to see a new player in Rank S that likes calling. I feel like a lot of the newer players are afraid to call a strat, because they think if they lose they will get raged and blamed by some players, which unfortunately may be true.
Is there any undiscovered talent in Rank S that you believe has potential at a competitive level? Anyone specifically you’d like to shoutout?
I haven’t been impressed by anyone in particular, but hopefully that changes soon. I want to thank Beyond The Summit for allowing me to play, Cloud9 and all of their sponsors, as well as all of my fans for the continued support.
I’m sure you’re aware of the #FreeSwag, #FreeBrax ‘movement,’ or the meme of match-fixing, but how do you feel about it? Is that kind of attention something you even want?
It definitely shows how much people support me, which is a good thing, but do I think it will change anything? Probably not. I also think people should support the other banned players just as much as me.
Do you have any plans in the future, beyond being a streamer for Cloud9?
Right now I’m happy streaming for Cloud9, and occasionally attending events that I’m allowed to compete at. I am open to other opportunities and I also want to have a YouTube channel with consistent content in the future so look forward to that.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking
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