Robin "ropz" Kool is a rising star hailing from Estonia and a rifler for mousesports. He had a rough LAN debut in DreamHack Tours 2017, but he's looking to prove himself at the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals.
Ahead of his games in Dallas, ropz spoke to theScore esports about juggling his personal and competitive life, as well as Estonian esports.
You’ve had to balance your esports career with your education, as well as expectations from your parents. Now that you’ve been a pro for some time, have you considered becoming a full-time competitor? Has your mainstage appearance at Tours changed any of that?
Indeed, I’ve found the balance as of now. My parents have started to understand the world of esports much better ever since the mousesports offer came up. And yes, my parents and also relatives watched my games in Tours.
Sometimes when I’m not performing at my best, I wish I could play full-time and focus only on my gameplay. But then again getting basic education is something I don’t want to do later in my life and it’s best to do it now.
Right now I barely focus on studying to be honest, but I still manage to do everything. An average student in my school would require much more time than me to do his studies so I’m pretty keen on this stuff. I’ve always played this much but it’s much harder to keep up with a schedule. Before I could play the same amount of time but it didn’t matter when.
This is probably the hardest thing I have to deal with right now.
Have you guys had any bootcamps yet, if so, how has that experience been for you? Overall, how has being an esports professional affected your daily life and relationships?
We haven’t had any bootcamps yet, but we already have some planned. But still, meeting my teammates in Tours just made me more comfortable since they are actually really funny, friendly and thoughtful guys.
The culture is affecting me positively. I mean, I’m quite popular in my small city and most of the Estonian gaming community knows me, I feel like I’m being respected much more. I’ve come to the conclusion that esports is a real thing and people actually treat it well.
Overall daily, I don’t have much time for anything else other than school and practice with the team, but we do have some off days.
Estonia is probably not known for its general esports scene, but has regardless produced a handful of top tier talent, such as yourself and Dota 2 player Clement "Puppey" Ivanov. What are your thoughts on that? How big of a factor is Estonian pride to you?
I wouldn’t compare myself to Puppey yet, since he has achieved so much and most of the people who follow esports have heard of him.
Most young kids in Estonia play video games, but it’s rare when people take it serious and want to make it somewhere. It’s a small country and I think we’ve done good so far in terms of esports. And because it’s so small the skill-level of people differs quite a lot.
There are few Estonian players like me that can compete on an international level, but there aren’t enough to create a national team, that’s why a lot of the top tier Estonians have sought out international teams. There are enough people to make an above average team, but I doubt it would last for long.
I’m not really that much about pride or patriotism, but I feel like I have to do my best when people are talking about me, so our country can get more recognition.
This interview has been edited and condensed for 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.