Counter-Strike 1.6 legend dsn: 'There are a lot of talented players in EU/NA/SA that currently can’t make a living playing CS but could do so if they're willing to move to China'

by Dennis Gonzales Aug 23 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve, B.O.O.T

Harley "dsn" Örwall is a Counter-Strike 1.6 legend who has racked up the third-most prize winnings of any player in the 1.6 era. He currently serves as the coach for Singaporean team B.O.O.T.-dream[S]cape, who will attend DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017 after qualifying over the likes of TyLoo and ViCi Gaming.

Ahead of his games in Malmö, dsn spoke to theScore esports about the challenge of coaching Asian CS players and the scene's growth.

Congrats to you and the team for qualifying for DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017. However, I think it’s fair to say that most CS:GO fans will not know anything about B.O.O.T.-dream[S]cape heading into the event so what can you tell us about each of the players? Why should fans cheer for B.O.O.T.-dream[S]cape?

benkai [Benedict "benkai" Tan] is our in-game leader. He’s a solid rifler and clutch player. He’s also the guy that comes up with new strategies.

splashske [Nevin "splashske" Aw] is our primary AWPer. Even though he’s only 18 years old he’s been playing CS since he was a little boy. He’s got good reflexes and likes to push people around.

Tommy [Kumaresan "Tommy" Ramani] is one of our entry fraggers. He’s a fast rifler that opens up sites for the rest of the players. Loves to run and gun.

ImpressioN [Anthony "ImpressioN" Lim] is our team captain. He is also one of our entry fraggers together with Tommy. If Tommy dies, Impression is the guy that trades the frags.

moxie [Benjamin "moxie" Kou] is our secondary AWPer. He’s good with everything, pistols, rifles and AWP, making a very good all-around player.

So why should people root for us? I think because at Malmö, we are Asia’s hope. Also we are massive underdogs and it’s always fun to root for the underdogs, isn’t it? Hopefully we can surprise people with some good results but it would be a lot easier with some fans supporting us.

You guys notably qualified for Malmö by taking out two of the strongest teams in Asia right now in ViCi Gaming and TyLoo. What are your initial thoughts on your team’s qualification?

I think our Singapore squad always had a lot of potential, but due to other commitments in life they didn’t get in enough hours to nurture their talent.

Since June the team has been living together in a gaming house in Singapore and focusing more wholeheartedly on getting better at the game. In my opinion that’s what made the difference for us in terms of performance and it is what allowed us to beat two teams we’ve struggled with before: TyLoo and ViCi.

Did you expect to take this team to a premier-level LAN so quickly?

I always believed we had the potential to win against the best teams in Asia, so that we eventually ended up winning the qualifier didn’t really surprise me.

After leaving for China just under a year ago, you will now find your way serendipitously back home on Swedish soil for Malmö, what are your thoughts on your homecoming?

I’m really looking forward to going to Malmö with the team. Mainly it’s a great opportunity for us as a team to see how we stack up versus the strongest teams in the world and experience the atmosphere of a world-class event.

For me personally it’s also going to be fun to get to see all the people I haven’t seen since I stopped playing 1.6.

How would you sum up your time in Asia’s CS scene?

I would say it’s been pretty challenging.

In China, the way they approach CS is very different; the play is a lot more individual than I’m used to. It’s one of those things that I, before moving to China, thought would be pretty straightforward to change to a more team based approach, only to later notice how wrong I was.

Everyone wants to be the star player who goes for the big kills, but we all know that, just like in any other regular sport, you need players to have different roles.

Why did you move from being the coach of B.O.O.T. to their Singaporean team B.O.O.T.-dream[S]cape?

The move happened because the Singapore guys were set to get their own gaming house in early June and also had some important tournaments coming up, therefore the company felt it would be a good time for me to go over and help them.

How much of an adjustment was that for you?

The adjustment has been really smooth for me as it’s a lot easier for me to work with English speaking players. Also, I think the way they think about CS is a lot more similar to what I’m used to, which means we are usually on the same page regarding how to approach different situations in-game.

What would you say is the current state of CS:GO in China and Asia at large? Do you see an upward trajectory for CS:GO in the region? Has the Perfect World release/beta affected the scene in any way?

I’m actually not sure about numbers or anything, but I feel the Perfect World release increased the interest for CS in China.

As far as the pro scene goes, I think there are a lot of teams in Asia at this point in time practicing hard to take their game to the next level, which is a great thing to see. There are a lot of tournaments in China with good prize pools to play, so even if you are far behind the best teams in the world, you can still make a decent chunk not leaving Asia.

For CS to get even bigger in the region, I think a standout performance by an Asian team in a big international tournament would help.

RELATED: The rise, fall, and rise again of Chinese Counter-Strike

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your place with B.O.O.T. is partly to do with the organization’s partnership with Fnatic. What are your responsibilities to Fnatic, what are the returns that they expect from this project?

I think this is the way Fnatic thinks: China is a commercialized esports market with a lot of investors and companies willing to invest big sums into esports. B.O.O.T’s parent company is a Beijing based creative agency doing projects related to esports. For a foreign company it’s a bit hard to access the Chinese [market] without a local partner.

Right now B.O.O.T is helping Fnatic with things related to the Chinese market, for example their Chinese social media accounts and negotiations with Chinese companies. For B.O.O.T, the benefits lies in getting the name of the club out there, having a strong partner in Fnatic.

Since I live in China myself and know how big the esports market is here, I feel that it’s a very wise decision for any big esports team to be present in the country and connecting with their fans in Mandarin.

RELATED: cArn on Fnatic's interest in China: 'The next generation of esports stars will also pop up in China? Yes, I do believe so'

We’ve already seen an org experiment with an Asian import, with Splyce picking up Machinegun. Unfortunately that experiment failed, but do you see Asian players such as BnTeT being part of a top team in the near future?

Or is the opposite more likely, like with Chinese team UYA, who are currently playing with a Russian, Vladimir "VofkiN" Shmakov, and an Estonian, Kristjan "FejtZ" Allsaar? (Editor's Note: 5Power Esports Club have since split with UYA, forming an international roster with VofkiN and FejtZ.)

I think the opposite is more likely, so foreign players coming to China to play in a constellation, like you can currently see in UYA.

The reason why I think it’s more likely is that there are a lot of talented players in Europe/US/South America that currently can’t make a living playing CS but could do so if they would be willing to move to China.

RELATED: TyLoo's DD: 'Foreign teams are making tournaments in China harder for us to win, but I think it is a good thing'

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 Oracle my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah a silenced Cavity 9mm Ryu. You can follow him on Twitter.