We caught up with the captain of Ballers, winners of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive DGL Preseason Cup, Lloyd ‘Outlaw’ Beckett and he gave us his thoughts on team dynamics, training, strategy and he even called out the current Masters teams.
Part of what we are trying to do here at GLHF is raise the profile of eSports in South Africa and while we’ve been fortunate to get to speak to the likes of James ‘zer0chance’ Wijnberg and Anthony ‘scant’ Hodgson, we are also keen to get to know the up and coming teams and players around South Africa.
Ballers was set up in January 2015 when a friend of Outlaw’s suggested they try find a team together. Lloyd liked the idea of getting into the competitive scene, but wanted to start a team of his own instead of joining an already existing one, which is a pretty baller move.
Time was short, as the registration date for DGL was coming up so there isn’t much of a story behind their name. According to Outlaw, it comes from a popular rap song that was on the radio when the team was formed. Thankfully, Eminem’s Ass Like That wasn’t charting at the time.
The team has come an impressively long way in a relatively short time and it could well be down to their malleable approach to in-game tactics.
“It was initially set out that I was going to be in-game leader/support and I do AWP a lot. Blaze plays AWP and entry fragger, but even though it’s traditional for teams to set up in that kind of dynamic, I just said to the guys, ‘I don’t like to play in that manner because I feel every single person must do what they feel they need to do at that moment’.
Obviously you can’t have five AWP’s, but everyone can take a turn playing entry fragger, everyone must support, everyone must be a chameleon and adapt to whatever situation is given to us. You can’t just say, ‘You go first and I’ll follow behind you’. I don’t think that’s the right kind of Counter-Strike. Maybe I’m a bit off what people are doing at the moment, but I think the whole team needs to be capable of doing everything.
It’s a bit one-dimensional giving specific roles for each teammate to stick to. I think you’ve got to switch it around and mix it up a lot within games, otherwise good teams will catch onto what you are doing and once they know who is fulfilling what role they can set up accordingly. For example, if the same player is playing lurker every game and they kill him, then they know you won’t be making a play on Bombsite A and therefore going to be a B hit automatically.”
It’s an approach that is certainly a break from the norm in the game at the moment, but one that is quite obviously paying dividends for Ballers.
They even have a fairly relaxed approach to training although, when it comes to tournaments, Outlaw did reveal they spend time setting themselves up very specifically for the team they are playing against.
“We don’t really have a training regime, we just play whenever we want to play. What I do say to the guys is, especially before the final, I knew that SSG had watched us a lot and they knew that we were strong on Cache, Overpass and Cobble, so the night before we trained smoke set-ups on Train, which I don’t think they expected in the final, but we are really good on that map.”
Part of their adaptability can probably be explained by the way they practice. Although Outlaw says he is trying to get the team to practice more together to fully unlock their potential, he concedes they just play in their own time to keep their skills up.
“Mostly we just play. I don’t know exactly how much time the other guys put in, but I think it’s quite a lot, but it’s up to them and how much they want to practice. I put in about 20 hours a week.
I’ve decided I’d like the team to start putting in at least three hours per week training together. I think it can take this team to the next level. I don’t think the guys realise what their potential is, because the dynamic we’ve got within the team is fantastic. We’ve got high fraggers in the team, the guys have got great brains and we’ve got young, flashy players. It’s a nice dynamic we’ve got.
The goal is to make Masters, but we obviously need a Dota 2 team, so if there are any Dota teams out there who are looking to get into Masters get hold of us and we can form an organisation, because that’s where I want to be. I mean, no disrespect to the Masters teams, but I think we could take a lot of them out.”
Oh snap! Unfortunately, for the immediate future Ballers are not going to be taking down Master teams, they were put in the open division, which Outlaw feels is both stupid and demoralising for the teams they are going to play against, but says they are happy to pay their dues to get into the higher leagues.
“Motivating the guys is not a problem at all. The guys just love playing Counter Strike together and that’s it. We’ll keep on going. It’s just a small knock in the road, but it’s not hard to keep them motivated.”
He wasn’t wrong, because just a few games into the season they’ve already been promoted to the first division. With CS:GO, Dota 2 and eSports in general set for a potentially big year in South Africa in 2016, Ballers are definitely a team to keep an eye on. Their mixture of fresh ideas, cheeky banter and positive outlook is bound to make them a hit with fans.
All we need to do now is find a Dota 2 team to set up an organisation with them and a Masters CS:GO team to step up to Outlaw’s challenge. Any takers for the first ever GLHF showmatch?
The Ballers are (from left to right in the picture above):
Ryan ‘Diseas[e]‘ Kietzmann, Lloyd ‘Outlaw‘ Beckett, Ivan ‘stono6kata‘ Ivanov, Milton ‘TGM‘ Bartholomew (No longer in the active roster), and Reinhardt ‘Cubrix‘ Van Heerden.
Active members not in the picture:
Josh ‘blazE‘ Saunders and Chad ‘E^‘ Van Heerden.