We recently spoke to Eden ‘Hulkies’ de Allende, captain of ShocK, the runners-up in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Telkom DGL Preseason Cup (which we’ll be calling the DGL Cup from now on, because the full name is way too long), about assembling a competitive CS:GO team, balancing life and gaming, and improving the quality of CS:GO in South Africa.
After the Ballers interview last week, Lloyd ‘Outlaw’ Beckett suggested that if we want another good up-and-coming Counter-Strike team to interview, we should chat to their rivals in the DGL Cup final, ShocK.
We think it’s incredible that two teams who fiercely compete against one another also actively try to help each other out in the local gaming scene. Kudos to you Outlaw. And kudos to us, because we’d already interviewed ShocK when he made the suggestion.
So without further ado, and further kudos distributing, let’s hear from Hulkies how ShocK came to be.
“At the start of 2015 the team had members from previous SSG Battlefield teams, who had come together after many years of Battlefield. That team had two players from the current SSG.ShocK team, Hulkies and Asperity. At the time we were scrimming a team called EqV who had Aeon and Axtremes on the team. Both teams qualified for 1st div playoffs after strong open division legs. We decided to merge the best players from both teams to make the possibility of entering 1st div much higher. Axtremes and Aeon joined the team at this point.
After succeeding in the 1st division playoffs we had to make another roster change due to work commitments and so we brought in Diablo from TcR and SirSteve from FID. One was to be a reserve and one was to start. Our newest member zHunTr was brought in to replace Axtremes who also stepped down due to work commitments.”
A shaky start for team ShocK and, unfortunately, a situation that occurs all too often in the local gaming scene. You can’t give up work for gaming unless you can use gaming to pay the bills. And, as we all know, we’re just not there yet in South Africa. But they managed to hold it together and the time and effort that players like Axtremes have put into the local gaming scene will hopefully benefit the next generation of gamers, and the future of Shock.
When we mentioned plans for the future and the potential to make gaming more than just a hobby, Hulkies said it is something they would love to be able to achieve, but they have to work with the time they have each week and balance all their other responsibilities
“We all know how much time we need to put in to break into the top 4 and potentially be ‘professional’ but unfortunately we can’t put that amount of time into the game right now.
We all have full time jobs and plenty of commitments at the moment. It is difficult; when it comes to practise we can’t all give the same amount of time. Some of us need to get home and make food. Sort out our lives or study, only then can we game if there is time to. Teams are usually really surprised at how little we play.
We have all the pieces we need, we are very happy with our players, roles and structure and we definitely all dream about possibly going pro, but for now, it will have to be a bit of a hobby.”
A hobby, yes. Kind of like the way corruption is a hobby for Jacob Zuma. It’s not his job, but he sure is good at it. Allegedly.
Don’t be misled into thinking that ShocK is a casual outfit. They take their competitive gaming very seriously. They find the time they need and get the absolute maximum out of it. If you doubt us, just take a quick look at the current DGL Premier League standings. You don’t have to look hard to find them on the list, they’re right at the top of it with three wins and zero losses. Not bad at all considering they can’t train as much as they’d like.
“We don’t get much time to practise as a team, so when we do we give it our all without messing around. We like to have two formal practices a week where we go over T-side strategy, smokes, flashbangs, CT holds and map defaults. In addition to this we ideally want to play 1 scrim and 1 league game a week.
Usually we pick a map to go over for two weeks, we make sure to pick this map for scrims and develop and iterate our strategy over those two weeks. Every couple of weeks we change the map we’re looking at.”
Something we picked up on very strongly when chatting with Hulkies was his belief that teamwork has been key to ShocK’s success. He never praises one player over another, or highlights individual achievements. It’s all about the team.
“The current ShocK team is heavily based on team-play. Every practice we do and every strategy we have is about making use of teamwork. Aeon calls the shots and makes the ‘macro’ decision of the game. In-short, this is the round plan and the major decisions during the rounds. Everyone else communicates on a ‘micro’ level to make sure they co-ordinate their peaks and information pushes. The major decisions in the round are heavily dependent on info received from all the players.”
But his belief in teamwork is bigger than just ShocK. Hulkies believes that it’s the key to improving competitive gaming all over South Africa. He acknowledged the massive skill gap between us and the rest of the world, but suggested that the problem might not lie with our individual skill levels. Instead it might be because of our county’s lack of teamwork. We don’t help each other out enough by offering advice or feedback on how to improve after a game.
“Top 8 teams should be helping the smaller ‘weaker’ teams, trying to grow CSGO even if it’s once every 2nd week. Help a weaker team with a map or a few strats to lay a foundation for teams to work and grow on. Just by doing these small things, it could mean the world to some teams.”
We couldn’t agree more. We’ve said it before, and we’ll probably say it again, we’re all in this together. If there is anything any of us can do to help local eSports, even if it’s just helping five local players walk around a dusty map in a way that gets them killed less, we should be doing it.
So the happy ending we’ve been saving for, well the ending. After they’re impressive run in the DGL Cup ShocK was picked up by Pulse Gaming, an MGO with their sights set on the Masters. A massive congratulations to the guys from ShocK. Teamwork making the dream work. We’ll leave you with one last thought from Hulkies that seems obvious, but we all often forget.
“We don’t just play CSGO together, we enjoy playing different games as well. It’s difficult to always be playing super competitively, sometimes you just need to relax and enjoy gaming.”
The team of puLse.ShocK are:
Eden ‘Hulkies‘ de Allende, Liam ‘Aeon‘ Brooksbank, Jeandre ‘zHunTr‘ Pentz, Steve ‘SirSteve‘ Mcpherson, Martin ‘Diablo‘ rabarski, and Joshua ‘asperity‘ Mundell.