xTc changes three: axtremes talks to Captain xiN

Let’s Talk… xTc Gaming CSGO 

I witnessed the genesis of the current xTc Gaming lineup in person at the Telkom Digital Gaming League Championship at rAge in 2015. They upset the much more fancied Damage Control team in the group stages to qualify for the playoffs. It was a huge moment for xTc and it really put them on the South African CSGO map. A fired up DC got their revenge in the playoffs, but xTc still made enough of a name for themselves to be included in the Telkom Masters elite come early 2016

Things were looking up for the team going into the 2016 season and there were some understandably high expectations from pundits for what they could accomplish. Sadly the xTc.Inspired story was one of undoubted potential repeatedly not realized.

Captain and in game leader, Johan “xiN” Willemse and entry fragger Chris “VikinG” De Witt have been stalwarts in the lineup since 2015. There were several changes at the beginning of 2016 before they settled on the consistent fragging duo of Carlo “pnd” Farinha and Aidan “Turtle” Nell. The 5th player was more of an issue in terms of longevity, but those core four were together for 18 months and were one of the longer-running teams in the usually volatile local scene.

After easily retaining their spot in the 2nd season of ESL Africa it came as somewhat of a surprise that wholesale changes were made. Pnd, Turtle and new recruit, y sgerbwd (worst name ever, right?), left the team and were replaced by the former Ventus trio of ZipZip, Maniaq and Crick.

The rumour mill is currently swirling around pnd, Turtle and y sgerbwd and their future. Keep an eye out for the press release from their new MGO in the next week. 😉

Turtle (foreground) and pnd, Evetech Champions League Finals 2016. Photo courtesy of xTc Gaming.

Interview with xiN

I spoke to Johan “xiN” Willemse to get some more insight on the situation at xTc.

ax: How have things been within the team in the past year with the relative lack of success you guys have been experiencing?

xiN: I won’t lie, it really has been tough. We have had so many disappointing results. We knew we had the potential, and we came so close so many times. A 13-16 loss to eN on Inferno at Mettlestate. Losing to DC in double overtime on Cobble at VS Gaming. We were basically at the exact same point we were at 2 years ago when we formed this team. Don’t get me wrong, we all improved as individuals, and our team did improve, but the results were the same. It’s like we were searching for “the missing piece” for the entire-hood of the lineup. Not in the sense of finding the correct approach to the game, but just performing and gelling as a team when you have the potential.

What did you feel wasn’t working about the previous lineup?

I honestly can’t explain it. If I had the answer to what the main problem was, we would have fixed it and still been a team. We had massive problems finding a 5th that worked in our system and gelled with our players. We probably had like 6/7 people in that 5th slot from 2016-2017. Time, holidays, tournaments, player changes, everything just always killed practice and progress. The team was really close. We would go out together and spend time together outside the game, but inside the game we often had our troubles and emotional outbursts. I really believed with Dan (y sgerbwd) we could break top 4 and improve. So that’s where the “divide” comes in that led to the split. Some of us believed that it could still be done and the others didn’t. I understand why they could think so, and for that reason I can’t be upset.

Three changes are quite drastic…

The decision was not mine. Carlo, Aidan and Dan came to the conclusion that it would be better for both groups if we part ways.

What made you settle on these three new players?

We are really excited for the new team. It’s honestly great to play with a group of players that are so hungry and willing to put in insane amounts of time. We’re playing more hours as a team than I have ever played with a lineup before.

So Chris (Crick), who was a free agent by the time we picked him up, is someone that I have known for a very long time. We played CoD together in a team right before we moved over to CS. VikinG was also in the team. I’ve always known how much potential and hunger he has. The only problem was that he really lacked experience. To be honest, he had to to prove to people that he was actually serious about this. That he could perform at LAN. And that’s exactly what he did. Once I saw that happening, I knew it was time for him to come on board.

xiN on camera at Mettlestate Finals 2017. Photo courtesy of xTc Gaming.

Rikus (ZipZip) is also someone that I have known for my entire CS journey so far. We started around the same time and competed against each other for a very long time. We had actually approached Rikus in the past, but it just wasn’t the right moment. I have always admired Zip’s approach to the game and his really high skill ceiling. I’ve been a huge fan for a long time, so i’m really excited to work with him.

Richard (Maniaq) was picked up for many reasons: tremendous work ethic, experience as an IGL with different teams at multiple LAN’s and a real drive to win. Richard is also really helping me a lot, seeing as I’ve never played for another IGL in CS. I’ve only really experienced and thought about my own calling style. So bringing in new ideas and a new approach to certain aspects of the game is really refreshing and was definitely needed.

What do you feel the team’s prospects are?

I really have a lot of hope for this team. With the current work ethic, motivation and potential, we are definitely a contender for that 3rd spot at the end of the year. We don’t have a lot of time before the last couple of events, but we are going to give it our all. We have to start from scratch. So we will be spending a lot of time on working on our basics, play style and map pool.

With a refreshed lineup comes a new name: Reborn

Considering the massive changes they’ve undergone, I’d say Reborn is an apt rebrand. I have to acknowledge that pnd, Turtle and y sgerbwd (or as Anthrax likes to call him in protest of his name: Goldilocks!) are stronger individual players in terms of raw skill in their current form than the new recruits. I’d imagine that what they’ve lost in terms of firepower, xTc are hoping that they’ll gain in team cohesion, temperament and the motivation that they often lacked in the past. They will also be banking on the potential of a young player like Crick and the wildcard that is ZipZip – a player that can have incredible highs when he’s on form. Sometimes a team can be more than the sum of its parts and they’re going to have to embody exactly that to make their mark going forward and to realise their full potential. xTc.Reborn have two months to get themselves into a position to be a factor in three of the biggest competitions in South African CSGO: the VS Gaming Masters Finals, the ESL African CS:GO Championship Season 2, and the Orena Champions Series. I’m sure many will be looking on with interest at their progress – as will I!

The xTc.Reborn CSGO lineup is

  • Johan “xiN” Willemse (C)
  • Chris “VikinG” De Witt
  • Rikus “ZipZipZA” Klue
  • Richard “maniaq” Brown
  • Chris “Crick” Davies

About @axtremes

Michael "@axtremes" Harmse is one of the more prolific CS:GO Casters and analysts in the SA Scene - he's seemingly everywhere! He enjoys living, eating and breathing CS:GO...as well as real food and oxygen of course...on the rare occasion Zombie lets him outside. And guitar! He likes guitars. Stare in wonder at his magnificent visage at youtube.com/axtremes/ and shake your head at his spectacularly misguided opinions.