Indepth interview with player of the year, Don: ”Quite insane what we achieved”

The day before christmas it was announced that Don was the player of the year in Call of Duty United Offensive. On the server he makes a big bark, but outside of it we don’t necessarily know too much about the former semi-professional League of Legends-player. SnuRk stole some of his time to ask about the more notorious events that unfolded in 2023.

SnuRk: First of all; congratulations to the Player of the year-award. This year was closer then ever, did you expect to finish on top?

Don: Thank you! I knew both my individual performance and also our team performance was quite good this year. So yea, I did expect both myself, but also the other Dreamteam players, to rank relatively high in the Top 20 ranking (also in comparison to the Top 20 of 2022). I knew there was a chance that I was getting the player of the year-award, although in the end I knew it was going to be close between among others TjEEEBi. In the end it is a top 20 ranking on an individual basis, so you never know how someone ranks you in comparison to other player.

SnuRk: This year was succesful for you and includes one major title, one MVP, two allstar teams, one major silver and the title in Summer League. What do you say about this year for you personally and for your team?

Don: I am obviously very happy with both our team performance and also my individual performance. Looking back it at it is quite insane what we achieved in all those cups. Moreover as in previous years almost every major cup we came short in the play-off phase which resulted in either us missing out on the finals or not being able to bring the finals home. The only thing missing to make it a perfect year would have been winning the last major final.

Don’s year 2023:

  • Rounds played: 735 (#7).
  • Kills: 650 (#3).
  • Deaths: 486.
  • KDR: 1.34 (#3).
  • KPR: 0.88 (#3).
  • DPR: 0.66 (#8).
  • Total stats 2023: 2.22 (#3).
  • Total stats 2022: 2.11 (#11).
  • Total stats 2021: 2.20 (#7).
  • Previous Top 20-rankings: #4 (2021), #3 (2022).

SnuRk: Dreamteam have had some different lineups over the year. The biggest difference I guess being Gerlo playing the first major of the year and KarmA in the second one, but also some rotations between Fr1TuuR and Windje. How did the lineup changes effect the team?

Don: Due to various reason (IRL priorities, availability during the cup etc.), we had some lineup-changes between the major cups. For the last major, our main line-up consisted of KarmA, Windje, Bassie, Archimedes and myself. Unfortunately, KarmA wasn’t able to play with us the last two cupgames of the last major. Earlier in the cup, KarmA showed that he is able to play insanely well and get insane amounts of kills during basically every map, so it was quite a bummer that he wasn’t in our playing line-up for the last two matches. However, in the end all of the players in the line-up are capable of playing very well and we also have experience playing together as a team, so I would say the overall effect of the line-up changes only have had a rather small effect. It mainly comes down to having to switch some positions on certain maps and players having different playstyles.

SnuRk: I think everyone would agree that Dreamteam was the best team in 2023. But previous years the squad have been somewhat known for playing incredible in groupstage, but not stepping up in playoff. What would you say have changed that makes this team reach its full potential?

Don: It is hard to exactly pinpoint what changed in comparison to previous years. A few things that improved in comparison to previous years are in my view among others: our mappool and our teamplay (both communication in-game and also playing out rounds after the plant etc.). We mainly improved this by putting in the hours (also in cod1) and playing alot together. I feel that the games against the top opponents (MOD/TMO, TCFC and FRS) are always decided on small details, so I think improving even slightly on such points can already make quite a big difference in such top matches.

The ”core” of Dreamteam is Don (to the left), Bassie (middle) and archiMedes (second to the right). Gerlo (second to the left) was also a big part of the team but went inactive before summer 2023.

SnuRk: Can you talk a bit about your teammates and their strengths as players?

Don: Currently, in my opinion the main-core of Dreamteam exists of Bassie, Archimedes and me (also considering we three also play cod1 together). We have both been playing quite some cups together, and have also attended various cod 1 lans. Bassie, historically a rifle-only player, is in my opinion very skilled. He is smart about the game, can maneuver himself nicely around the map with his jumps/movement and is very deadly with the rifle. Although I would say we don’t really have an in-game leader I would say Archi takes the lead in most of the strategic aspects and fulfilling an important role in this respect. Furthermore, I think Archi is really strong at lurking, being a teamplayer, and generally playing really smart. Therefore it comes no surprise to me Archi was ranked #6 in the top20 of 2023. Windje has joined Dreamteam since this year and I must say I got quite suprised by his level of play. His strengths are in my opinion his aggresiveness and not backing down from a gunfight. KarmA has joined Dreamteam for the last major cup. I think everyone in the community knows how insanely good KarmA is and i’m sure everyone would want a KarmA in their line-up. His level of play this cup was insanely high and I could imagine him getting the player of the year award of he didn’t miss out on the most important games of the last major cup and maybe his previous team reaching a higher place in the other major cup. Lastly Frituur. I would say Frituur is the super-sub of the team. Whenever we need him he is always available to play and he always maintains a steady skill level. He doesn’t care where he needs to play and what role he has, he always delivers. Maybe in that sense comparable to Archi (i.e. not a flashy player, but also a smart and efficient one).

archiMedes (striped shirt) is the in-game-brains of Dreamteam.

SnuRk: To me it looks like Dreamteam plays a lot on intuition and a basic idea of what you wanna do during a round, but not necessarily got the fattest playbook, set utility or leashes on your players. Would you say that is correct?

Don: Yes, I would say that is correct. Generally, on axis on each map we all have our own role/spot to defend and there is individually freedom to fill this in. Additionally, if someone is going to do something different, we communicate this beforehand so everyone is aware of this. On allies we generally discuss during strattime what we are going to do the next round, and also here there is freedom on an individual level to further fill this in.

Dreamteam made a nice comeback to win their first major in Spring Cup 2023. Don was one of the main players in turning things around with a stellar performance on germantown.

SnuRk: So looking at the first major of the year, Spring Cup, you were down 0-1 in the final vs FRS but went on to dominate both germantown and Carentan to turn it around into a 2-1 victory. What do you remember from that game and can you describe that feeling of securing the first big title?

Don: It is already quite some time ago but of course we were very happy with finally securing a win in the final of a major cup. Personally, I would say dawnville is not one of our strongest maps so I kind of expected us having a difficult time bringing that map home. On germantown we started of insanely well, I think we went up 5-0/6-0 on axis side. We ended up winning the map quite convincinly and I think we took the momentum which we had on germantown to carentan as well. It felt like during these two maps, everything fell into place.

Dreamteam was ever so close at securing their second major of the year in Fall Cup 2023, but dropped a 11-6 lead on uo_carentan as axis to 11-13.

SnuRk: Then in Fall Cup we saw the exact same maps be played again between the two same teams. But this time around FRS was the team managing to come back from a 0-1 to 2-1. Sorry if the wound is still fresh, but it’s inevitable to ask what happened on Carentan after being up 11-6 on axis?

Don: I think after FRS secured some important rounds on allied side to stay in the game, FRS started to gain momentum and sticked to the same gameplan what had been working for them in the winning rounds. Looking back at it, we probably should have changed around something in our defense. We however didn’t do this which resulted in us getting picked of 1 by 1. I must say the dissapointment of losing this final after being 12-10 up on germantown and then being 11-6 up on carentan is still quite high haha.

SnuRk: Looking at the tier 1 right now with Dreamteam, FRS, TcfC and TMO/MoD. What do you think of the competition between the teams and if you were to gaze into the crystal ball and see how 2024 develops , what do you expect?

Don: I would say that there is good competition among the tier 1 teams. On a good day, all of the tier 1 teams can take a win against any of the other tier 1 teams. The fact that the level between the teams is relatively close is also supported by the fact that we are seeing quite some draws between the tier 1 teams in the group phase of the major cups. I however expect that also in 2024 the battle for 1st/2nd spot will continue between Dreamteam and FRS, and that TcfC and TMO/MoD will battle for 3rd/4th place. Although TcfC is very skilled individually, it seems that they are missing a reliable 5th player since Messy seems to be inactive at the moment. For TMO/MoD, I think them having less experience on the traditional UO-maps (for example peaks and uo_harbor) will keep hurting them from reaching 1st/2nd place. Should TMO/MoD improve further on these maps, they will in my opinion definitely be a contender for 1st or 2nd place.

The road to being #1 in UO started in 2020 and for every year Don climbed the ranking. Picture is from Zagreb vcod lan in 2022.

SnuRk: If we talk more about you as an individual, I think many people are interested in your gaming career before 2020. And also what level of UO did you play before Reborn?

Don: I did play some CoD UO back in the days before reborn. However, I must admit I don’t remember alot from it since I was quite young at the time. All I remember from it that I mainly played rifles and that I definitely had a squeaky voice at the time due to my young age. My skill level was probably nowhere near as close at it is currently. Before Reborn, I did play various other games, such as League of Legends (with among others Protec and Davy), Warzone (with Banksy) and PUBG. Especially in League of Legends I reached quite a high level (challenger in soloq) and also played this game on a semi-professional level.

SnuRk: I would say you caught my eye early on in 2020 as a big talent, but it was still Gerlo getting most the headlines and many times carrying the team. How do you feel you evolved as a player over the last 3-4 years and do you remember at what point you started feeling like you were one of the best players in the game?

Don: I would say that in early 2020 I was mainly playing with rifle, and was not very used to playing all weapons. I had the aim at the time but I didn’t do much besides holding my designated spot with a rifle. Over the years, I evolved also being able to play automatic weapons, utilizing smokes/nades more and also rotating around more playing aggresive where needed (i.e. generally a more rounded player). Each year I made some improvements which helped me climb in the rankings. I think during the Spring cup my individual performance (especially in playoffs) was really high (stats-wise), so for me this was a moment that I started feeling like one of the better players of the game.

Spring Cup was when Don started recognising he was one of the best players in the game. Here is the vod of Dreamteam winning the grand final.

SnuRk: Just like you say, in the beginning I remember you as much more of a niched rifle player, with some occasional sniper pickups. Nowadays though you are one of the most aggressive thompson players, and a very deadly BAR and mp44 player aswell. Is that something you tried to improve?

Don: Yes for sure, in the beginning I didn’t know anything else besides playing with a rifle. However, especially on maps where the spawn is really important (for example germantown), I think it is essential that a player is also being able to utilize the spawn and pick up a tommy or a BAR in such situations.

SnuRk: As for the sniper I think you would be one of the best, if not the best, with the gun if you decided to play it more often. What do you think of the gun in general and what is the reason we rarely see you play it?

Don: From time to time and on certain maps (mainly powcamp) I like playing the scope. Currently, I don’t pick up the scope on any of the other maps. This is mainly because (1) we already have Gerlo and Archi also picking the gun up from time to time, and (2) I feel that I am able to achieve the same in many of the situations by just playing a regular rifle. I however must say that when I play the scope on powcamp, I really enjoy playing it. So maybe you will see me do it more often in the future on other maps as well.

The UO-crew on vcod-lan. From top left: L1mewax, archiMedes, Bassie, Gerlo, Ace, STVNO. Bottom from left: norberto, Don.

SnuRk: Looking at the other names in the top 5 (TjEEEBi, KarmA, r3ziner, L1mewax) I think your role stands out quite a lot. The other four are more traditional carries that have most impact mid-end of the round and position themself a lot in the center of action. You on the other hand feel almost more like an entryfragger/lurker on many allied sides, and as axis it’s not uncommon to see you play more positions that dont have that much heat (B on germantown, spawnhouse/black house on peaks, police on harbor). Would you agree? And what type of role do you enjoy the most?

Don: On most maps I like to play fairly aggresive on the allied side to surprise the enemy. I am however not sure if I would consider myself a lurker. I do agree that in comparison to the other top 5 players, I fullfill a different role on the axis side. I enjoy playing on spots that are not in the center of the action, but nevertheless allow me to play aggresively to surprise the enemy. For example pushing the B side of cassino, or pushing from B on germantown to allied spawn. That’s why I generally like maps which are more open, because on some maps the possibilities for this playstyle are rather limited (on Peaks for example).

Dreamteam on the most recent vcod lan in Zagreb. Top row: Don, Bassie, norberto. Bottom row: archiMedes, VENXZRR.

SnuRk: Dreamteam is a really active team, but it’s safe to say that equal hours, or more, is put into vcod rather than UO. What do you think of the different games, which one do you prefer?

Don: I for sure prefer UO because of the possiblity to sprint, having smokes and I generally also like the UO version of the maps more (uo_dawnville > dawnville, uo_harbor > harbor and uo_powcamp > powcamp). However, in vcod there are more active teams and also more pcw’s are played on a regular basis. Also each year lans are hosted. Those are things that are currently missing in cod uo and therefore we are also playing vcod.

SnuRk: Any last words before we conclude this interview with some shorter questions?

Don: Thanks for interviewing me, for putting in all the hours as part of the admin team, tracking all the stats and writings various amazing articles. It’s insane that we are still able to enjoy and play this game after 20 years. Would be great to meet all of the UO players at an UO lan in the near future!

Don’s favorite map. Hint: look for him in one of the towers.

Favorite map? Powcamp.
Favorite gun? Tough one, I think in the end the kar.
Hardest player to play against? Limewax.
Most underrated player? Norberto.
Teammate you most rather have alive together with you in a 2v2? Bassie.
Winner of Player of the year 2024? TjEEEBi.