Winner interview with SnuRk: “Still don’t understand how we turned it around”

After the grand final of Fall Cup 2023 z1ckje met up with FRS captain SnuRk to summarise the tournament and some of the dramatic events of the final.

z1ckje: First and foremost, I’d like you to introduce yourself historically as an individual player and your team, which definitely is one of the longest standing in the history of UO?

SnuRk: “I started playing UO on Clanbase around 2006 when First Recon Squad (FRS) was formed by me and another guy in september. We kind of quickly rose in the scene after winning some B-tournaments initially and I would say our first peak was in 2007 when we reached some finals in a 3v3 TDM cup (lost to h2o) and 5v5 SD Summer Cup (lost to Kylahullut). After a cod4 break we came back in 2009 and won our first ”major” when we beat TcfC in an Open Cup on Clanbase. A long rivalry, that is still ongoing but in a much more friendly manner, started around that year. It’s also fun to see that from that period many people like myself, TjEEEBi, STVNO, cartz, L1mewax are still active and others like Hatcheriii, Jsons, Funze, Messy are lurking in the shadows. Anyways it was also around that time I peaked individually and put up much better scoreboards then I do today. In two Open Cups I was voted in the allstar team, something only cartz also was at that point. I would say my reflexes made me a better entryfragger around my 20’s and today I more or less live purely on gamesense. One thing is still true though and that is that I love the sniper equally as much as back in the days”.

“As for FRS being one of the longest standing teams in UO. Yes you are right. TcfC was formed before us and probably also fraggedby. But after those two I would say FRS. But its cool to see other old clans such as e9, abearth and Fast Evolution also be around”.

z1ckje: Before we jump into some more nerdy topics, that us passionate esport lovers want to hear, I would like to know the atmosphere ongoing during one of the most amazing comebacks we’ve seen in recent history on Carentan against DREAMTEAM? Must’ve felt hard, given that they were as close as it gets to taking back to back Major cups, but then a “miracle” happened. Bring us closer to what was going on ingame and on teamspeak.

SnuRk: “I still don’t really understand how we managed to turn it around actually. I mean already after 6-6 on axis we realised this is gonna be an uphill battle, and to then start 0-5 on allies didn’t make it any better. I think every team knows how it is on a teamspeak when you feel you are about to lose. Bad energy, less calls, hope almost gone … but what is good with FRS is that we almost never start complaining and definitely never give up”.

“As for the actual strategical details I think it all started with Dreamteam playing one quite aggressive round at 6-11. We managed to punish them doing that and could get a round ”for free” which boosted the morale a bit. DT otherwise play quite passive around midyard. Basically they rely on a crossfire between Bassie in mg and archiMedes in midstairs that covers for each other. And we managed to pressure mg in a way that Bassie no longer could be the eyes on midyard, meaning it was a lot of space to walk on. From there we just managed to find good openings most of the rounds, and well one thing lead to another. I would say the way we attacked is a quite common way to do it these days, especially after the BAR buff since you can comfortably duel top mid, or even spawn-players, from rush. It’s increasingly harder to find the right balance on axis and a common trend on many maps is that axis sides play more passive then ever”.

“Then when xratEd won the 1v1 to put it to 12-11 I think we all just felt unstoppable at that point and I can only imagine the stress being in Dreamteam. Ace did some recording of our comms and gameplay those last rounds and I get quite proud when I hear and see how well we play together and communicate very crisp. Afterall we have 4 straight final losses and its 2,5 years since we won a major. For Ace it was the first major title ever so of course there was a lot of emotions released when we secured the final kill. I think even me and TjEEEBi contributed with something a little more enthusiastic then our standard ”nice”.

z1ckje: We’ve seen some stellar performances and performances we surely didn’t expect. What’s your take on DT tendency to overthrow FRS as the most dominant team?

SnuRk: Nothing from this cup takes away the fact that Dreamteam is the team of the year 2023. We had equal results in the two majors, but they won Summer League, where we missed finals. So they had a fantastic year, especially considering some lineup changes with Gerlo going inactive. Obviously getting KarmA in the lineup was like the most insane signing they could do, but it’s not only positive to have many strong carries in a team. I think it somehow silenced Don a bit on the server and his role gets quite different with KarmA onboard. I somehow feel like Don is at his best when he got unlimited space to work with and is the clear star of the team. At the same time I also feel like Gerlo was the perfect player for the balance in that team. So for DT to be able to still find ways to win; im very impressed”.

“Not to speak of the fact that I barely think they have tactics! And that’s no offense or anything, they are just not a very tactical team. They play a lot on one basic setup and then just live of motion, flow and individual pushes. Having that said they haven’t even needed a lot of tactics because they have had the best teamplay in the scene this year. Very few teams help each other as efficient as they do, and they are especially good on allies at singling out axis players and overpower with 2 guys. The fact they also are by far most active, if you count vcod, means their players have some of the best aim and movements – and to top it I think they have some very smart players in their team. In my eyes guys like Bassie and archiMedes are more like support players / team players but I dont think many people realise this considering how good fraggers both those guys are. And to have two guys like that as your strong teamplayers is a luxury. So I hope for more tough battles with DT, hungarians and vcod stars in the future. FRS have been the most succesful team since Reborn with 9 straight Grand finals and 5 titles. But you are only as good as your last tournament and we hope to build a streak from here”.

z1ckje: What would you say about TcfC’s weaker performance, compared to previous tournaments?

SnuRk: “Definitely noticeable, mainly in form of activity. As you might remember during the start of their peak they searched for pcw’s each and every day and if they didn’t play as a team you could be certain L1mewax and STVNO was in a mix. Now that time is spent in vcod instead, while the other players are more or less inactive unless it’s a cupgame. With a new mod, some new maps, other hungry players … well this is what happens. All of them have individually taken a little step back and collectively that makes a big difference. Also during their peak I think they had some good tactics going for them and now I don’t think they spend any time at all on such things, which also shows”.

“Having all of this said they rekt us in a pcw a few weeks ago and I honestly thought they could beat Dreamteam to reach the final. Now this wasn’t the case though. Seems like perhaps the atmosphere isn’t quite the same as a year ago in their team and if they start a bad spiral they have a hard time getting out of it. But I really hope they will keep playing and perhaps strengthen the team if needed. All I know is that the top tier needs them to stay around. And afterall a third place this cup was a step in the right direction after the first major of the year”.

z1ckje: Mixture of CoD1 players from TMO and some UO players quickly rose to the top, what’s your take on that?

SnuRk: “They are gamers. Extremely talented players that understand the dynamics and foundations of being a succesful esport team. Also I think they have the best aim/reactions in the scene, so for an old guy like me it’s a pain in the ass to play against them. But yeh what haunts TMO/MoD is still the inability to play UO maps like peaks/cassino/stanjel. That hurts their veto so much. They gotten better at fast maps like germantown and harbor but you can still see that it’s unusual for them to play some of the faster paces. On the other hand they are extremely good on everything that resembles vcod, so for every cup they will just harden and get better and better. I think noone would be surprised to see them eventually win a major, but right now they are not a top 2-team”.

z1ckje: And last but not least, Icarus solid performance and a proof they definitely belong to B bracket?

SnuRk: “If by B bracket you mean tier 2; yeh for sure. Its not ”one of the biggest surprises” that they beat abearth and e9, but it was still upsets. Coming into the cup it’s always uncertain with new teams. What lineup will they have? Can they hold the distance? How good chemistry can they find? I would say they pleasantly surprised us, especially Anglhz that put up insane scores. He has always been a spectacular fragger and it would be interesting to see him play more games against tier 1 and also with a team that have even more structure. I hope Icarus can build on this and keeping taking that step. It was ofcourse to soon to expect them to dance with teams like Dreamteam and MoD already this cup.

z1ckje: Considering you’ve played most, if not all the tournaments since the competitive scene was formed, how would you compare todays scene with those of early days, and the days before the scene died out?

SnuRk: “First of all; I think the individual players are better now then ever. Movement and aim has never been better. But as for the teamgame I think the first era 2005-2007 offered more teamplay and higher gamesense in general. Now I would like to point out that tier 1 is incredibly competitive right now, but in 2005 you had 80 teams signing up to cups so of course the width of top teams was much greater. However if you compare to 2009-2011, which was the previous reborn phase, I can safely say that everything is better now in 2023 (except that we have fewer signups). Like I said we have 4 teams that all can win the cup, and in 2009 it was more like FRS or TcfC – possibly System (and later abearth when TcfC quit) that could win. Also the gameplay has developed a lot and we yet to this day see new metas unfold and new spots being used. For example on powcamp I think there are three “new” roofs that noone used until 2020 and now playing those roofs are extremely meta”.

z1ckje: And for the end, give us some words for the community.

SnuRk: “Just hoping to see everyone sign up for another great year of UO in 2024. Every year is a blessing and it’s important to remember and cherish that. Not only because it’s a game we love but also because I think it’s almost impossible to find such an including and warm community as ours. We have lost a few players over the years but always been good at reaching out to new (old) faces. We need to keep doing that for this game to stay active. So please, if you have contacts, try and reach out to them. Invite them to your team. Install the game for them. I think many of the guys that return to discord dont become active players because they can’t find a natural home, some mates to play with. So we all need to help them with the ride. And lastly a joyful christmas for everyone and a happy new fragging year”.