We caught up with Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek from Bravado on his team's day off, discussing their move to North America and what they could do at WESG.
After being drawn into a fairly tough group with EnVyUs and Ukraine, the South African representatives Bravado ended up having a free pass into the second group stage as both the Ukrainian and the Algerian representatives from their group withdrew from competition.
In our interview with Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek, we learned about their move to North America, how they fared in the new region so far and their thoughts about WESG.
The starting topic is obviously you guys moving to North America. Give me a short rundown of how and why it happened?
The reason we moved to North America is because Africa is too small of a scene. It's not really a place for us to grow as a team and we decided that the best option for us to gain more exposure and for us to improve ourselves as a team would be to move to a scene that is really developed. To put ourselves up against good competition and in an environment in which we can grow as a team, to reach a certain potential we wanted to.
The technical part, getting the sponsors and all that, how did it work out?
To start off, we had our sponsors in South Africa which are Alienware, Sergio Tacchini, Intel, all our original sponsors, and we put forward Project Destiny, which was the proposition for us to move to the USA. So we secured funding through our original sponsors to do that.
Going a bit back, you as a team have been on top of the South African region for a long time, but at the end of the last year, in October, in the ESL Africa Championship, you lost 0-3 to eNergy in the LAN final. That was a bit of a surprise I guess, how did it happen and did that kind of trigger some things that happened later on?
I just feel that we took a wrong approach as a team at that tournament, we weren't gelling as a team and our synergy just wasn't there. It was a bit unexpected for us to go out the way we did and I don't think we were playing to our full potential at all. After that, we sat down and spoke with one another and we fixed a lot of our issues and our mistakes. I think we regained our top position in South Africa afterward.
You moved to North America now, can you give me your first impressions, how has it been for you so far?
It's a lot better, I really, thoroughly enjoy it and the team enjoys it. There is so much more for us to do, the Counter-Strike scene is so much bigger, there are so many more tournaments. It's just really joyful for us.
You are on a six-month plan for now. Do you have any goals that you have to reach if you want to stay longer, how is the plan in that regard?
To be honest, our original plan was to come to North America, start from the bottom and then build ourselves up. But when we arrived, we actually did quite well at the start and we kind of exceeded our expectations. So, by the end of these six months, I'd like to see us, at least, consistently competing at Pro League level.
This is your second WESG, coming into it, what was the general feeling in the team, what were you expecting?
I thought we were pretty confident coming into the tournament, we've been practicing quite hard in America for the past month, day-in, day-out, grinding. Day one was a little bit unexpected, we faced some PC issues, but I don't like making excuses. I think that in the following days we will really give a showing and do well, prove ourselves.
Is there anything you can do while you are here to improve your game? Can you practice against any teams?
We came prepared, we had all our strategies, our game style and everything kind of solidified and here we can dry-run our stuff, we can talk about our strats, we can speak a lot more than when we are playing. We have the opportunity to scrim some of the teams here at the competition, other than that, I feel that we are going to rely mostly on our training and our preparation before the tournament.
For people that don't know you that well, can you give me a short rundown through the team, who does what and how the team works?
The two players that are new to the team, fadey and JT, they brought more firepower and fragging ability to the team. I myself am a more rounded player, I'm able to play in a lot of roles. Dimitri (Detrony) is our captain and in-game leader, as well as our primary AWPer. And ELUSIVE is more of our support, strategist player.
Since you only had two teams in your group, obviously Ukraine didn't come as well as Viva Algeria, you are automatically in to the second group. That's the BO2 round robin so you play six maps altogether. I guess you are pretty happy about it, that you get to play so much on LAN?
I never like taking the easy route, I would've liked to get out of the groups the legitimate way, obviously through playing the teams and beating them. But I'm happy we are through, technically we are the first African team to ever qualify out of the groups in an international tournament, so I'm excited to play the next matches and I feel confident going into it, so does my team.
Have you set any goals for this event?
I expect to make top eight with my team at this tournament, if we do that I'll be happy.
Any shoutouts or something you want to add to close out the interview?
Thank you to all my sponsors, family, friends, loved ones, without your support we wouldn't be able to do what we do. I hope to, one day, make a lot of people in my home country proud.