Swole Patrol has been on a steady rise since this core was assembled at the end of 2017, peaking at #32 of our rankings last month after they added Edgar "MarKE" Jimenez and Braxton "swag" Pierce to their lineup.
The squad has been close to qualifying for ESL Pro League and participated in the Americas Minor, but didn't capitalize on either opportunity. However, after some roster changes, they overcame North American opposition and grabbed a spot at the EPICENTER Wild Card Qualifier, giving them a shot at participating in what would be their first Big Event - EPICENTER 2018.
You started rising in form with the turn of the year, and have been putting up consistently good numbers since. Has anything changed in your game that allowed you to perform to a higher level for the last six to nine months than you have been doing in the past?
CS:GO is the first Counter-Strike game that I picked up and I have only been actively playing for a couple of years. I started off as a rifler but eventually picked up AWPing and just continually did everything I could to improve my game. I haven’t changed much, if anything, of what I’ve done in the past. I just think it takes time and effort to be able to be good enough compete at higher levels.
The core of the team has been together for a while and managed to attend quite a few LANs, but since the start of the year, the offline performances have been lacklustre. What attributed to the drop off at offline events?
Most of us on the team had never been to real LANs or competed at a high level until this team. I think it just takes time to be able to consistently perform against higher ranked teams. Missing out on Pro League obviously sucks and was the main goal of our team but everyone was still focused and just looked to the future because we know we’d get another chance.
The few months before we picked up markE and swag our team were a bit of a mess and when we talked to them about joining we instantly felt it was the best thing. I definitely think that picking them up was the right move and has only made our team better, consistently, over the last couple of months.
Despite a fairly high ranking and some decent results, you are still orgless and are playing under the name Swole Patrol. How come you didn't sign for an organization yet? Do you feel that signing for an MDL-level organization wouldn't be worth it for you?
We’ve talked to a few orgs before but nothing has really worked out. We are open to any offers but we do feel as if making Pro League and making LANs is the best route to finding an org.
A lot of players were inspired to play CS by their older brothers, but not many have actually played in serious teams with them. What is the experience like for you? Is freakazoid the protective type, or does the closeness allow him to be more critical towards you than he perhaps is to other players?
I never played CS actively or competitively until I saw Ryan (Ryan "freakazoid" Abadir) competing on stage for Cloud9. After that, I knew I had to make it and haven’t looked back. It took a while before I was able to make it to a level where Ryan could be confident in me being a good teammate. We definitely are close and are 100% more critical of each other than anyone else, but it’s good to be able to have someone tell you that you messed up and then the next round be able to focus on the game again.
What was it like to beat NRG in the EPICENTER Closed Qualifier and to clinch the LAN spot, especially with the last map being so close and going to overtime? What were your first thoughts?
That was one of our first main qualifiers with our new roster and it felt good to be able to qualify for an event and beat some good competition. I am just happy to be able to have a chance to compete against very good players and to travel the world doing something that I enjoy.
For the people that will see you play at EPICENTER for the first time and would like to know what to expect: What kind of an AWPer are you? Is there a pro player you model yourself on, someone you can compare yourself to?
I’ve tried to develop my own style over the years, but I have watched a lot of different players and definitely try to incorporate different things into my game. I try to be as consistent as possible but will definitely do everything I can to help my team win.
HellRaisers, Virtus.pro and 5POWER are in the Wild Card qualifier along yourselves. There are two teams higher ranked than you and only two spots for the main event. How do you see the obstacle you have ahead, do you see your team as a big underdog in Moscow?
I haven’t followed those teams as much until recently but I feel like if we come ready to play and stay focused that we could win. I haven’t put much thought into us being underdogs but we do have the least international LAN experience so this is definitely good for us, especially if we can go home with some wins.
What do you think it will take for you to successfully punch above your weight and qualify for the main EPICENTER event? Either from a team or individual perspective.
We’re all playing the same game and as long as we stay focused and take it round by round I think that we could surprise some people.
Back in February you were eliminated by 5POWER at the Legends Cup in Santa Ana, a smaller international tournament. The rosters were significantly different then and a lot of time has past, but is there still a desire to face them at EPICENTER and "settle the score"?
No, I think that was one of my first real LANs ever and as a team, we haven’t put much thought into it since.