Gospadarov: "Everyone had to sacrifice something in order to make it here"
We spoke with Kirill "Gospadarov" Gospadarov after Warthox was eliminated from the CIS Minor, discussing his time on Quantum Bellator Fire, the team's showing at the tournament and his experience of the Na`Vi Esports Camp.
Warthox concluded their CIS Minor run following a 0-2 loss against tournament favourites, Spirit, in the group B decider match. Prior to their elimination, the squad beat one of the more established squads, Nemiga and took the dominant DreamEaters to double digits on two maps.
After the team exited the tournament we spoke with Gospadarov to discuss his first ever large organisation, Warthox's run at the Minor, long-term prospects with the team and the Na`Vi Esports Camp he is currently enrolled in.
Talk to me about the time you spent on Quantum Bellatore Fire - it was the first large organisation you represented.
I received an invite to join the team in June 2018. I was approached by the coach just two days after I had sat my end of school exams, who asked whether I'd be interested in trying it out. Of course, I said yes because for me it was an absolute shock to finally be invited to represent a professional team. Considering the organisation had previously been at a Major, it really meant a lot to me. I agreed to try out, passed the trial period and we traveled to the bootcamp. At the bootcamp things didn't really work out and afterwards it was decided that the organisation didn't want to keep the roster.
After that, I was out of Counter-Strike for a while because I was enrolled for education and had some health issues that prevented me from walking normally. Later on I started working on myself, found time for Counter-Strike and came to understand that I enjoyed playing more than school. I started prioritising my education less, instead focusing on CS, and here we are.
This period of time that you described when you were out of CS - we're talking approximately from November 2018 to May 2019, correct?
Yeah, around that time. I mean the health issue still exists, but nowadays I feel a lot better and can actually walk. It started to be a problem around the end of October, and from around November to December I didn't even touch the game because I was going to hospitals. After New Years I returned to playing and focused on regaining my form, and six months down the line I feel a lot better.
From my understanding the finalised Warthox roster came together around May 2019 - could you take me through how the squad assembled.
We actually came together a lot earlier than May, but with other roster members. Our core trio came together at the end of January, in JACKPOT, me and ProbLem. I played with ProbLem earlier in some of my first HLTV-recorded games back in the Tyrant days, and we went through this path alongside each other. We started out together, and some time down the line after QBF we were back to playing alongside each other. JACKPOT wanted to get a team together for the Minor, so he called us in good time because he knew we needed a decent chunk of time to prepare for it. A couple of months simply wouldn't have been enough for a Minor, whereas our initial main objective was to reach the Minor.
We had two players before - Quantium and Diray, but Quantium had to leave due to health issues, while Diray wasn't a good fit for the team, so we decided to part ways with him. Instead we invited minse and Flash_1. I mean factually, you're right in that we came together around April/May, because we had a new captain, Flash_1, and a new playstyle. Throughout, however, we had our coach AKIMOV, who was the main constructor of our in-game plan, and we followed through according to his directions. He helped us out and taught us a lot, some things that perhaps I didn't even have access to in QBF.
Once we got together we started practicing and made it to the Russian National Championships and similar tournaments, so we did have results, but the main issue was that we didn't have an organisation and when you're an adult without money, it's a problem - the conditions weren't suitable. Everyone had to sacrifice something in order to make it here.
You made it to the Minor - despite subsequent elimination, what is your general feeling on the performance the team showed here in Berlin, are you satisfied?
To be honest, I think we had a good showing here considering the situation we found ourselves in. After the closed qualifier the team found out I'd be leaving, so the circumstances were pretty difficult. Nevertheless, the guys kept training and I trained with them, just not like everyone else. I'd say we did well, we achieved the goal we set - our main goal was to make the Minor.
Here at the Minor we felt at ease, contrary to the impression you get about going to a large event where you'll be nervous. We saw ourselves as the underdog, and you need to understand that there's nothing to be afraid of. If you're a favourite like Nemiga, who lost their opening match against us, I think it must've been really difficult for them to take that loss, especially because they had Spirit to face for elimination - that's an incredibly tough situation. We knew we could surprise, and we nearly succeeded, but we were lacking in preparation, I feel.
You're currently enrolled in the Na`Vi Esports Camp parallel to representing Warthox. Are there any long-term prospects with the team?
In regards to long-term prospects with Warthox, I'm not entirely sure, because I'm basically no longer part of the roster. I'm part of the Na`Vi Esports Camp, so the guys are currently down to a quartet - they'll likely continue after finding a fifth, because I don't know what the future poses in terms of the Esports Camp. It'll be going on till Fall, and there's no point in them waiting for me if they can progress without me. Who knows, maybe they'll be able to attract organisational interest considering we've shown that we're capable of achieving results without backing, maybe someone would like to find out what we can show with it.
Let's talk about the Na`Vi Esports Camp - take me through an average day.
The program at the Esports Camp is effectively the same as any sportsperson in training. You wake up early, get some exercise - either yoga or just normal morning exercise - in the first month, we had a strong focus on psychology as opposed to the actual game. We had lectures, we studied and tried to understand ourselves from within. After that, we'd have lunch, a quiet hour to reset before training, and either continue with lectures or practice CS. In the evening we'd have dinner, break down the day and give feedback on the things you enjoyed/disliked, what we want to do or give suggestions regarding activities and then the day would conclude with an hour and a half of free time before bed at around 11 pm.
In reality, you don't have very much free time, you're always engaged and that's very good - you've got a regimen, you're training your discipline. It's what you need in any sport, and I think you need to implement it in esports as well.
As part of the camp, you happen to work with the likes of people such as B1ad3 and aMi - talk to me about how you engage with them and what they bring to the whole experience.
You think you know everything, or at the very least understand a few things here and there about the game, but when they point out your flaws and shortcomings, what they effectively do is help you act in more a simplified manner. There are times where you're over-complicating things when in reality it's all so simple that you don't really need to strain over it too much. You're told that you'd be better off doing X over Y, and hearing a good suggestion from a mentor rather than breaking it down internally can really give you a better sense of direction. You hear it from a person that has been through it all, a person who has seen everything that can be seen in CS.
I really like working with these people - I understand that I'm young, and they are helping me accelerate my progression to an international level of competition by ensuring I don't have to go through all the pitfalls they had to along the way.
Have you spent time with the main roster outside of the few social media snippets and videos we've seen so far?
Outside of media obligations, we haven't really spent time with the guys because from what I remember, they were already bootcamping for Cologne when we came to visit. It was only during the shooting days that we visited them. Obviously, we had chats here and there that weren't shot on camera, but this all happened during a media day. I remember Boombl4 visited us on several occasions, s1mple visited once.
Generally speaking, we don't really cross paths that much because we're all quite busy and don't have much time to relax.