erkaSt: "We looked for an option to get a working visa, but esport wasn't an option in Australia"
Ahead of the start of the StarLadder Major, Grayhound revealed that the event in Berlin would be the last one they played with erkaSt, who was unable to secure an Australian visa following the end of his schooling in the country.
In an extensive interview, erkaSt explained his situation and revealed that he aims to team up with Gan-Erdene "dobu" Batbold and Batbayar "kabal" Bat-Enkh, as well as move to China as they have already found some parties interested in sponsoring them. The 24-year-old also touched on the tournament so far, their issues on Nuke, and compared this Major to the one in Katowice.
I'll start with the matches you had here, you lost against CR4ZY and then to forZe after that. In the CR4ZY game you even had a 12-4 lead and then lost to a force buy, tell me a bit about the two opening games and the feeling after losing them.
Against CR4ZY we started CT side Nuke and that was something we wanted and we did really good on the CT side because we knew how they were playing, we knew the rotations, so because of that everything was smooth. We knew, for example, when they do the wall of smokes outside who will be the lobby player or things like that, we had a good really understanding on the CT side. I think for the T side our main plan was to drop Vent from Squeaky, but I think we just couldn't accomplish it because huNter was playing really well from Annex (Main) to Squeaky, so when that plan wasn't working out we were kind of in a shock and couldn't find any other solution, plus they were also playing really well of course.
Going 0-2, similarly to the last Major when you also had a good lead on the first map, on Nuke, against Vitality that time, but then lost... was there a feeling that it was going to happen again? What was the mentality in the team after it?
For me, for example, I definitely had that feeling, but one good thing about it was that our seed was a bit higher compared to last time. Our three games then were Vitality, Cloud9, and then decider against fnatic, so it was a really difficult stage. This time, because our seeding was a bit higher than the previous time, we are getting to play teams on a more similar level, not teams like Vitality straight away. Because of that, my feeling was a bit better.
Talk to me about the INTZ game, you win Train, their pick, you go into Nuke, you also have a good lead, but you also let it slip, on the CT side this time. What was the issue?
The Nuke game... when we were scrimming in Europe there were so many teams that play Nuke in so different ways, for example, CIS teams play really differently, we scrimmed forZe I think and they were really good on Nuke, just dominating us, peeking left and right. We thought it is just a scrimm, but it is their style which is really new to us. We also played FURIA, we played a lot of teams and because of that, we complicated our CT side a lot. We knew that INTZ doesn't play Nuke that much, they had a bad result against Lazarus, Singularity from NA, we also watched them and we were just overthinking too much. They were throwing the wall of smokes and crossing into secret but we were just thinking "oh, maybe they are faking" or something like that in our head because we played so many weird teams and we were just overcomplicating it.
So that is why I think we lost so many rounds on the CT side. On the T side, we had eight rounds, we were happy with it, but it was just the CT side where we were overcomplicating everything, having gaps when we were rotating to lower and things like that.
You were set on having a few bootcamp before this, before Pro League and before the Minor, some things didn't pan out. Can you tell me about the visa issues and how this bootcamp went before the Major?
Firstly, when I was going to France, Montpellier, I tried to get a three-month Schengen visa because I knew that I had the Minor the next month and we were confident that we can qualify through the Minor, so a three-month Schengen visa was necessary for me. But the first time they only gave me a two-week visa, for the Minor they only gave me a two-week visa, so I had to re-apply every time. But it was also kind of good for us as well because it was making us have a break a bit, for example, we went to Montpellier and after that I went to Mongolia to apply for another visa, so it was a good two-week break for us. We came back, bootcamped again before the Minor and then the same thing happened again after the Minor, I went to back to Mongolia to do another visa, took a two-week break and then went back to a bootcamp.
I think I really liked that style of living, I guess, because in Australia we were scrimming the same teams over and over again, so it was kind of getting boring and not productive as well. And also, when you have those two-week-ish breaks you come back really hungry because everyone is low with time in-game, everyone would just play 10 hours a day. The first day can always be a bit difficult because there are communication issues and things like that, but after a few days, we are still going because everyone is motivated. It was like that basically.
Before the tournament it was announced that this was your last event with Grayhound. Before going into all of the details, how much does that add extra pressure or motivation to perform at this event, in the last ride with the boys?
I'm not thinking about my performance, I'm trying to not put pressure on anyone because obviously, we are really close friends in real life as well. The way I'm thinking is that I'm just so glad that I'm participating in a Major with my teammates, it is my last tournament, I just want to enjoy the time with the guys. Obviously, we still care about the result, but I don't want me leaving being something that adds pressure to the team or to me. I just want everyone to enjoy the time and move on.
Can you tell me more about why you had to leave? It was announced, but for people that are not from Australia and don't understand all of the details - you said you stopped schooling in Australia, why did you have to do that and why don't you have a visa right now?
I came to Australia as a student and I started playing online and that is how I got into a team. After four years, I should've been finishing my university, but I couldn't finish it because I failed a few exams, mostly because I didn't attend them due to attending tournaments. I tried to explain that to my university but they didn't understand anything. They asked me to tell the reason I'm skipping exams so they can reschedule them, I would say that I have a Counter-Strike tournament, and they would reply with "OK, since you are on a student visa, it is not in the policy that you can leave". The policy only covers family issues back home or you are ill, something really respected. In this case, I couldn't reschedule anything so I failed a lot of exams.
It wasn't progressive at all, when it comes to university, because my mindset was all about CS. There were times that I thought about just skipping tournaments and doing my exams, but at the same time I also feel about my team, I don't want them to have a stand-in just because I'm studying. I was committed with my decision, that's why I failed [exams]. My study period finished in May and I wanted to extend my study, and then again they asked me why I'm extending, why I'm failing and I was like "I play this videogame and stuff" (laughs).
We also looked for an option to get a working visa, but esport wasn't an option in Australia, to get the visa. One more option was to re-apply for another school and get another study visa and stay as a student, but I just didn't want that because it was kind of annoying for me to pay for the university fee and then not go there. That is dropping like $3,000 on subjects every time and then not going. Then I know I'm going to fail, it would be just for the sake of staying in Australia. I just wanted to be free from university at the moment.
You said $3,000 per subject, so how much is that per year?
Firstly I had a scholarship for a percentage of the amount, so I was paying around 2000 Australian dollars per subject and I would have 7-8 subjects a year, so that was like 16-20,000. And then the recent years because I was re-studying subjects I failed, there was no more scholarship on that, so each subject was 3,000 and something, so that was like twenty-something thousand dollars per year.
So what is the plan then? You want to continue playing CS, you are from Mongolia and you can go back there, but are there options for you to go to Europe, to North America? Could you get a visa?
I don't know, I haven't researched about it, but I think I can get a visa if it is legitimate and if it is allowed to stay as a professional gamer. If there is a region like that I can probably get a visa.
Would you be interested in something like that, or are you set on going to Mongolia and playing with a team from your country?
Right now I'm set to play with my Mongolian teammates, I really want to build a really good Mongolian team. There was never a good team in Mongolia, aside from theMongolz who had one tournament win and then dropped really fast because I don't know what issue, to be honest. But I just to want to compete as a Mongolian team. It is something I really wanted and right now I'm planning a team with dobu and kabal and we found a good sponsor in China as well, so after the Major I will probably move to China. That's the plan right now.
You are still playing for Grayhound, you have this tournament in front of you, but just for now, is there anything you want to add for the fans, to put out there to finish this chapter of Grayhound?
I just want to thank everyone in my team right now, including Mr. Grayhound, he supported me a lot when I was studying, he supported me financially at some point, I want to thank them so much. Also, I'd like to thank the fans that support us every time. Just keep supporting the boys, I think they will do really well in the future.