electronic on Katowice run: "After we beat FaZe, I told s1mple that we were definitely making it to the final"
In this extended interview conducted by Alexey "OverDrive" Biryukov for HLTV.org, electronic opens up about several topics pertaining to his personal life and his career. The Russian rifler rose to stardom after joining Na`Vi in November 2017, making the top 20 player of the year list in both 2018 (No.4) and 2019 (No.6).
Discussions in this interview, which was conducted in Russian and then translated into English, include his wage progression over the years, how he joined FlipSid3 Tactics and Natus Vincere, and the various reasons why some of his previous rosters didn't work out. He also opened up about his dream roster and revealed that he plans to stay involved in esports after he retires from the game.
Do you watch tournament streams? Do you prefer Russian or English broadcasts?
I split it 50/50, but there are stretches of time when I only watch either Russian or English broadcasts. I don't have any particular issues with the level of commentating, but there are a few commentators who, in my opinion, are entirely incompetent in their profession.
What's the issue with those commentators?
They are overly arrogant, which gets in the way of them providing quality broadcasts.
How long do you plan on competing? Do age limitations exist?
To be honest, I haven't really thought about it. It depends on how I play and my health, as well as what is going to happen in my life. In all, I think you can remain in the top echelons until about 35, and f0rest is a spectacular example of it. If people can remain competitive in traditional sports at a high level even at the age of 40, then why would it be an issue in esports? The question is solely the person's motivation.
When were you in peak form?
Counter-Strike used to be a bit different, so it's difficult to say, plus people used to play at a lower level than they do now. If I had to answer approximately, then I'd say I was at peak performance at the FACEIT Major (tournament-high 1.36 rating) in London.
How do you maintain motivation to continuously play at a top level?
Why would I need to find any motivation? It's internal, I continuously want to improve and become better. Of course, I don't play the game as much as s1mple, but when it comes to team training there has never been a situation when I didn't want to train or I couldn't be bothered. If there is a choice between playing ten scrims or six scrims and four FPL matches, I'd obviously pick the former. When you train with your team, you know that your teammates want to develop and become better, whereas in FPL you frequently come across players who simply waste your time.
How much time do you need to spend in-game?
I think it's individual. For example, KRiMZ had 30 hours played in two weeks and he's breaking records.
Does your wage impact your motivation?
No. When I joined Natus Vincere I was paid less than all of my teammates, but I didn't think about it at all. I will play even if I don't get paid. Money isn't the point.
Have you ever let fame get to your head?
No, I'm not some kind of a celebrity. I'm not a famous footballer, singer or actor, I'm known in a very specific circle. We're not broadcast on TV, so I don't have anything to suggest that I'm famous. I haven't even thought about it.
Tell us the story behind your nickname.
I was sitting, thinking of a nickname, and I liked the idea of "electric" or "electron", I can't remember which one it was. For it to sound a bit nicer, I adjusted it slightly to "electronic". This happened about ten years ago.
If you had the opportunity to go back ten years, would you change your nickname?
I'm completely happy with it. To be honest, I don't even have the creativity to come up with a different nickname for myself in Steam when I don't want to play under my real nickname, let alone come up with a new one.
Did you play previous iterations of Counter-Strike?
Yeah, I played Counter-Strike 1.6.
When did you realize that you were going to be a professional player?
It came to me when I was outplaying everyone. At a certain moment in time, I started playing four Deathmatch maps in a row, followed by around 10 mix matches. I was traveling to Moscow for LAN events where some of the best players at the time were playing and I didn't experience any issues and was putting up solid performances every match. The team always believed in me, I was a local s1mple of sorts.
How did you join Empire, your first big organization was Empire?
I had played with hooch in ACES, but due to a conflict with him, I decided to part ways with the roster and join spaz and CyberFocus in Evolution. After that, I played with local players from Kazan and decide to get a team together, and we were supposed to be signed by Battlehall, a local club. In the end, we were constantly lied to and they never came through with what they promised. I endured this for two months, after which nirvana invited me to Empire.
Honestly, I really believed in the guys from Kazan, and initially, I even turned down invitations from other teams. Even with Empire, I didn't agree to join the first time around, but the guys from Kazan didn't have enough motivation, grit, and belief for things to work out.
How did you leave Empire?
We never left Empire. Our contracts were expiring and we decided to merge with Fluffy Gangsters to create a single strong team that was able to contend with HellRaisers, FlipS1d3 and Natus Vincere. Our new organization, ANOX, was supposed to buy out our contracts from Empire. Few things went according to plan as management failed to keep their word. At a certain point, there were internal issues in the team, which subsequently led to the kick of chopper. No one asked my opinion before making the decision.
How did you transfer to FlipSid3?
I knew that if FlipSid3 were looking to make roster adjustments I would be on their shortlist. At the time I played an official match against them in which I had a pretty good performance, and I knew that it would play its role. The co-owner of HLTV, Tgwri1s, dropped me a message in Steam, letting me know that FlipSid3 would like to contact me. I referred them to Empire's manager, seeing as ANOX hadn't bought out the contracts, and the organizations agreed on the terms. By the way, I still have a really positive rapport with the Empire organization.
Did FlipSid3 pay a transfer fee for you?
Empire bought me a PC, and, as far as I know, FlipSid3 just compensated them for it, something along the lines of $1,500.
What didn't work out in FlipSid3?
The players didn't have enough confidence, they were scared of playing aggressively, afraid of over-peeking and initiating. I don't remember exactly, but I think the maximum ranking we reached was top 12. That was the ceiling for our team and for the specific players on it - we wouldn't have ascended higher, and no one really wanted to. There were issues with motivation, not everyone trained the way they needed to and there was no dedication. Certain players only came on for practice and didn't dedicate any time to individual practice in CS, and when the last round of a match was played out, they'd instantly leave TeamSpeak and go play other games.
How did you join Natus Vincere?
I can't remember exactly, but I was contacted and asked if I wanted to join Na`Vi. I agreed, and they said that from this point onwards the organizations would be working out a deal and that my input was no longer needed. My buyout, at the time, was significant, but if compared to today's standards, it was around the transfer price of a top 30 player.
When was the Natus Vincere roster with Zeus and Edward at peak form?
We had a good stretch that lasted for about six months. It started at the StarLadder where we lost in the grand final, and after that, we consistently reached top four and even won some tournaments.
Why was the team unable to beat Astralis in the FACEIT Major final?
They were objectively stronger. They deserved it more as they had put in more work towards it.
Did you play a part in kicking Zeus and Edward?
The entire team took part in Edward's kick. As for Zeus, after we lost at the Berlin Major, he gathered us in a room and told us that he'd like to leave after the BLAST Pro Series event in Moscow.
Before that, I had never seen the topic of kicking Zeus raised, while Edward already knew that he could be replaced because we had told him before on several occasions. I don't understand why the media portrays it as if Zeus didn't leave of his own volition, while Edward was allegedly removed by the "youngsters". Players in Na`Vi consider removing someone only when there is no other option on the table. You have to try absolutely everything in an attempt to save the roster, and only if things still don't work out do you consider an adjustment.
What was your reaction to the addition of Booombl4?
We had three players on our shortlist in qikert, somedieyoung and Boombl4. qikert was the highest priority, but we couldn't agree on a transfer. We started discussing whether we should pick up either Vitya (somedieyoung) or Kirill (Boombl4). B1ad3 watched a lot of demos from these players, and, as a team, we mutually agreed that it would be best to sign Kirill.
Did you add GuardiaN with long-term prospects or just for a handful of tournaments? Why didn't it work out?
We had planned for the long-term, but, unfortunately, due to issues with his Russian, it didn't work out. When you try to recall how to communicate something quickly, you lose focus on the game. He was too pensive and wasn't always focused on his crosshair, and this possibly led to him frequently missing shots. He said that he understood everyone just fine and there weren't any issues, but I felt differently.
What were your thoughts on the addition of Perfecto?
I had no reservations about it. As for some of the other candidates that we didn't end up signing, I did.
At what point did you realize that you could win IEM Katowice?
If I'm honest, after we beat FaZe in the groups, I came up to s1mple and told him that we were definitely making it to the final.
What was your most memorable victory and your most bitter loss?
My favorite victory was in Cologne, the atmosphere was outstanding. I think Katowice could contest for the title, had there been viewers. As for the most disappointing showings, it's BLAST Pro Series Moscow and StarLadder in Belek.
Why did the team play so poorly at the last event with Zeus, BLAST Pro Series Moscow?
We were poorly prepared for the event. It was apparent going in that we lacked the will to prepare for it well, and this goes for everyone, including Danya (Zeus) and myself. Despite the fact, we were playing on home territory and we wanted to win, but we should've thought about that earlier.
Do you have favorite teams? Who do you follow?
There are currently a lot of teams that play at a high level. I like to get my fix of nostalgia by watching matches from 2013-2015. For example, I liked the HellRaisers roster when it had Dosia, kUcher, ANGE1, AdreN and markeloff.
What region do you think it would be interesting to play in?
I'd like to play in the US. I like the country and it would be interesting to learn about it first-hand.
What is Denmark's strength? Why do they have the most players at the highest level?
They always approach their work professionally.
What do you think that is difference between Denmark and, say, Sweden?
Sweden and the CIS region have a mutual issue in that players don't want to play with one another, and organizations don't want to transfer players out of principle and so on. What's the point of fnatic kicking Golden after solid results and then re-signing him? We can also remember the stories of NiP. Personally, I don't remember the Danes having these issues and I don't even know Danes who are toxic, but, then again, these are just my observations.
Could you name the best and worst teammates of your career?
Well, I think everyone knows my best teammate. As for my worst, it's probably fAst, with whom I played with in Evolution. I don't know if it's the case today, but at the time it was unbearable. He could come in tipsy for an incredibly important match.
Are big wages a good or bad thing?
It's good for the viewers. When they see such large sums they start following, even if they don't really comprehend the game. It's not great for the organizations, even though our compensations are child's play in comparison to football. Top player buyouts are equatable to unproven young prospective footballers who may or may not make it big.
How frequently have you been approached by other organizations since you joined Natus Vincere?
If someone has reached out, then they had to go through management, but I haven't been informed of such inquiries. In CIS there aren't many organizations that could me out, and even if they could, they could just pay a bit more and buy out s1mple with his media presence. I don't know exactly how much I cost, but I'm probably expensive.
How has your wage progressed since the beginning of your career?
I won't mention organizations, I'll just mention the sums. I started at $200, and after transferring to another team I started receiving $500. My transfer after that offered around $3,000. When I joined Na`Vi, my wage increased two-fold, and from there it has increased depending on our results.
What was your largest purchase with money you've made from Counter-Strike?
I've spent a lot of money on home renovations and bought myself a car.
Tell us about the role of a coach within the team.
From my understanding, the coach is responsible for the game plan. If he doesn't fulfill this role, then the captain will find it very hard and he won't be able to concentrate on the game. The coach has always been very important to me, barring perhaps my time on FlipSid3, where we had Shockwave, who spoke to us as few as two times a week. At the same time, it's pretty difficult to be a coach when you have B1ad3 on the team.
Talking about Kane, he has a lot of positives, and he definitely didn't win the Major with Gambit by fluke. However, he does have a lot to work on, and I've expressed this to him on several occasions.
Have you ever been asked to throw a match?
No, nobody has ever asked me to.
Have you ever initiated FPL kicks?
Not personally, I've only jokingly asked Sasha (s1mple) to. I don't really play FPL these days because there are a lot of new players, which means that playing a regular FACEIT match would be more pleasant.
Do you think it's right that m0NESY received a direct invite to FPL?
At the moment the decision isn't fully justified. Regardless of how well he plays, he still needs to learn a lot. Furthermore, FPL has players who can really break him at such a young age with their toxicity.
What is your dream team, discounting any Na`Vi players?
I've always wanted to play with NiKo, and I like Magisk, but I wouldn't sign him because we play identical roles. Let's say gla1ve, flusha and ZywOo.
Do you have a rivalry for the title of the best player in the world with s1mple?
I don't think about that at all. For me, what's important is for the team to be No.1. I'm sure Sasha (s1mple) would answer in the same way.
If s1mple didn't get the Katowice MVP medal, who would you give it to?
flamie. Maybe not everyone noticed, but over the course of the event he had some really good performances.
What was it like getting the MVP at ICE Challenge?
It was nice, but not as nice as it could have been had we won.
What position in the HLTV.org top 20 player rating would you like to finish the year?
As high as possible.
Has Boombl4 significantly improved as a captain over the year?
Of course, he has improved a lot. He's still getting used to the tier one level, but he has already demonstrated that he doesn't have any issues and will only continue improving.
Who did you want to become as a child?
From my very childhood, I played a lot of PC games and simultaneously played football, but games took over.
Do you have a dream outside of esports?
I'd like for my daughter to live a happy life. As for work, I have no clue about what it is that I could do outside of esports. If I play until about the age of 30, I'll continue my path in esports as a CEO, coach or some other role in the industry.
Have you worked outside of esports?
No. At the age of 16 I had already signed my first contract.
Will you let your children work in esports?
Definitely not my daughter, but if I have a son, I'm not sure. Either way, esports have a negative impact on your health. I feel that we travel more than traditional sportspeople. You're flying from Europe to America, America to China and then back to Europe again. All the travel has an adverse effect on your immune system, you can get a cold or some ailment pretty easily.
What's your favorite food?
What's your favorite music?
I like different genres. Whatever I like, I listen to, I don't have a favorite band or performer.
Do you have any fears?
If we're talking generally, then it would be loneliness. As for specific fears, I'm really afraid of snakes.
Do you have a country that you particularly like?
As I've mentioned previously, I like the United States. I don't separate other countries into good and bad, as every single one has its pluses and minuses.
What are your thoughts on the coronavirus outbreak?
I'm concerned. I have elderly people in my surroundings and this causes me to worry. I think that Russia needs to implement stricter countermeasures to combat the spread of coronavirus. I am astounded by the number of people that still go out for a walk, who party and have a great time; these actions can have repercussions. I try to follow the quarantine rules, and the only thing I can do is buy some groceries. I'll repeat myself in saying that the quarantine was not implemented purposefully and that people should follow it. I don't think I need to describe the purpose of it.