Boombl4 on life during the pandemic: "Every day is the same and you become a robot"
In the first of a two-part interview conducted by Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov for HLTV.org, NAVI's Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov shares some details about his private life and how he's dealing with the current global health crisis.
Boombl4 burst onto the global stage in early 2018 when he helped Quantum Bellator Fire to a playoff run at ELEAGUE Major Boston — you can read more about that unlikely journey here. He then went off the grid as results turned sour and the team went through a period of reconstruction before finally getting back on his feet in May 2019 when he was offered the chance to join NAVI as a replacement for Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev.
In the first part of this interview, which was conducted in Russian and then translated into English, the 21-year-old discusses a wide range of topics, including how he got into Counter-Strike, his favorite teams to watch and the best and worst teammates he's had. He also explains how his life has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 10,000 people in Russia.
Which streams do you enjoy watching? Do you like CIS commentating?
When I want to watch a match, it’s a 50-50 for me, depending on who’s commentating. I’ll watch a Russian stream if Ухо [Uho] and Strike are commentating, and I don’t have any sort of dislike towards Russian streams like many others. Sometimes Russian analyst desks even make me laugh, for example. There are a lot more funny moments if comparing to English analyst desks; then again, it depends on the people working the panel. There are, however, analysts and commentators who are clearly underperforming and I don’t watch streams with them.
How long do you plan on playing? Does CS have an age cap?
I’ll review my performance yearly. I live in the present and I don’t like predicting the future, but I’d like to play for as long as possible.
Did you play older versions of CS?
When I was six, my uncle Sasha showed me CS 1.5 and I remember how I played on cs_assault against bots. I really enjoyed the game, and for around five or six years, I played on the public local servers of my area. After that I started playing other games like Pointblank and League of Legends. One summer I ended up downloading CS:GO, made it to Global Elite and realized that it was what I wanted.
What are your thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic?
The pandemic has really changed my life, every day is the same and you become a robot, there isn’t enough vibrance in it. As for the coronavirus itself, of course I'm very serious about it as I have a baby brother, a grandma and a grandpa, and I can’t allow myself to go outside unless absolutely necessary, as it would put them at risk and I may very well regret my decision for the rest of my life.
Which team do you enjoy following?
I like watching FURIA’s matches. arT is a madman of a player who constantly rushes around and pushes in, yet manages to maintain positive stats. I also like watching Liquid on LAN, and, let’s say, MIBR. Otherwise, if I have some free time, I can basically watch anything, even tier 3-4 matches.
Which regions would like to play in?
I always wanted to play in the CIS region. Here I speak my mother tongue, and, as such, I have more chances. From the perspective of where it would be interesting, I could play anywhere. Bondik has nearly achieved this; he’s already played in Europe, China and CIS.
Name your best and worst teammate.
My best teammate is flamie. Ever since my time in QBF, I always mentioned that I wanted to play with him. My worst teammate was wayLander, only because he would exclusively train with the team and never dedicate time to individual training. We asked him to practice with bots, but he would say that it didn’t help him. I really didn’t like that.
Are large buyouts good for players?
It’s bad when players are kept by organizations and their buyouts are through the roof, so it doesn’t make sense for other organizations to buy them out. You could even say that that’s how you ruin someone's life. Personally, I don’t know what would happen to me had Winstrike not let me leave for NAVI. The question is less around buyouts and more about organizations. They need to always help the player, and if they’d like to leave, they should find ways to settle for a transfer to happen.
How has your wage progressed since the start of your career?
During the QBF and EPG days I had a $500 wage. Then, when I signed with Winstrike, it went up around five-fold, and when I arrived in NAVI, it went up a few more times.
Have you ever been asked to fix a match?
No, I don’t remember being asked to do that.
What was your largest purchase with the money you’ve made from CS?
I haven’t made a large purchase so far, I’ve only helped my grandma and grandpa to buy a flat on the outskirts of Moscow. As far as personal purchases go, I bought an iPhone, that’s the most I’ve spent.
Does your compensation affect your motivation?
If it didn’t exist, many top players wouldn’t be able to play CS. It’s just a pleasant bonus. What’s far more important is the feeling of hoisting the trophy in Katowice and realizing that you were the best team out of all the participants.
Have you ever let fame get to your head?
I was always an open and friendly person who spoke to everyone and had open DMs. There are people that I would and wouldn’t like to talk to and play with, but that has nothing to do with fame getting to my head.
How did you come up with your nickname?
When I played League of Legends, one of my friends called me Boomich because I was very toxic and was always vocally critical of others. I liked the nickname and started using it.
Did you ever consider changing your nickname when you started appearing on HLTV and became internationally-known so that others knew how to pronounce it?
No. When I appeared on HLTV, people made fun of my nickname and talked about it. There was a lot of hype around it, which is a good thing. Boombla, Boombl4, Boomich - it doesn’t matter how you pronounce it, people understand who you’re talking about.
Have you ever asked for someone to be kicked from FPL?
Yes, I asked Sasha [s1mple] to kick Juanflatroo. This player constantly pushes smokes and rushes. He can ruin a game for you, and it’s not nice playing against him. I had a personal disliking towards him.
Do you have bad blood with a specific player or teams?
I’m not a conflictive person, but I do dislike certain players because I think they’re either too full of themselves or they’re toxic. I remember when I first made it to FPL and AFK’d a single round, k1to gave me a lecture about how it was wrong of me to do that considering I had just joined the league and how I’d get kicked from it. To be fair, I was kicked from FPL a few days later. Bubzkji also behaved weirdly, he occasionally wrote a lot of strange things in chat. From the CIS crowd, there’s a Belarusian player nicknamed Fast, and it’s just impossible to play with him.
Tell us about your family.
As I mentioned earlier, I have an uncle who introduced me to the game. He’s now proud that he was the one to introduce me to CS and he always follows my games and our team’s results. You could say he’s my fan and my support. My mum and my baby brother watch my games and support me as well, while my grandma always follows the scores on her phone. If we lose, they always call me and calm me down. My dad also supports me; he always takes me to the airport and gives me advice on which map we should work on and various elements of the game I need to improve on. My whole family is submerged in esports.
What did your family think about esports when you were just beginning your journey?
In the beginning, things were obviously different. They thought it was all a scam, that there was no prize money or travel, scaring me with stories from the 90s. It was only after I had traveled to Romania for the Minor that they changed their views on esports. They really dove deep into it after I put together my own roster with Winstrike.
Tell us about your weight issues.
I had hypothyroidism up until the age of 19, which means that I had a small thyroid, which affected my metabolism. I could eat very little and still put on 10kgs in a month, so it was a health problem. It was never the case that I liked to gorge on food, as a lot of people may think. When I hit 19 my thyroid suddenly grew, and now it’s a lot easier for me to lose weight, which I’m currently doing, although it’s been difficult.
What’s the most you’ve weighed and how much do you currently weigh?
I weighed around 192kg, now I’m at 164kg. My ideal is around 110kg, and with a height of 190cm that would be normal.
Do you have a dream outside of esports?
I’d like to meet a person that I enjoy spending time with, someone I could travel the world and share my emotions with. If we’re talking about material goals, then I haven’t really thought about that.
Do you have a higher education?
No, I left in year 11 and asked my parents for a single year to find a team and try my hand in esports. It’s nice that it has all worked out.
Will you allow your kids to get into esports?
Sure, I’ll support them in all their beginnings.
Have you worked outside of esports?
No, but I had thoughts of working at the post office at the age of 15.
Do you have any fears?
I’m scared of getting lost in the airport and missing a transfer flight. I’m afraid of all crawling insects. I’m scared of sleeping in the dark when the door is open, I always feel like someone’s watching me. I’m not afraid of heights, though, and neither am I afraid of flying.
Have you ever made a mistake that you consider to be the worst in your life?
It has nothing to do with esports, but more so my personal relationships. They were a mistake.
You’ve visited many countries, which have you enjoyed most?
I’d highlight a few places that took my fancy: Portugal – Lisbon, Spain – Barcelona, USA – Atlanta and China – Chongqing. Every place had its own allure, I really liked the people and the atmosphere in Atlanta, while Portugal was really beautiful. Barcelona is a great town to relax, and in Chongqing you can find anything you’re looking for.
Read the second part of the interview here.