mezii on leaving the UK scene: "International teams are definitely the way forward to unlock the full potential of a team and its players"
A year of solid performances and consistency from mezii has begun to spark interest around the up-and-coming British rifler, who is gradually carving a promising future for himself. After impressing in 2019 and into 2020 by averaging a consistent 1.17 rating across his time with national sides London and Vexed, the 21-year-old has taken his next steps with a move to international Counter-Strike in the form of GamerLegion, where he hopes to continue his development on his path to "play at the highest level".
Emerging talents from the UK have been few and far between in recent times, with the most notable names coming from Owen "smooya" Butterfield, Mateusz "mantuu" Wilczewski and Thomas "Thomas" Utting - all of whom enhanced their skillsets by making the jump to international teams.
In this interview, mezii breaks down his signing with GamerLegion and how the team came about, the differences from playing in British lineups and an international roster, what it is like to play alongside his teammate Patrik "Zero" Žúdel, as well the downturn of the UK scene and why it has struggled to stay on par with the rest of Europe.
Earlier in July, you signed with GamerLegion alongside your long-standing teammate and fellow countryman, Adam9130. What are the differences between playing on UK teams and on an international roster? What has the transition been like?
The main differences would be the overall attitude towards the game, staying positive inside and outside the game. A lot of UK players find it difficult to stay mentally strong when things aren't going their way, but within this international roster, we are all a positive bunch of players.
The transition was pretty easy for me as I obviously do not have trouble speaking English in the game and the style wasn't completely different to what I am used to, so overall it was quite smooth.
Do you recognise any distinct differences between the play style in UK teams and how your current teammates want to play?
There are few distinct differences, we tried to learn a lot from EU teams in Vexed and we practised against some of the best teams, so when it came to this GamerLegion team there were a lot of similar ideas being brought to the table from us UK players and the EU guys, with the overall style being pretty similar to what I had played in previous UK teams.
What was the process like leading up to signing with the organisation? How did the team come about?
This was a weird time for me, not really having an instant offer or plan after the Vexed team falling apart and also the UK scene really being in an awful place, you would think it couldn't get any worse... I knew I needed an EU offer to continue improving and making steps to where I wanted to be. With this goal in mind, I joined Prodigy Agency, and the traction was great. Numerous tier 1 teams were interested and I had some meetings. However, with the COVID situation at that time in the UK (not allowing me to travel) and the overall state of CS:GO, it was moving slowly.
I had an opportunity with GamerLegion to play the upcoming MDL season with them and it went pretty well; we kept our spot and that was the goal as we were mixing at the time. Once the season finished, I decided to join GamerLegion as I really believe it is the right project for me currently to grow as a player.
Before joining GamerLegion, you were in free agency after parting ways with Vexed following a 10-month tenure. What led to the collapse of the Vexed roster?
It was tough for us in Vexed as we were unable to reach our full potential and play full time in that period. We had Kray who was working full time and I was studying at university, so we could only play so much as a team or individually. This led to a lot of disappointing seasons in ESEA, making a lot of Advanced playoffs and MDL Relegations but just not being able to take it to the next level and qualify for MDL. This disheartened a few of us and Kray decided to stop playing competitive CS due to not being able to balance full-time work and CS, which is understandable. L1NK went to play Valorant where he has been really successful, so I am really happy for him.
GamerLegion currently sits at 58th in the rankings - what are the short-term goals for this team? What about long-term ambitions?
We are still a very new team and trying to adapt to playing in an international team so there are a lot of mistakes we are in the process of fixing, but we definitely have a goal of a better ranking. Short term we are looking to achieve top 30 and I know we can definitely do it, it just takes time. As for other goals, it's hard to have a lot of goals, especially at the moment with no LANs going ahead due to COVID, so we cannot say 'we want to qualify for this LAN'. But we are competing in some online cups and we are looking to win and gain some experience as a team in officials.
You were a standout player in your previous teams, such as London and Vexed (1.17 ratings), and have continued that trend here in GamerLegion (1.18). How have you managed to keep up a consistent level of performance? Can we expect more from you individually?
For me, I have always tried to keep a consistent routine with CS in all aspects: aim, movement, learning new grenades and ensuring I don't fail smokes, and so on. A big thing also is keeping basically the same settings. In my opinion, keeping settings the same and carrying out a frequent routine will definitely help you become more consistent with your performances and it is working for me so far. As I mentioned before, throughout my time in London/Vexed I was studying at university and it was only at the end of May I finished my education, I definitely feel people can expect more from me now as I have even more time to commit to CS and improve my game to unlock a higher potential.
You mentioned in an interview with Hawka during the early days of the team that communication was still a bit rough. Is it better now?
The communication within the team has definitely got a lot better, for the EU guys in the team they have got used to speaking in English and all the callouts, but we still need to improve our overall comms now the foundations of callouts/positions have been set. Even for me and Adam, there are some callouts we have had to learn that the EU players use, so communication in pressure moments can get quite hectic when you forget or call the wrong position (laughs).
Having a lot of experience in the UK scene yourself, what would you say is needed to take it to the next level? And why is it struggling to keep up with the rest of the European scene, especially considering that talented players have emerged in recent years, like smooya, mantuu and Thomas?
I feel there is quite a lot needed in the UK to take it to the next level. Firstly, too many players focus on the wrong things - statistics. There is quite a lot of selfishness within the UK and they think 'If my stats are good then that’s all that matters,' or they think the only way of measuring individual importance is through stats. This has a domino effect on team performance as they aren't as focused on improving the team as much as their own individual play. Moreover, I think there are a lot of teams and players within the UK not using practise time efficiently or looking to improve in the right areas. There are more than enough demos that can be downloaded on HLTV for your team to find the foundations on a map or demos for an individual to watch how to play a position or certain situations. Teams focus too heavily on getting the flashy, cool new strats that will work one time and individual players focus too much on deathmatching and aim training rather than learning new grenades, angles, reactions. Endpoint are the first team to get things done correctly and it is paying off for them, so it’s good to see. It’s just a shame there are not teams within the UK scene to compete with them and push each other to improve.
Are there any young UK talents that you think will burst onto the scene in the near future?
It’s very hard to think of any young UK talents at the moment, as most people know it’s not a scene with a deep pool of talents anyway, also with Valorant coming along most of the scene went to that game. It’s in a weird place at this current time, the UK scene is in its worst state in terms of depth of teams and players, but on a positive note we have Endpoint who are the best UK team that there has been in CSGO.
Do you see this team as a stepping stone in your career? What are your personal expectations for the future? Do you plan to continue to play for international teams?
I definitely plan to continue playing with international teams as I feel it’s the only way I can improve further with not much happening within the UK scene. I also think that international teams are starting to become more popular now and are definitely the way forward to unlock the full potential of a team and its players. I am always looking to achieve the best possible results out of any team I am part of and it is no different with the current GamerLegion team, I really believe in this lineup making an impact and achieving the goals we set. My personal goal is to play at the highest level and compete at the Majors, it's always been a big dream of mine and I will try my hardest to get there.
You’ve been the top performer for the team, but the headline player when the project was announced was Zero. What has it been like to play alongside him? What does he bring to the table?
It’s been super enjoyable playing with Zero so far in the team, he is an extremely positive and funny person so it’s great for the atmosphere inside and outside the game. In terms of in-game, he has incredible aim which means anchoring sites becomes easy for him, but he has been out of competitive CS for a little while so there are some smaller things he is having to catch up on. He has a great work ethic to improve each day and be better than he ever was earlier on in his career.