June 2nd, 5:24pm America/New_York

Hiko's Story: "I think and hope the Counter-Strike scene will continue to grow"

Brett "Few" ESEA on Wed, 09/25/2013 12:20PM
Compiled and Edited by: Jared “osorandom” Hartman

My name is Spencer “Hiko” Martin, I am a 23 year old college student studying Computer Science and currently playing for team compLexity CS:GO.

How did you get started in gaming?

My first game ever was probably on the original Nintendo, the one with the large rectangular shaped games, it must have been Mario world. I had so much fun and I had a huge collection of games for the Nintendo after that. The first major games I played were games like Starcraft and Diablo 2. My friends in school all played those games and we would always play against each other or farm together every day. One day, one of my friend’s brothers showed him counter-strike (version 1.3) and he started to play counter-strike more than the other games. He showed all of us, and our whole group of friends switched to playing it. From then on, after school we would always hop into a pub, or challenge each other to 1 vs 1 for bragging rights.

Who helped influenced your CS career and what helped you get to the Invite level of game play?

Everyone loves Hiko
Most of my CS career has been shaped primarily by me. My longest dated team was SLP, and I was with that team for nearly 5 years. We didn’t really have strategies and we just kind of ran around and pugged the maps really. I watched a lot of demos from people that I admired their play style (the lurker/baiter role) and really tried to mimic them. I've always found teams through people I knew / friends. I always networked myself and tried to know as many people as I could. The only team that I ever took a “leap of faith” and joined without knowing anyone was TAU. They randomly sent me a private message through ESEA to join them in ESEA-Invite, and I decided to. Coincidentally that’s the team that put me on the radar as a player. On every other team I knew someone already on it, and through different connections I was able to join the teams that I did. Since then I've been lucky enough to have some influential people impact my career: Tyson, Punkville, Jame^s, Xp3/fRoD/Storm, DaZeD, SeanGares, and Semphis. Thank you and everyone else very much, I appreciate it very much! Thank you everyone for all the great times over the last 10 years.

What other games are you currently playing? What would you like to do if you had more free time away from work and gaming?

Right now I don’t play much else, I mess around in DOTA 2 sometimes. I played League of Legends for a while, but it feels too dry to play compared to DOTA 2. I don't really have much time to sink into other games, so I don't really know what's new or coming out. If I had time for it, I would love to be able to travel more. I have family around the world, and it would be really nice to get more time to go and visit them. Seattle is one of my favorite places, getting more chances to go there would be really awesome!

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be working at a huge video gaming company (VALVE?). I know gaming will always be a passion of mine throughout my life, and to have a job in the industry would be amazing. If I had a $1,000,000 I would definitely buy a new computer, I get about 60 constant fps in game at home.

Explain to everyone about your current team, who plays what role and what impact everyone has on the team.

Sgares is the brains behind the operation. He calls and comes up with most of the strategies that we use in our team. He is also our sniper. He is in charge of thinking about how the other team is playing, and what we can do to beat it.

Swag has a similar role to me, except not as severe. Brax has a very well rounded playstyle, and we can count on him to pretty much do anything. He usually is on the opposite side of the map as me, and will usually be one of the last in rushes. His job is to support n0thing and Semphis on the rushes, and then stay alive for the post plant situations.

n0thing, sgares and hiko at ESEA LAN

n0thing is our crazy entry fragger. He’s usually one of the first on our rushes. Jordan has a lot of good ideas that he pitches to Sean as far as strategies concern, and it’s really beneficial having someone give good input when we need it most.

Semphis is also an entry fragger, as well as a lurker, as well as a semi strategy guru. He pretty much does it all, and from map to map his role is changed. On one map sometimes he’ll be the guy that needs to run in and kill people, on the next map he could be the guy near me lurking around trying to walk into bombsites alone. He also creates a lot of our strategies, and he is the smoke expert. If you ever need a smoke, he’ll find it for you, but most of the time his smokes are waaaay too complicated!

How I play and my role in compLexity:

I am what people call a lurker/baiter. This means that I am normally the very last into the site if we are rushing (if I am even with the team), or I am on the other side of the map trying to take over a different side of the map alone. I have to use my sound and what my teammates tell me completely and make different plays around it. For instance, if we know that there are 4 people for sure at bombsite A, I will be the guy that tries to walk out and kill the 1 guy that is in bombsite B which could result in our team coming back to bombsite B. My team counts on me to make the right plays, but more importantly post plant situations. Because I am usually the last person alive in most rounds, I am responsible for most of the “clutch” rounds of the team (1v1, 1v2, 1v3, etc). I do my best to win the uneven situations.

On CT sides my role is normally the small bombsites. I do my best to stop or delay rushes going into the small sites. A small site is considered a site where you only play 1 guy, usually with a fast rotator close for assistance. My job is to delay the people from rushing into the site immediately to give time for the rest of my teammates to get there. I try to stay alive while getting as many kills as possible, and normally I am very passive.

This role fits into the team very well, we have a very good mix of players on the team and I basically have the freedom to do whatever I want at any time. With semphis and n0thing leading the rushes, I can count on at least a few people dying and if it does come down to me I know it will end up usually being a 1v1 or 1v2, which is where I usually excel. Sgares knows how to use me perfectly too, he will put me in a position where I will be able to use my judgment and play how I want.

You guys we recently acquired by compLexity, one of the most known cs gaming organizations of all time. How did it feel when they approached you to possibly play under their name? Did you feel like you were going to have a higher standard to live up to?

Hiko at Copenhagen Games
compLexity showed interest that they wanted to pick us up, it was a great feeling. I don’t think any of us felt pressured by any standards they expected, Jason Lake was straight with us in that they didn’t expect us to be the #1 world team immediately, and that championships take time. I’m happy with how things have went with compLexity and we are looking forward to represent them at more tournaments. I really want to place first at an overseas international event.

How does the future outlook of the team change now that you have compLexity backing you?

I think all of our motivations spiked greatly when they picked us up. Before ESEA LAN everyone was playing more than usual and it felt like the fire was lit in my teammates again. Everyone had a desire to play and win, and everyone was giving input and thinking of things we could do to win. I think in the future, we will be doing our best to practice given the circumstances. 3 of us are going to school again, and the USA scene is pretty bad right now for us to practice. Certain teams refuse to play us, some teams don’t even start playing until we’re done. The teams that we do play we play too often and it becomes pointless after a while.

It’s been so long since a team from the USA has won something internationally, and for my team to be the first team to do it in a long time would be amazing.

Your first set of matches against cultivation started out rough, but you pulled through. What caused you guys to settle in, did you just need time?

Our first match against Cultivation didn't start as well as we wanted. We hadn’t played in a few days; it was literally our first match on LAN with our 5. We were also using a few new pieces of gear, so it took a few rounds to get used to it and then we were rolling.

When you faced off against Curse in Upper Bracket Round 2, you once against had another overtime match, something we saw a lot of at the Season 13 LAN Finals. What was the team’s mindset after being dropped down to the lower bracket so quickly in the tournament?

We were put into the lower bracket by Cruse, but Semphis and I have been fighting through the lower brackets basically every single tournament we’ve done good at. I wasn’t afraid at all of going to the lowers so quickly, we all knew what it would take to make it through the lowers and we all were prepared for it. The losses against curse were tough, I don’t think any of us really expected to lose to them but things happen and we had to figure out why and fix it for the next time we played them.

You breezed through Frost Gaming and Monomaniac, how much prep did you guys have against these teams pre-lan?

When it came to the Frost Gaming and Monomaniac matches, we didn’t really play either of those teams that much online, so we didn’t entirely know what to expect.

You redeemed yourselves in the lower bracket finals with the win over Curse in a very convincing fashion, not only giving yourself a minimum of 2 changed between the first matches against Curse and the 2nd place but also an ESWC position for NA. What changed between the first set of matches vs Curse and the second set?

We just played our game and it worked really well against them. After playing against Frost Gaming and MME, I think we all had a lot of confidence going into the second bo3 against curse. We were all hitting our shots, and making the right decisions. I was playing very confident in that bo3, taking risks and playing positions I normally wouldn’t. I think I can accredit that to the confidence.

You came back against NIP after being down 12-3. Did you feel that you might have broken through, or were you expecting the next match to be even more difficult?

The comeback to NIP we lost first half 12-3, we knew it was going to be an uphill battle. All 5 of us have been in matches where you are down huge, but it’s never over until the other team scores 16 rounds. We all played our best knowing that we weren’t out of it yet. We won second half pistol round, and then lost the round right after which is devastating to the money situation. However, we won the next round after that where we were saving, and then ended up winning every round after that to close them out. It was a really amazing feel coming back from a 13-4 and winning the next 12 rounds, but we all knew it was possible and nobody got too down on themselves when we were down.

What is a day in the life of Hiko like? What about a day in the life of Hiko right before a major

I wake up at 6am, go to school for my first class which starts at 8am. I don’t get home until around 5pm, at which time I eat dinner, take a shower, start my homework, and then practice starts at 8pm. We practice until midnight or later, and if I have a LOT of homework I’ll do some more after that. Sleep, wake up at 6am, rinse and repeat.

Before a tournament, I deathmatch and play a lot more CS than normal. Before ESEA LAN I was deathmatching about 4-5 hours a day before and sometimes even after practice with some demo watching.

One major thing that keeps being brought up is the lack of teams to play in North America. Do you think that a bootcamp in Europe is almost required for any North American team to get serious practice in before a major event?

A bootcamp in Europe is invaluable to a team for a major event, however we don't get the luxury due to a lack of lans in the NA scene. Most of the time our practice nights look like this:
“We all sign on at 8pm EST ready to play.
Sean: ok guys let’s get in a server and try to find a scrim.
2 hours pass
Sean: alright let’s just play anyone, there’s nobody playing….”

We’ll end up playing an ESEA Open or Main team, win about 13 rounds on one half, win pistol next half and then the scrim is over. This makes it difficult for practice and preparing for big events outside of bootcamping.

Other teams have had the chance to work with Valve on some of the updates, have you or your team been in contact with them at all?

When it comes to changes in CS:GO it’s not hard for a professional player to get in contact with a Valve Developer if you have something to say. Most of the time valve has no problem listening to an opinion or a change you think they should make. However, people don’t actually realize a lot of the work a Valve team has when it comes to making changes; there are a lot of different factors that come into play. Firstly, they have to be sure that the pro community is generally okay with it (the source vs. 1.6 players), secondly they have to think about the public / casual community. Some things that may seem like a very simple change actually isn’t when you take a step back and look at the big picture of things. In the perfect world, Valve would balance the game completely around the competitive community and make map changes / gameplay changes with only us in mind. However, there is a whole different side to the game that they have to appeal to and not throw off, so it’s a pretty harsh concept. For example: I absolutely love the skin update. I love having skins for the guns and it seems a lot of people share my enthusiasm about them. Obviously on a game play level, this isn’t changing at all, but it adds another cool feature to the game in my opinion. I have 2 accounts that I play on to farm items every week, and I am pretty sure most people play AT LEAST to get the maximum items they can get per week. It keeps the community interested, it makes valve money, and I think it’s really cool.

With more events, it seems CS:GO is on the upside. Do you think it will continue to grow? Valve recently released the major update with the gun skins. How do you feel about this and do you think it will change the game at all?

I think and hope the counter-strike scene will continue to grow. There are more and more organizations getting into CS:GO now, with more events popping up. For the American scene, I hope there are more national LANs that more American teams can attend. One of the things proposed is free to play for CS:GO and there are obviously pros and cons to going to free to play. I don’t believe it should yet, since the cheating problem is already out of hand in matchmaking servers, and to go free to play would actually increase the number of cheaters using fake free accounts. If we're looking at the CS:GO competitive / international scene objectively, I could see how going free to play would be beneficial in getting more players at least in the short run. I would think that many people would at least try the game, if they haven’t yet. If the game went free to play, hopefully more people would get hooked on it and help us grow the scene. In a world now where free to play games basically dominate the global market, I definitely see a value in going free to play but it has to be done right and at the right time.

Shout Outs:
Shout out to my friends and family, specifically mom dad and sister for always being there for me and cheering me on.

A huge shout out to our sponsors of compLexity, Soundblaster, Newegg, PNY, Origin, QPAD, L337 Gaming, Scuf Gaming and Twitch.
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