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Interview with Renegades at IEM Sydney

Renegades - HyperX
Image credit – HyperX ANZ

Before IEM Sydney finished up for the weekend, we were able to snag an interview with Aaron “AZR” Ward (pictured on the left) from the Detroit Renegades who answered a few questions regarding the latest team lineup and the current meta in CSGO.

Renegades have been the pioneers of Australian CounterStrike, being the first team to move out of our scene over to the US and into a gaming house. How has that transition been for you personally?

AZR – It’s been awesome to be honest, I came to the States to play at a higher tier of CounterStrike and that’s what we have gotten. With our new organisation Detroit Renegades we have a big gaming house, We head over to Jonas’ (Jonas Jerebko, Forward for the Boston Celtics and owner of the Renegades team) place and hit up the gym together, everything has been great.

The team has made some changes to the lineup and you seem to be in an experimental phase right now after Yam departed the club and picking up both Nexa and Nifty. Do you feel like this is the perfect mix to strengthen Renegades right now or is it still in a volatile state of change?

AZR – Beforehand we were still in the early stages and trying to find that perfect mix is always a challenge. Because of that our mentality has been pretty down as a whole but now that we have picked up Nexa and Nifty it’s been going pretty well so far. We just need to keep practicing with the team we have and things will get better from there.

It looks like the Renegades team is willing to make the changes it needs to make the team as strong as possible, branching out of the Aussie/NZ region. Do you think that Australian CS as a whole will stay where it is or is it time for more players to branch out into other areas?

AZR – Seeing the player market as it is right now, I think Australian CS will stay as is for the time being. Right now there just isn’t the money there to house teams and such when compared to the US and EU scenes.

In terms of the current meta of CSGO we have a couple of players in the US and EU scenes picking up rifles like the SG and the AUG in certain situations. Do you see that expanding to other teams? Have Renegades tried to mix it up a little or is it strictly AK/M4?

AZR – Not really no, haha, maybe for a bit of fun here and there but nothing serious at all. I definitely prefer the AK and the M4 to any of the weapons. Out of the 2 M4’s it’s definitely the M4A4 for me. The faster fire rate and better clip size are way more useful.

Unfortunately Renegades didn’t get into the finals here at IEM Sydney but you’ve been able to witness the crowd that has gathered here for Australia’s first big CSGO event. Hearing AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE all the time regardless of who’s playing is definitely something new. How does it feel to have that many Aussie’s in one place for CS?

AZR – Honestly it’s absolutely ridiculous man, there are 5,000 people here in the arena cheering for their team. We were up on stage before playing in an Australia vs England show match earlier today and it’s crazy you know, you’re just playing and you hear the crowd screaming your name, it pumps up the adrenaline and it fires you up. It’s awesome to see. Sometimes where you get down mentally in the middle of a match, having that crowd behind you can change that so much and it pumps you back up.

Do you think we will have more tournaments like this where US and EU teams will make their way over to Australia to play?

AZR – I definitely think so, the way this tournament has turned out so far, it’s a 10 out of 10. No delays, no major technical issues and everything has been smooth. Honestly, before coming to this event even months ago I didn’t even think we would get over 1000 people so this has blown away my expectations and I think especially when it’s being covered by so many news articles and publications, the Australian public is gonna see how big this all is and it’s only going to grow from here.

How do you feel about existing sports teams making their way into the world of eSports? We’ve seen Jonas take a big step forward with the Renegades and now there is news on AFL (Australian Football League) teams looking to buy in as well.

AZR – I think it’s definitely good. It provides some financial structure to some of the other Australian teams, most of which aren’t being paid. If these AFL teams do actually come into it and people are able to get paid, they’re able to play CS full time without distractions from their full-time job or study.

Valve has made some questionable changes to CSGO to the point where the Negev is currently banned at this event. Do you feel like Valve needs to connect more with their players or does it not affect you at the pro level?

AZR – Haha yea, we definitely we need some more communication. With the Negev aside, even though it’s completely stupid and we wouldn’t use it, it’s more about pistols that can running one-shot you when you’re up close against a rifle. Stuff like that shouldn’t be a thing right now in CS.

Finally, we have SK vs FaZe Clan in the grand final behind us on the screen. I can’t see the score at the moment but did you have any predictions for a winner?

AZR – I think SK are definitely hungry to be back to their winning ways and FaZe seems to be that new team that is still in that honeymoon phase where everything is working out. They’re both great teams but I’m predicting SK to win this one. I love the Brazilian guys and their play style, I have a lot of respect for them so I’ll be definitely cheering for them. I’m hoping for a 5 game set but it’s gonna be awesome to watch regardless.

Thanks to AZR and the Detroit Renegades for taking the time out of their afternoon to speak with us.