Interviewing Addict from Vertex (IEM Sydney 2023)

by Patrick Crown Milliss

IEM Sydney is Australia’s largest ESport event. This year some of the best CS2 (Counter Strike 2) teams in the world flew halfway across the world to compete for a $400,000 prize pool in front of a filled crowd at the Aware Super Theatre. I talked to Addict, a player on one of Australia’s top teams, Vertex, who participated in the tournament.

Pictured - Addict (Christian Pendleton) from Vertex

Question 1: When did you start playing CS?

I started playing CS in middle school, about 2015, after my friend gifted the game to me. I started just playing matchmaking and deathmatch because I was too scared to play matchmaking for years.

Question 2: When did you decide CS was more than just a game to you?

I think that was pretty recently, like in 2021 maybe, when I joined a good team and then there were more opportunities to make money. I thought maybe I could dedicate more time to CS and then see where it took me.

Follow up - So how did you transition from being too scared to play competitive games to playing for a team?

So it started when I was like, still super nervous to play ranked games like Face-It. I was just playing regularly. And then these players I was playing against were like, oh, you’re pretty good. Do you want to join a team? And then I joined their team and it was the first time I’d gone outside of my friend group to play with random strangers. And then from that point on people were like oh, I’ve seen you play in this team, do you want to join our team? And it went further and further.

Aware Super Theatre during IEM Sydney, the recent Australian CS2 Tournament

Question 3: Did you ever get bullied in high school for playing games so much?

It wasn’t something I went around telling people. And school wasn’t that big a priority for me anyway.

Question 4: What were the biggest sacrifices you had to make to get where you are in Vertex?

A lot of things during the day and weekends. Because a lot of the qualifiers happen on the weekends. You sacrifice a lot of time with your family. And all the time friends will be like, “Oh, I’m free this weekend. Do you want to catch up?” And you always have to say no because you’ve got practice or a qualifier coming up.

Question 5: A lot of people don’t think of e-sports as much of an actual sport, “you’re just playing games” is what you hear a lot, do you consider yourself an athlete?

Yeah I would, because we’re putting in the same amount of hours as a regular athlete would. We’re treating different parts of our lives as priority for performance. And ultimately, they give us opportunities to travel and gain money and things like that in competition. So yeah, I’d say it’s a sport.

Follow-up: And what kind of training do you do?

Well there’s individual practice and theory. Individually, we work on aim training. And then there’s theory. Which is basically how we think about the game, our reactions in the game, and how we work with each other. So obviously the more we know about each other, the easier it is to play in high pressure and things like that.

One player embracing the IEM Sydney crowd while others prepare

Question 6: Why CS? Why not Fortnite or Apex Legends?

It makes more sense to play other e-sports if you’re going for money. I think CS has good money, but especially in Australia, it’s really hard to expose yourself to the world. But for me, CS was always a super challenging game. Before CS I played a bunch of games like TF2 which is a little mess-around game, like it doesn’t really matter competitively, you’re running around and doing random stuff. And then I played CS. And it was the complete opposite to playing TF2. Because I was like, oh, you have to stand still when you shoot, and you have to pull down your bullets because they don’t go where your crosshair goes. It fascinated me. It was really, really hard to play. And I’m like, I just want to get better and better. And that’s what drew me in. How hard it was. The ability for me to improve.

Question 7: What was the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Honestly, I think it was when we qualified for the RMR (Regional Major Ranking). Which was the major qualifier. I was pretty excited. And it was at a time when we hadn’t consistently beaten the best teams in Australia. So when that happened, we were super confident in our abilities. And when we beat Encore, it was super super hype and just super cool. We were like “We’re going to Mongolia!” 

Question 8: What would you say to someone who wants to get involved in ESports and play CS competitively? 

I think social networking is super important in the scene, especially because it’s a pretty small scene, so it’s pretty easy to do. I think the biggest thing is that you enjoy playing the game. You have to enjoy playing the game. You can’t play the game with the intention of becoming a pro because it’ll get demotivating. You’ll have bad games and want to give up a lot. But if you play it like it’s just your game you want to play, you don’t think about it so much. You just try and enjoy your time. And eventually, if you’re good enough, you’ll get there.

Bonus question: What’s your favourite skin?

I think right now, because I spent a lot of money on it, my hedge maze sport gloves, I like the green. I’m super happy I got them. 

Follow up: Factory new? 

No, field-tested, but it's a good float.

Addict’s favourite skin

Final Question: Is there anything else you want to add?

Thanks for having me!

Patrick Crown-Milliss is a UNSW student studying Law and PPE. He centres his whole personality around liking Taylor Swift and can be seen neglecting his studies in favour of his 1,000 overcommitments. He writes to get himself humbled.

Blitz Editor

Anandi Ganguly

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