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Magic on NA LANs: “In NA people won’t come up to you unless you are one of the bigger names”

After an absence from the UK scene for over a year, Kevin “Magic” Simpson returned to Kettering. Previously playing in teams like Xenex, notably placing top three in ESL Premiership Spring 2021, Magic is no stranger to upsets.

Since returning to the UK for university last September, Magic hasn’t really touched the game. However, the American had been playing in UKIC Diamond League recently and was spotted by Jake “kica” Harter. From there the LAN team was built. Unfortunately, the week before EPIC.LAN 41, Bish dropped out and was replaced with Jack “Sorex” Renton-Cooper.

Regardless, spirits were still high. Flowstate came into the LAN seeded #13th and most definitely blew that out of the water. Beating teams like Royals, Rum Bumpers and Anita Max Wynn. The team eventually got knocked out in an intense three-match versus Rum Bumpers to make top six.

UKCSGO sits down with the American rifler to talk about the LAN, Lorezeno “LTH” Venanzi’s influence, and about differences between UK and NA CS.

Welcome back to the UKC, when was the last time you were in UKCS?

It has been a year. I came back in September last year but I just was focusing on university, played a bit of uni CS, not really playing much. I think I was on eight hours past two weeks for like four months.

Now you are seemingly getting back into the swing of things. You were playing with flowstate. You made top six and no one anticipated that. Do you want to give a brief overview of the event?

Starting from the beginning. I was playing uni CS, so I decided to start queuing Diamond League, like everyone does, Diamond League, a great league [Laughs]. I got into a game with kica and after the game, he messaged me asking if I wanted to come to LAN with them. At the time I didn’t know if I really wanted to continue playing. He messaged me and I started thinking about it and LTH convinced me to come to LAN. I finally accepted and it ended up being me, kica, LTH, Bish and Benjamin who I only knew a little bit about, he is just a hard pugger and hasn’t played much team CS. He is pretty good though once you teach him a little bit, he has developed crazy these last few days. If someone moulds him, which LTH is very good at doing with inexperienced players, he could be really good.

Last minute Bish cancelled which was very frustrating to find someone else. We convinced Jack [Sorex] to come even though he had work. We started talking together, we ran a couple five man pugs but we didn’t really play much. The games we did play were rolled by some Europeans so it wasn’t looking promising at the beginning.

Coming into this, everyone was determined and wanted to show up. We all put in time practicing and talking. The environment completely changed at LAN. Everyone was communicating like crazy and listening. It ended up being an amazing time and we upset so many teams. We were ranked 13th and beat CYPHER’s team once, the only team that beat us twice were TLR.

LTH is definitely underrated in general. The man puts in hours and hours of work. With every mix at LAN, he literally analyses every team going to LAN and just preps like crazy. The amount of work and sheets of Word documents he puts up for LAN and just for a mix is insane. We wouldn’t have made top six without him.

I wanted to ask about LTH. I saw you guys had sheets of paper on your desks and it was surprising as a mix. He also was just ice-cold all the time. Explain to me firstly what was on those sheets of paper and what was it like playing with him.

I don’t know if I can say too much about what was on the sheets of paper [laughs]. But those sheets were basically anti-strats and certain tendencies for teams. Also saying for the players we were playing on what they should work on, and things we should do as a mix in general.

But those sheets were basically anti-starts and certain tendencies for teams. Also saying for the players we were playing on what they should work on, and things we should do as a mix in general.

He pretty much just went through every team, and key things we should do and work on, as long as we followed his calls and listened to him it worked out.

I did sometimes try to put in my info if things were going back against some teams which helped him to think about other things. I tried to bring in some experience I had. I think I was the most experienced in that mix. Ben [Benjamin] hasn’t played team CS, and Jack [Sorex] has played main but not too much before. Jake [kica] has retired and hasn’t played much. LTH just always comes with mixes and upsets teams. I see now why he does. The amount of prep and his calling style completely counters so many teams in the UK.

Why do you think people sleep on LTH?

I think it is because he isn’t very well known. He hasn’t played with known players in the scene. He has been very good at developing talent that hasn’t experienced higher levels. He has always created mixes with players who don’t play in the UK scene or are recently coming up. There are a lot of egos going around with different players, and if they don’t know the IGL they might not want to play with him. He is picking up all these players that are unknown and taking risks to develop them. The amount of hours he puts in on demos is just crazy. The change from Benjamin from playing yesterday to today is insane. The amount of listening and development he has created is crazy. He played insane against all these top players in the scene and just managed to destroy and come out of nowhere.

LTH from flowstate

Especially seeding-wise, whoever seeded them didn’t really know much about our team in general. Seeded #13 out of #34 wasn’t amazing, but for us, we just played against all the top teams all the time so it was nice gaining all that experience. It also massively helped us for the future stages because Ben and kica got this experience playing these players in the group stage, so for playoffs, they already knew what to expect.

Unfortunately, it all came crashing down at the end versus Rum Bumpers after winning map one. You guys were then shadows of yourself on the next two maps. What happened there?

Versus Neighbours we had a really close OT on Mirage and that was really good. But for CYPHER’s mix, the first map went insanely well.

We had never played Ancient as a five before and they picked it. Literally before the map we were talking about who was going to play where and what was going on. We just figured stuff out on the fly. But we played insanely well with our map control and playing with each other. Our spacing and team play was so good, we could retake every time and just win. I don’t know what was happening because the retakes were so crazy but everyone was just winning their duals and the flashes were on point. I have no idea where all this team play came from but everyone played super intense.

Our spacing and team play was so good, we could retake every time and just win. I don’t know what was happening because the retakes were so crazy but everyone was just winning their duals and the flashes were on point. I have no idea where all this team play came from but everyone played super intense.

When we came to Vertigo we had some struggles, we lost both pistols for example. We started very slowly down five or six to zero. Our momentum died down and our hype dyed down, people started to get a bit more frustrated with different calls. We played them before in the group stage and had won 13-7 on Veritgo which we played map two. We just didn’t play the same way. We had certain reads on them but we didn’t use them. We thought they would change the way they played, but they didn’t change anything, and we didn’t go back to the same way we played before.

It was all a lot and LTH got a little stressed out. He got a bit tired as we were just a mix and it is hard to replicate some of the results we got before. Some people got frustrated and emotions got high. A lot of yelling and a lot of criticism I can’t lie.

We had a variety of skill levels on our team from me playing Advanced in NA and playing Main here in EU for so many seasons. Then you have Ben who has never played team CS, kica who has played Inters or maybe some Main. LTH who preps like crazy but has only played Main. Then Jack has a bunch of experience but there have always been issues with his attitude. To be fair this LAN he has changed completely from the last LAN I went to him with. In the latter stages, he showed where he could develop his attitude more.

Emotions were high, we got quiet and started losing. It all went downhill from there.

I can imagine you being shocked at these retakes you were winning.

There were some times I was looking and there were so many clutches we won. When we played MMS teams we won 2v5 or 3v5. Just insane chemistry working picks and winning these rounds that we shouldn’t out of nowhere. We have pugged before, Jack and Ben pug a lot together and LTH joined them. They have played in pug environments but playing in team CS it was crazy how insane they were in these late-round situations.

LTH had insane clutches as well. His 1vX stats for the whole LAN must be insane. He had a 1v5 clutch as well that started off on Mirage against MMS’ team. 1v5 pistol and we were so hyped. We grew that momentum and ended up winning 13-1. Our mental was insane.

You mentioned you played ESEA Advanced in NA, and Main in EU. You have come back to LAN for the first time in a while. Are we going to see you back on a UKCS team?

Potentially. I came back in September and my uni schedule was crazy. Now it has slowed down a bit and that was why I came to LAN. I have been grinding Diamond League [laughs], and playing some Pro League.

I am interested in seeing what offers I can potentially get.

I am interested in seeing what offers I can potentially get. It would be fun to play again. I finish in September so I have all that time. I want to get a job here after so I have all that time. I might be interested in some longer-term projects and seeing how that goes. The UK scene has been introduced with a lot of international talents and has been interesting to see how it has changed. The skill level is a lot different from when I was here. I think I have also gotten better with CS2 with confidence. It has been good for me since I got back. We shall see what offers I guess.

kica from flowstate

With this LAN coming out of nowhere, everyone on this team deserves a shot on teams. We have shown up and shown we can play with all the top players in the scene and do big upsets.

In NA you have played everything but ECL. What was it like competing in NA compared to UKCS?

It is definitely way different. The NA scene is way behind. When I came to the EU I was top of IM in NA. When I came to the UK I started open with some UK people and started building up from there. I would always come back in Summer and Spring break back home because I have a PC setup back home. The difference is insane.

We are very behind in America. People just pick up people due to their stats and no roles are looked at. If you have 90 or 100 ADR in Main you will get picked up to play in Advanced. However, they put you in any role. They will put you on Anchor even though you played star roles. You might bot out and then you’ll get dropped.

We are very behind in America. People just pick up people due to their stats and no roles are looked at. If you have 90 or 100 ADR in Main you will get picked up to play in Advanced. However, they put you in any role. They will put you on Anchor even though you played star roles. You might bot out and then you’ll get dropped.

They don’t see roles, if you play well and have good stats you are in. The NA scene is just having good stats moving up FPLC and FPL and getting to know these players to get connections to join the top teams. It is just not the same, the practice over there is not comparable.

I was playing with a team once and I suggested doing offline, theory and schedules and got shut down. We would do two scrims three times a week and no offline or anything. Naturally, we plateaued with that team, we never got better, and didn’t do offline or practice. This was an Advanced level team over there, it doesn’t make any sense. We even made ECL relegations and we didn’t do any offline. All we did was two scrims a day for three days a week. Sometimes you also cancel at the last minute or other teams cancel against you at the last minute, the structure is so bad. You can’t even get scrims earlier than 9 or 8 pm. You are lucky to get 7 pm, scrimming over there is so bad.

Coming here we booked scrims for like 2 pm. I played my first CS2 scrim today [Saturday] and we booked from 11 am onwards. The difference is insane, the amount of work and effort people put in here is not comparable in NA. The levels are so bad.

EPIC.LAN has a very unique culture, what is it like compared to NA LANs? What is the culture like in general between the two scenes?

I have been to six LANs in NA. I went to DC ones and Fragadelphia ones too. The first time I went to Frag we were a 14-2 IM team but crashed out in playoffs and didn’t make Main. We went to Frag as a team and we actually upset all these Main and Advanced teams.

The culture over there is way different though. Everyone goes with teams, there are not many mixes that go over there compared to here. Not many people know each other too. Everyone here everyone goes, talks and knows each other, it is a fun time. Over there it is just all teams.

Benjamin from flowstate

Everyone is just talking to their own teams, maybe to some but mostly hard trying to win these LANs. If they don’t they go home and that is it. There are not many groups that will hang out together. We had a group of 10 people, two teams of our friendship go, that was fun, but you don’t really interact with many people. The culture here is way better.

It is so nice to come to LAN and you know everyone, talk to so many people and people come up to you. In NA people won’t come up to you unless you are one of the bigger names. Other than that, no one would go up to anyone else. Some people wouldn’t even fist bump and talk after games, we beat some Advanced team and they didn’t fist bump us, they just didn’t care. People get frustrated and there is no community at some of the Frags.

It is so nice to come to LAN and you know everyone, talk to so many people and people come up to you. In NA people won’t come up to you unless you are one of the bigger names.

I am guessing the level of screaming is very different too?

Not a chance you get that in NA. My voice is gone now and I was screaming the whole LAN. There are some screamers in NA but compared to here it’s a different game. This LAN centre gets extremely loud and it has been fun. It is always fun playing UKCS. I have always been in teams that have come out of nowhere. When I was on Xenex we came out of nowhere and started beating these top teams, which resonates with this mix a lot. It is so much fun to be able to play with some of these players and connect pretty quickly as I have developed through the UK system.

It is nice to come out of nowhere and be underestimated so many times. With Xenex we were underestimated like crazy and just beat the top UK teams. It is so much fun beating these top teams.

It is nice to come out of nowhere and be underestimated so many times. With Xenex we were underestimated like crazy and just beat the top UK teams. It is so much fun beating these top teams.

Eventually, I will be considered for top teams, I guess we will see what I can cook up.

The post Magic on NA LANs: “In NA people won’t come up to you unless you are one of the bigger names” appeared first on UKCSGO.

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