With the upcoming World Championships from October 8th 2015 till October 11th in Counter Strike: Global Offensive we had the chance to talk to the Irish international Tom “vertiGo” Rockliffe about the tournament and E-Sports nowadays.

Tom "vertiGo" Rockliffe - Photo Credit Twitter @tomvertiGocs

Tom “vertiGo” Rockliffe – Photo Credit Twitter @tomvertiGocs

Hey Tom, so tell us, how long do you play Counter Strike and specially CS:GO?

Hey Philipp, I have been playing the Counter Strike series since 2005 on Counter-Strike: Source. I started the same as most people playing with friends from school until you reach the point where you want to take it a bit more seriously than they do and you branch out and meet new people with the same ambitions as yourself. I have been playing CS:GO since the first BETA was released and have seen it transform from a buggy shooting game into one of the most successful FPS games to date.

For which team do you play at the moment and what is your role?

I am currently playing for MnM-Gaming (picture below) as the main AWPer (Sniper) – we compete in a handful of online competitions but our main focus is LAN tournaments which happen throughout the UK and Ireland every few months.

And for which teams did you play earlier?

In the past I have played for some big name organisations such as Team Dignitas and fm-eSports before I took a break in 2014 as the practice regime had become somewhat overbearing. Now I have a bit more free time I am eager to get back to that level and compete with the worlds best again!

How long do you play for Ireland and how did you became an Irish international and not a Britain?

I have only been representing Ireland since this year’s World Championships and I was eligible as all of my grandparents are Irish and I do travel over ten times a year from London to visit family and my girlfriend. I was selected for Team UK in 2014 but didn’t end up playing any games so now I have opted to play with Team Ireland to play with friends and get some play time instead of warming the bench for the UK.

What do you think about national teams and the world championship?

It’s a great competition which gives a lot of the smaller nations a chance to compete with the best players in the world. For a lot of nations, Ireland included, it is an opportunity to get their name out there when they otherwise wouldn’t have been given the chance. I was also impressed to see the amount of support for the Irish team on the Irish CS:GO Facebook group – they cheered for us no matter how the games were going.

Why didn’t Ireland make it to the TWC?

We managed to make it past the first round of qualifying, overcoming a strong Greece team. However we fell short to Belarus. The game was unfortunately scheduled for 4pm our time which meant half of the first choice team weren’t able to play because of work & college commitments. It was unlucky but we were just glad we were given the chance to compete and hopefully the scene will be a bit bigger for next year and we will have a bigger shot at qualifying for the finals.

Who do you think could win the TWC?

If I were a betting man I’d put my money on France – I would have included Denmark if they were able to attend the LAN finals or Poland, had they not been without any members from their flagship team Virtus.Pro. Sweden did also just picked two players from their top teams Fnatic and Ninjas In Pyjamas (NiP). My dark horse for the tournament is Germany – they have selected 5 top quality players who could really upset the top nations.

Could you describe the meaning or standing of E-Sports in Ireland and Great Britain?

In the last 12 months I’ve seen a big shift in the public opinion regarding E-Sports and gaming in general over here. With much more media coverage on major news outlets such as Sky Sports and BBC highlighting the big prize pots and salaries in all of the major E-Sport titles; it is no longer mocked as a childish pastime and is seen as a sport that a large number of people are making a (very good) living from, be it players, commentators or organisers.

Is E-Sports on a good way?

Platforms such as Twitch.tv and YouTube have allowed the gaming community to broadcast live games to the masses without the need for approval from television network sponsors. This has only further highlighted how popular these games are – the most recent Major CS:GO tournament attracted in excess of 1.2 million concurrent spectators. To put this in perspective the All-Ireland Hurling finals this year had peak viewer-ship at 900k and the All-Ireland Football finals peaked at 1.085 million.

What would be the next step for E-Sports or the next obstacle to climb?

The next step for E-Sports is to keep doing what we are doing – the growth has been huge and its still expanding – this time next year I expect the money to start trickling down to the next few tiers of players. It will become a career for more than just the top50 players.

At the end I would like to know if you got a favourite team among the tier 1 or 2 teams and a favourite player?

I have a soft spot for NiP Gaming, they haven’t been at the top of the scene in the last 12 months but what they achieved in 2012-2013 going 87-0 in maps on LAN is a feat that I can’t imagine will be broken ever in CS:GO. My favourite player would have to be f0rest, he makes everything seem so effortless and has consistently been one of the titles best players for close to 10 years now.

The World Championship can be watched on hitbox.tv/efragtv