In-game leaders are in high demand when in comes to competitive CS:GO something that the Thai organization NG Esports are not too worried about as they have the 24-year-old Singaporean rifler Anthony "ImpressioN" Lim leading their newly found international CS:GO lineup which has made waves in the Asian competitive circuit.
Considered to be one of the best IGL’s within Asia, ImpressioN has a ton of experience having played for top Asian esports organizations like B.O.O.T-d[S] and BTRG. We recently sat down with the man himself to talk a few things Counter-Strike as he spoke in great detail about his new team NG Esports, the difficulties of starting a team during a pandemic, and why he chose to continue competing in CS:GO despite getting VALORANT offers, in this first of a two-part interview.
Interview With ImpressioN
Tell us a bit about NG Esports and how the team came together?
Well NG Esports is a Thai organization which started off small, supporting a few amateur teams but after acquiring some funds a few months back they decided to step into Counter-Strike in a bid to go global. They are starting from the local Thai level, slowly going on to compete in Southeast Asia, then Asia, and finally, step into the international scene as well.
When NG Esports approached me they had the whole lineup ready so when they presented the idea to me and said that they wanted to make this happen I agreed to join them as I felt confident about it. They had a really good idea of what they wanted to do as they had already pinned down 2-3 players, but they still listened to my ideas and it feels good when an organization takes this into consideration and are willing to support the team because this is not that common in the Asian region. So a team like NG Esports approaching me just makes me feel so fortunate, definitely a one in a million chance.
Joining NG Esports within a week of leaving BTRG was not something you had planned so what was this quick transition phase like?
I was not expecting an organization to pop up at the same time that I was about to leave BTRG. I mean who would really expect that because after leaving I was thinking of taking a month-long break and decide on the offers that come my way but only within a week the number of offers that I had was pretty surprising as I did not expect myself to have so much ‘market value’.
There were quite a lot of offers that came my way, some of which were from pretty known organizations from around Asia but the one that stuck with me the most was NG Esports mostly because it was closer to home for me and a lot of the other offers that I got was from China.
I was a bit skeptical of them initially as they were a startup and after getting destroyed by BTRG on so many levels I was a bit wary when they approached me, but after talking to the management and confirming that they do actually have the necessary funding, coupled with the proposition that they offered I felt it was worth to give it a try.
Was it tough to join a new team during a global health crisis? Has everyone managed to settle into the team comfortably?
Being an international team there is always a bit of a problem finding the right balance when it comes to communicating online. Though all of us communicate in English it is a bit hard to read each other properly at all times as no one is physically present and it is difficult at times to judge a person properly by just their tone.
I guess it will be great if we immediately come to a bootcamp as we will progress a lot better but as that is not a possibility, we are trying to fix a schedule that is not a problem for anyone as we all come from different countries and we are just trying to incorporate each other as best as we can while being smart about it.
So definitely the pandemic has been hard on us as these problems would have minimized with an early bootcamp but with the quality of players on the lineup, we are sure of passing this hurdle soon.
So no bootcamp plans for NG Esports till 2021? If and when the team comes together where will you guys be operating from?
Due to the pandemic, the bootcamp is obviously not a current option for us at least not until late 2020. For now, it is not doable especially for erkaSt who currently stays in Mongolia and it is difficult for him to come down to Thailand due to the strict lockdown rules by the local government which state that if someone wants to leave Mongolia they need to sign some sort of a contract which prevents them from returning before July 2021 or something like that.
So we are trying to practice online for now but whenever it becomes possible to attend a bootcamp it will be taking place in Thailand because NG Esports actually already has a place in works for us out there.
How do you feel being the in-game leader of a lineup which has other IGL’s like erkaSt and cbbk?
Honestly, I feel everyone is free to make a suggestion on their own in the middle of the round. If they have a good idea I encourage them to share it with the team but that should not be their primary focus, their aim should be to focus on their positions and if they make a call based on their position that is completely fine with me.
But I don’t want them to completely take over the steering wheel and start making complete calls like in this particular round we are going to do this. Instead, I would like them to give their inputs on a situation and if it aligns with my plans then I would implement them and make the final call. Also, I feel it is an advantage that I have experienced IGL’s on my team as they also hold the capability to have the map in their minds at all times and that is a huge plus.
All said and done at the end of the day all calls are accepted and denied by me and I guess it doesn’t really clash at any point of time.
After announcing your departure from BTRG what made you still stick around and compete in CS:GO while we witnessed a lot of pros from the region move over to VALORANT?
I just felt like that I had invested so much time in CS:GO that I didn’t feel great moving on to VALORANT and also the current salaries being offered to SEA players when it comes to VALORANT is really low around $500-$1000 a month which is equivalent to CS:GO salaries from almost 5 years ago (2015).
Maybe the VALORANT salaries have slightly improved now with the culmination of the ‘Ignition Series’ and the announcement of ‘First Strike’ as the offers that came my way are almost two months old at this point.
A few VALORANT offers did come my way but nothing caught my attention and with the NG Esports offer up for grabs I was confident of staying and competing in CS:GO. My individual form in recent times has been excellent and I wish to continue replicating that success in the future as well.
This is the first half of a two-part interview. We will continue our conversation with ImpressioN on his time in BTRG, what went wrong towards the end, the esports scene in Singapore, future of CS:GO in Southeast Asia, and how VALORANT has affected the game.