Nathan 'Zelli0n' Bonello of Iconic Cinco - Interview

Following our recap article regarding the MCS#4 CS:GO Gold Tournament, which we strongly recommend reading here, we successfully reached out to the unforetold winners of Iconic Cinco through one of their players, Nathan "Zelli0n" Bonello.  Strong with an electrifying degree of enthusiasm, Nathan contently complied to an interview, which should let us learn more about the structure of Iconic Cinco and insight into their victory while also discovering more about the young gun in "Zelli0n". We hope you enjoy the following interview!

1.) As a new player, we’re sure that many of our readers are anxious to learn about who “Zelli0n” is and what he’s all about. Introduce yourself by describing your personal life, your career in esports and anything else you’d like to mention about yourself.

My name is Nathan Bonello, 17 years of age, having just recently finished my A levels. I'm very dedicated when it comes to gaming. It is not only a hobby, but it is also my passion. So far, this past year and a half, I've attended over 5 LAN events, all of which have been a blast. I have met loads of people from these events which made the experience that much more memorable. Luckily, in the latest event I've attended, my team and I managed to earn the 1st place trophy and be titled as champions. I'm also very passionate about video editing, especially when it comes to compiling CS:GO gameplay in my very own fragmovies. 

2.) Nathan was a fundamental part of a phenomenal victory which his team, Iconic Cinco, earned at the Malta Cyber Series #4 CS:GO Gold Tournament. When did this aptitude to compete all begin and when did you know that you wanted to take the next step forward through local competition? 

As I mentioned earlier, the past 5 LAN events were indeed fun but we never managed to place 1st, as Project Eversio were successfully dominating the local scene. Fortunately, I managed to get in contact with the European players (who are basically semi-professional players) a month before the LAN event, and we started practicing together - which eventually resulted in us winning the MCS#4 LAN. 

3.) Iconic Cinco was a name never heard of before the Malta Cyber Series #4. Despite this, the new squad blew the competition out of the water including the defending champions in Project Eversio. How did your squad prepare for the event? What were your thoughts going into the event individually and as a team? 

We, as a team, didn't manage to practice a whole lot, mostly because of the Europeans' recent arrival in Malta. They ended up getting piled with lots of work, and we didn't have a lot of time for team practice in general, but we all managed to play individually just before the LAN, and I guess it was enough practice for the victory. My thoughts going into this tournament were shifting constantly. From excitement, to fear of disappointment, and back to excitement. It was a never-ending emotional train.

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4.) Nathan finds himself on the roster beside the names of "Nax", "zED", "oxley" and "KilleRa". What would you say is the main reason behind the victory, how did you manage to beat out all the other teams? Also, do you now consider yourselves the best CS:GO team in Malta? 

I think our individual skill in the game managed to get us the victory, because as I'll reiterate, we didn't have a lot of time to practice. We also had some minor communication issues which made us lose a couple of rounds which we shouldn't have lost. Even though we have won the most recent local tournament, this doesn't mean that we are 100% the best team in Malta, because in CS:GO, anything can happen. The top teams might underperform and have issues, whereas an underdog team might end up winning lots of series and managing to grab 1st place. CS:GO and esports in general is all about consistency. If you're not able to stay at the top of the top and be the best of the best, new-comers will take your spot and it will be very hard to regain it.

5.) The team, consisting of the mentioned players, is a mix of Maltese and European players. How does this effect in-game communication? Describe the dynamic of the team in and outside of competition. 

I'm not gonna lie, I thought having a mixed team would be easier than having a pure Maltese team. It was a big change from always communicating in our native language to only speaking English, in and out of game. As far as in-game communication, we understood each other pretty well, but since the European players are far more experienced than me, this led to some miscommunication. When they called out something which wasn't familiar to me I was really confused and we lost some rounds because of it. Outside of the competition communication wasn't really that bad. We didn't all know each other really well, so usually after finishing a series versus a team, we would go eat at a restaurant and talk about ourselves and the game.

6.) Although they are undoubtedly talented, Iconic Cinco wasn’t completely flawless. What do you think you’re team needs to improve upon ahead of future events in order to continue on this form? What do you think you need to improve upon as an individual? 

I think the best thing we can do to improve is to find more time to practice, go out together more often so that we know one another fairly well, and as for me I think I shouldn't give up and feel less disappointed in myself whenever I do a mistake and instead, learn and fix.

Posted by Gabriel Sciberras on 8th August 2018, 13:40

I'm Gabriel - 17 year-old student attending a sixth form with a little free time on his hands. I've been working with Gamers.com.mt for a roughly a year now - spreading my interests in technology, gaming and writing over the platform along with interviews and hardware reviews. All constructive feedback is appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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Interview with Mark Horner - Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam 2018 MVP

As promised, we've landed an exclusive interview with Mark Horner, the captain from the squad of EndPoint and also the crowned MVP form the recent Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam 2018 where the team established their dominance in concrete. We've conducted the interview in order to gain further insight into the winning team mentality and the experience of being crowned MVP, while also offering some well-deserved spotlight to the incredibly talented team. We hope you enjoy! 1. Describe your overall experience at the event, including the online stage and the LAN portion as a player and as a team. The event was really great, we didn’t have to participate in online qualifications as we had won Gallantry Budapest. The offline portion was great, the PCs were amazing and we had plenty of desk space which was always sometimes a bit of an issue. The admins were really helpful and any PC related issues we had were sorted very quickly. 2. What teams seemed to give you the hardest times when you matched up against them? The hardest game was definitely CRG, they are (or were, given some players left) the 2nd best team easily. It’s a real shame we had to meet them in the semis as that would have made an awesome final. It took us a little while to get into our groove against Avenue’s B team as it was our first game of the day, but as soon as it got to Manor we knew we couldn’t lose. For the final, we kind of knew that we won before it had started, it felt like Demise settled for 2nd knowing that they maybe should have been 3rd or 4th if CRG wasn’t on our side of the bracket. 3. Why is it that EndPoint placed first? What makes your team the best team in the world at the moment? I think it’s our teamwork, our ability to adapt and that anyone on the team (minus me, ha!) can pull of some ridiculous clutches/plays. One thing you’ll notice if you watch the VODs back of the stage games, when the cameras are on the players inbetween rounds or even mid round on our team, usually me or one of us is always talking. We use the 18 seconds or whatever to re-evaluate, why did we win the round? Why did we lose the round? How can we win the next round? Most other teams, especially when they are losing just look sad and don’t talk. It’s talking that plays the most fundamental part in winning – understanding the gaps in our defence/attack, how to plug them, etc. We also have the best team spirit; good luck finding a team that laughs and jokes and has as much fun as we do whether we are winning or losing! 4. Extremely well-deserved, you were awarded the MVP award. Comment on this achievement by referring to your individual performance within the team. I was happy to receive MVP, but as cliché as it sounds, in my eyes there were 4 MVPs. Everyone stepped up; Synde was clutching absolutely everything, Kevin was…using all of our coins, Cozje and Replan were getting some mad multi kills too. I guess my part to play is just get a few frags but read the game and find the holes in the enemy’s play, and keep the team motivated so even if we had a sh*t half they believed we could still do it – and do it we did! 5. The Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam was the first Battalion 1944 Major for all. Do you have any suggestions to improve any future Battalion 1944 Majors? It’s hard to say really, as an event it was carried out really well. There’s a lot to think about in terms of how the game grows, would it perhaps be better to run a couple of smaller events for the current player base than one big one? It’s hard to make that call now, but going forward we’ll just have to trust in Bulkhead and their plan for MU3 and beyond. I do really hope that another major or big event is announced soon though! 6. Apart from the fact that EndPoint is the top team at the moment, what else has the event proved in your opinion, about the state of competitive Battalion 1944? That we are #1 by far, CRG (were) #2 by far, then the rest at like 3-16 I believe are really close. A lot of teams, when practising online use all of their strats/nades/rotations that they will use at LAN and play exactly the same or more passive and wonder why they lose to us. When we are practising, we’re losing a lot of our practices because a) we are holding a few things back, yes, but most importantly b) we are learning from every game – most teams don’t do this they just say 'oh it’s unlucky' and move on rather than working out why we lost A/B so much on defence etc. I’d happily lose every PCW for 6 weeks and win the LAN because people underestimate us (hello, CRG 😊). 7. How does your team plan to keep up this position within the scene? Who are your biggest threats? The same as always, if there’s something to play for, we’ll get a good 5 or 6 weeks practice in again hopefully and follow the same routine – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It’s hard to say what our biggest threats are because now we’ve owned everyone again a lot of the teams will do a standard roster shift. Given the current state of the player base and the lack of events on the horizon, I think we’ll be waiting until next year for the competition to really heat up again. 8. What plans do you have as an individual and as a team for the remainder of the year? Keep an eye on the game, if there’s events worth playing for then of course we’ll play those. Outside of that I think we’ll give Black Ops 4 a try and see how that fares competitively; if it takes off on the PC then it may also make sense to play that – time will tell! 9. Do you have any final comments after the victory? A huge thanks to EndPoint and all their sponsors, the support they gave us massively helped us and I can’t reiterate that enough. Going from having 0 support at Penta to having everything taken care of at Endpoint made it much easier for us, especially having a gaming house to use. A special shout out to Pronic for being the best coach, he did a lot for us before the event and at the event that played a big part in our win. Thanks to the guys in my team for being awesome and carrying my ass to another victory. Thanks to Brammer and his team, as well as Sean and The Plays for making the event possible. Shout out to everyone we met old and new at the major, it was cool hanging out with some new people and getting the beers in! Finally a huge thanks to everyone in the B44 scene for being distinctly average and changing rosters after each LAN rather than putting in the hard work to improve, because it makes our job of staying the best a bit easier 😉. One can only admire the confidence in Mark, which hasn't changed from before the event as an earlier interview sported the same casual approach - EndPoint knew they were going to win because practice doesn't lie, it seems. Perhaps some of the remarks are indirect jabs at other competitors; we hope that this will serve as motivation for other teams to step up their game for the next event, which will hopefully be announced soon. Will EndPoint manage to maintain their form throughout or will they falter? Can a team such as CRG knock them down? The Battalion 1944 scene will only grow from the event.  A final thanks to Mark for the speedy replies and a final congratulations on behalf of Gamers.com.mt!

The GO Malta Esports Festival - GALLANTRY Malta

Gallantry Events will be partnering up with GMR Entertainment to provide the best Battalion 1944 tournament ever to date in Europe with a nice prize pool and the perfect offline gaming conditions for the participating teams. After their success in organizing a 16 team event in Budapest last July Gallantry Events will be joining forces to host an international and high-quality event during The GO Malta Esports Festival 2018. Starting with the physical venue itself, we’re taking gaming to one of the largest commercial centres on the island, that being the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre in Ta’ Qali. All the competition will be hosted over 2,500 square metres of area! The central stage will match an incredible size, while spectators will also have the possibility to enjoy an Expo area and a Careers Convention area. A maximum of 16 international teams will head their way to the sunny island of Malta to participate in the Battalion 1944 Tournament, were friends and families can join the teams for a relaxing holiday. Casters and a production team over will also be present to broadcast the games online at a top notch level. The Battalion Tournament will start early morning at around 9am on Friday 7th December where teams will battle out each other in the group stage matches. Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th will be all about the elimination stage where the top teams will face each other and play on the biggest stage ever in Battalion 1944 history in order to crown the champion. Teams don't have to worry to search for Hotels, Transport etc since they will find all information one needs on our website, with very cheap and reduced rates for both. All one needs to do is get the team together, book the flights, check the website for all info and he is good to go to come to Malta. Due to the international coverage which the tournament will be treated with, it’s a fantastic opportunity for organisations to reach out internationally alongside a national presence. Thousands of viewers who will observe through the broadcast, while locals and foreigners will be present at the event - ready to witness some breath taking matches.  Be sure to visit the event website for more info regarding the battalion tournament and comment on the thread below if interested in joining.

The GO Malta Esports Festival - PUBG Open

At last year's GO Malta Esports Festival, Malta witnessed the first inclusion of PUBG competition on its shores as the battle-royale was only beginning to gain friction. Since then, the local playerbase supporting the title has grown exponentially as we've held further competition both locally and internationally. Needless to say, we'll be continuing support of the title in the upcoming MESF, with more stakes on the line than ever before.  The battle royale is one of the main components of the year's genre craze, as seen in other titles such as Fortnite and now, the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout. These titles are different from each other, but all of which seem to be attracting the same player base. It consists of the basic BR elements, in which a large number of players, often reaching up to 100, deploy onto a set map from a passing carrier plane and select the desired spot to land on. Upon landing, the intense scavenging begins as players hunt for resources and weaponry to better their chances of survival in the constantly shrinking map. As the map closes in, forcing gunfights to ensue, player count decreases - this occurs until a final battle occurs to determine the ultimate victor, an exhilarating experience to say the least. This accomplishment may be achieved publically in the form of single, duo or squad teams. Since its initial craze, the title has been growing ever since.   To try to maintain the public's attention, the title has been subject to many updates; bringing in new maps, gamemodes, mechanics and reasons to play, while also providing access to mobile users and console from its PC origins.  Powered by BlueHole, the PUBG esports scene is growing steadily on the international horizon, although there remains room for improvement. Hence, we're constantly improving local PUBG competition, both locally and internationally.  First of all, the prize pool present is set to expand from its current standing. Sitting at a guaranteed €1500 at the moment, Gamers.com.mt is prepared to increase the prize pool should more than 10 squads be involved in the competition; more precise rules will be released at a later date on the tournament website. The venue for the specific tournament will be the BYOC Area, with a dedicated area for PUBG players, solely for the PUBG tournament and for PUBG players to reside and observe. For more information on how the tournament will work please the website.

Recap of the Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam 2018!

Gamers.com.mt has put in a tremendous amount of preparation for the world's first Battalion 1944 Major ever in the form of the Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam 2018, through our various interviews and content coverage. The best 16 teams in the world battled out for the $50,000 total prize pool, between the 27th and 30th of September. We've let the dust settle before breaking down how the first world championship of Battalion 1944 was. Roughly this time last month, we sat down and interviewed all team captains in preparation for the event. It added greatly to the tension, as every team confessed their intentions to win it all and listed out the top competition. Sadly, not all interviews could have been published as certain teams left the competition. Overall, as an esports journalist, I received a warm reception from the community as we all coordinated on a Discord server to ensure that everyone received their interview! Everyone was ready for an event.  And so it commenced, during that definitive weekend of competition, starting with pool play across all four groups. Within moments, bracket play was ready to begin with the following teams: Primal, LGC, Demise, Method, Entropy, 1UP, CRG, V.pro, nn, AVENUE, FE and of course, Endpoint. It should be noted that Primal was the only North American team still present at this point in the competition. Sadly, they quickly found the door in the first round of the bracket. Meanwhile, the Europeans continued competing until 4 were left for semifinals; Method, Demise, CRG and Endpoint.  Demise, who faced EndPoint in the final, had an equally impressive importance to arrive at the grand final, having only conceded one map up to that point, one less than EndPoint. Demise and EndPoint both swept their respective semifinals in the forms of Method and Comrade Gaming respectively, with the latter placing third. There isn't much to commentate regarding the final, except for the fact that it was a rather dominant BO5, in which EndPoint certainly deserved to be crowned the champions.  I had virtually sat down with Mark Horner of EndPoint, being the team captain - little did I know that it would be his team winning it all with him as the crowned MVP. Of course, many of our other interviews pinned the veteran team as a favourite for the event; safe to say that they filled those expectations. I do recall the interview as the most charismatic one which was conducted, with his clear intentions of winning the whole thing while I did have to edit certain words which couldn't be published, being much harsher than 'noobs'. Yet, such confidence may only be applauded after their victory, as "mark", "rEpIn", "synde", "cozje" and "reflexR" dismantled the competition, proving to be back-to-back champions.  Full tournament details can be found here. With the event complete, one begins to ask - what's next for Battalion 1944? Gamers.com.mt will be announcing something very exciting soon until then, congratulations to Team EndPoint! Let's see if we can grab an interview with the champions. 

The ePremier League - Inaugural Investment of a Football League in Esports

One of the most prominent football leagues in the world is, of course, England's Premier League, with certain powerhouse teams fielding fans and support from all over the world and embellishing high-quality competition. Many Maltese are quite invested in supporting some of the top teams. There's the Premier League and then there's the ePremier League? Haven't heard of it? It's a new idea fueled by the recent iteration of EA SPORT's FIFA.  Competitors investing time into FIFA 19, corresponding to those of British citizenship, can demonstrate their skills and represent one of the many Premier Clubs indirectly through the new ePremier League. Just like the field-played sport, a league will be carried out through the controller to discover a 2018-19 season champion - the first ever ePL champion.  All the curious action will require much less time than full 90 minute games; hence the inaugural ePL tournament will begin in January 2019, ending with March at the ePL Final to be broadcasted live on Sky Sports and Premier League social media channels. Note that online qualifiers will progress between January and March to skim down the registered participants through playoffs and group stages in order to arrive at 20 Premier League representatives per console. Registration opens on the 3rd of December through FUTChampions.com, with the chance of being the first ePL champion ever - winning prestige, prize and also some points to register into the FIFA 19 Global Series Playoffs.  This is exciting news for esports; one of the largest football leagues is recognizing esports for what it truly is - a different yet equal sport to that played with boots. It will be interesting to see how it develops over the years in terms of size. 

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