On a cool Sunday morning in November, the hotel rooms all around the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, were buzzing with pro players filling their stomachs and reviewing their plans for the second day of competition at IEM Oakland 2017.
As I woke up to start my own preparation, I received a text from Team Method’s Harry “LaytoN” Layton, a reply to a request from the day before. He and the rest of European powerhouse Method were getting ready to head down to breakfast, and if I wanted to speak with them, I had to join them at their hotel.
Without hesitation, I replied with “I’ll be there.”, and got in an Uber headed straight for the Hilton. Once inside the hotel restaurant, I sat down for some coffee. The server asked if I had my voucher, which of course I didn’t, so I told her I was waiting for my friends, and she poured me some coffee anyway. After a few minutes, LaytoN spotted me and brought me up to the table with the rest of the team.
Before long, we were making jokes and chatting PUBG over breakfast. Here’s how that went down.
Let’s talk about the tournament. Obviously right now you guys are looking good, Andy is putting up insane damage numbers and the rest of the team is playing well. Heading in, who did you feel was your toughest opponent?
LaytoN: Honestly, no ego - no one
So you felt like you were the best coming in?
AndyPyro: Yeah, basically we played so much online, we’ve seen every team and the progress they’ve made but there’s actually no one who seemed like they were the “best” coming in. I think in the public eye, FaZe was overrated
LaytoN: I’ll tell you what we definitely knew. We knew that none of these teams had ever been to LAN, we knew that teams would perform differently with LAN jitters, and we knew that we could be confident at LAN with the right preparation.
So you don't feel pressure at all on LAN?
Honestly, Andy’s done it before right - he’s a seasoned LAN vet. And I’ve been speaking about it a lot with Turtle and Aitzy, and honestly we nave no LAN fear whatsoever. We just feel good.
How does it feel playing here compared to online? Does the Tickrate feel any better?
AndyPyro: I think it it is when it’s calm
EnergeticTurtle: I think so
Aitzy: Early game and late game yeah, when rotations happen then no.AndyPyro: Even though I have a beast PC at home it’s a lot smoother and it feels better.
LaytoN: There are still issues with the game, but it’s the client, not the PC’s. The client is still super laggy when a lot is going on.
Obviously the Xbox release is coming up and you won’t be playing that, but with the official release coming and the game not being as optimized as it should be, do you think that’s still the most important factor in legitimizing it as an esport?
LaytoN: Realistically speakiing, if you’re running at 40 fps and there’s a hectic situation, and there’s 50 players alive, that’s gonna limit your ability to outplay and do what you want to do, to an extent.
AndyPyro: It’s not skill based anymore
You bringing that up makes me want to talk about RNG a little bit. Once you drop in, you get random weapons/attachments and you have no real control over that.
From speaking with other players it seems the consensus is that the RNG is actually not that much of an issue and is even necessary in that it helps facilitate the need for more strategies and pushes players to try new things or play differently, what’s your opinion on the RNG aspect of the game?
AndyPyro: It’s not too much, it is balanced. A lot of people don’t understand that you can shut down RNG by fighting teams and by actually learning movement, rotations. There’s a lot of stuff you can do. You won’t see it in public games, but in competitive for example, I watched the VODS and heard people saying we had luck with the circle.
What they didn’t notice however is that we actually rotated with a risk three different times, and took fights before we were actually able to enjoy the circle.
So what’s your philosophy when you get into a game? Do you have a set gameplan?
AndyPyro: We analyze the situation on how fast we can get loot, how many cars we can get and how many we have before we make a decision.
We constantly make progress, we haven’t done compound engagement that much but we will in the future. We’re sticking to the strong points of our game, which comes down to rotations and that’s been pretty good
We have a pretty solid plan for now, at least.
EnergeticTurtle: We do have a set game plan
It was at this time I noticed LaytoN quietly letting tiny puffs of smoke out of his mouth, with his hand clutched tightly around a small metal object, so I had to ask - What’s it like to try and secretly vape indoors?
Everyone: Laughter breaks out across the table as we realize what he was doing.
LaytoN: Yesterday i was on Snus. I didn’t vape yesterday. I’m a Scandinavian for this tournament and i’m sticking with Snus for my nicotine intake.
EU > NA?
LaytoN: I don’t know, what’s TSM? Are they NA?
TSM is NA, yes
AndyPyro: Break is UK
LaytoN: Well then what is their team?
Aitzy: What do you count them as?
LaytoN: If TSM are NA man I respect TSM
AndyPyro: Let’s be honest, the only reason TSM are good in NA is they practice with EU *Laughing*
LaytoN: This is all I know about TSM - they came from the ground man. When they first got picked up I thought they were just a bunch of streamers but they’ve picked it up, they’ve progressed hella man and they’re hella good.
AndyPyro: They were not though, that’s the thing
LaytoN: What do you mean?
AndyPyro: Viss was not a big thing, SmaK was not a big thing. Only when they got big, then they were known as streamers.
LaytoN: Right, they were ARMA streamers before and I just thought that you know, it wasn’t as serious. I thought they were influencers, but they’ve shown they know what they’re doing. So if they’re from NA man, I respect NA.
As for other NA teams I dunno man, I thought Ghost Gaming turned up, they did well. Cornshuckers did well too. Respect to NA man.
AndyPyro: Of course
LaytoN: There will always be that NA - EU rivalry right? It’s healthy.
So what are comms like? Do you guys have a dedicated shotcaller? Or is it everyone communicating?
LaytoN: Well, let’s see, in yesterday’s win we all called shots. Aitzy called a rotation, I called a rotation, Turtle called a rotation. Andy called stuff. Andy called kills mainly, the main shotcaller I could probably say is Andy. There’s definitely contributions from everyone though. 100%.
So what about how you distribute loot? If you get an SKS are you automatically ready to give it over to a specific person or?
LaytoN: We have a trade-in period right, we distribute meds, nades, smokes and everything so it’s even. We never leave a man empty.
Andy: I think I’m the only one who uses the sniper
LaytoN: Yeah true that
EnergeticTurtle: Andy always get the sniper
Aizy: Every airdrop Andy *laughs*
LaytoN: Every airdrop Andy, every sniper Andy, other than that we distribute meds, nades, and smokes evenly
What are your thoughts on the new map? Are you happy with how much less water there is?
AndyPyro: I’ve seen the pictures, I’ve seen the pictures. I’m disappointed by the water.
LaytoN: It doesn’t matter how easy it is to get across
Aizy: They need to remove water
EnergeticTurtle: I really don’t like water
AndyPyro: I just don’t understand if they already have most of the map without water, why not just remove it? It’s a fucking desert. There’s no water.
AndyPyro: Instead of that water there should like a big ass dried up sea or something. Or mountains.
LaytoN: The whole western wall is blocked off by mountains so they could have just done that everywhere
How do you feel about your performance? Is everything clicking for you is there still work to be done?
LaytoN: We’re ramping up still. I feel like we started off slow and everytime we made a mistake instantly, and it won’t happen again.
What’s it like being a part of a scene as it’s still developing and a lot of people are up in the air about PUBG as an esport?
AndyPyro: For me, it’s the first game I’ve played that has a chance at becoming an esport and I enjoy playing. It’s just that few people get so good at it.
What do you enjoy the most about the game?
The realistic ballistics. I was in the Army I was an ARMA player, I enjoy all that kind of stuff. That’s why I liked the ARMA experience so much when I started playing it, I loved it already in beta.
Alright going down the line, favorite weapon, favorite attachment. Go.
AndyPyro: Silenced AWM. One shot, one kill.
LaytoN: Right now it’s probably a 4x M16, but on the test server I’m straight back to AK. it was my favorite before and now they’ve sorted out the recoil so I’m happy with that.
Aitzy: Scar-L, with a red dot and a silencer.
EnergeticTurtle: Scar-L, red dot, compensator, vert grip. So strong.
What about the test servers? There’s a lot of talk about the removal of crouch jump. Is it good or bad?
AndyPyro - I think that’s a good thing, I understand why some of the pro’s say it’s a bad thing and they want to reward players who know how to crouch jump and I understand that point of view.
Do you think that’s more of a perspective thing? It’s not really that big of a skill difference because once you learn how to crouch jump it’s just having knowledge another player might not rather than straight up skill.
AndyPyro - It’s a good thing, it needs to be. It allows new stuff. The only thing I hate on the new patch is the zoom in option on the 8x and 15x. It always zooms in.
So you’d rather have a locked setting?
AndyPyro: Yes, or have it just always be zoomed out and you choose to zoom it in.
It’s getting close to crunch time, anything you want to say to your fans?
Everyone: Thanks for the support, we’re tumblin’ man.
And lastly, how long are you planning to stick with PUBG?
Everyone: As long as possible
Andy: *Laughs* And there’s always streaming as plan B.