Over the last few weeks, a battle for supremacy raged in the European tournament scene. 153 European teams stepped up to fight for a place in the Ural Steel Grand Finals in Moscow, and as the dust settled, 4 teams emerged victorious and have qualified. Our European champions will take the fight to Russia on Saturday! To build up to this historic event, let’s meet the European teams in a series of interviews.
Today, we present the last interview we had with OM – Whitebeard (OM). Currently, this team is unstoppable in the EU – they didn't drop a single game during the entire tournament and possibly had the toughest trip to the finals. The team originates from Germany and they are one of the first EU teams to start taking Tanks as an eSport very seriously indeed. Abusemeh, the team captain, and Scharthak the team manager were here to speak a bit about the Ural Steel finals. How they expect it, what they do and what they did to get there. Read the full interview to know what is in the champions’ mind!
However, we also met them during the gamescom, where they shared with us some of their thoughts. This is in the second part of this article.
About the Team
Abusemeh and Scharthak started Team OM a while back just to have a little fun with some good players from our community. Success came surprisingly fast but along the way we have faced many obstacles, including having to restructure the team several times. Our team is far from ordered which means we have different players in both our WG and ESL teams. This isn’t so bad in normal 14v14 but for 7v7 it helps considerably to have the same set of 7-8 players every week. On the other hand, at least it provides some amusement and confusion. Our team consists of players from the Odem Mortis Community. We seem to have made quite some impact in our community as we currently already have 7 teams for 7on7 competitions with rising success.
Abusemeh, Scharthak and Threton were our founding members back in January 2012. Crux, Laughter, Ykanji and Ogremage came in later that year with Incurably, Fabse and God_Runze as our latest additions at the end of June. Apart from Runze and Abusemeh, who played CS competitively before, and Laughter playing BF2, we have no other members who had played a game competitively, although all of us have played various games before. Our training sessions are few and far between, which is unfortunate as playing frequently together contributes significantly to success. However, the workloads from the recent tournaments is pretty high and we all have time issues because of work and studying; we are all humans and not machines! We still have a lot of fun together though, which is the main point of playing games, after all!
I don’t think there are any favourite vehicles in our team; we play what we consider to be most suitable for the map. That varies from using a VK45, T32 and AMX15-100 and two tier I scout tanks, to lineups with four Scouts and three Artilleries for pretty open maps. But in general, we use a good base of T32s as heavy tanks and the AMX13-90 for scouting purposes. We are also known for often using Bisons, so that likely qualifies to be mentioned here as well.
Team Statistics: Achievements, Wins, Titles and Awards!
Our team has won almost all the European Wargaming championships in the past (and many previous tournaments as well):
If all goes well and luck is on our side, we might even win the first full All Star Medal, which means a lot to us. Furthermore, we won the German qualifier for the World Cyber games during an event at Gamescom and are the current German WCG WoT Champions. We will represent Germany in China at the end of November as members of the German WCG National Team. In addition to that we have won the first ESL Company Cup and are participating in the second one having won both qualification rounds, and we have also had several good placings in the ESL Go4WoT cups.
What you can say about your opponents and the most exciting matches?
We had our toughest battle in the quarter final on Prokhorovka against Team Mummy. It was not predictable what lineup they would choose and with their knowledge of our lineups and tactics it was never going to be easy. Our superior lineup won the first battle, and good timing in the second. But there were some other strong enemies like DWELL on the way to Russia which had to be played on newer maps such as Ensk and Airfield. We were able to pass this challenge and finally made the qualification for Russia. We are really proud, especially since we did not lose a single round, even against the good competitors. We consider ourselves lucky - regardless of ranking or success we are getting to travel the world.
Are you following competitors’ games and are you aware of their progress?
All teams who made their way through the qualifiers proved their strength and quality as a team. I personally think that the Evil Panda Squad from Poland can be slightly over the top in their gamestyle. However, they are one of the first teams who started playing competitively in Europe, and have learned a lot during this time. This makes them one of the best European teams. Whilst Golden Hind are the newcomers (although they have many experienced players) I would consider them the dark horse of this tournament. We are looking forward to meeting them again on the battlefield. When it comes to other regions we are pretty much uninformed, to be honest. Apart from the RU server, where we know some teams from the EU WG and ESL events, we have not had any contact with the other regions and therefore have not followed their progress or playstyle so far. This will change if there are going to be more worldwide events though, because it is a big advantage to know what to expect from other teams beforehand in order to be properly prepared.
How will your team prepare for the finals?
We will start by brainstorming possible lineups for the maps. We will try to find some ideas how to play the maps differently with the same lineup of tanks. After that we will look for some training partners in our community and try to test out the ideas to work out the “strengths and weaknesses” of them. Then we try to make some progress while pointing out the basic stuff that was good and bad. We will gain some more tournament practice during Go4WoT on ESL as well to prepare for this event.
What you think about Ural Steel as a tournament?
In our opinion Ural Steel is a great tournament where you can compare the experience and the progress of all teams in the world. It will be really interesting to see what tank lineups have been developed on different servers. On the other side the maps will be played differently too, which makes the complete tournament exciting. Personally I would preferred the tournament to be 14v14 like it was last year, as those battles are far more exciting for both the players and spectators and ultimately that is what the game was designed for.
What are your expectations for the Ural Steel final?
We are really looking forward to this event to meet the guys we already know from Cologne, Evil Panda Squad and Red:Rush, and to have some beers! (I pray the taxi drivers in Moscow don’t carry guns). As for the matches, we hope that we can show some good games to the visitors and maybe win some rounds. Everything else depends on the daily spread, which cannot be predicted (at least not from us). The competition is going to be really tough, especially with the Russian teams and the unknown teams. Reaching the semi-finals alone will be quite an achievement, but we are hoping for more, of course!
You also can see some of their replays here!
After their impressive win against W4sP at the WCG National Qualifying Finals – we called two members of the clan for a private interview backstage at our Wargaming gamescom booth 2012 to discuss their latest victory.
Congratulations on your dominant performance at the WCG finals in Cologne. Tell us please, how did you experience the tournament? How was it for you?
Well, it was only our second offline tournament – we’re not quite used to them yet. There are a lot of distractions like the lamps, the unfamiliar PC’s and keyboards and of course, the live audience. Playing in front of a crowd is different from when you play from the comfort of your own home – like in the ESL for example.
You lost the first game although everybody thought you were the favourites to win it. What exactly happened?
Prokhorovka is usually a map that we’re very comfortable on. But we were nervous and needed to adjust. Overall I think we were just a little bit steamrolled by our opponents in the first round, losing after only two minutes. We couldn’t make anything out of our open space advantage and their artillery played very well.
So now the second game. How did you bounce back?
The pressure was definitely on us to not fall behind 0-2. We knew we had to bring it. For the second game we changed our strategy – helped by the fact that our opponents gave us time and opportunity to develop a strategy. Overall, starting from the second match, W4sP played much more defensively and we could use that to our advantage.
So how did you feel about the game on Lakeville that followed, when you lost again?
Lakeville is too big a map to cover with only seven players. We had to go all in, knowing that we were exposing ourselves a lot and that this could break our neck. Eventually it did. W4sP displayed the same passive strategy as before and the game was close, but overall they managed to get away with the win. We played more aggressively whereas they didn’t. It could have gone the other way as well.
And what about the game number four?
Having fallen behind 2-1 and being only one loss away from elimination motivated us. We were agitated but didn’t let it affect us too much. In the end we got lucky, because the opponents tried to win over time and didn’t take the initiative. We did push forward and came away with the victory. It was surprising the way they played for us though – we feel like they could have easily taken that game but they just gave it away.
When game five rolled around you could literally see the tension rise everywhere around. How did you set the last game up?
Well despite how everybody else felt, we didn’t get too stressed for the last game. In fact we even kind of shook it off with indifference at that moment. We thought “If we win, we win. If not, that won’t be the end of the world either.” Again, fortune was with us and we got to play on “Abbey” which is a very good map for us. W4sP played to passively again and we think this is why we could come away with the victory. Our play style is very different to theirs, and we think that’s why it worked out so well.
It probably all started even earlier during preparation for you guys. Can it be that you train differently?
Yes that’s possibly true. We’ve been sticking to one training method since the beginning. You need to be able to anticipate the enemy’s movements or at least to be able to make up new strategies on the fly. For that you need to know every team member’s abilities by heart. You also need to have been through a lot in terms of the situations you’ve encountered in other online battles. So we only train against real opponents. What’s important is that as a team you learn to develop ideas and that you try them out. As soon as we come up with a new tactic we find ourselves some other team members from our community and try it out on them. You know the saying “A plan is only good until the first shot is taken.” That’s essentially what you need to prepare for. How do you prevail in an unknown situation when all hell breaks loose? If you expect the unexpected and prepare for that, then your chances are better.
Now you’ll be going to China to the World Cyber Games as part of the German national team. What do you expect and how do you feel about the upcoming challenge?
It’s definitely going to be tough. We have a couple of insecurities in regards to China: the new climate, the people, the new and much bigger stage. Health also becomes a concern. The games are in late November and we need to make sure none of our players get sick by then or becomes unavailable for some other reason. It’s much more difficult to prepare all the necessary logistics for such a global event that’ll be happening abroad.
How do you feel about the competition?
The Polish teams will probably be very strong in this tournament. They qualified early and by a big margin, so we expect them to be heavy opponents. On the other hand we’re happy to have heard that the Russians may not be attending the WCGs. If that’s true it would make our lives a lot easier.
What’s so special about the Russian players?
Well first off they have played a lot longer than us European guys. Also the eSports scene developed earlier over there and is very prominent, which means that they have more experience in competitive gaming. Overall we feel like they’ve got a better sense of timing in their team which exceeds that of the EU teams. Individual players are on the same level though. It’s the team aspect that they’ve got figured out better than us.
Overall the mix of different play styles at the WCG will be interesting for us. We’re looking forward to playing against all of the nations, not just the Russians.
In your opinion, what does World of Tanks need to reach the next level in the eSports scene?
The game needs a spectator mode very badly! No game can be successful in eSports over the long haul if it’s not optimized for viewers who’ll be watching the league games. It’s crucial to the success of the game in competitive gaming, and Wargaming needs to sort this out as quickly as possible.
Did anything improve over last year for you?
Yeah, the location and the visibility. The booth is much easier now and don’t have to go looking for hours to find it. Also the entertainment program has been significantly ramped up compared to last year: it was very exciting, yet tasteful. Even if you only come as a spectator there’s a lot to see here.
How do you like our Wargaming stand here at gamescom 2012?
It’s awesome! The staff are so friendly and the announcers on stage do a great job getting the crowd pumped. There are a lot of gaming PC’s around which greatly reduces queuing times. Also the visibility factor works great: There are a lot of advertisements of Wargaming games around on the trade fair ground.
Russia, then China... let’s wish a good trip to all of the Odem Mortis team, and you can keep following the cup through our portal!