Interview with G2's star player

Kronovi: “We have all these natural synergies”

May 25, 2018 - 16:10
Rocketeers / Interviews / RLCS / Spotlight /

They call him the mountain. And rightly so. Cameron Bills, better known as Kronovi, is a Rocket League powerhouse, someone who basically needs no introduction. If you would just spend five minutes learning about Rocket League esports, Kronovi’s name would be among the very first things you would learn. He’s a World Champion, captain of the G2 squad and one of the most accomplished players in Rocket League history. Oh, and before we forget: He’s also the biggest Rocket League streamer and runs one of the most popular YouTube channels. Kronovi is the mountain. And he’s going to yet another World Championship, this time even as the #1 team from the NA region.

We reached out to Kronovi to talk about his expectations going into the tournament, about their preparations and to pick his brain about his advice for young players. Enjoy one of the longest Rocketeers interviews to date.

“Focus on the things that brought us success”

Kronovi, you can look back on an already fantastic season. You will go to the World Championship as the #1 seed. In the months prior to RLCS you won Eleague, came in 2nd at Dreamhack Leipzig. How are you currently preparing for the upcoming challenge in London?

We’re trying to focus on the things that brought us success. There’s not a ton of things to fix. We just need to remind ourselves, what the things are that we do best – and how to do these things consistently. During the season, the only loss we had was to NRG, and we just played completely differently than we normally should be playing if we want to win. For playoffs we changed it a little bit, and just did what we wanted to do. We’ve been playing for so long that we have all these natural synergies. If we play the way we want, it all falls in the right place. We just want to recreate that at the World Championship.

What are your expectations going into the World Championship? Are you completely focused on winning the tournament or is participation already its own reward?

I have high standards. I’m really not satisfied unless I win the whole thing. I’ve done that once before and I dont want to lower the bar for myself. Rizzo and Jknaps also know that we’re capable of winning the tournament. At the very least, we want to do better than we did last year, but the ultimate goal is to win the whole thing.

This is probably our most confident LAN. It’s the first time we have the #1 seed going into the World Championship. I really think that provides our confidence. I just feel more confident in myself and my team than ever before. During the season, many were doubting that we’re the best team from NA, but we proved that on the day of the playoffs. Sure, there’s tough competition. I dont think that we’re the best team there, but we’re definitely able to win it all.

We have never played against CompLexity before, and we will face them probably. Who knows what happens there? But if we win, then we play Cloud 9 or Team Vitality. We’ve recently beaten Cloud 9 and we’ve never lost to Vitality, even though they look very strong right now. We understand these teams very well. As long as we play our game and bring that confidence to LAN we will make an incredible run through the upper bracket.

“I’m excited to play CompLexity”

Is there a match you’re looking forward to the most at the World Championship?

There isn’t a favourite opponent, but I’m excited to play CompLexity. Same goes for Tainted Minds from OCE. We’ve never played against both of them, and I’m always excited to play against new teams. It’s actually so crazy that us and CompLexity are the two oldest rosters that are still playing, but that we have never played against each other at an event.

This year’s finals are held in London, Europe. What is your plan to manage the impact of jetlag on your performance?

A lot of NA teams will fly out early to get accustomed to the jetlag. Not a single team from NA should have a jetlag going into the World Championship. Getting there early is the right thing to do. If you fly 9-10 hours, your internal clock doesn’t match up to days and nights of the area you’re in, and that does take a mental toll on you. If you’re tired, you cant focus and won’t get the best performance out of you.

How early are you flying out?

I believe it’s 6 days early. We’ve decided to fly directly to London where we have a practice area set up.

“I guess people like to push narratives”

For some reason, G2 is sometimes described as an inconsistent team by members of the community. Does this narrative bother you to some extent? Especially given the fact that you proved critics wrong so many times.

I’m aware of people saying that. I see it more frequently than I would like. I don’t really appreciate it when people say that. That makes me see them as someone who isn’t up to date in esports or as someone who hasn’t watched current games and is stuck in the past. They care more about what the image of a team is, rather than what a team is doing. It’s unfair. I understand where it’s coming from. Back in Season 3 we were kinda inconsistent. But if you look at the results over the past 6 months, it’s 1st and 2nd places.

Sometimes people look at weekly or monthly online events and that we lost to a team that we would never lose to in a RLCS match, and they draw their conclusions from that. I guess people like to push narratives, it’s a natural thing. But I wish they would do that less or somewhere where I don’t see it. It’s getting old.

You’ve been an active part of the Rocket League community for years and have seen the rise of its esports scene. Where do you see the esports scene headed and what are the biggest challenges Rocket League has to face as an esports game?

At the beginning of the game, the RLCS wasn’t even a thing until 8-9 months after the game came out. But Psyonix saw how much demand there was. Everybody was setting up tournaments that were run by the community and pulling in decent viewer numbers. The whole community is build around this grassroots esports scene that the community made. Psyonix saw that and they made the RLCS. The prize pool was 75,000 dollars across both regions, which is pitiful by today’s standards, but it was a start.

I still believe that Psyonix care a lot about the esports scene. They’re just historically a slow moving company. They like to take their time. Right now, they’re still in the process of building up the company and the esports scene. A little bit of patience goes a long way. I believe that Rocket League will evolve in a similar manner like other esports games over the next year. It just won’t be so sudden like the recent Fortnite announcement. Psyonix will steadily and gradually increase. They have a different style. It might not always be what people want, but in the end it will get the scene to where we want it to be.

“A longer season would be healthy”

What is needed most? Increased prize pools? More RLCS seasons? Longer seasons? Different tournaments and events? 

There are 3 major things on my list that I would like to see. Prize pools are always nice, the bigger the prize pool, the more incentives are there for sponsors and teams to get involved. Viewers are drawn to a million dollar tournament over a thousand dollar tournament, because the stakes are higher. The second thing is: a longer season, whether that means you add more teams or play a double Round Robin. Maybe both. A longer season would be healthy, it would give “underdog” teams a better chance to prove themselves, even after a bad start they could find their footing, come back and rise. Proving consistency is very important, and I don’t think the current RLCS format, where you just play against a team one time and that’s that, proves enough consistency.

My last point I would really like to see for RLCS, is that we get to the point that we have a studio where all the matches are played in a live setting. So that basically every match is played in a LAN environment. Right now, every match is played online and there have been issues with servers in the past, with remaking lobbys, disconnects, substitutes coming in because someone’s internet went down. That’s not professional. It’s a big investment, you have to fly out everyone, make sure that you have a studio, fly out casters. But that’s where I would like to see the scene move. Overwatch League does it, the LCS does it. It’s a proven concept and I think it’s worth the investment.

You mentioned the grassroots movement. Rocket League esports started with the community. You’re one of the guys young players admire, because you turned Rocket League into a full-time career. There are many new kids and players out there who wish to make Rocket League esports their life, too. What is the best advice you can give to someone who wants to go pro?

I was very lucky to be in the position I am in today. Going pro involves a massive time investment. When Rocket League first came out, I had an unfair amount of time over other people. I played the previous game, got to play the Rocket League Alpha and Beta. I played the Open Beta most out of anybody, I believe. I was on 24/7. The Beta Montage was when my YouTube channel blew up. I was already playing on a skilled level while others hadn’t even touched the game and didn’t know how to do Aerials. I started with a massive advantage and turned it into a source of entertainment.

I don’t know how I started streaming. Originally, I just kept recordings of my games for myself, started to upload them. Sometimes videos got a couple of thousands views, but suddenly they got millions and there was this realisation that this might go from a hobby to a real job. Right before I went pro I got accepted to a college. I wanted to study Computer Science, code and make my own games. But I turned around and saw the potential in playing Rocket League as a career. It’s done pretty well for me.

“It’s all about not giving up”

So what’s the advice? Invest a lot of time and hope to be lucky? Or is there something else?

It’s definitely difficult to find a lot of success without getting at least a little lucky, but that’s also knowing the right place to look. When you spend a lot of time and you look around for all these opportunities, you will get good automatically. Once you’ve gotten pretty good, you’ll get your chance playing with people you never would have assumed to play with. That’s when you get your name out there. All of a sudden you might be with a professional team. It’s all about not giving up and kind of thinking about every step as a stepping stone.

When you first started to go pro, how supportive were your parents?

To answer this I need to go back to SARPBC. I used to do community tournaments in that game. No prizes or anything, nobody could afford to put money into it. We were all 14-15, I was 12 and playing these tournaments for fun. Every now and then I would win a few. My parents knew about this, because I bragged about it of course, and they were always very interested in all of my hobbies. I played the game for a long time, but wasn’t getting money from it. In their eyes, college and having that kind of education was always the end goal. That was right up until Rocket League exploded for me and there was some level of monetary security involved as well as the potential that the actual scene that I was gonna base my career off was gonna last longer than a couple of years.

I was lucky that both my parents are very tech-savy, they’re very ahead of their time and the biggest fanboys and fangirls of what I do. I’m very lucky to have the parents I have. They’re my biggest fans, I love them very much.

“I’m very lucky to have the parents I have”

You mentioned that you wanted to create your own games. I take from that, that you’re a gamer all around, and that it’s not just Rocket League that you’re passionate about?

Gaming is basically my life. Whenever I’m done playing Rocket League, I don’t get up and go outside to play basketball. I just switch games. That’s what I enjoy doing. I grew up with this hobby. I thought it would be cool to go full circle and create my own games, maybe work at Psyonix one day or have my own game company and interact with my own fanbase. It was the only thing I had a passion to go get an education for.

Would it still be an option for you to go to college after your time as an active Rocket League player?

It’s never out of the question, but the real question is: Because of what has happened within the Rocket League scene, is there a better opportunity elsewhere? The option for college might still be there, but I could also move up towards other jobs in esports. The skills I learned as a player can transfer to other areas of esports. Maybe I do something about branding or go full content creation or esports consulting. There are lots of potential opportunities and I keep them in my mind for my 5-10 year plan for my career.

“It takes some shuffling to find the perfect squad”

Right now, the most important thing is the upcoming World Championship. You, Rizzo and Jknaps have played together for quite some time now. There are so many roster changes, and I often feel that this can be a disadvantage. In how far is a stable roster an advantage from your point of view?

I might have a different opinion on this. I think people change rosters until they find the roster that they feel is perfect. I always had a different team until I met Rizzo and Jknaps. It felt right. The current World Champions, ViolentPanda, Kaydop and Turbo, were the same. They moved around once a season until they found each other and realized that this team is amazing. It just takes a lot of shuffles, a bit of randomness and luck for three poeople to realize they are meant to play with one another. There’s also a limited pool of talent. There are only so many of the very best players in a region. If they don’t randomly land on each other, it takes some shuffling to find the perfect squad that has synergies. The longer Rocket League goes on, the less top teams will shuffle. But lower teams will shuffle to find something that works against the top teams.

Right now, our stability is an advantage. But shuffling in general is a necessity. Being comfortable playing with your team is the most important thing. If you’re not, it shows in your play. If you’re comfortable, you can make anything work.

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Dorian discovered Rocket League when it first came to PS4. He stopped playing after he saw the RLCS for the first time and became discouraged from trying any more miserable Aerials. As a journalist with more than a decade of experience working for many of the biggest German media companies he now lives out his Rocket League passion as Head Editor for Rocketeers.gg