The Gfinity Elite Series is finally here. Billed as “the Big Bash League of eSports” we’re going to see the next generation of Australian eSports athletes battling it out in Australia’s first national city-based eSports league. Running over seven weeks, the Gfinity Elite Series will include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League and Street Fighter V and will take place in the all new, state of the art Gfinity Hoyts Esports Arena in Sydney.

In previous eSports events in Australia, we has witnessed hilarious moments like passionate “T-Side” Counter-Strike fans doing ghetto poses with their entire crew and, of course, impromptu shoeys from crowd members who could not resist the urge to rip off a shoe, fill it with Red Bull and chug it down. We love it! Passionate fans. Intense moments. Exciting crowds. Can we expect the same from the Gfinity Elite Series? I think so.

We had the privilege of interviewing Dominic ‘Doom’ Wilson competing in CS:GO for Sydney Chiefs, and Taylor ‘Syo’ Waugh competing in Street Fighter V for Perth Ground Zero.

DOMINIC ‘DOOM’ WILSON – CS:GO PLAYER FOR SYDNEY CHIEFS

1. When did you realise you wanted to take up eSports as a career? Tell us about what led you here.

First of all, I am and always have been an extremely competitive person, I played sports from when I was 6 years old until I was about 15. I realised that eSports was my real passion and dream at age 20. I was in second year university studying a Genetics major and Psychology minor, and after hearing my lecturers preach that you need to have a real passion for your job to drive you forward, both in motivation for the workplace and in my life generally. I committed to a game called DOTA 2 which I’d been playing casually for about a year, and tried to grind up my skill in that for 3 years. My friends all moved on from DOTA 2 and, after some effort, convinced me to play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. As soon as I started playing it was obvious that I had an insane affinity for the game, aided by my previous experience in Counter Strike: Source.

After playing for about 8 months, I made the hard decision to switch from DOTA 2 to CS:GO due to the natural ability I showed in Counter-Strike. I then wanted to see whether I could make a career out of Counter Strike, and started looking for a team in matchmaking, not knowing any of the proper channels to actually find a team. I stayed that way for about 9 months, then made friends with a guy named Hugh, in-game alias of Karmapolice, whose team was actually looking for 1 member. He offered me a trial, and I made it in, which started my competitive career. Hugh and I are still great friends, and we still play games together for fun here and there when we both have time.

The real factor which allowed me even the opportunity to consider taking up eSports as a career was my mother. When I was 18, she had a very serious injury, which only worsened over the years with other serious illnesses requiring her to need almost constant care from me. When I was 19, I quit my waiting job of 6 years to become her full-time carer, which worked well later in conjunction with gaming, because it meant I could be building a career and be competitive while also being close at hand to help her if she needed it. More than once I had to cancel practice because I had to take Mum to the hospital, and the team were very understanding.

2. Outside of eSports, what’s something you enjoy? Tell us about yourself and what you’re like when you’re not behind the screen.

Outside of eSports, I really enjoy a lot of things. TV shows, movies, reading books, and music are some of the more basic things I enjoy. I really love going out and hanging out with friends, meeting new people and having lots of laughs. I love conversations that challenge my perspectives and getting into deep conversations about life and the meaning of everything. Above all else I just enjoy being happy and seeing others be happy.

3. Who are the eSports stars that inspire you or the ones you look up to? Why?

The eSports stars that have really inspired me I don’t know the names of, but I was watching the DOTA 2 tournament of the year, The International, and there was an interview with many pros in the competition. These pros were talking about what going to international LANs used to be like – that they used to have to sleep on the floor of the event because they couldn’t afford accommodation, and that their families demonised eSports or even outright disowned them. But they stuck with it and kept their motivation and passion up, and now they make hundreds of thousands of dollars, with their family and parents cheering them on in the crowd. I just picture the sheer emotion and euphoria they must feel, and it inspires me to no end.

4. What was one of your favourite games as a kid?

Warcraft 2 was probably my favourite game as a kid, I wasn’t very good at it but I absolutely loved the strategic element in it.

5. How are you preparing for the Gfinity Elite Series? Who do you think is your biggest threat?

I’m preparing individually mainly, trying to really get my own play on point and find new ways to keep myself consistent and eliminate nerves, so when I’m up on the big stage, I’ll be able to frag as if I were still at home.

6. Do you listen to music to pump you up before a game? Any song recommendations?

Honestly, very rarely, it depends on my mood and it’s always before an important game. Sometimes I’ll meditate to try to calm my nerves to something like Oskar Schuster – Wunder, or I’ll get pumped up to a song like Odesza – Divide (feat. Kelsey Bulkin).

7. Any advice or words of wisdom you want to give to aspiring eSports athletes?

The best words of wisdom I can give would be to know your worth and not let anything anyone says get under your skin – you know who you are and what you’re capable of, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks you can do. Show them.

TAYLOR ‘SYO’ WAUGH – STREET FIGHTER V PLAYER FOR PERTH GROUND ZERO

1. When did you realise you wanted to take up eSports as a career? Tell us about what led you here.

I’m not really sure, it wasn’t a conscious decision I made, more so a desire that grew over time as I grew more and more as a player.

2. Outside of eSports, what’s something you enjoy? Tell us about yourself and what you’re like when you’re not behind the screen.

I’m really into music, I play drums and I’ve dabbled in a few other instruments too. It’s a nice way to take your mind off the game and kinda cleanse from it.

3. Who are the eSports stars that inspire you or the ones you look up to? Why?

I look up to a lot of people, Fuudo and Poongko inspired me heavily, I’m also a big fan of Fchamp and Mike Ross. I started to look up to Xian a lot leading up to his evo victory. Recently Fujimura has had influence on me too. There’s way too many to name.

4. What was one of your favourite games as a kid?

My top 5 childhood games in no order would be Heart of darkness, Abe’s Odyssey, Tekken 3, Sonic 2, and Final Fantasy X.

5. How are you preparing for the Gfinity Elite Series? Who do you think is your biggest threat?

I’ve organised a training schedule that fits in with my daily routine. Usually I practice without focus and just try to improve on a general level but lately I’ve been focusing heavily on what I need to improve and directing my practice leading up to the elite series. My biggest threat is probably ROF, BKsama, or Rumours of Ghosts.

6. Do you listen to music to pump you up before a game? Any song recommendations?

The best pump up song is the opening theme from Street Fighter 4 vanilla, “Indestructible”.

7. Any advice or words of wisdom you want to give to aspiring eSports athletes?

The advice I’d give to anyone wanting to get into the scene of any game, is talk to the pros. They aren’t divine beings, I used to be really scared to approach someone I knew was amazing at the game and ask to play against them or ask for advice about anything, especially since I used to have a lot of trouble in social settings. I can imagine it has only become harder to approach pros with how they’re even more celebrated than they used to be. They’re pros for a reason and they can definitely get you on the right track, and they’ll be more than happy to.