Nico ‘aqua’ Kimbitzky from BIG Academy was able to play his way into the limelight of the WePlay Academy League in a very short time. In this exclusive interview, he talks about his personal development, how experienced players like tabseN help him, and which talents have the potential to become star players.
BIG Academy finished in the top four at the WePlay Academy League, an impressive finish for a roster that was not even a month old at the time. After a strong showing at the WePlay Academy League, BIG Academy's roster has immense potential for the future.
Esports.gg caught up with BIG Academy's Nico 'aqua' Kimbitzky to talk about the team, Academy Leagues and more. The players on the team have some experience playing together and coupled with resources from an organization like BIG, aqua believes they can improve quickly.
You joined BIG Academy ahead of the season. How did the contact come about and why did you decide to join the team? What attracted you to BIG Academy?
Nico 'aqua' Kimbitzky: The contact came about through Christian Lenz. He DMed me on Twitter and told me about the plans and ideas for the Academy team. He expressed interest in me. I was taken by the whole idea and also sat down with Lapex and pr1metapz and we spoke a little bit about their plans. It all fit quite well; I knew them both before as I played together with pr1metapz for two seasons. So I roughly knew what to expect from the team.
There was no bad blood between EPIC Dudes (Editor's note: his former team) and me. On the contrary, we are all still very good friends and the EPIC-Dudes team is a very nice environment. I just didn't feel completely comfortable in how we were playing towards the end; we had different ideas about our game, which made it even more appealing to take the chance at BIG Omen Academy. But the biggest attraction was definitely to be able to play for BIG , a team that has great development potential, with similar goals and plans for the future.
You decided before the season not to participate in the German 99Liga. Why did you decide to do that and what will be your focus instead? What are your goals?
Aqua: One look at our calendar was enough to realize that we have to cut back somewhere. The Weplay Academy League, 99Liga, ESL Meisterschaft, ESEA Main and other tournaments like Malta Vibes would have been too much for us. Four leagues plus qualifiers and tournaments, there would have been very less time left for normal training and development. We also want to approach each league and tournament with full focus, which seems almost impossible if you have at least one official every day. In the end, we decided not to compete in the 99Liga.
For us it was clear not to skip any international league. ESEA and Weplay league have the biggest focus for us because of the reputation, the reach and the possibilities which are bigger than in the national leagues. So it was immediately clear for us to skip a national league. In the end, we decided to continue participating in the ESL Meisterschaft, because the competition and the development potential for ourselves is much stronger there than in the 99Liga.
"On Nuke tabseN told us a lot, which allowed us to rapidly improve our game."
How does a young player like you benefit from playing for a larger organization's academy team? Do you get support from the professional players from the main team or do you generally have better training opportunities?
Aqua: It offers great advantages to play as an academy team for an organization like BIG. Starting with the organizational aspect, we have a manager in Finn who takes care of everything in time, is always there as a contact person and forwards information to us immediately if it is relevant for us. So you never have to worry about forgetting something or not noticing something. BIG and Finn take care of everything.
For the gameplay, we also got a lot of help from tabseN during the Academy League. On Nuke, for example, he told us a lot, which allowed us to rapidly improve our game. Of course, there is also the reach that an organization like BIG brings. Broadcasts from our games always have good viewership and on social media we've all seen an increase in the reach of our channels as well. So I couldn't imagine anything better right now, because I can focus solely on our and my training and even get help.
It offers great advantages to play as an academy team for an organization like BIG.
What does your daily training routine look like? How much time do you invest in CS:GO and how do you work on yourself individually?
Aqua: Since I finished school this year, I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment and accordingly put a lot of time into CS:GO. I am a very competitive person and would like to play against the best at some point. To achieve that, you also have to sacrifice something and invest a lot of time.
So I created a little schedule for myself, in which it says for example when I get up, when I do my CS:GO training and when is also normal team training or I have free time. It's important to have a healthy daily routine and that's why I don't want to grind 20 hours a day, that doesn't make me better. At the moment I have about 80 hours of CS:GO in the last two weeks, so you can calculate approximately how much pure game time I spend with CS:GO per day.
For me it's important to have a regular schedule, so I don't have to get up at 3pm or so. I usually go to sleep around midnight and wake up around 8-9am. Then I do the things that need to be done. Be it the laundry, tidy up the room or clean the kitchen.
Since I don't live with my parents, but have moved in with my uncle, my work tends to be a bit more than it might be with parents. But because of that, I have everything done at the beginning of the day and can focus on CS or doing sports. Sports have always been a negative aspect with me. I'm still not really athletic and especially my endurance is very much in need of improvement. But I'm working on that a lot at the moment and do one hour of sports every 2-3 days, e.g. in the form of body weight exercises. It's no secret that physical fitness also improves game performance. So I can get even more out of myself there if I get my body in shape.
"There is a conscious look at new young players and teams"
You were able to draw attention to yourself in the WePlay Academy League. How important do you think a competition like this is for promoting young talent? What distinguishes an Academy tournament from a "normal" tournament?
Aqua: I think such a competition is very important. Starting with the fact that big organizations like BIG, Mouz or FNATIC promote young players with their reach, but also with their know-how, be it on the server or on social media. The big difference to a "normal" tournament is clearly that there is a conscious look at new young players and teams.
Everyone knows what experienced veterans and professionals can do. They are popular but cannot participate due to the regulations regarding age in Academy competitions. It serves to give young new players, who have not yet had a chance on a big stage. Within this short time we could learn a lot and now even experience our first big LAN. These are experiences and developments that are enormously important for young players to realize their potential. We wouldn't be at the level we are at the moment without this Academy League.
Which players stood out to you in the Academy League? Who do you see as having great potential for the future?
Aqua: Of course m0NESY is probably the player that catches everyone's eye, presents enormous skill for his age and could be the next s1mple. But to leave out the obvious, I would name nilo from the Young Ninjas. He is definitely already very intelligent and skillwise very high for his age of only 16 years.
m0NESY is probably the player that catches everyone's eye, presents enormous skill for his age and could be the next s1mple.
Are there players in general that you have as role models? Which players could you name from whom you have learned things or who you simply like very much in terms of play?
Aqua: I don't necessarily have a direct role model, rather inspirations from players who simply present themselves well outside of the server. There are for example fan favorites like GeT_RiGhT or pasha. Players I have looked at a lot are ropz, tabseN and Tizian. I think these are the three players I could take the most from when I wanted to watch something. They play their positions at an extremely high level and there are certain roles they play better than anyone else.
"The Deagle needs a Change"
Let's finish the interview by talking about the game in general. Some players would like to see changes to the economy, others would like to see new or different maps in the map pool. What would you change about CS:GO if you had the choice?
Aqua: First and foremost, the Deagle. The Deagle should be a high-risk, high-reward weapon. Good handling should be rewarded, but it is currently the case that on Close Range you are often at an advantage with the Deagle over, for example, an AK, because you only need two shots to the body to make a kill. I can remember a situation against Furia Academy on Overpass where I killed three opponents with six Deagle shots in a row, without a headshot. Simply because I hit the body. That's should not be the case.
Other than that, I personally think the game is pretty good as it is right now. The problem of the economy could, I think, be at least partially improved by a nerf to the Pistols, because then you don't lose so often against forcebuys and thus fall into a money vortex. The only thing that would sweeten my life would be the removal of the AWP. But that's just me dreaming, because it's sometimes really exhausting and annoying to run into AWPs as a Rifle without really being able to do anything against them.