eUnited’s Kickstart discusses their performance at ESL Masters, the state of PUBG, and why he’s stuck with the game despite its trajectory.
It's the start of a brand new season in PUBG, and eUnited are off to a good start. They won the first North American tournament of the year, ESL Masters Phase 1, with a brand new roster. The current eUnited lineup represented Oath Gaming last year, winning PCS5 in North America and placing 18th at the PUBG Global Championship.
On the scoreboard, eUnited are led by two big fraggers: Jake "Snakers" Winant and Matt "Kickstart" Smith. Kickstart spoke with Esports.gg following the ESL event to discuss how satisfied they are with their start to the year, how things went in the offseason, and where eUnited and PUBG go from here.
Championship roster, new org: eUnited take home ESL Masters Phase 1 title
eUnited had a stellar debut to win the first big North American PUBG event of the year. Meanwhile, some unexpected teams impressed and the ex-TSM and -Spacestation rosters proved they shouldn’t have been dropped.
Shawn "Germanicus" Heerema
eUnited's performance at ESL Masters Phase 1
Q: How do you feel about eU's overall performance as a team at the recent ESL tournament?
eU Kickstart: I think everyone on the team can agree that we didn't play good at all in our opinions. We were all pretty upset, even after we found out we won. We have a lot more potential and we played very bad; we could've won by a lot more points than we did. And I think everyone played bad to be honest, Soniqs and [ex-]TSM both played bad as well. And we just happened to be the best bad team in my opinion."
Kickstart went on to discuss how things went wrong further. "We just have a lot of micro mistakes, like, individuals. Our macro is pretty perfect in our opinions. We just have an individual make a mistake this game, and an individual make a mistake the next game. It's just small stuff that's costing us five to ten points a game some games."
Is it important for PUBG to have orgs?
It came as a surprise to the PUBG scene when Oath Gaming announced they weren't renewing the contracts of their roster. Kickstart, Snakers, Noah "Relo" Jenkins, and Brendan "Balefrost" Connors had been among the best in North America all year.
When asked if he was worried when this happened, though, Kickstart said that the prize money structure of PUBG Esports meant that they didn't need to find a new org.
"In PUBG you don't really lose that much money [without an org], because you get more of your prize pool. So if you're a confident top team, it's not really that big of a deal that you're not getting paid every month by a salaried org, because you know you will get top three, top two every tournament, so you don't really lose that much money," he said.
"So we weren't really worried about it, but obviously, we would like to support a team like eUnited. It's a very awesome experience and I'm super happy it worked out the way it did."
When asked to expand on this answer, and whether it meant orgs weren't all that important to keep PUBG Esports going, Kickstart took the position that they still did matter, even if just for the fans.
"It's definitely important. If we could have all the orgs we've had in the past, like C9, SSG, OpTic, TSM, etc. It's just great for the community to have more fans in it. It's awesome for the players because they get more support back, and it keeps them wanting to play more, the drive is there, and when there's a big organization representing them, it's a different thing. Overall, it's very good for the game and it's super important for us to get more orgs back into the game," explained Kickstart.
Looking back - and ahead
Q: With PUBG being an esport with less popularity, have you ever considered leaving the scene to compete in a different game, or for another reason altogether?
eUnited Kickstart: "No. I think it sucks, because sometimes PUBG Corp. doesn't listen to us, and we disagree with some of their choices. But I've always had the opinion of: I started playing at 16, and I went to my first LAN at 16, and it's changed my life.
"So I'm going to continue to take the opportunities that I can take, even if I'm not making a ton of money - which, I'm making pretty decent money, so it's fine. I could probably make more money doing different jobs, but the opportunities that PUBG gives you at such a young age are just too good not to take every year; like going to Worlds and seeing the world. It's just crazy opportunities that I would never give up."
I've always had the opinion of: I started playing [PUBG] at 16, and I went to my first LAN at 16, and it's changed my life.
Q: Why did the team bring in Lachlan "Fludd" Thompson to replace Balefrost? What are some of the strengths he brings?
United Kickstart: "He's very aggressive, and we're not a passive team by any means, but we definitely try to pick our fights when we need to, and we draw that line. But sometimes, we don't aggress when we should, and he's helped a bit with that.
"He's also another big voice to step in, because me and Relo do most of the talking and calling. So it's just another voice to add that little bit of aggression to our team, and I think it helps a lot."
Q: What are your goals for the year, both as an individual and as a team?
United Kickstart: "One of my personal goals is to represent the United States for Nations Cup. That would just be insane for me personally, I've never imagined I would do that.
"As a team, I think that we can win every tournament this year going into PGC. I think it's very possible. If we fix some of our small mistakes than it's very likely that we actually do that. As long as we go to PGC and don't play as bad as we did last year, I think we could have a very good year."