Next Up with Scissors

Everyone told me Highlander team leaders tend to be complete nutcases most of the time, but nobody warned me about this guy. His only term was to meet with me in a local botanical garden, and I thought “why not”, the guy probably likes nature. I kinda expected a soulless ginger with a Gameboy in his hands, but boy was I naive – Scissors is nothing like that. Dressed in black from top to toe, he was cutting the local exotic plants with some sort of weird finger-blades, perfectly reciting “Vincent” screenplay at the same time. A nod and “I also do haircuts” type of a smile greeted me. God, what did I get myself into…

RD: Well, Mr Scissors… let’s say that your team’s name is very puzzling for my humble brain capabilities. Does it suggest that if someone wants to join the team, they have to be good (and angry) chess players?

Scissors: There is really no broader meaning to it, we just thought it was funny and recognizable when we decided to use it. Although a few of the guys we have had throughout the years have more than lived up to it. :)

RD: What’s the story behind the team. How did you guys start playing together?

Scissors: Chess was my very first competitive team. I had been thinking about starting competitive for so long, after I got introduced to NA Highlander from an American friend. For the past 3 years, I have been playing on the Rocketblast Hightower pub because Hightower is the only enjoyable pub map. During that time, I had some really intense battles with Khazul, who was the obligatory tryhard Spy of that particular server. After battling it out every single day for an entire year without exchanging more words than simple trashtalk, I decided to one day add him and ask if he had played competitive before. One thing led to another, and Chess was born, back then consisting of a mixture of Hightower pubbers and random people I thought were good in lobbies.

RD: Fast forward a few years and we are at the end of the ETF2L Season 6. The last five months proved to be crucial for Chessclub, where you basically lost half of your roster. Losing half a dozen players usually collapses the team, especially crucial and hard to find classes like Engineer and Heavy. Even Sprayer left, not to mention a bunch of substitute players. How did you stop the folding? Was getting Rev a crucial move or something else?

Scissors: Our team-page may make it seem worse than it actually was. Evil had stepped back to substitute due to work long before he actually left the roster to join another team, and Sprayer simply left because he was playing in the Highlander Open. That being said, we have had a huge amount of roster changes throughout our time, perhaps the biggest one being the complete combo change in the middle of last season, after some serious internal problems. I think this may the first season where our roster is largely the same from one season to another, and this is despite the fact that we have never kicked anyone from the team. The good part though, is that we have always made sure to get the right people, so Chess seems to be getting stronger with every lineup change. Oh, and Rev is literally the most detached player I have ever had on any team, literally all he does is carry us in games and then get high and write random stuff to me in the night. :D

Scissors was quite happy to prove his... skills.

Scissors was quite happy to prove his… skills.

RD: What got me really interested is that he is the 4th prem Sniper in your team. He taking in the position of very strong players like snow, Elysium and Tracker. What happened to them that you decided to pick a fourth Sniper? Is it a tactic to devoid all other prem teams of great Snipers?

Scissors: Haha, yeah that has become somewhat of a joke within the community, that we just hog all the best snipers. The truth is, that we have simply been very unlucky with the commitment of our snipers. Elysium was too handsome IRL to play this much TF2, snow was busy with 6s this season, and god knows what Rev is doing. At the moment Tracker is maining, being able to play 3 nights a week. Sniper is easily the most flexible class in the game, in the sense that we can use different snipers every game, and not feel the difference, as would be the case with for example a Demo or Engineer, so I am glad it’s on the sniper part for us.

RD: It seems every leader in Highlander has to deal with the mentioned roster problems. What keeps you going, roster change after a roster change? Were you ever close to calling it a day and just joining a random Highlander team?

Scissors: Several times. I don’t want to into too many details, but we have had some very, uhm, demanding people on this team. So yeah, I have had my struggles and frustrations, but I think what kept me going was my friendship with many of the people in the team. People like Khazul, Sprayer, Evil, Yoshi and many others are people I consider some of my best friends, and cutting my biggest connection to them, which is the team, was just not worth risking. I also used to be hugely emotionally invested in this, so there has been very ugly episodes, but I think most teams experience this. This season, I am taking a much more relaxed approach to TF2, and I can already see that it makes conflicts much easier, compared to what they would have been last year for example. At the end of the day, what keeps me going is simply how much the enjoyment outweighs the frustrations. TF2 is my hobby and where I hang out with my best friends.

RD: This next bit will shook you to the core. It will make you question your identity and the purpose of online gaming. It will put a question mark in your head and an exclamation mark in your heart. Scissors… people warned me that you are worse then b33p, who is often refereed as the worst thing that happened to Highlander since Quell. How did you get that reputation, was the emotional investment you mentioned, too great?

Scissors: I don’t think I have had any clashes with other Highlander players for at least an entire year now? Maybe people still have grudges with me or something, but it is not something that I know of or notice. But yeah, my reputation was definitely bad at one point. I think I came to get that reputation because I couldn’t keep my damn mouth shut. I used to be the Highlander forum villain of Europe, if you can say so. The infamous cirlejerk is something which I never liked, and I was very outspoken about it early on in my “TF2-career”. It basically bugged me how, excuse me, shitty players kept getting the support from people, despite not deserving it all. Along the way I learned that this is simply how social circles work, and there is really nothing I can do about it without seeming like an asshole, so I decided not to waste my time on it anymore. This is not to say that this doesn’t exist anymore, or that I condone it, but I basically decided to keep my mouth shut, and just be happy knowing that those players never got picked up by a serious team in the end anyways. :) I think my stance on this can also be reflected in Chessclub itself, because whenever I add a new player to the team, I always get multiple messages saying “Who the fuck is this guy?”. I think a lot of our success stems from me, and the rest of the Chess team, being very objective with everyone we trial etc. So yeah, I don’t want to paint a picture of me as some noble guy who is fighting against the evils of the circlejerk, I basically just learned to shut the fuck up. :D

RD: It seems one league did actually burn out. After hosting numerous TF2 (and TFC) tournaments, Wireplay closed it’s gates and went to sleep. I have a feeling that b0nes (last volunteer WP admin) was kinda disappointed with how TF2 community supported, or didn’t support Wireplay in it’s last few seasons. Do you think WP deserved more support from the community? Was the competition and date scheduling from other leagues too much for Wireplay?

Scissors: To be honest, I don’t really know too much about the whole situation, but I could imagine that what you said was the reason. I can’t really comment too much on it, since the death of Wireplay came as a surprise to me, but I can say that if b0nes manages to get it back one day, I will definitely support it. b0nes is a genuinely great guy, who has always been professional about running Wireplay, plus he was awesome to hang out with at LAN, so big thanks for his contributions towards the scene. If Wireplay one day comes back, I will personally support the fuck out of it, and I hope others will too. Without question a 10 times better league than UGC, shame it didn’t get more publicity.

"Death of a thousand cuts for those who know the history" - b0nes.

Death of a thousand cuts for those who know the history.” – b0nes.

RD: The King is dead, but the Queen is slapping us with another HL season. In my previous interview, Emilio called out Highpander, Kill Switch and Chessclub as the probable top 3 teams for the next ETF2L season. Surely both of those teams are formidable opponents, how are you doing so far in scrims against them?

Scissors: I actually don’t know what other teams are going to be in premiership next season, and I can’t imagine any of the other teams being serious contenders at this stage. We have been playing Killswitch quite a bit, and have had good results, while we have played Highpander one and a half time, where one of them was close and we got our shit flipped in the other.

RD: Somehow Stacked got left out in that equation. Do you think that damaged roster won’t be an issue for you and Kill Switch? I have a feeling Fair Enough is also sometimes getting laughed on, but they always seem to grab a few points from the big guys.

Scissors: I have tried getting a scrim from b33p for a long time now, but with no luck, so I have no idea what the Stacked roster will look like. One thing I know for sure though, is that b33p somehow always manages to pull something crazy out of his sleeves, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the new Stacked turned out to be the 4th best team. I always felt like Stacked was a team that under performed in officials, because to me they were always one of the very best teams in Europe. Regarding Fair Enough, I gotta be honest and say I think they played their cards the wrong way. They have a really strong core, but I feel like they made some really poor decisions regarding their new additions, and because of that I don’t see them as a legit contender. Maybe they can beat some of the lower teams, but I’ll eat my hat if they actually make some noise higher up.

Forcing Scissors to eat a pointy pickelhaube, what better motivation can Fair Enough get?

Forcing Scissors to eat a pointy pickelhaube, what better motivation can Fair Enough get?

RD: The signups for latest ETF2L Highlander season are open, and the crowd is already wild. What do you think about the map pool they offered us? An evergreen KOTH map got swapped for a new baby in town, whilst Gravelpit refuses to die in the hearts of our thrice blessed ETF2L admins. Inspire us with your thoughts Scissors!

Scissors: I gotta be honest and say that I thought koth_reservoir in the season was a bad joke at first. Does the map even have textures yet? As far as I know, it has only been play-tested in mixes, one of which I participated in, and sure, the idea is fun and unique, but it is waaaaaaaaay too gimmicky and waaaaaay too unpolished to make it to the main season in my opinion. I sincerely hope they rethink this one, because it’s just absurd how unfitting this map is. I am a little disappointed that they decided to remove Lakeside, because I really liked the map. Sure, Snipers were too powerful, but other than that I felt like the map was one of the few maps where all classes could shine, the flank in particular. Other than that, I am happy with the map pool, I am glad that they decided to keep both Steel and Gravelpit. Steel is a 10/10 map for me, it really is awesome. Gravelpit is kinda like Steel for me, in the sense that team-play and strategy outweighs DM-skill. I do however think that it is a bit poorly designed, with the A-point being borderline useless, but despite this, I think it always makes for a really good and interesting game, so I am personally happy they are sticking with it.

RD: Alright, so what would you change?

Scissors: In my opinion, Gullywash should have been scrapped in favor of Lakeside. To me, Gullywash is an absolute disaster from start to finish in Highlander, with maybe the exception of 2nd point. But seriously, those mid-fights are just utterly disgusting both to play and watch, no idea how it is still in. Gotta admit I can’t really think of any maps off the top of my head to replace it with, since I am really bad at trying new maps. I heard good things about the control-point map they played in the Nations Cup, which I sadly missed since I was hiking in America at the time, but maybe that or koth_arctic? I haven’t played Arctic since my first season in UGC steel, but I remember having fun on the map, and from a quick glance it looks very viable, definitely more than the gimmick that is koth_reservoir.

RD: Who knows, maybe Oxy finally finishes his long awaited pl_twodoo map. What about the freshly added unlocks? b33p rewarded us with a fragment of his wisdom- he predicts a single prem play with a Phlogistinator. Can we count on you using that weapon?

Scissors: I have already thought on some useful scenarios, and I would definitely be up for trying out some cheesy plays with it. But using it full time? Never. Giving up on an ability as useful as airblast, is really just dumb. I love that they unbanned it though, will bring some excitement and change to the game. But like b33p said, I doubt it will be used more than once for a cheese play in actual premiership officials, if even at all. In scrims it might see some experimentation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if no one busted it out at all in officials. I haven’t watched enough NA highlander to see if they use it, so can’t use that as a reference point either. Just excited to see what cool plays we can get out of it. Wish they unbanned cheesy weapons like the Diamondback and Cleaner’s Carbine as well, really see no reason for not doing it, unless they have some bug that I am unaware of.

RD:“…unless they have some bug that I am unaware of”, you hear that HL admins? Ban B.A.S.E. jumper, for the sake of all Engineers and Medics. Let’s finish this interview before I lose my mind. Any shoutouts in the end?

Scissors: Shoutout to evil for being awesome and still taking care of our servers/mumble despite having left the team months ago, and to the rest of Chessclub for not being as demanding and time-consuming as in previous seasons.

Tourettes Chessclub are:

  • Atomic – Scout
  • uubers – Soldier
  • Scissors – Pyro
  • Quintosh – Demoman
  • Breakfast_Jr – Heavy
  • Bananaman – Engineer
  • Sprayer – Medic
  • Tracker – Sniper
  • Khazul – Spy
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