Call of Duty Championship ANZ Interview - Nikolai ‘Kritikal’ Seth

Nikolai ‘Kritikal’ Seth has been competing in the Australia & New Zealand Call of Duty 4v4 scene since 2011 and in his time has found an amazing deal of success, most notably on his dominant run as part of the Mindfreak Call of Duty roster. In 2013, Kritikal captained Mindfreak to their second place finish at the Call of Duty Championship ANZ Finals and went overseas to Hollywood where his squad competed against the best Call of Duty teams the world had to offer. In 2014 he is looking to repeat last year’s success and once again represent ANZ on an International scale.

Kritikal was nice enough to take some time and answer a few questions about his 2014 Call of Duty Championship squad and his opinions on the Call of Duty $1,000,000 Championship.

Greetings Kritikal, thank you for answering some questions for us today! First off, would you like to introduce yourself to everyone who may not know you?

Hey! My name is Nikolai Seth and I’ve been known as “Kritikal” in the AusCoD community for quite some time. I’m 21 years old and currently live in Perth, WA. When I’ve got the time I prefer to spend a lot of time at the beach & outside. But I usually end up on PC/Xbox too much! I’m looking to head to university some time in the near future.

When did you first start playing Call of Duty? How did you first get into competitive?

I first experienced competitive Call of Duty after being recruited out of pub CoD4 to an AussieXbox (an early Australian website that hosted ladders) team, where we mostly played organised TDM games, which is quite funny looking back on it now. I was already aware of competitive before that and had attempted to be in “teams” during CoD2 and CoD3 but I was quite young and spent most of my time playing pub. I ended up switching to PC quite quickly and spent a lot of time playing CoD4 Promod which is where I learned the most about the game. When I came back to Xbox I stepped it up and become a lot more involved in teams which began my real competitive experience on the Xbox in 5v5 SnD which would eventually lead to my team being sponsored and myself attending LANs.

What has attracted to you the Call of Duty franchise over all other titles and kept you playing for all these years?

While CoD is not an ideal game to me it quite simply has the crowd and attention to have the competitive scene grow and remain healthy over a long period of time. Despite struggles with developers it will always have a large community. Pretty much entrenched into the game now after playing it since CoD2. CoD is often ridiculed from the outside as not being able to be a competitive game and while there is some truth to the very basics of the game, if it was so easy there would not be such a competitive balance between top teams and results would be a lot more random.

What has been your favourite tournament experience throughout your Call of Duty career?

It is easily attending the Call of Duty Championships in L.A last year for me. It’s just simply at a level that no other competition can possibly be right now due to the professionalism and how we were treated at the event. The whole CoD Champs run for me was great as I believed we could make it from the beginning despite forming a late team. If I could do it again and hopefully I will be able to I would definitely like to put in a better performance. We were very unfortunate with certain thing happening and I believe it could've been very different, but it was still a massive experience to be able to play in L.A against the worlds best teams. It was also the first time I got to travel overseas.

The Call of Duty Championship is the largest competitive Call of Duty tournament in the world running for 3 consecutive years. With an $1,000,000 prize pool and including almost every region from around the world what do you think this tournament has done for the players and fans of Call of Duty?

While it itself is an amazing event, it does a lot for the community being able to bring together each area of the world and uniting them under a common ruleset with a common goal for every team. It’s put Call of Duty right up there as one of the biggest eSports and with a bit more time it can only become even bigger, especially with more developer support.

Granted that the NA competitive Call of Duty community typical hosts the most skilled field of competitors out of any region, how do you think our best teams stack up against theirs?

After experiencing playing 2 NA teams and a European team last year I can honestly say that we do not lack in skill, but only in consistency and knowledge of the game. Even with that, with perfect preparation it would of been possible to progress past the group stage last year and would definitely be possible this year as well. Our S&D is definitely world class, at least in previous games.

What makes top NA and European teams so deadly?

They simply have the population to have such consistence practice with a constant flow of fresh talent coming up from the bottom as well. They can find a top quality scrim whenever they want and play a tournament most nights of the week meaning that they have the saturation of competition that allows constant growth. With it being so big, some EU players and a lot of NA players can focus on Call of Duty as a profession and not just a hobby. I hate to say though when you think about it our community is quite amazing for Australia’s size and isolation.

The American scene has been going crazy with team changes since their last major LAN event. Which team do you think has the most impressive roster going into the Call of Duty Championship? Is it enough to dethrone Complexity?

It is possible for any quality team to take a series against another team if they can simply grow together as a group and be confident enough when the match time comes. The constant roster changes are not helping and the general consensus is that this had made Complexity even stronger and more unbeatable which you have to agree with. But it’s always possible. While I previously wouldn’t of said this, the current Optic roster has the potential to be that team but they seem to battle a lot of out of game problems that affect the attitude of their team.

Looking at home now, yourself as well as Trident have gone through some recent Roster changes. Can you walk us through what happened with both parties and how this Trident.iNS squad formed?

I was previously teamless after taking a break at the end of BO2 and up until the forming of this team was starting to consider taking a step back. But I really believed that I can perform at my best in this game online and at LAN so luckily enough I managed to find a place with a team that I consider all friends. Tim (Im Fergalicious) and I had previously thought of teaming together at the beginning of the game but the Xbox One being released sort of messed this up. With the announcement of the Qualifiers being all on 360 it opened up the chance again and we decided to give it one more shot. That same day the former Trident squad split, with Macka and zeeeeQ now looking for 2. With both of them being previous teammates of mine and also friends over such a large period of time it was an ideal team to form.

What does each member of your squad bring to the table and do for the team?

I find the team to be well rounded, as usual with most of my teams i think we will end up being very strong at S&D. We definitely all have really good game sense for the most part. Macka is probably the most consistent player I've ever played with. ZeeeQ is the most confident and can play under any pressure and Ferg is a mix of both, myself and him are still a little behind in the game though!

How has your practice been going since recently forming?

Definitely learning a lot each scrim session. Ferg and I played a small amount the first couple of release weeks and I have filled in for teams but basically all our experience in the full rotation only started as this team was formed. Seeing steady improvement though, lots to work on but starting to be capable at most maps.

The Call of Duty Championship Australia & New Zealand Online Qualifiers are held on February 1st and 2nd. Trident.iNS is currently signed up for the Australia Online Qualifier, are you confident that your team can come out of this event with a Top 3 finish?

More confident than I was last year for the Online Qualifier but it is Single Elimination and it is also the first time we’ve had so many good teams. I see it as an early opportunity to grab some points, but we won’t be relying fully on the Online Qualifier.

What teams do you expect to perform well and take a spot to the Call of Duty Championship ANZ Final from the Online Qualifiers?

Immunity and the other Trident easily I’d say, but with the Single Elimination who really knows. I can see at least 2 top teams missing out Online due to the format.

The last chance for Australia & New Zealand residents to qualify for the ANZ Final is the Live Event Qualifier held in Melbourne over February 8th - 9th. Are Trident.iNS going to be competing at this LAN? And which teams do you think will round off the qualified spots of the 8 invited teams going to the ANZ Final?

We will definitely be in attendance and we will definitely be going for the win rather than just trying to qualify. More than ever I believe my team can be huge on LAN, especially with the addition of Fergalious. It’s really hard to name teams, there is a big opportunity for the smaller teams to make it to the final LAN. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some last minute teams formed that make it.

The Call of Duty Championship ANZ Final on March 1st will host the 8 best teams our region has to offer. Based on the current team lineups in Australia & New Zealand can you predict which two teams do you think will qualify for the Call of Duty Championship?

I will go with Immunity and my team. But it’s a big goal and feels very far away right now, despite it not being much time at all. We’re putting in the work and it’s already showing after less than a week. Obviously I have a lot riding on my teams LAN experience. If i wasn’t playing in the competition it would be very hard to call. Immunity could not even make it depending on how the brackets work out.

What would it mean to you to be able to return to the Call of Duty Championship?

It would definitely mean a lot to me as I would take everything from last years Champs and completely change the way my team prepares and the attitude that we have going into the tournament. I want to see an ANZ team past the groups this year.

Time for some short and fun questions! Favourite Call of Duty of all time?

Call of Duty 2

Favourite Gun from any Call of Duty game?

Kar98k

Favourite Map from any Call of Duty game?

Overgrown

Favourite teammate of your Call of Duty career?

Rapture

Most skilled teammate of your Call of Duty career?

Macka

Favourite Call of Duty player to watch?

Crimsix

Best Call of Duty player in the world?

Hard to answer, Crimsix or TeePee as well as maybe Clayster

Best Call of Duty player in ANZ?

Macka & Shockz

Most underrated Call of Duty player in ANZ?

Myself! Kappa

Most overrated Call of Duty player in ANZ?

Can’t answer this one seriously, so we’ll just go with Dazed.

In 2013 at the Call of Duty Championship your team unfortunately faced some hard loses early on and did not advance from Pool Play. Regardless of this, were you happy of how your team played at the event?

To be honest, no. We had horrible preparation which included arriving early with Xbox’s that didn’t work in the country. We definitely didn’t play to our maximum ability. It was very possible for us to advance to the 2nd round last year.

Do you think given the chance to return you could improve on last years placing? Did you learn anything over there last year that could help you in 2014?

As previously mentioned, based on last years experience I would be changing a lot about the teams preparation. We didn’t really feel intimidated or anything like that, just completely under prepared. I would be more confident this time round.

Are there any players or teams you’d love to get the chance to compete against if you qualify again this year?

I’d love to play Optic again, they’re the big name team and I'd love to take them down this time round, gotta aim high! Playing any top NA/EU team would be a pleasure regardless, it would be great if the opportunity came more regularly.

Lastly, what do you think of Call of Duty: Ghosts as a competitive title? What do you like and dislike about the game?

The base gameplay of Ghosts is great in my opinion. I personally haven’t had a problem with the health while a lot of people do. The gunplay and movement in this CoD is the best as far as I’m concerned. Besides the alternative slower style of a game like CoD2. I’m liking the way domination plays out and Blitz does have it’s moments. It’s the simple things like the spectator mode coming late and it then having problems. The effort of the eSports mode is appreciated… but it’s also not currently used due to bugs. I can only hope they’re getting there but I feel like it wouldn’t taken too much to get it right, it would seem that whoever was developing those parts of the game was completely oblivious as to what the last title contained. As a big fan of Dota 2 I dream of a time when we have all the expected features and more. Including in game support of teams and streams.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview Kritikal! Feel free to give some shoutouts below!

Always a pleasure! Thank you to Trident for supporting us. Shout out to my friends and team, Macka, Cody and Tim. As well as the ongoing old group that includes Dazed and Rapture. Hope to see lot’s of the community in Melbourne and fingers crossed that we make it too Sydney as well.

Hopefully you enjoyed the third installment of the Call of Duty Championship ANZ Interviews. Stay tuned for more interviews with Call of Duty players and personalities from the Australia & New Zealand community!