The boys have returned in EXTREMUM, and while their Swiss stage finish at Snow Sweet Snow wasn’t an ideal result for the squad, hopes remain as high as ever entering the new season. Here’s The Thing caught up with EXTREMUM’s own Jay ‘Liazz’ Tregillgas to talk over the transition to Europe, and life in and out of the server as the squad pursue a return to the top of Counter-Strike.
It was late October since we had last seen ‘The Boys’ from Oceania take to the server, then as North American-owned 100 Thieves in their 1-3 loss to Brazilian squad FURIA at the IEM New York 2020 grand final.
A long four months have since passed, with scepticism surrounding the future of the lineup following the departures of Justin ‘jks’ Savage to Complexity and Joakim ‘jkaem’ Myrbostad to Apeks. The feeling of uncertainty was multiplied tenfold for one of the remaining core, Jay ‘Liazz’ Tregillgas, who had one foot out of the door—until a call out of the blue.
“I was about a minute from putting pen to paper signing with a different team when Sean [Gratisfaction] and Aaron [AZR] messaged me saying they had this great new business opportunity for me. We signed with EXTREMUM soon thereafter. They’ve been nothing short of amazing so far - we are very happy to be here.”
It was Russian organisation EXTREMUM who threw a lifeline to the boys, as they made their return to competition last week at Snow Sweet Snow, and announced the return of jkaem and the acquisition of Indonesian superstar Hansel ‘BnTeT’ Ferdinand.
"I don’t believe in expectations, we’ve just got to keep our heads down and the results will come.” - Jay ‘Liazz’ Tregillgas, EXTREMUM
For a team short on officials under their belt in the interim and with a new fifth—their first since 2018—a 13th-15th finish wasn’t the worst result possible at the tier two European event.
But to Liazz, it simply wasn’t EXTREMUM standard.
“Yeah nah, I don’t think anyone was even a little happy with our result [at Snow Sweet Snow],” Liazz states. “We had a mini bootcamp prior to the event because a few of us were a bit rough around the edges, but mainly to inaugurate big Hansy [BnTeT]. He is now one of the boys, 100%. The bootcamp went well, we made a lot of progress in a short amount of time and felt good going into Snow Sweet Snow, but obviously a spanner was thrown in the works and shit hit the fan.”
Wins over HONORIS and Izako Boars meant the event was not a total loss, but expectations of the lineup were tempered following their 2-3 finish and losses to Winstrike (1-2), GODSENT (0-2) and forZe (1-2).
“It happens - it was our first event as a team and I don’t think anyone has lost confidence because of it. I don’t believe in expectations, we’ve just got to keep our heads down and the results will come.”
“You can’t walk away from a shit game and go and chill with your cat for a bit and things become okay again - you live and breathe that frustration until the next game you play.” - Jay ‘Liazz’ Tregillgas, EXTREMUM
It’s still very early on in the squad’s tenure, with plenty of changes still to come for the lineup currently based in Serbia. The return of long-time coach Aleksandar ‘kassad’ Trifunović and the surprise announcement of Nestor ‘LETN1’ Tanić as analyst provide a strong backend to the lineup, allowing for plenty of experimentation.
“It’s all still a work in progress,” Liazz comments on chopping and changing roles. “We’re still moving people around trying to figure out what will work best for us. Hanzy [BnTeT] is a really versatile player which makes things easy, but at the same time we want him as comfortable as possible because he is an absolute unit.”
“Nestor [LETN1] has been great - he’s got a great eye for the game and brings a fuckton of value over from his previous teams. He also eases the workload on Kassad, which lets both of them get more into some dirty individual coaching, which I’ve found to be top notch.”
On the topic of roles, many had queried as to a potential role change for Liazz - from a rotator/support gap-filler to the positions filled by former star jks. While such a move may have suited him in the past, Liazz doesn’t think it’s so clear cut now.
“On T side I’d say [jks and I] were pretty similar but on CT side he was more of an anchor, whereas I found myself playing rotator roles a lot more. I think way, way back in the day in Athletico or something the idea was for me to try and become the next [jks] but at some point we realised I had a lot more success when I was just getting in the thick of it and looking for brawls as a rotator.”
The move to Europe has been orders of magnitude easier on Liazz personally, when compared to his initial move to Renegades in North America in 2018. Then, it wasn’t just the immediate upgrade in difficulty of adversaries on the server, but it was the troubles playing on his mind about familial contact and commitment.
“Over the last couple of years I learned the hard way just how important it is to maintain a balanced lifestyle. When you move overseas, you commit. Your whole life is CS; for better or for worse. You can’t walk away from a shit game and go and chill with your cat for a bit and things become okay again - you live and breathe that frustration until the next game you play.
“The highs are high but the lows are really fucking low. I had my head in the John for a long time before my family and friends pulled me out, and I’m not looking to go apple-bobbing again any time soon. I have a few healthy practices I follow these days but I still struggle from time to time. This time [in the move to Europe] it’s obviously different because we’re all mates and we all know to take care of each other, that sort of thing.”
As a result of constant communication with family and friends, Liazz’s connection to home remains as strong as ever. Liazz still remains as active as possible with the Oceanic scene, and endeavours to watch as much Australian Counter-Strike as he possibly can. “I watch every single Australian match played, I have my eye on a few young guns like aliStair and greg,” he exclaims.
I had my head in the John for a long time before my family and friends pulled me out, and I’m not looking to go apple-bobbing again any time soon. - Jay ‘Liazz’ Tregillgas, EXTREMUM
Yet to properly begin, the Oceanic 2021 Counter-Strike season is in disarray after sanctions placed by the Esports Integrity Comission (ESIC) saw over 30 Oceanic players banned for anywhere between twelve months and five years.
“I don’t know enough about the ESIC bans to really talk on it much, but last I read there was a big transparency-versus-privacy issue,” Liazz comments. “The whole situation is a bit beyond me - I don’t know how or when ESIC became such a governing body within CS and until now had no idea about an ‘ESIC Code’. I do think an integrity commission is a good thing for CS but this shit all just feels so obscure, and I can’t say I blame anyone for betting on games that weren’t their own.”
Nevertheless, Oceanic Counter-Strike will march on, as will Liazz in his new home at EXTREMUM. While he had stated expectations weren’t his cup of tea, it didn’t stop him from setting himself and his squad goals for the coming year.
“It’s hard to set goals this early being so fresh and just wetting our feet in the CS landscape but I’d say reaching the top 10 again this season would be a fairly reasonable one.”
Top ten or not, there’s one title you simply cannot take from them.
Keep up to date with EXTREMUM’s pursuit of Counter-Strike glory, as well as more news, commentary and more on Oceanic esports via Here’s The Thing.