Competitive esports is not easy by any means, and nobody knows this better than the pros who spend countless hours mastering the one game that they stake their entire lives on.
Perhaps no one knows the fruits of such a grind better than Team Fenrir star Anish "Bogeymanh" Singh. For this pro, the road to an MDL qualification has been a path strewn with failures.
From having to leave the esports scene back at home to being kicked out of the roster from various organizations, giving up was never an option for the "Bogeymanh".
Anish personifies the very concept of the “CS: GO grind”, and he made it through, with grit and perseverance that would even put some Shonen protagonists to shame.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda Esports’ Abhishek Mallick, Anish talks about his journey in the CS: GO esports scene and opens up about all the struggles that he had to face on his road to an MDL qualification.
Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
Q. Well, first thing’s first, tell our readers who exactly Anish ‘Bogeymanh’ Singh is. What has your journey been like, and what made you realize that you wanted to seek a career in professional esports?
Anish: Well, my journey started in a cybercafe called Cyber Hut, where I used to play CS 1.6 casually with a few friends. Later, when the CS: GO hype began, I immediately got hooked the first time I tried it back in the Winter of 2016.
My love for FPS games got me to bunk classes at least twice a week, and I would just grind out deathmatch and matchmaking with every opportunity I got.
Eventually, I started getting good at CS: GO and was noticed by a lot of good players at the time. This is how I got my first opportunity to play with some of the best the country has to offer.
The whole concept of earning money through video games was quite alien to me at the time as well, and I was just playing the game because I had fun. Looking at international LAN games got me to instantly fall in love with the competitive scene which led me to grind even harder.
Q. What is the atmosphere like back at home? Have your parents been supportive of your career choice?
Anish: Initially, my parents weren't as supportive as I would have liked them to be, so I used to lie to them whenever I had LAN events or whenever I used to go to the cafe to play.
After a few years, they saw I was getting a lot of respect and recognition from the community and realized that there could be scope for me in this field.
However, they still aren't fully supportive of my career choice, but they don't stop me from doing what I want to, which is something I know most gamers dream of.
Q. Is there a special relationship that you share with Counter-Strike? What about Valve’s shooter made you love it enough to invest so much time in it?
Anish: I've made some amazing friends throughout the years that I have played CS: GO.
The whole feeling when everyone zones in and plays together with a competitive aspect has gotten me very hooked and made me fall for CS: GO even harder. I would say CS: GO is not just a game, it's an emotion for me.
Q. How did your journey as a young CS: GO professional begin? Talk to us about the initial days of your grind, and what your mindset was like at the time, compared to what it is today.
Anish: In my early days, I was playing CS: GO for fun and for the amazing feeling you get when killing someone (in-game). Players in the various cyber cafes I played in finally recognized my ability to click heads.
I played various online and LAN events with a few friends in which we got absolutely destroyed. These losses motivated me to keep trying harder in tournaments and to never give up no matter what the outcome. Back in the day, I looked at losses as learning experiences and I still continue with the same mindset.
This has helped me immensely not just in CS: GO but also in real-life situations.
Q. You previously had a brief spell with teams like ATE and UMumba. Can you tell us about your experiences as a player during that time and how it helped you grow?
Anish: C4 gaming was the first-ever team I played in. The team consisted of Kavish, Haivaan, Marley, and Sachin, and it is there that I learned the importance of teamwork.
ATE gaming, on the other hand, was the first professional team I got picked up by, and I had the opportunity of playing alongside some of the country's best like Kappa and Ritz. Here, I learned a lot about using my aim effectively and being calm and confident in various situations that arise in-game.
This was the first time I was playing against the top 8 teams of the nation. I was pretty nervous initially but my teammates told me not to give a single f**k and click heads. We reached the LAN finale of ESL India Premiership and ended up in the 3-4 spot, which was not bad for just a few weeks of practice.
The losses made me realize how my opponents were able to out-aim me. At this point, I had a pretty insane aim but lacked game sense as I never watched professional demos.
U-Mumba made me realize the importance of watching demos and playing together as a team and not tilting no matter what the scoreline is. I had a crazy run with these teams and made some amazing friends with whom I am still in touch with even today.
Q6. It has been roughly two years since you moved to Australia. What prompted this decision? Was it purely for CS: GO or were there other motivations involved?
Anish: The main reason why I moved to Australia was to further my studies. I was and still am pursuing my Master's degree from Monash University, but at the back of my mind, I had a goal of climbing the ranks in Australian CS: GO. So I decided to get my PC shipped from India, 4 months after landing in Melbourne.
Q7. The Australian CS: GO scene is much more competitive than its Indian counterpart. How different was it for you to adapt to the playstyle after moving?
Anish: I was quite confident that I would be able to adapt to playing in a new CS: GO scene fairly well, and I wasted no time in looking for a team and playing LAN/online events.
David (ex Global Esports coach) helped me in getting noticed by the Australian CS: GO scene, and I got the opportunity to play MDL last year.
Q8. You've always been an explosive entry fragger. What about the role suits your playstyle so much? Is that a role you want to continue doing moving forward?
Anish: Being the first one in and making space for the team even if I don't get a kill was not my playstyle initially. Haivaan explained to me the importance of the role, and how playing the sacrificial lamb for my team would be a perfect fit for my playstyle.
I was able to play a key role and was more than happy to go in first for the boys, and I knew they wouldn't let me down. I have no intention of switching roles but if needed, I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my team can perform well.
Q9. Can you tell us more about your MDL journey? You're the first Indian to play MDL, so it's quite an achievement no matter which way you look at it. So how did Team Fenrir come about and what's the future for this squad?
Anish: My first MDL games took place last year with MC Esports, which had notable players such as MoeycQ, who had played in teams like Chiefs, Order, and Immunity.
MoeycQ gave me a shot at a trial for his team. We didn't make it far in the tournament, and it was then that I realized that I had so much to learn. I was kicked from the team a month later and gained some good experience playing with some other good players.
I later got picked up by Downfall as they saw potential in me as a fragger, and I played with them for a few months and made it to LPL CGP which was where the big boys played.
I later got booted from Downfall as well and learned the importance of communication, decision-making, and playing more effectively for my teammates.
My current team, Fenrir, has given me some amazing friends and people to work hard with. We were the underdogs in the qualifiers for MDL and managed to beat some decent teams for the spot. We all have the same mindset - to improve with time. Hopefully, you guys get to see some great results next year.
Q10. What are your thoughts on the CS: GO scene back home? It’s just Marzil who is left from the top CS: GO players. Do you think the game still has a future in India?
Anish: Valorant pretty much killed the professional CS: GO scene in India as all the top players saw a growth opportunity and decided to take a leap of faith, which I'm sure has worked out in their favor.
I still feel there is a very large audience who like watching CS: GO back home but I'm not confident in the survival of the competitive scene for much longer.
Q11. Have you been tempted to move to Valorant? You have streamed the game on your YouTube channel previously, and with several Indian pros already jumping ship, is it a move that you have considered or currently considering?
Anish: I had initially given it some thought when everyone was jumping on the Valorant bandwagon, and I actually enjoyed playing the game myself.
I will continue streaming Valorant on my channel but I don't think I'm going to leave CS: GO anytime soon. The grind is still on!
Q12. Before we sign off, any last words for your fans back at home?
Anish: Look at losses as learning experiences rather than a pathway to quitting. Apply this in your profession and life, and I am certain you will prevail. To all my brothers and sisters out there who are putting in the work to become professional gamers/streamers, keep grinding hard, never lose hope, and don't let the little things affect you.
Love from one gamer to another!