Meet Tejas Sawant, the Indian CS:GO player who is taking Southeast Asia by storm
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda, ACE opened up about his journey, how different it is in Indonesia (sponsorship-wise) and more
Meet Tejas Sawant, (you might know him as 'ACE'), one the best Counter-Strike players in the country who is currently making waves in Southeastern Asia. The veteran gamer, who hails from Thane, had once decided that he would retire but he came back and now, he is playing with Team XcN – a CS:GO team from Indonesia.
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda, the 24-year-old opened up about how he got into gaming, his journey, how sponsors support everything, from providing hardware to monetary support, in Indonesia and more. Here are excerpts:
Q> Let's start from the beginning. When and how did you get into gaming?
A: When I was in 4th grade, I used to visit a gaming cafe at my aunt's place. There, I found out about Counter-Strike and I really liked it. At first, my cousins and I used to play together but I knew something was different.
I played the game every day after that and kept improving day by day. Later, I found out there was also a popular internet cafe nearby my residence and many good players from my city used to play 5vs5. I used to spectate them, sit behind them and watch and learn. That's how I got into gaming.
Q> Did you face any pressure at home when you decided to take up gaming actively?
A: At first, i could manage my studies and play the game. However, later on, after I finished my 10th, I took the game very seriously. I used to bunk classes and never attended college. Instead, I would go to the cafe to play 10man LAN scrims.
This affected my grades and attendance and my parents were really angry. But somehow, I managed to pass my 12th grade...science stream is very hard, you know (chuckles). After that CS:GO was launched in August 2012 and I was totally hooked on to it.
My parents understood my passion for the game and supported me, which I think is very hard considering they are Indian parents! But yeah my family supports me a lot even my uncle, aunt and cousins!
Q> Why did you pick the name 'Ace'? Anything special about it?
A: Only a few people know the reason behind my nickname and I want to keep it that way. There's nothing special about it, though.
Q> Moving ahead, I gather you had retired from competitive gaming for a while. What drove you to take such a decision?
A: Back in 2014, I was playing for a team called as NeckBreak alongside mithilf, ribbiz, manan and mercyGOD and we were quite good and improving daily as a team. In fact, we almost beat one the best Asian teams at that moment, Team Nxl from Indonesia.
However, at GAMEGOD 2014 we lost 1-2 in the finals. It was a very close match and after few months, our team had issues internally. I wanted to stick and improve but in the end, our team disbanded. Personally, I was tired of changing teams/teammates and so, I decided to quit.
Q> What happened after that? When did you make a comeback?
A: For almost 4 months, towards the start of 2015, I didn't play CS but somehow, I ended up playing as a substitute for a Bangalore team known as Elunes (machinegun, dnm, ribbiz, snrlx, zilkenberg) and I just felt inside I'm missing my passion and decided to come back.
Q> Recently, you joined Team XcN from Indonesia. How has your experience been with them, so far?
A: The experience has been really good... my new teammates, gaming house, the management and the food (chuckles) are all great. We Won ESEA Season 27 Asia Pacific and Qualified for the Zotac Masters APAC regional Finals. We also did decent in other SEA qualifiers such as ESL pro league Asia Pacific Open qualifiers and so on.
We haven't played any LAN events yet as it starts from June to Dec. We only participated in all the SEA qualifiers which we play from our gaming house. But the main thing I learnt is the sponsors in Indonesia help the organisations with not only hardware support but monetary support annually. So the owner doesn't have to pay for everything from his own pocket, which, I guess, helps in the long run for the organisation to sustain. This doesn't happen in India.
Q> What are your upcoming challenges, targets?
A: Our target, for now, is to qualify for the upcoming faceit minor qualifier and do some damage at Zotac Masters and get some experience as a team.
Q> Lastly, any parting words you would want to say?
A: I would like to give shoutout to my old teammates from 1.6 and CS:GO who helped me improve as a player in my journey especially mithil, ritz and many more (ribbiz, excali, huntr, psy, astarr) and I hope many young players with good mindset and right attitude can prove themselves and can get such chance in future and make India proud.