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“I trust Riot Games to keep making the right decisions and Valorant will become one of the biggest esports in the coming years” - Anshul "Karzemo" Kardam

Anshul "Karzemo" Kardam (Image via Sportskeeda)
Anshul "Karzemo" Kardam (Image via Sportskeeda)
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 02 Apr 2021
Exclusive

Anshul "Karzemo" Kardam, the upcoming professional esports player, started his journey in Apex Legends.

Anshul Kardam has certainly had an eventful career. He has competed with the region’s top Apex players, formed a team, and has since switched over to Valorant.

Sportskeeda Esports’ Suryadeepto Sengupta got a chance to sit down for an exclusive interview with Mr. Kardam and learn about his early days, esports journey so far, and plans.

Here is an excerpt of the conversation.


Q. So Anshul, tell us a bit about yourself. What’s life like outside dominating opponents?

Anshul: Hi. First of all, thank you for asking. I don't have much to say about my life other than gaming, but I've been doing my graduation in B.Tech alongside my esports career.

I just turned 21. As you know, it's quite complicated to be an esports player in our region. There are some ups and downs balancing studies with professional esports, so it’s kind of rough. However, the ups outweigh the downs, so we'll get through it.

Q. Are there any other career options you are looking into apart from focusing all of your time and energy on being an esports athlete?

Anshul: Not really. Even though I'm studying engineering and keeping that as my backup plan, it's just not for me. Honestly speaking, I don't know what I would do besides this.

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Ever since I started playing League of Legends and Apex Legends; found out about esports, the industry, and how everything works, the crowd, the arena, the major, the trophy; I've wanted to strive and work hard every single day towards this aim.

Hopefully, I'll get there one day.

Q. What are some of your earliest gaming memories, and when did you decide to pursue professional esports?

Anshul: My earliest gaming memory is of me and my childhood friend playing WWE 2011 on his PS2 every chance we got. A few years later, my uncle bought a new PC, and every morning he'd play DIABLO 2. I'd just watch him play for hours sitting on the chair beside him. Those were the good old days.

The idea of pro play first came to my mind when I used to play League of Legends for fun after school and got to know about the esports world. I think that was when I decided to pursue professional esports

Q. How was the situation back home? Were your parents supportive of your esports career, or were they skeptical about the viability of the career?

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Anshul: They were skeptical at first and told me many times that I should focus on my studies, especially my mom. As time progressed, they saw how much energy and effort I was putting into this esports career and slowly started supporting me and trusting me. Fast forward to now, they are extremely supportive of my esports career, and I love them so much for trusting me and letting me do this.

Q. Other than esports, what are some of the other games that you enjoy?

Anshul: I used to play League of Legends a lot when I was in school with my boy clipshift, so MOBAs will always hold a special place in my heart. It was League of Legends that introduced me to the esports industry, the championships, the trophies, and how everything worked. I remember, I used to dream of competing in a huge arena in front of a huge crowd like other pros.

Q. You started as an Apex legends player, do tell us a bit about your experiences back in the day.

Anshul: It's so funny looking back at it now as it was my first FPS game, and I didn’t even know how to aim. I had to learn everything from scratch. I remember in the first month, I was just getting killed off spawn, but I was so into Apex and into improving myself as a player that I kept grinding every day.

It was really fun to play with everyone because Apex came with new mechanics, and everybody was learning, so I didn't feel left out or too far from other aspiring pros. Then came the ranked grind. I found some awesome teammates, formed a team, and kept practicing in scrims till people started recognizing me

Q. Do enlighten us about your journey as one of the nation’s top Apex Legends Predators.

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Anshul: It was a really tense but fun journey throughout. When I failed to reach Predator in the first season by a few tiers, I was really mad at myself. My only goal was to get Predator in the next try at any cost.

Luckily, by playing solo-queue in the first ranked split, I found some great players who would turn out to be my teammates in the future and started the second season grind with them.

After a few frustrating de-ranks and facing so many hackers, I finally reached Apex Predator. It was a big moment for me, from not even knowing how to properly aim to the top of the ladder. I knew that I could compete with the best now.

Props to my teammates: Paddox, Kaycent, and Yolo. They put up with me and played with me on many nights without sleeping. I love them.

Q. Who is your favorite champion in Apex Legends, and what is your reasoning behind choosing that specific champion?

Anshul: Before my love for Pathfinder and grappling off cooldown with him came along, I used to main Bangalore. I loved the smokes and zooming out of areas and dodging shots with the 40% speed boost like I’m in the matrix.

Pathfinder just upped my love of zooming around the map, grappling in and out of places, hitting trick shots, and outplaying the opponents. Pathfinder was a joy to play with before his nerfs.

Q. What do you think about the long-term sustainability of the battle royale genre as a primary esports option?

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Anshul: I think the main reason why the battle royale genre is getting so popular now is because of fast action and queue times: you drop in, you win or die sometimes, and you queue again and so on.

They're really fun to watch from the audience's perspective and also from a casual players' perspective. It's always something new to watch, something new to do, a new endzone to play or trying a different gun for the game. You can play passive for positioning, or you can play aggressively for kill points.

It's a lot less like a 5v5 tac shooter where you try to plant bombs in during a half and try to defend in others. The RNG factor in the battle royale is why I think it can never be a perfect esport.

Also, competitive games are meant to have some kind of order to them. Pro players are meant to be able to show their talent against other players on a balanced playing field.

So, it's a bit unfair when a team that cannot find anything but a pistol gets eliminated by snipers or better guns from across the map

Q. What was your experience switching from a battle royal game to a 5v5 esports?

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Anshul: It was really fun. I used to play CS: GO for fun with my friends to chill at night, and I always loved the concept and the mechanics of CS: GO.

I knew what I was getting into when I started playing Valorant during beta, and I’m a really good learner. So I mostly speedran all of the maps and ability stuff but still had to learn some of the basics of the game and gun mechanics. It took some time because I came from a fast-paced battle royale, but every moment of me learning Valorant in beta was memorable.

Q. Tell us a bit about your early days before LevelZero Esports.

Anshul: In the early days, I just solo queued in Apex, and then one day, I randomly found BADSIN and TrickManiac in a random match solo queuing. The vibe was unmatched between us. We added each other after the game, and we played for a few days together. Then a week later, all three of us decided to form a team and try to play competitively.

Around the same time, I also found my then-ranked rival and now-teammate Paddox. He was my arch enemy in the first ranked season, with every endgame ending with him killing me or me killing him.

Soon after, TrickManiac left competitive Apex. It was just me and BADSIN waking up in the morning and grinding every day. We were both underdogs in the scene and were looking to create a name for ourselves, with him being one of the best wraith players in our region at the time.

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Since both of us did not have any experience in FPS games, we had to grind a lot and ultimately the grind paid off. We got signed to LevelZero Esports.

Q, What’s the team dynamic like in the LevelZero Esports Valorant roster?

Anshul: All of us in the team had very little CS experience, so we had to work twice as hard as other teams. We also made some heavy changes in our roles and our starts.

This put us behind others, but now that we have found our groove, we just need to work on our executions and comms a little more. If we can keep this momentum going, we can soon move head-on with some of the best teams in the region.

Q. What was the primary driving factor behind you switching from Apex Legends to Valorant?

Anshul: I just want to start by saying that Apex was and still is the best battle royale out there. The game has the potential to be even bigger if the devs pay a little more attention to the game and listen to what the player base wants.

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There were so many issues: hackers, bad servers, constant bugs not getting fixed for months and no tournaments for months, no scrims till GLL agreed to add our region.

All of that was fine for the most part, but the real hit came when ALGS was announced. I remember how I was so hyped for it and to compete in it, but then I read the terms. India wasn't on the list of eligible countries allowed to compete in ALGS for unknown reasons. That hit me hard.

I had been playing and grinding this game from day one and winning regional scrims to winning EU scrims at 120-130ping. To not even get a chance to compete in an official, that was a big factor in my shift.

Slowly, my motivation and passion for the game started dying because there was no interest from EA to add India to the competitive Apex. I had to look for other options since there was nothing to look forward to.

Soon after, Valorant beta came out. Even though I came from a fast-paced game, I loved Valorant and how everything was. At the same time, I really loved Apex and was hesitant to try to switch to a completely new game. Also, our current team consisting of me, Kaycent, and buzzwrld was performing well at that time.

It was still unclear whether to wait or switch, but buzzwrld also left the team. That was the final nail in the coffin for Apex. I then made the permanent switch to Valorant.

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Q. How do you think Valorant sets itself apart from other 5v5 FPS esports such as Call of Duty or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?

Anshul: Valorant is similar to CS: GO as opposed to Call of Duty in terms of shooting. Call of Duty is fast-paced compared to Valorant, and you don't have to stop running or moving for your shot to be accurate in Call of Duty. You can just run and gun people, which you can't do in Valorant, although people sometimes do that in Valorant and get away with it.

Valorant also has abilities and agents, which makes the game different from CS: GO and Call of Duty. There are more ways to approach the game. Executing a site in Valorant is different to CS: GO. There are also a lot more counters and hype plays because of certain agents and abilities.

This makes it so fun to watch from the audience's perspective. I must add that I might be a little biased here because I've played Valorant a lot more than CS: GO, but abilities and agents are what sets Valorant apart from other FPS esports.

Q. Where do you see the game in the upcoming years?

Anshul: I've always loved how Riot Games handles League of Legends esports and the championships. They're doing the same thing for Valorant with the Champions Tour. I trust Riot Games to keep making the right decisions.

Valorant will become one of the biggest esports in the coming years, with players competing from every corner of the world.

Who is your favorite Valorant esports player?

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Anshul: KOLER, Aproto, ANDROID, and thwifo are some of my favorites. They're all underrated, but all of them are gods in their specific roles.

Let’s switch gear and discuss the Indian esports Community. How do you think it sets itself apart from other foreign communities?

Anshul: The Indian esports community is still pretty new. We are far behind NA or EU. We have a lot of hidden talent here that have been showing their skills recently.

I think the future is bright but we still have to manage the toxicity and the superiority that some people have because they came from CS: GO. This is not the right mindset and not the one we need right now if we want to compete with foreign countries in the near future.

Do you think the Indian gaming community will be competing at the same level as the NA or EU esports community in the near future?

Anshul: Yeah, for sure. I mean, we are already competing with NA and EU at the same level in other esport genres. Seeing how much this community has grown over the last few years and how much talent is coming out these past few years, I'm sure we will be competing at the same level as NA and EU in a few years. We, as a community, just need a little push.

Q. Where do you see yourself five years down the line?

Anshul: Five years down the line? I want to have a seat with the rest of the greats of Valorant in my region. I will do whatever it takes to get there. I would also like to try streaming regularly.

Q. And finally, your top three tips for a budding esports player?

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Anshul: Well, I don't think I’ve proven myself enough to give advice to others, but the best advice I can give is:

  1. Learn from your mistakes and keep improving. That's how you get to the top.
  2. Don't burn bridges over little arguments or ranked losses. It's only gonna degrade your image and your reputation.
  3. Never stop grinding to reach your goal. It gets easier, but you have do it every day. That's the hard part but trust me; it does get easier.
Published 01 Apr 2021, 21:48 IST
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