sapphiRe: «I am telling a story for the audience»

I know that you have started as a female player since CS 1.6.

I have, actually, been playing since 1999, so since the beta of the original Counter Strike came out. I played at various teams, sometimes a female team, sometimes not only a female one. I have played in over 200 tournaments since then. I have been doing that for years. I played in things like CPL, ESWC, where I won the female world championship with UBINITED in 2012. And after that, I joined Team Karma, which that team has since become Team Dignitas. I have moved away from playing. I don’t have time to play anymore now because I am observing, I manage that team. And I am, actually, the director of marketing for Team Dignitas as well.

How did you become an observer?

I didn’t even know that it was a position but I knew it as a thing. I became an analyst for a while for ESEA. I did a lot of writing for CS: Source and CS 1.6, so I knew the game, I studied thousands of demos in a year. And one weekend Derrick «impulsive» Truong, he used to be a CS 1.6 player and a manager of Team SoloMid, he saw me, then he was working for ESL. He said: “Hi. How are you? I know you are local. We need an observer”. I said: “We need a... What?”. I knew what that was due to my years of playing. He is like: “No, we trust you, you know the game”. I was pretty nervous. This was, actually, ESL One Cologne 2015 the North American qualifiers. I didn’t know what I was doing there at first but I knew how to watch demos, I knew how to study teams. And it turned out that I was pretty decent at it. Then I started getting more work through ESL because I lived near them and they started expanding. My first Major was MLG Major Championship: Columbus and now, I am here a couple of Majors later.

You’ve said about Majors. What was the best Major for you?

I don’t remember them now, so it was MLG, which was the first one and it was in my home country. That’s, probably, my favorite because you could hear the North American crowd cheering. That kind of things can get you motivated as an observer. I have, also, done ESL One Cologne 2016 but that was just the group stage, so it was not as exciting for me. And then, of course, here, you know, this is the first day of the playoffs, there is an amazing stage. Probably, Columbus so far, just because this was in my home country.

Maybe ELEAGUE Major 2017?

No, I have done all ELEAGUE regular seasons but I had planned a family vacation well before the Major was announced, so I could not be a part of that.

Can you explain in a few words what does it mean being an observer?

So an observer is, actually, an in-game director. I am telling a story for the audience. There are 10 people on a server and you don’t necessarily want to see every kill because that’s gonna make you nauseous if the observer clicks around everything. So the aim of the observer is to show the most important information of the round. You are telling the story for the audience and you are, also, telling the story to the casters too. Because the casters rely on the observers to show the actions. So what they are gonna talk about is what we show them. But they, also, have their own computers, so we can, also, listen to clues from the casters sometimes. For example, the caster may be flying around the map and see something else he finds interesting, so I need to be listening in and to capture that action as well. Their own computers don’t get necessarily shown to the stream, they can fly around and find other things that we might not notice.

According to Liquipedia, you were an analyst for one tournament. It was IEM, a female tournament. Did you like that experience?

I like it. Sometimes I think about being an analyst. I feel a little camera shy but I have always considered myself as a student of the game. I think I really understand strategies, why teams do what they do. I have never wanted to be a caster, I don’t like thinking on the fly, that is too much for me. I would like to collect my thoughts. I previously was a writer for over a decade for Counter Strike. I like to take the time to think what I am gonna say. I like being an analyst but again I am a little camera shy. So I prefer to sit behind the camera and operate the computer.

As for you, what is better being an observer or an analyst?

I think being an observer. It’s the fans enjoyment of the game. Someone relies on me and that’s a lot of pressure. I like having that responsibility as well. You have seen a lot of times when observing goes wrong. You may see kills happening on the kill feed but the audience doesn’t. You know, it’s just like a slog or a clap. If you want to cheer them, you need to know what happens. So I like being able to show something really amazing like here I have just caught coldzera’s awp no scope two kills. I was really thinking about switching off from him because he was getting crunched from both sides but I stayed. The audience erupted and I was sitting silent and thought something like: “Yes! I got it!”. *laughing*

Okay, let’s talk about this Major. Do you like the draw of the playoffs? For example, the first quarterfinal match is SK Gaming vs Astralis.

Certainly, I would have expected it to be the final match. But I think it gives a nice road to the finals. And, you know, I am waiting for to play. There is nothing like the feeling of the crowd like the Polish crowd with its home team - it’s amazing. In such way, it’s nice that, hopefully, has a chance to get further. But I would have liked to see SK Gaming vs Astralis a little deeper.

Do you think that they will win the tournament? Krakow is a home city for them.

Yeah, it could be. They have some purpose here, so maybe they don’t necessarily get to feed off there as much. It is hard to say. They have been a little rusty in recent months. But, actually, NEO is one of my favorite players of all time in Counter Strike. You never can count them out. They always come back.

And the last question. What do you think who will win the MVP of the tournament? Maybe coldzera for the third time at Majors?

Yeah, he is not a human. I don’t know how he does it. Marcelo has an inhuman reaction. It is amazing what he does. I, obviously, can say that he is a top contender for the MVP.