With the New Challengers stage at the IEM Katowice Major 2019 well underway, Abay “Hobbit” Khasenov’s HellRaisers are waiting for their time to shine, while keeping an eye out on all the teams battling for survival.

Hobbit joined HellRaisers a few months back, after his departure from Gambit Esports. Khasenov already seen success in the Major before with his previous team, then lead by Zeus himself. This time the young player is looking for a repeat result.

HellRaisers, however, are no Gambit. The team showed some promise at the FACEIT Major London 2018, finishing in the Top 8. Here in Poland their sights are aimed much higher but the competition is stiff.

Abay “Hobbit” Khasenov talked about their chances in this Major, joining HellRaisers and the beginning of his career.

Hobbit, 3 months have passed since your transition to HellRaisers. Are you used to new teammates? 

Slowly getting used to the team. The atmosphere in the team is playable, it’s working. 

Can you describe each teammate in one word?

ANGE1 — thinking, ISSAA — calm, DeadFox — positive, w0xic — quick-tempered.

A few days left until the next Major stage. How do you rate your training at the moment? 

Our preparation, in principle, is good. I believe that we can go to the Legends and this is our first goal. Naturally, more would be better. I rate my individual game as average. I can do much better, my issues are connected with communication. I have some minor problems with English and some more personal problems. I try very hard to work, but for now it’s hard, I will try to make up for it and really want to be 100% ready for the Major.

How is your communication in English? As time progresses, how does your skill progress?

Now the difficulties are still there, but already much easier. I adapted. Sometimes even ANGE1 has problems with English. In stressful situations even in the native language it is very difficult to communicate correct and clear information, and in English this is twice as difficult. It is just a fact.

How is your daily routine going? How many hours a day do you train individually and with a team? 

The training starts at 15:00, I wake up at 13:00 — I eat, for me it is breakfast, I spend time with my wife, for example, I will watch one episode of a series. Then warm up before exercise. From 15 o’clock we train until 22 and after that we are free. I’ve been spending little time in Aimbotz and DM lately, since we train more than enough, but if I have to play, then I go to DM.

Did you find your game role within the new team?

There are some problems with this. When I came to the team, I counted on other roles, but it didn’t happen. I was given roles that are sometimes hard to handle, but this is all for the good of the team and I am ready to do it.

On each map, I play completely different roles, somewhere openfragger, somewhere lurker, somewhere support, and somewhere I trade frags. I’m getting used to it now, but, it seems, I’m doing pretty well.

What has changed with the arrival of “ami_R” to the place of the coach? What changes did he bring to the team?

When I joined the team, I saw a picture that I didn’t like. The atmosphere was just unplayable. When Amiran became a coach, the atmosphere became better. In tactical terms, Johnta helped us a lot, in principle, he helped us a lot, but since Ami is a new coach, he doesn’t have much experience in that. He is a very good and positive person, this is bearing fruit. Everyone in the team loves him and treats him positively.

During your career, you played under the leadership of two experienced CIS captains. How do you like ANGE1 as a captain? What are the obvious differences with Zeus?

Frankly, they are completely different. Zeus is the captain, the leader who leads the whole team, he strongly motivates and places emphasis on this. Finds and uses the strengths of each player. ANGE1 thinks more structurally and pays more attention to team interactions. In other words, ANGE1 — on game and tactical moments, and Zeus — on life aspects: motivation, confidence. It is difficult to compare them, they are completely different.

Let’s move away from the preparation for the tournament. During your career you have traveled a lot. Can you highlight the country or city that made the most impression?

Probably Los Angeles, and in general, in principle, the United States. When I fly to this country, I feel great. Very cool country and every tournament that takes place there, you understand that it will be a bomb. In Europe, I would single out Krakow. It is clear that we won there in a major, but I remember the city itself for its historical moments, we walked there a lot. I also liked Shanghai — a very beautiful and modern city.

Tell me how you came up with your nickname?

Nick came up with my brother. I was 9-10 years old and the Lord of the Rings movie was released. At that moment I was the smallest player in Counter-Strike and my brother called me that.

How did your parents react to the choice of such a profession?

They always supported me and treated this very positively. I am very lucky with this.

Will you allow your children to become cyber athletes?

Honestly, I do not know. Watching how he will succeed, probably so. If there is a talent and I will see that he is burning to play computer games, and wants to play and win, to put all his soul into it. I will support him anyway.

Are there any books or movies that motivate you?

Were once. For example, Itzhak Pintosevich: “Act! The Ten Commandments of Success,” but these books no longer motivate me. I used to read it, but now it is the motivational books that do not help me. From the films, I would even say anime — “Kuroko Basketball”, this is the last anime series I watched, and it gave me its share of motivation.

Do you have a favorite sport? Favorite team?

Football. Manchester United.

The best teammate for the entire pro-player career. Can you pick someone?

If you take the team Gambit, then every teammate was the best. Accordingly, in HR they are all top. I would single out fitch, who plays for AVANGAR now. I like the fact that it is easy with him even in stressful situations, even when you lose a tournament, it is always openminded. In a stressful situation, roughly speaking, I could shout at him, but he always perceived it adequately. Very calm, just a genius and top dude, probably the best with whom I played. Also Dastan and keeN, they would also be included in the list, but to describe each, you need a lot of time.

Who is the best player in CS: GO? Highlight top3 at the moment.

S1mple – no need to describe. Dev1ce, but I don’t like the way he plays. I would single out Magisk. My top3 is S1mple, Magisk and Electronic.

What crosshair and resolution are you using now?

1680x1050 (stretched). The crosshair is always different, depending on the mood.

A few words to the fans?

No matter how overused it sounds — thanks! Thank you for always supporting us. I will try not to let you down and show my 100%. I think time will put everything in its place and someday I will still delight you with victories!

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