We caught up with Niels Christian “NaToSaphiX” Sillassen for an interview on his way home from a two-week Sprout bootcamp in St. Ingbert, Germany.
Sillassen, probably best known for his YouTube channel, always remained at the edge of professional play, representing several top-tier Danish teams, including Team123, eFuture.dk, and mTw. The player himself, however, insists it’s the opposite — he’s a pro gamer before he’s a YouTuber, not the other way around. “I still try to balance both things but it does get harder every day,” he says.
The Danish AWPer joined Sprout three months ago, after a lengthy trial period within the team. Since then, the Germany based organization lost two of their founding members in Paweł “innocent” Mocek ,who joined Tempo Storm, and Kevin “kRYSTAL” Amend. As a replacement, the team announced the signing of North Academy and Team Singularity alum Dennis “sycrone” Nielsen just a few days ago.
NaToSaphiX talked about their bootcamp with sycrone, building new Sprout, and the hardships of balancing pro gaming career with streaming.
Vie: First things first — how was your bootcamp? Where were you staying? Is this a routine bootcamp in Sprout’s training schedule or is it in preparation for something specific?
NaToSaphiX: We were staying at a bootcamp house in a smaller German city called St. Ingbert where we were set up with PCs and had an entire house to ourselves. Last time we had a bootcamp (just before I was announced) it was in Sprout’s HQ in Berlin where we had a super nice setup with Caseking PCs and Noblechairs. At the first bootcamp we stayed at a hotel during the days of the bootcamp.
We’re not really preparing for anything in particular but with minor qualifiers coming up it felt like a good time to meet up and practice.
Vie: Were you bootcamping as a four-player-team, or were you joined by a mystery fifth?
NaToSaphiX: We were joined by a mystery fifth at the bootcamp, who is not under contract and who might never be. We’re still figuring out who the last piece of the puzzle is going to be.
Vie: Finding new players must be difficult. How does that work in Sprout? Who makes the final call — the players or the management?
NaToSaphiX: The final decision is made by the management/coach but it’s always with the players’ interests on top. If the players don’t wish to play with someone, we will not be forced to do so, which I think is a really good approach.
Vie: Speaking of, you yourself officially joined the team fairly recently. What goes into a “trial period” with a pro team?
NaToSaphiX: A trial period is basically a period of time where you play with a team and they evaluate whether or not you’re good enough to play on that level. It could be anything from aim to attitude to communication to fitting in socially. It’s pretty straight-forward in the sense that it’s just a trial period which is used to see if you’ll fit in with the team in the long run.
Vie: How did you get into Sprout in the first place?
NaToSaphiX: I had a really good friend, Sprout’s manager, Emir, who somehow managed to get me in for a few praccs. I guess I must’ve impressed them or at least not made a complete fool of myself since they let me play with them for an elongated period of time that eventually lead to me being signed officially. A bit of an unorthodox way of making it onto the team but I’m definitely not complaining (laughs)
Vie: You are a Dane in a very German team, that must have been daunting at first. What’s the communication like? Do you have some sort of “No German” policy set in place?
NaToSaphiX: It was definitely daunting at first but I never really saw it as such a big problem. When I joined there were rules in place so that the Germans were forced to speak English even during 2vsX situations, which I don’t think is the right way to do it. After I joined the Germans now speak German to each other if they’re the only ones alive, which I think makes for a better synergy during those rounds. If we’re out in public together or just hanging out on TeamSpeak after a day of practice or officials, there is a “No German”-policy in play, yes.
Vie: You have been always riding the edge between being a pro player and a YouTuber. It can’t be easy trying to manage both at the same time? What does it say on your business card these days — pro player or Youtuber?
NaToSaphiX: For sure if I had to pick one, I’d pick Pro Player. It’s the achievement I’m the proudest of, since I’ve had to work insanely hard to get here. I still try to balance both things but it does get harder every day. I hope to at some point hire a video editor, a social media manager, and just a regular manager, so that I can get some help with keeping everything afloat while I work towards becoming the best Counter-Strike player in the World.
Vie: You haven’t been releasing that much content on Youtube and your streaming schedule is shaky at best since you joined Sprout. How are your fans handling it? Are they supportive of your newest endeavor?
NaToSaphiX: I think my streaming schedule has been shaky for a few years, it’s something I enjoy doing from time to time but my relationship with my stream is somewhat the same as with my shower. It’s always somewhat hard to push myself under the showerhead but as soon as I’m under the falling water, I never wanna leave. With streaming, it’s the same, it’s hard for me to find the time and energy to start my stream but as soon as I start I don’t want it to end. I think my biggest problem with playing CS and streaming at the same time is that my performance always takes a hit when I stream on the same day, since I’m usually a bit exhausted. During the times where I play a lot of officials, I steer clear of streaming, so that I can perform at my top level in every game. Everything comes at a cost in CS.
As far as my YouTube schedule goes, videos usually get postponed by me either not playing enough (not having enough highlights), not having enough time to edit or traveling too much (I have 15 minutes of highlights sitting at a PC that’s 300km away, so I can’t make videos currently). When Summer comes, I’ll be moving back into my hometown with my beautiful girlfriend and I won’t be traveling as much anymore, which will not only give me more time but also means that a situation where my highlights are 300kms away won’t happen.
As far as the fans go, I think they are super supportive of me, which I really appreciate sooooooooo much! They are very understanding and never complain about me not having enough time to make footage. It’s just a situation where I feel they’re extra excited when I do put out new content (through my stream or my YouTube), as it’s a somewhat rare occurrence currently (laughs) So that’s something I’m very happy with.
Vie: Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
NaToSaphiX: At the end I just wanna use the time to say thanks for the support, the kind words that show up through my comment section on YouTube, on my Twitter, through the chat/donations on Twitch and on Reddit.
I really can’t believe that I get to travel the World with my best friends, playing the game I love and at the same time supporting my life and my future. None of it would’ve been possible without the support of the people on the other side of the monitor, so thank you a thousand times for pushing us to even greater heights!
Coming out victorious at DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro 2019 boosted AVANGAR up the world rankings all the way to #14. Team’s veteran Bektiyar “fitch” Bahytov talked about their performance in Brazil and other events, as well as adapting to the new map in the rotation.
A deal with Dignitas marks a first big partnership with a top-tier organization since January when the esports betting platform joined forces with the European powerhouse Epsilon.
Joining the legends like Cypher and clawz in a team would be a daunting task for anyone, but the newcomer Artem “pkmk” Nechaev says he’s ready to take on this responsibility at Natus Vincere Apex Legends squad.