Holden and a ladyfriend
Stuart Holden is 18 and currently lives in Houston, Texas. Originally hailing from bonny Scotland he brought his love for the game of soccer/football with him to his new home in the USA and currently plays Division One soccer at Clemson and with the U-20 national team. Aside from being talented on the field Holden has also played CS at the top of the American scene for the past couple of years peaking with an 8th place at CPL Summer 2003 with Forsaken before he went inactive. Now he's back playing again and an instructor here at ESEA I caught up with the Scotsman far away from home to see what's going on with him and Forsaken in the runup to CPL.
It wasn't so long ago you were inactive from CS, what were you up to in that period of time to cause your inactivity, what allowed you to come out of it and will you be going inactive again anytime in the near future?
Holden: I was inactive during our Fall Soccer season at Clemson, which required me to devote just about all of my time to soccer and classes at college. During that time I rarely found time to even chat with my team on mIRC, it also didn't help that I was playing on a laptop for around 7 months at school. I became active again when the Spring semester started, because we no longer had official games and all our practice/weight lifting sessions were in the morning. I recently became extremely active again when I returned home to play on my desktop and I look forward to continuing until it is time to get serious with soccer again, which is always a priority.
After the 8th place for Forsaken at CPL Summer 2003 you and other members of the team went inactive bringing on board newer talent. Despite looking more impressive on paper that team only achieved a 9th-12th the following CPL. What do you think of the two teams respectively and how would you compare the current forsaken?
Holden: Experience was probably the main factor, that combined with team work. The Forsaken team that placed 9th at the CPL probably had more skilled players than our lineup, but their lack of strats and inability to work as a team cost them in some big matches. The experience factor showed when they lost in OT vs NoA and against 4K when they made some key mistakes that lost the match for them. Our lineup now consists of 5 experienced players with 1 player that has a tremendous amount of skill (mason). Between Chan, Spitzer, Jaden, Cripple and myself we have a lot of experience and we all know what it takes to win. I can't wait to see what we can do when we practice for an event, because it could be scary :)
In online play you've performed well against the better US teams like Rival and United 5, how do you think you match up to the best of the US and who would you rank as the top 3 in the US at the moment?
Holden: I think we match up very well against the top United States teams and I think our record doesn't do us justice, mostly because it is online play. We have a hard time at the moment getting everyone together to play, so often times we have played matches with no practice or scrims. I believe the top three USA teams are 1.3D 2.u5 3.EG, but I think come CPL time we won't see those teams in that order.
The coming CPL could well be tougher than any in the past with the likes of adren, SK, mibr etc etc all waiting to get their shot at the title. What kind of placing do you think is reasonable to expect for Forsaken and how do you plan on competing with the "elite" teams like SK who practice daily?
Holden: We plan on buckling down before CPL and beginning a regular practice routine in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully I won't have to leave for soccer, but if worst comes to worse we still have some players that can fill in for me. I think that a reasonable prediction for our placement would be top 8 again and I honestly believe that if things go our way we could do better. It all depends on our seed and which teams we face early on in the competition.
As you mentioned before your current roster consists of Chan, Spitzer, Mason, Jaden, Cripple and yourself. For those who aren't as well aquainted with them can you describe each of them as players and people for us?
Holden: I think what makes our team unique is that everyone gets on outside of the game as well and we all have similar personalities. Chan and Spitzer are probably our best rifles, but they play with different playing styles. Spitzer is pure aim and tends to pull a lot of stuff that amazes me a lot of the time. Chan is more consistant than Spitzer and is a huge asset to our team at the moment.
Jaden and Cripple are more of the AWP oriented players but can also use rifles extremely well. They are probably our two most experienced players and they have played a lot together in the past, so their teamwork together is incredible at times. We can use Jaden to hold sites with his awp alone a lot of the time and Cripple usually takes over the strat caller/in game leader role if I get picked off early in the round.
Mason is more of the young inexperienced player that has a high skill level, but with some work can be a top US player. That's why I think it's great for him to be playing with us on a regular basis, because he learns a lot about the game and what to do in some situations. I am the in game leader and strat caller for the team and I tend to be a consistant rifler.
The last CPL was one of the worst in terms of North American results with only ONE NA team in the top 8 at 7th. What do you think was wrong with the NA scene at the time to produce such poor results and how do you see things playing out this Summer in comparison?
Holden: Well first of all it's because I wasn't playing for a team at the event :) Second of all I think the US scene was really disjointed and a lot of the teams didn't know what it took to place top 8 against such stiff competition. The European teams came prepared for that event and really stunned the US scene, but I think we will see different results this time around. Mostly because teams will practice a lot harder and focus more on teamwork/strats rather than the individual aspect of the game.
Holden it down with the ladies
You recently became an instructor here at ESEA. How have you found it so far and what kind of results do you think are possible with time?
Holden: I've enjoyed my time here at ESEA tremendously and I have recieved a lot of support from players that have taken lessons with me. I have found that I really enjoy teaching people that want to succeed and improve their game. I'm looking forward to doing more and more lessons and becoming one of the top instructors at ESEA.
This incarnation of Forsaken is lacking the name which goes most famously with the clan: Mr David Funk. Has this impacted the team or it's focus in any way and what do you think of your ex-clanmate and the circumstances which surrounded his departure from the team?
Holden: Funk is a good guy most of the time, but his mentality surrounding CS and his personality in the game just didn't mesh well with the team. There is no bad blood between me and Funk to this day and I wish him the best with his future endeavors. I personally don't feel that it impacts the team's public "appearance" and I think the name is still respected highly in the community.
What are your thoughts on the newest Steam updates and with someone like Jaden in your team how do you feel the awp delay will affect you in the long run? Looking at your Rival/united 5 matchups on nuke it was his awp which pretty much kept you in a lot of rounds.
Holden: If you look at our match vs SaviorSix on train recently you will see that the AWP delay really hasn't had that much of an impact on our team. Midian and Jaden are probably two of our biggest awpers and they seem to have adjusted pretty well to the new delay. It just forces awpers to take up more covered positions to compensate for the delay.
With teams like SK and 3D seeming to pick up more and more sponsors all the time while teams just below them in the rankings are lucky to have even one major sponsor do you see this being a problem of other teams not knowing what to do to get and keep a sponsor or sponsors only wanting to go with the "winners" as it were. Do you think teams who can't afford to practice all day long thanks to sponsors will be able to keep up the pace in the long run or does CS not work like that?
Holden: I think in the long run it will really cause a separation between the two levels of teams. Some of us just can't afford to put a lot of time into cs and not necesarily recieve a lot back for it. I for one have put a lot of time into cs to achieve what I have achieved and I have recieved a small amount in comparison to the amount of time I have invested. I think that sponsors should start looking to pick up some other teams besides the SK, 3D and NoA combination.
Holden the soccer star
There seems to be some divided opinion over who the current number one in the North American scene is, as to whether it's united 5 for their win over 3D and their 7th at CPL Winter or 3D for their impressive record CPL Winter aside (1st CPL Winter 2002, 3rd CPL Summer 2003 and 2nd WCG 2003) This reminds one of when zEx placed 2nd at ESWC prior to CPL Summer 2003 raising similar questions as to who the top North American team was. What is your take on the matter and where do you expect both teams to be when play finishes on the final day?
Holden: I think 3D is definately the best team in the United States. Not to take anything away from u5 for their performance at the last CPL, but I still think when it comes down to it 3D is still a head above u5. u5 just doesn't have the experienced players that it takes to win in the clutch situations towards the end of a big match. I can see them folding at the upcoming CPL and 3D striving to a top 3 finish.
In our esports quotes section I have a quote from one Brian "destrukt" flander which he said after 3D's CPL Winter 2002 victory which went as follows: "American CS hasn’t caught up to the euros, 3D has caught up to the euros." What do you of the validity of the statement in terms of present day American CS and what do you think the top teams in North America need to do if they want to get to the same consistent level as the top European sides?
Holden: I think that's true because they are the only team that is considered fully "professional" and has put the time and effort into practicing and making a serious challenge to the top European teams that seem to be winning all the prize money. In order to "catch up" in a sense, we need the American scene to become more serious with better organization.
Do you find having another hobby/activity with a higher priority than CS, in this case soccer/football, helps you with your approach to CS or does it detract from your ability to play the game to your full potential?
Holden: I think it actually helps me a lot, because it gives me a much needed break from CS. I find that after taking a break from cs every now and then allows me to get away from the game and stops me from getting burnt out. It's getting to the point now where it will cause me to quit cs completely to focus on soccer.
If you could look back on all the teams you've played in and all the players you've played alongside and pick a 5 man dream team to play with which 4 other players would accompany yourself and why? You can only choose 2 from the current Forsaken at most.
Holden: I would definately choose boms and method for their pure skill ability and also for the fact that I really enjoyed playing with them in WEW. The other two would be the hardest to make because it involves choosing 2 from a group of 4 on my current team that I throughouly enjoy playing with. I think it would probably have to be Jaden and then probably Chan. Jaden because I really enjoy playing with him now and we are really good friends and Chan because I can rely for him to always be a top player on the team.
CS drives girls wild
As we've mentioned already you have other priorities in your life which supersede CS so what do you hope to achieve from what is left of your CS "career" and what have you accomplished already that has been memorable?
Holden: The best moments in my cs career were the 8th place finish at the Summer CPL and then 2nd at WCG USA because we upset a number of teams and suprised everyone at both tournaments. I was satisfied with what I had accomplished, but the game keeps bringing me back so now I'd like to place top 8 at the CPL once again.
As I mentioned Holden is an instructor here at ESEA so you can book a lesson with him now by clicking here
. Also if you missed the handy hyperlink you can check out Holden's pov demo from the Forsaken-Savior6 train match here
if you are a premium