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Interview with Tsatsulow from Curse Academy

This week, the Curse organization announced changes to their main roster as well as the Team LoLPrologo std.pngTeam LoLPro and Curse Academylogo std.pngCurse Academy rosters. In addition, the North American Challenger League (NACL) kicked off and both Team Curselogo std.pngTeam Curse and Curse Academy are playing in it. Recently, I grabbed Jason “Tsatsulow” Hawes, Curse Academy’s new Support player, to learn some information about him and to see what he thought.

I’m here with Jason “Tsatsulow” Hawes, Curse Academy’s Support player. How are you doing?

Hey there, I'm doing pretty good :)

Tell me a little about your gaming history before League of Legends. What did you play? Were you a part of a competitive scene?

Before League of Legends, my mind was fully focused on my athletic career, even from a young age. I love sports and it was my world... but when I wasn't practicing, I was playing video games. I've always loved any video game that had a similarity to real sports, something with a competitive edge to it, which is why I am so drawn to MOBA games. My first love was DotA and I first started playing it about 13 years ago. Though I am a PC gamer, my first competitive team was on the XBOX playing Halo 3. It was the first time I really had a practice schedule and tournaments, like I was playing on a sports team. After Halo 3, I quit and played Heroes of Newerth somewhat competitively, just going to local LAN events etc.

Where did the name “Tsatsulow” come from?

It was pretty random. Back when all I did was play soccer I looked up on Youtube "street soccer juggling" and this guy named Tsatsulow came up. I thought he was amazing and immediately tried to copy his moves because they were so cool. After that I started using the tag Tsatsulow, probably starting from Heroes of Newerth onward.

How did you get started in the LoL competitive scene?

I was first introduced to the LoL competitive scene via my own failure of my previous dream of playing professional soccer. I had been playing soccer for 20 years and it was my life, then suddenly I had to stop in the middle of my collegiate career due to medical reasons. My path to becoming a pro had not been blocked by a giant mountain in which I had to overcome, but instead had completely disappeared and I was now found looking for a new path in life to walk. Not knowing what to do, I just continued going to school and play video games and at this time is when I started playing LoL. I still enjoyed watching the competitive DotA scene as I loved the game so much, but I was starting to be impressed with the backing of the LoL scene and really wanted to be a part of it. From that day forward I was consumed by League of Legends. I kept creating teams and practicing, watching two VoDs for every one game I played that day and my drive to be the best was in full force. During the previous Summer and Spring, before joining Curse, I had major boot camps where I became the player I am today. Last Summer (2012), I had invited my friend and teammate Wizfujiin to stay at my house for a month, where we refined our botlane duo. We practiced for a minimum of 10 hours a day with additional hours watching our footage and VoDs from pro players. The following Spring break of 2013, we invited our new teammate Snowtales up from California to our house for two weeks to boot camp with us at his own expense. Eventually, our team fell apart due to various reasons and I had nearly given up. I had started thinking of returning to school (keeping League as my second priority instead of first) when I was suddenly scouted to be Curse Academy's support player. It really was an odd experience as I had been going full force towards being a pro player, never looking back...and just as I let off the brakes to take a look around and examine my life (possibly give up LoL), I found myself being offered the tryout I had previously been working so hard for.

You’ve been on Curse Academy officially for about a week now, how are you liking it so far?

I'm loving it here with Curse. It's just so... awesome! So many great people in one place working with each other with full passion for the game, it’s simply a dream come true.

What are some things that you’ve noticed are different with this team and it’s players compared to other teams that you’ve been on?

Playing on this team is extremely different than any other team. Being on a team of this skill level and intelligence is incredible. Everyone is really open when it comes to criticism. We don't point fingers at each other; it’s more like we point at the actual problems themselves. We find the problems, fix them, and then move on. It's my first team where I don't have to be the shot caller 100% of the time and hold people’s hands. I can truly trust them when a call is made or if we go into a fight.

A myriad of changes were announced for the main Curse roster and the LoL Pro roster. What do you think of these changes?

I'm honestly not too interested in the changes of the other two rosters as I'm insanely focused on just improving myself and what ever team I am currently on. I enjoy meeting all the new players coming on board for Curse and embrace the changes rather than compare to the past. As of the skill of the new teams, I think it will be incredibly competitive inside the Curse family and it seems to be very diverse. The new main Curse roster is very individually skilled, while both the main team and LoL Pro team are very experienced, and my Academy team has very good team synergy (in my opinion).

The Challenger/semi-pro scene is burgeoning in the US, and until now there hasn't been much information available regarding it. Can you shed some light by talking about the typical training regiment or general lifestyle of a Challenger team that is trying to go pro?

I don't really like semi-pro or pro players being called "challenger players" because challenger refers to solo queue or ranked 5s. Being a semi-pro/pro player goes beyond ranking of skill. At the professional level everyone is incredibly skilled, but what shows is the amount of hard work that is put in. I'm incredibly excited to see the semi-pro scene getting the support it finally deserves. Many people don't put the time in that it takes to become a pro because it is so risky. With this incredible step forward we will see more people taking that leap of faith as it is now a less scary cliff (metaphorically speaking of course).

Is Curse Academy’s regiment similar to other teams? What are your goals with them, and how much time do you plan on devoting to the cause?

I think the training style/regiment comes from the players themselves so its hard to say, though the time put into it surely is being affected by the great support. I know some teams that are at the semi-pro level put a ton of games in, while my team does a lot more analytical workshops and watching replays. Think of it as if you were in school... there’s a kid who does all the homework and even the extra problems and when it comes to test day he knows all the information that was shown to him. Then there’s the kid who takes his time with the examples and learns them inside and out so he can solve new questions on the fly and explore into new information and ideas, so when it comes to test day he will be one of the kids who gets a 100% instead of 90% because he was able to solve the new problems that weren’t shown in the textbooks. One kid practices hard in order to be solid in the current meta, the other kid looks to be the best and stay ahead of the game even in the future and create the new meta. My team is like the kid who wants to get the A+, not just the A. Sorry for the school setting for my examples haha, I take a very academic approach when it comes to League of Legends.

The NACL kicked off on Monday and unfortunately Curse Academy lost their first game versus Gold Gaming LAlogo std.pngGold Gaming LA. However, you won Tuesday’s game versus Infinite Oddslogo std.pngInfinite Odds. What were the factors that made you lose against ggLA, and did you change anything from that point to pick up a win later against IO?

We simply should have won our first match against ggLA, but orders weren't followed, and also the orders when they came weren't being called out like they were something important. The game was for us to lose and we lost it. After watching the second game I realized that our start was a little shaky, but to be honest I had full confidence. I was feeling really good, very focused and motivated. We basically didn’t even budge from our bad start, we knew what our game plan was and how/when we were going to win. Obviously we have looked over the game and know where we need to improve, and even how to win more efficiently. We will always be improving after every game, but even with that in mind we are very confident when it comes to game time.

There are some pretty big names in the NACL. How do you think your team fares against the likes of Team Coastlogo std.pngTeam Coast, who finished 2nd place in the LCS Spring split, and Complexitylogo std.pngcompLexity Gaming, who have had a long history with plenty of successes?

As long as we prepare well I have extreme confidence in my team. My teammates are extraordinary players and when we click its ridiculous. Even with my confidence I know they are good teams, but they have their weaknesses just like everyone else.

As a Support main, what do you think separates the good Support players from the best Support players?

My biggest tip to any support player is just for the love of God think, think about everything. Good support players know where to ward and when to ward, what matchups are okay with/against certain team comps, and what builds to go. The best support players make decisions swiftly; they dont have a second thought about what they are about to do because they have thought about it before hand. In lane it’s not a question of "When should I harass, or is it ok to harass the Support over the AD, should I push what if I get ganked?" The best support players KNOW what to do. I can't stress how important it is just to KNOW and act quickly and fiercly. Dragon coming up? You should already know if the other team will trade a tower or come fight you, and if you should engage or disengage when they come. "Dragon is down, what should I do?" After Dragon (even if the other team got it) you should have placed wards before backing in order for your split pusher to farm, or cleared wards around the next buff (even if you are low hp). The reason I love the support position is because it is all about thinking and knowing... knowledge. Overall, good supports have the mechanics and somewhat have an idea of what to do. The best supports have the mechanics and KNOW what to do now and all of the subsequent moves leading up to the next objective, and the one after that based on what just happened.

Curse Academy’s AD Carry, fabbbyyy, is known for his solo queue play. How does that differentiate from his team play and how is the synergy between you two?

Honestly, solo queue is a joke in terms of practice. It's good for mechanics, but a low percentage of players even at Diamond 1 actually know how to play League of Legends (maybe 10% or lower). Fabbbyyy is a good player and person, he’s a great guy. Very humble and open to criticisms and suggestions. I work very well in bot lane with him because of this I can lead the lane fairly easily. Most importantly is that he makes decisive and quick decisions; he doesn’t question if I go in, and vice versa. Sometimes when I step up to harass I'm surprised to find fabbbyyy already ahead of me thinking the same thing. When it comes to team play he can be very team oriented, but also is very confident in his mechanics if it comes down to outplaying someone. Our duo has a lot of potential.

What are your top three preferred Support champions right now and why?

My top 3 Supports:

ThreshSquare.png Thresh - The pressure he puts on the lane is like a BlitzcrankSquare.png Blitzcrank and you are scared the whole time because if you even try to fight back against his lane positioning, the second a jungler comes you are dead. Great in lane and out of lane, his ability to make plays is great. I feel very strong on him, though I don’t get to play him very much as he’s banned a lot. One of my favorites because not only is he fun and a great hero, but being good at him relieves pressure off of my team as it usually draws a ban.
ZyraSquare.png Zyra - Probably the strongest support right now. You can't beat her in lane (unless you have a terrible AD matchup which it then comes down to skill) and her team fight/warding is incredible. She’s just good all around.
AnnieSquare.png Annie or SonaSquare.png Sona - It's hard to choose between these two because they are somewhat equal in what they do, but to me it just depends on the team comps. I choose Annie if I need stronger early/midgame roam and Sona if I need stronger lane. They both have flash engages that are threatening and do decent dps. If there is an assassin, I will probably pick up Annie or FiddlesticksSquare.png Fiddlesticks, but if not I will probably just pick Sona since it gives me a stronger lane presence and my role in a teamfight isn’t as crucial (though obviously still important).

What do you think of Championship Thresh?

Championship Thresh is sickkkkkkk, I love it.

Are there any games besides LoL that you play in your free time?

I play a lot of games besides League, though only for fun and when I feel like it. I really want to play Hearthstone and I obviously will always love DotA and I usually play it if you catch me chilling at GameClucks (also known as Gamerzone) in Lynnwood, Washington.

Where can we find your stream, and other social media pages?

You can find my stream at Twitch, my Twitter @CrsTsatsulow and my Facebook TheTsatsulow. Please follow my media for updates on what I'm up to :D

Awesome, thank you for your time Jason! I wish you and Curse Academy the best of luck throughout the rest of the NACL and the future! Any shoutouts?

Thanks a lot! <3 Shoutout to my best friends Matt, Connor, and Jacob <3. Any one in Washington who wants to get buff or improve their overall health and lifestyle should check out Connor’s Crossfit gym and say that Jason "Tsatsulow" Hawes sent you :) (CrossFitNorthSound) if you do I'll love you forever.

Interviewed by Jordan “Sanctified” Spence - @SanctifiedLoL
Edited by Alex “amagzz” Magdaleno - @amagzz

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