A trip to Germany for a Battlefield 4 event triggered a dream of Counter-Strike world domination for one young Kiwi.
Despite a lack of funding, events, and viewership in New Zealand the passion of the community has given Adam “Cookie” Cook hope for a competitive career in one of the world’s favourite esports.
It was competing in a Battlefield 4 event, all the way back at Gamescom 2015 in Cologne, that first ignited the 24-year-old South Islander’s passion for Counter-Strike. It would be the start of his journey in the competitive esport.
“I just remember being incredibly jealous of the size of the crowd and the stage of the CSGO event,” Cook said, reminiscing on his time in the German metropole.
“I said to myself then, I have to get better at CSGO so it could be me on that stage one day.”
And despite his “fair share” of ups and downs, he says one of the benefits of competing in Global Offensive is the clear route for career progression.
“There’s a clear pathway for players to go from social competition, all the way to the professional stage,” he said.
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Now, Adam plays for the only team to source all its players from New Zealand — Black Sheep New Zealand. Formerly known as Breakaway Esports, the team is backed by the New Zealand Breakers basketball team.
“I’m only just now starting to feel that I’m able to compete on an individual skill level at the higher end of Australasia,” Cook said.
Born and raised in Westport, on the West Coast of NZ’s South Island, Cookie was gifted a closed beta key for the latest installment of CSGO in 2012 by an old-school Kiwi player, Bryan “Simcore” McLean.
“Shoutouts definitely for him for getting me hooked,” Cook said.
Sharing his time between Global Offensive and EA’s Battlefield 4, where he competed in several events, Cook was hovering around the second tier of competition in teams mostly made up of Australians.
After losing his spot in Oceania then-top 5 team, Paradox Gaming, Cookie decided it was time to throw in the towel.
“I decided to take a step back from the game and focus on myself and studies,” he said. “All the while, I had Samual “Hue” Uitermark of the now Black Sheep roster asking if I’d play with their team.”
Adam said he wasn’t keen to compete at an amateur level, but he liked the idea of competing with a full New Zealand roster. “I decided to join the squad and take on the opportunity of rebuilding myself,” he explained.
“What I didn’t expect to see, though, is serious potential in this team – especially my teammate Addict, who I think has the potential to make it to the world stage if he puts his mind to it,” he continued.
“Now that we’re practicing and competing regularly against other top teams in the region, I think we’re definitely on track to be competing at the highest level in Oceania.”
Cook said the best thing about the New Zealand esports community is the passion.
“Especially for those operating the competitions and teams, as more often than not they’re volunteering to work on their own time,” he added.
“I can’t thank those people enough for all of their work over the years to help build what’s turned into a special community. There’s a lot of talent that’s come out of New Zealand.
“But unless you’re in one of the top four teams, you rarely get to play at events and in the end, that’s what we’re all playing for, that opportunity to compete on stage.”
Black Sheep New Zealand roster
- Samual “hue9ze” Uitermark
- Christian “addict” Pendleton
- Adam “cookie” Cook
- Jonathan “jono” Do
- Daniel “jeepy” Farnsworth (sub)