FEATURE

Roflko: “We do know we can beat these teams that are ranked above us”

James "Roflko" Lytras discusses the strengths of Vertex and how their roster shapes up in the region.

In the last six months Vertex have been clawing a name out for themselves in the Australian Counter-Strike scene. Most notably, they managed to qualify for IEM Beijing over the Chiefs and have since been praised for their ability to climb the rankings this year.

The squad itself may be relatively unknown to those who only follow the top squads in Australia and ignore leagues such as the MDL and LPL. However, Vertex have recently proven themselves to be a squad that can contest some of the top-ranked teams in the region.

Vertex looks to combine the AWP skills of Jordan “pz” White alongside the in-game leading of Toby “BRACE” Barnes. This is backed up with the rifles of Benny “Tensai” Pham”, James “Roflko” Lytras, and Christian “ADDICT” Pendleton.

These players have each shared time with one another on previous line-ups in past years but never playing together as a five-man unit until now. Since forming their roster a couple of months ago, the team has shown promising results and look to be a team that can deal damage if their improvement trajectory stays as it is.

“We hold ourselves to a very high standard, and our focus is on being both good teammates and actual mates in and out of the server. It depends on the day, but we do know we can beat these teams that are ranked above us,” Roflko told Snowball.

“What makes us different to these other teams is our work ethic and the environment we have within the team. “

Vertex’s ability to contest Chiefs in the qualifiers for IEM Beijing is discussed as a by-product of the Chiefs roster being in a transitional period as they search for a fifth player.

“This discussion came up recently in the team because when every season gets to the playoffs there are always a bunch of scuffed rosters.

“Overall in the scene, it’s not good because teams can never fully come together with their roles and strategies. Teams seemingly can’t deal with losses and would rather honeymoon every day. Our team has benefitted because the rest of the field is weaker than normal.”

The series against the Chiefs will go down as a defining moment for this roster, who are yet to prove they can consistently yield these kinds of results. Especially against teams such as the Renegades and Order who are more established in terms of roster and results.

“I don’t think it was [the Chiefs] dropping the ball in the sense that sloppy play and mistakes cost them the game, rather they just couldn’t match the strength and play we brought into the series. We played very confident and punished a lot of their aggression and tried to understand how they were playing. I don’t think they were as prepared as we were for that series.”

“We’re very happy though, it gets boring when the same teams play each other over and over and everyone loves the underdog story. It can mess with your head and spirit when you get so close a bunch but never make it out of groups or always be getting knocked down by the bigger squads.”

IEM Beijing was to be their biggest challenge yet. They’ve since been knocked out after facing off against the Renegades and Order, where Vertex was unable to take a single map but showed their individual proficiency as well as moments of promising team play across a handful of maps.

“Our game plan will be the same as every other match. We’re not fixated necessarily on the win or beating Order and Avant,” Lytras told Snowball before the event began.

“We’re looking to use this as a way to build ourselves and an opportunity to work on our brand of CS, it will give us a direction on where we’re going next with the team.”

This attitude is exactly what a team like Vertex needs in that the expectations for their roster to perform at this event were relatively low. It was an excellent opportunity for this line-up to play their game, build on what is working and refine themselves going into the start of 2021.

Given the state of LAN play in 2021, it is difficult to measure how some of the lower-ranked teams in Australia stack up against one another. This hasn’t stopped Vertex from seeking growth and development.

“We want to eventually shoot for an international event, no matter the tier. A more simple goal for the team at the moment would be a LAN final. This is definitely achievable and we just want to keep breaking into the top 4, keep challenging the teams above us. Putting in more work and not having roster moves will be the key for us.”

Given the progress Australia has made throughout 2020, LAN play may be on the cards moving into 2021, but it will be the responsibility of the Vertex players to continue developing and working towards this goal until that time arrives.

“We can comfortably beat Ground Zero and Paradox, teams who represent that middle ground in the teams here. To move up any higher, we would have to confidently be beating Chiefs and Avant.”

Until then, this squad represents what is possible to do in an online era in Australia and the growth that is possible from a squad that focuses on the social and mental aspects of the game as well as the mechanical components.


Follow Roflko & Vertex on Twitter.

PhotographySupplied
ProducerJosh Swift
Ash Whyte
Ash 'Shhlee' Whyte is all about Counter-Strike and its stories. While he did look at playing League of Legends at some point, he soon opted to specailise in CS after being told Shyvana top was apparently not 'viable' and that Bronze was not a 'good' rank.