If you’ve ventured into the early 2000’s throwback that is the community server browser in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in Oceania, you’ve probably played on a Killzone Gaming server — for laughs, warmup or practice. But who is Killzone Gaming, and why do they do it?
It all began late in 2014 as a single Scouts and Knives server.
Now, seven years on, Killzone Gaming (KZG) has more than 50 servers covering a diverse range of movement, aim, warmup, and mini-game modes boasting up to 4000 unique users, daily.
A passionate community and about 120 volunteers keep the games and banter flowing — and the bad eggs from ruining the fun.
KZG’s head of community relations and management “My Name is Tito” has been involved with the gaming community for about six years — one of the longest tenured staff members after founder and owner Skyprah.
“None of the current team were in the scene at the beginning,” Tito says. “There aren’t many communities that have been here this long or this big.”
An Australian-listed company, KZG has been providing free-to-play servers for CS:GO players since 2014. It’s a thankless task, with donations and VIP memberships barely covering the costs, Tito says.
“We want to offer more than what Valve does.”DIAMOND, KILLZONE GAMING’S COMMUNITY DIRECTOR
The staff are proud of the service they provide and the community they help nurture, and the lowliest noob right up to the highest echelons of professional players have enjoyed KZG’s 128-tick servers.
Former aim server admin and now Singapore head administrator Samuukxs says he took up the role after almost three years of playing and being a part of the community.
“I started off as a player on the aim, retakes and executes servers about two or three years ago,” Sam says.
He says the sense of camaraderie encouraged him to take up the mantle.
“And flanking and breaking the rules really annoyed me,” he laughs.
Admins wield all the power on the server, able to levy punishments or ban players for being disruptive.
KZG’s volunteers are expected to put in about 20 hours on a server over three months.
Skill surf manager DRK says they fulfil their duties in their spare time — whenever they’re free. “Admins put in at least 20 hours, any less than that and we ask if they’re not enjoying it, or not having fun playing on the servers.
“But there is no set amount. You’re on when you can play; we’re a part of the community.”
Skill Surf head administrator JD says most server groups and staff are mates. “Most staff are tight within their server groups.”
But the community changes dramatically depending on the server group you play on, they say — and it’s not all fluffy bunnies.
Sam says some players do try to cause problems. “Skill [surf] has a large influx of new members which can cause havoc,” he says. “Trying to abuse others, racism and hacking [on aim servers], it ruins the game for everyone else.”
Tito says antisocial behaviour, like microphone spamming, racism, exploits or glitching are issues, if minor — but when it comes to hacking, admins come down like a tonne of bricks.
But JD is quick to point out that bad actors are in the minority.
“You have regulars that come on [skill surf] and play the guitar, take requests — a lot of good things happen. There’s good chat.” she says. “Every now and then, you get a bad egg but usually everyone is there to have fun.”
KZG’s servers run on about eight dedicated machines in a Sydney data centre.
“You can get servers by the player slot, but it costs more,” Tito says.
The bulk are pure game servers, but one or two are web servers or for testing and development. “Most of our machines are run on dedicated machines with a GSM (Game Server Manager) similar to Docker containers, but for games servers,” says Tito.
“The [setup of the GSM] can be pretty iffy, if you don’t already have a working one to copy.
“Most people don’t go dedicated – they go per slot, but it’s more costly.”
The gaming community has recently expanded into Singapore — and has potential plans on expanding their network overseas to countries like Europe and the US.
“We’re getting people from other time zones – it’s really good,” JD says. “I’m seeing at least 40 players on our surf servers 24 hours a day, constantly really near max.”
KZG’s most popular server, Easy Surf 2, is ranked fourth in the world in popularity, while their beginner or ‘Noob’ surf server is ranked 21st globally.
Tito says in the past two years, they have had almost 2 million connections to their network, although he says the stats aren’t always the most accurate.
“On the whole, we have 2000 to 4000 unique Steam accounts join our servers daily,” he says.
“Our servers are the majority of the top 25 in OCE, we’re really proud of that.”
There are plans in the works, but nothing has been set in concrete yet, says Tito. Competitive ladders aren’t on the horizon, but there have been talks to acquire professional CS:GO teams.
“They’re just hard to acquire good ones [teams]. We could invest, but I’d rather invest the community money wisely. There are talks about community tournaments, but it’s about the resources it would take. It’s doable though.”
And to kick it off, DRK, who is also KZG’s event manager, is working on a potential skill surf tournament. “First to complete, or best time or rank within 30 minutes would get a prize,” he says.
He expects it will be streamed and intends to have it ranked, so even newer surfers will have an opportunity — and not end up facing the likes of Levi, one of the world’s best CS:GO surfers.
Esport fans may recognise Levi from the ‘Surf ‘n chill’ segments during numerous ESL hosted tournaments in 2020 and 2021. ESL production ran the segments in the downtime between maps, with a call out encouraging players to try out community surf maps.
“There’s a lot of Australian players that are the best in the world on our servers,” DRK says. “We have global players that are really great.”
Sam says they often see pro players on the aim servers, particularly the retake servers. “[We get] a lot of LPL and international pros like the Renegades players that join for warm-up. I’ve played with the likes of Hatz, Sico and INS on the server.”
KZG is an unassuming giant, slowly gaining bulk and momentum. The group has an audience of more than 35,000 on Steam and Discord, and a passionate volunteer team.
“We want to offer more than what Valve does,” Diamond, KZG’s community director says.
“Our goal is to enhance the experience and make sure everyone is having a good time.”
Killzone Gaming are running a giveaway, with 25 lifetime VIP memberships up for grabs. To join, head to the KZG community Discord, and create a support ticket with code “Snowball Esports”.