Silviu "NightEnD" Lazar surprised me. He is at the same time cocky, humble, funny and extremely serious. His attitude towards winning every StarCraft 2 game he enters borders on the annoyingly cocky line, yet when you start delving into that confidence you discover humility rooted in understanding that hard work and the support of others have been key in making him a formidable player. His dedication to his career as an eSports professional matches those of any world class athlete; his mindset is deadly and with only one focus, winning. Spending time with him is anything but serious business though; he has a great sense of humor, an easy manner and just overall an incredibly pleasant person to be around with.
I had the immense honor of spending a day with Silviu and Colin Webster, president of Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA). We dined, we laughed, talked eSports and dreamed together about the future of professional gaming.
Before we jump into the mind of this exceptional young man, allow me a brief introduction to his career in eSports.
- He started playing competitively at the age of 15
- He is a former WarCraft II player and at his peak he was rated 8th in Europe
- In February 2011, Silviu was the 14th player to qualify for the Team Liquid Star League 3.
- Silviu finished in 3rd place at the 2011 Dreamhack Winter Tournament.
- He is considered one of Europe’s top Protoss players.
- He is ranked as the 110th highest earned StarCraft 2 player globally.
- He is currently playing for Team Fnatic, one of the world's top eSports teams.
Silviu "NightEnD" Lazar, "I'm a competitor and I'll die as one."
You are known for your confident, almost cocky attitude regarding winning. Tell us more about that.
(In this interview, NightEnD stated, “I will win every match”)
I will not say that I win every match, but usually I am very confident. I am not trying to fake my confidence, this is my thing inside. I am confident in what I know, and I know StarCraft.
To be able to win, you need to believe that you are able to win. I mean, it doesn’t serve you if you are going to say you will win, but inside you don’t really believe it. It will work the opposite – you will lose for sure if you fake confidence. You need to be a bit arrogant. You have to have the mentality of “I can do this, I can win”.
Secondly you need to put in the hours to practice. You can’t have one and not the other. You have confidence because you know your game and you work hard on it.
How much time do you spend practicing StarCraft II per day?
Usually I train 6 hours a day. When I have a tournament coming I practice almost every day, then it is about 8 hours per day.
NightEnD setting up for the Invitational Tournament, photo courtesy of Bravado Gaming
Heart of the Swarm was just released, so you didn’t have much time to prepare for the test match. Was playing in the beta your only preparation for the Invitational Tournament?
Since Heart of the Swarm came out I’ve not played any games – I’ve been busy with travel arrangements. So yes, I will have to rely on the time I spend in the beta as preparation for Saturday’s match. I’m feeling confident about tomorrow’s game because it’s a Protos vs Protos (PvP) match. I’m confident that I will win.
Bravado Gaming & the MSSA treated Silviu to a night out on the town Blizzard made quite a few adjustments to StarCraft II with Heart of the Swarm. What are your take on the changes?
The game is not as easy as it was before HoTS was released. The game was easy but with HoTS the game developed along the right tracks competitively for me. You didn’t require a lot of skill to play decent in Wings of Liberty.
You will see most of the top Zerg players will now fall because of two things: They haven’t trained any skill, they only trained three units and attack move – that is not training, that is not skill. It’s not strategic thinking. Zerg would win because their units are stronger and not because they deploy a better strategy.
HoTS changed the game a lot and Zerg already start to say that Protos is too strong now because they are used to work with 3 units and now they have to work with 6. It’s a completely different game and a lot harder.
Blizzard also incorporated functions into the game to make it easier for new players to learn to play StarCraft II. It is also much more fun for spectators, like when someone was watching Protos against Zerg they will see Investors and Brood, and now you don’t really know what to expect. The game is much more exciting and unpredictable. It’s like a football match; you never see the same thing over and over again. HoTS made the game much more dynamic.
League of Legends and Dota 2 are drawing the crowds at the moment. Do you think HoTS will give StarCraft II the boost it needs to compete with other titles?
I think StarCraft II will grow up with HoTS because it’s a much better game: way better for the players and way better for the viewers. I can’t see competing with LoL and DotA, they are totally different games and the skill required in StarCraft is much higher. I predict in the next 5 years StarCraft will be much bigger than it is now.
PandaTank and NightEnd with our young gamers from Roedean & St John's.
NightEnd playing Dota 2 with the Roedean & St John's teams, photo courtesy Gauteng Schools Mind Sports League
Thanks to the MSSA this is how school looks in the 21st century!
What advice can you give to players who would like to start playing StarCraft II competitively?
It firstly depends on the age. If you start out just see first if you like the game a lot. Then see if you have the desire to play on a level other than socially (casually). See if you have the drive to take it to the competitive level. To play competitively you need to be serious and know that you need to put in a lot of effort to play the game. If you think of it as a game for fun then don’t even start on the competitive aspect of it. You need to be serious.
If you are older than 16 and have already been playing SC2 for a few years I would suggest you quit the game because you are not going to make it on the higher competitive levels. If you have tried for a few years without succeeding rather give up. What I mean is say you’re a South Africa SC2 player and you have been competing against your fellow countryman for a few years, and you have not reached first, second or third place locally, then it would be better to move onto other games because you are not going to make it. At that point, it would be a waste of your life. This is said in the contest if you are trying to play SC professionally.
What has it meant for you to be part of a professional eSports team, like Fnatic?
They did help me a lot. Since I joined them two years ago I’ve been to about 30 events, maybe even more. That requires a lot of money. They cover travel and accommodation expenses plus my monthly salary. They help me a lot to improve as a player, and they make it possible to play SC2 as a career choice.
Fnatic is not the first team; I’ve played in a Dutch and German team as well. Fnatic is on a different level compared to the previous teams and I had to work my way into it.
NightEnD Facebook | Twitter | Team Fnatic / MSSA Twitter | Facebook
I’ve been covering eSports for about two years, and I have to (sadly) admit that I’ve not yet met a gamer with the caliber of Silviu "NightEnD" Lazar. Now, before you start flaming me because how dare I, allow me to explain.
The competitive gaming scene in Romania is much like what we have in South Africa, no, actually, it’s worse. There is no support from government or the private sector for gamers who want to play professionally. Silviu had to prove to the world that he was worth investing in. If you have any knowledge about how incredibly difficult that is, then you will understand what it took to end up in a team like Fnatic.
But, it is not his unflinching determination and hard work that impressed me; I’ve met a lot of competitive players with that same steel. It is his gratitude, his appreciation for the support from those who provide opportunities that stopped me dead in my tracks. The shock on Silviu’s face when it dawned on him that, in South Africa, we have government support for gaming, … it was a priceless moment. All he could get out was, the things you can do with that!
So, I am just gonna go ahead and say it, South African gamers (at times) come across as ungrateful and arrogant. We expect the world, but we give so little back in terms of loyalty, maturity and community building. We rather bitch and moan than be constructive.
I can just point to the flack the MSSA has received over the last few years to prove my point. Now, I know not every single competitive gamer is guilty, and I am grateful for the ones who choose not to bend the knee to group pressure. Where do you fall, do you tear down or do you build?
I want to thank Silviu and the MSSA for giving MWEB GameZone an unforgettable day. You are both an inspiration, and we are extremely grateful for the part you play in the eSports arena.
Silviu, you shall meet South Africa again on the battlefield, until then, we wish you best of luck!
It's a tough job being a celebrity, photo courtesy of the MSSA Han’s Twitter
/ MWEB Gamezone Twitter
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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd