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AdreN on growing up in gaming, reading about greatness and drinking away visa worries

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Gambit Gaming’s Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev (and Gambit CEO Natalia Larchenko) during the ELEAGUE Major to talk about AdreN’s gaming origins, the funniest person on the team and drinking away visa worries.

Vince Nairn: How did you get started in this industry? What was your first inspiration?

Natalia Larchenko: He was playing and playing and playing, and then in one moment he just figured out that Counter-Strike was more than just a game. It was part of his life, his entire life. So it just became by itself. It wasn’t something that he was searching for, or he was looking for a job while playing. The most important thing of all of this is when your family is supporting you, your brother, your mom. As long as they are supporting what you are doing and believing in what you’re doing, you don’t have to struggle with such things. The most important part is family and how they also think of what you do and how you do?

VN: Have you always had that support?

Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev: Yeah. My brother was always playing. He used to play as a professional Quake player, so he knew everything about gaming. He was the first guy who supported me in the beginning.

VN: So you kind of had an introduction to what life as a pro gamer was like. How did that help you, if at all?

DK: He just helped me play better because I saw he was one of the best players in Kazakhstan, but he’s not still the best. I just wanted to be the best one, the one and only, who can be not just alone in Kazakhstan, but worldwide. Who can compete with the overall best in the world? That was my motivation. Seeing and being with him. He helped me know how to adapt to this world.

VN: What was difficult at first about trying to become a professional?

DK: First time is always hard because you are not so good. You lose a lot. You just keep losing, and this is an important part to note. Don’t stop. Just keep working hard and believe that everything is going to be good. Hard work pays off, so this is the most important part of the beginning. If you go through this part, then I think you can achieve something.

VN: When was the first moment you realized you were kind of good at this game? That a career like this might be possible for you?

DK: First was when I started winning tournaments, some local tournaments in Kazakhstan, and I just saw that I could compete with the other good players in Kazakhstan. There was a moment I wanted to start to play, and I had to be better, and I knew that I wanted to be the best, and that was (my motivation).

VN: What are you like away from the game? What hobbies do you have?

DK: I’m reading some books. I like to read a lot of biographies of great people, like Sir Alex Ferguson or Bob Bowman, the coach for Michael Phelps. For me, those are the best books. I like to read about people who have achieved something in other sports. That helps for me to be better.

VN: Does that motivate you at all? Just seeing what other people can achieve?

DK: Not like motivate, but I learn from them. They just tell you how to be great. It somehow motivates, but it’s all new.

Photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE

VN: What do you like most about your career?

DK: First, it’s traveling through the world. I’ve been everywhere. I’ve been in America, in Europe, in Asia. So this is my favorite part. Second, is I meet a lot of people, good people. A lot of people want to be like that, to be a professional gamer who’s traveling and meeting other people.

VN: Who has the funniest personality on the team?

NL: He does. He’s always making jokes. The funniest part is that he’s joking all the time, and almost everyone is taking it serious. Sometimes, I’m like “Oh my god, guys, it’s a joke.” But sometimes he’s telling me something, and I’m also buying it. Sometimes you believe, and he’s like “I was joking.”

DK: The important part is having a serious face when you do it.

VN: What’s the funniest moment y’all have had as a team in recent memory?

NL: The funniest was probably the saddest because we were leaving on Jan. 18 to go here, and until Jan. 17, we didn’t know if H0bbit would go with us or not because he didn’t get his visa.

DK: Everyone one our team was getting crazy and nervous because no one knows if it was going to happen tomorrow and if he would get it or not get it. And everyone got drunk that night. Then he got his visa.

NL: Because we’re understanding there would be no Major if H0bbit would not be able to come…and the whole week before, every time we would have a little drink, we were (saluting) just for visa. There was only one topic to cheer. The visa.

Cover photo courtesy of DreamHack/illustration by Slingshot