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NAKAT talks about his roller coaster year and why it’s been more taxing than others

Slingshot’s Connor Smith caught up with Tyrell “NAKAT” Coleman at The Big House a few weeks ago to talk about his roller coaster year and steadily improving his mindset.

Connor Smith: Just to start out — I don’t know if you know this —  Bear named you as one of his players to look out for at The Big House. What are your thoughts, and how are your plans to live up to that?

Tyrell “Nakat” Coleman: I think, this year, has been a very taxing year, honestly. I haven’t had to deal with this kind of stuff, ever, in my career. I’m sort of overcoming a slump, maybe mental fatigue. Things of that sort.

I appreciate that he feels like I’m a threat, cause I always feel like I’m a threat, too. But I haven’t believed in myself as much, lately. I’m steadily overcoming that. With CEO 2016 being, you could kind of say, a breakout performance, in my opinion. I didn’t feel like it was that much of a breakout, cause I didn’t top eight, I got ninth. I think I can do very well. I just have to believe in myself, believe in my play, my characters and just be smart about a lot of things.

CS: Why do you think it’s been more taxing?

TC: My Brawl career, I played Ice Climbers. I played a character people hated. They never wanted me to win. Nobody ever wanted me to win. Everybody thought I sucked, even though I was successful with characters like Fox, Meta Knight, even Wario on teams — a character I had picked up solely for teams. The community hated Nakat, but they didn’t know anything about Nakat. They just saw I played Ice Climbers and associate Ice Climbers with “cheap” and they didn’t want me to win. Smash 4 is a little different, where I do have a very loyal fan base. People do know who I am. But people often target me and — I wouldn’t say critics — people don’t criticize me, they’re just very hateful. I don’t particularly understand why.

It kind of sucks to do a lot for the community, especially in the beginning when I streamed and actively help a lot of people because people came into the community feeling they couldn’t approach top players. It was a kind of barrier. I tried to break that barrier by being nice, or being welcoming to everybody. It kind of sucks that when I started to down-perform, people started saying the nastiest stuff. It isn’t a good feeling. I think it caused my mental fatigue, to begin with, and made me not want to associate myself as strongly with other people in the community anymore. Adversely, that kind of turned me into a more pessimistic person, where I was kind of doing it to myself, but at the same time, it was directly correlated with the community and the way they treated me and my performances. It’s improving now. It improved drastically.

CS: You said it’s improving. Can you talk about how it’s changing? Is it just a steady improvement?

TC: It’s a steady slope of improvement, honestly. I do have a direct support. My fan base, that has been with me through the good times and the bad times, because there’s a difference between a loyal fanbase and bandwagoners. I’d honestly rather have people that love me, even through the bad times, over people that will only support me when I’m doing good, and then leave when I’m doing bad. I don’t care for people like that. I of course have Counter Logic Gaming, who sponsored me, believing in me, still believing in me, and they are a direct support source, as well. That’s what I love about CLG as an org. It’s not just, “We’re paying you to do good.” There’s so much more behind it. Especially, to them as an organization. They treat everybody as a family, and I’m proud and honored to be a part of that family. That helps, definitely.

As things change, with the community, and their behavior towards me, I don’t like to check Twitch Chat anymore. Even when I do, or comments or anything, it’s where someone’s being stupid, regardless. It does suck to see. I stray away from comments. Every social media platform. I understand that in this career, you’re going to have haters. That’s fine. I accept that. There’s a difference between people hating and people being downright malicious. That’s what I wasn’t used to in Brawl. Because while people hated me, they mostly hated the character I played. In this game, I have people that love me, and then there’s a strong group of people who seem to want to watch me suffer. I don’t understand it cause I haven’t done anything to them. It is the internet. Animosity runs wild.

I realized that I’m actually a fool for allowing myself to get drained by that type of behavior. At the end of the day, I have to be here in person. I have to live my own life. I have to try and strive to reach my goals and my dreams. Why am I letting someone I don’t know, on the other side of the world — or wherever they are on the internet — make me feel bad for what I’m doing, when they directly don’t know me, or care to know me at all. I try to imagine people that are acting stupid, like that, as 12 year-old kids. Are you actually gonna get mad if a 12 year-old says you’re ugly? No. You’re gonna laugh. To me, that’s funny. That’s the way I look at it.

CS: You mentioned the CLG family. It’s just an observation I’ve made: it really seems that the CLG players are more so friends than maybe some of the other esports organizations. Can you attest to that?

TC: When we say “CLG FAM”, it actually does feel like a family. I don’t particularly follow Counter-Strike. I don’t wish to follow Counter-Strike simply because it’s not my kind of game, but that’s fine. Similar to how some people don’t like Smash. That’s also OK. I will support them to the end. To death, no matter what. I make it my duty to go and watch LCS matches. I’ve been to one of the Counter-Strike matches because I wanted to learn more about what they do. On a personal level, I love to talk to anybody I can that’s associated with CLG. I’ve built relationships with CLG Red, especially. I have good friends on that team, the all-women CS:GO team.

I want to get closer with the CS:GO Blue team, the men, but usually they’re gone. When they are around, it’s cool to hang out with them and chat. Smash players: PPU and SFAT. Great friends. They remind me of myself and VoiD. We just play (snaps) easy. Like that. We all play Smash. They play Melee, we play 4. It’s the same damn series. We can all kick it and still hang out. Even with staff members, I feel like staff members are very important, so I like to build relationships with them, too. To name a few, I’m particularly close with our cook, Andrew. He’s awesome. Hilarious guy. Our CEO, Devin, I love everybody. George, Julia, Chris, Bryan. I love everybody.

CS: Any shout outs to the fans that’ve stayed loyal?

TC: Thank you for supporting me through the great times. I remember when I was on that steady streak of winning, and success, success, success. You guys were just riding along that momentum with me. Then that drastic shift after CEO 2015. Even then, there’s still been some good times, but sadly there are also bad times, as well.

I want to thank you guys for not letting anything blind you, or just support me because I’m doing well. To me, I always make it a goal to show them the utmost respect and my attention. Because they deserve it more than anybody. You can say what you want. There are people that are talking like, “Man, I’m going to this tournament. I really don’t want people bothering me.” The fans make you. That’s the truth. If you have no fans, what are you doing? If you take that for granted, you lose those people. If you lose that support, was it all worth it?

In my opinion, it’s not. I make it my goal to make sure they’re taken care of. My discord server is perfect for fan interaction cause all my subscribers from Twitch can join that. I actively chat in there. I’m actively playing with people in there. People are like, “You know Nakat, I feel bad because we’re not on your level, and so we feel you don’t get anything from it.” Well it’s not always about me. That’s the way I feel about it. Thank you guys.

Cover photo by Connor Smith