With only a few days remaining until doors open at EGL7, TCM were looking to be heading in as possible winners. With Hammers now confirmed unable to attend the teams own aspirations, as well as the general impression of their chances, have dropped slightly. We took time out with Jake 'Jake' Dalton and Ryan 'Flux' Oldfield only 24 hours before the announcement that Hammers was unable to attend. Check it out below; Decerto: Can you please introduce yourself for anyone who isn’t familiar with you? Jake: I'm Jake Dalton, aka TCM Jake. I am 17 and I am currently doing my A-levels. Ryan: Hi my name is Ryan, I’m 19 years old and I am currently a student of Loughborough University studying Economics. Ryan and Jake playing for Infused at EGL4 Decerto: Are friends and family aware of the extent of your gaming and if so, what do they think about it? Jake: My family and friends have always been supportive and even somewhat envious of the privileges I get; travelling to Europe, around the UK and even to the USA. It's great to have because I probably wouldn't do it if they thought negatively of it. Ryan: Yes they are aware and they believe gaming is a very anti-social activity, that will in the long term detriment my future. However that said, my Dad watched the recent Pro-AM Soundblaster Tournament and regularly reads news posts concerning our team on Decerto. They can appreciate the level at which I play but they’d definitely rather I gave it up. My friends are fine with it really, a lot of them are in awe that I’ve been able to travel to the likes of the USA to compete. It’s just telling new people I meet that I play competitively; stereotyping is still a huge problem and it frustrates me. Decerto: You are one of only two teams with the same roster as EGL5, what do you attribute this to? Jake: We're all pretty close, we've teamed for a long time and known each other for even longer - myself and Flux having teamed for over 4 years. Also I think the fact we started on PS3 keeps us together and in a way isolates us slightly from the rest of the community, reducing the chances of people snaking or whatever. I don't think any of us are low enough to ever snake anyway. Ryan: Like Jake said we’ve just known each other so long from our roots back on PS3. We get on well and we are reasonably successful; I think we all believe we have the ability to be at the very pinnacle of console COD. During the highs we are at the very top it’s just a case of grinding through the lows as initial failure is an important component of future success in my opinion. Decerto: Can you pin point any reason why you have been at the top of the scene for such a long time? Jake: Playing at the top keeps you at the top of your game, you don't have to play as much and you are constantly conscious of where the bar is set. Being at the top of the PS3 community, although not on par with the Xbox community, we have always been used to winning and being some of the best and so we deal with these situations a lot better. That said, we have yet to win an event on Xbox and we still have a lot to improve. Ryan: I think individually we are all good players. We’ve just gradually gained experience to the extent where we’re usually competing at the very latter stages of every tournament. TCM (then Mindfreak) on the EGL5 Main Stage. (Rich, Hammers, Jake, Flux) Decerto: Do you class yourselves as pro gamers? Jake: I wouldn't really class anyone as a pro gamer unless they're making a living off it. I know a lot of the Americans use the term to describe being MLG Pro but that doesn't really have any relevance any more now that MLG has dropped CoD. We still have a long way to go before we start seeing any actual CoD Pro's. Ryan: No I believe to be classed as ‘pro’ you must be earning a living from it. Decerto: What do you feel has to happen in the scene or for you as individuals to be able to become 'Pro'? Jake: As individuals we need to put a lot of work in, being a Pro is a job as well as a luxury so to say. Once individuals start working hard at building fan bases that will do wonders for themselves as well as the community. We need to continue supporting events like EGL who do miracles for our community and help them grow so one day they can maybe become as big as MLG. Everyone needs to be willing to contribute though. Ryan: The competitive game has to more closely resemble the public version so the masses can easily relate to it (increase viewership .etc). Starcraft II is a good example of this. Decerto: As multiple event attendees, are there any changes you would like to see from EGL? Jake: From a CoD perspective the event itself is pretty good. I would like to see perhaps more games involved as to make more attempts at attracting spectators rather than just players. This would allow improvements to be made on things such as the schedule, which needs polishing as well seeing as scheduled events receive far better feedback and it can be ridiculous waiting for hours on end, especially to first time attendees. Also prize money is an obvious issue but I'm sure eventually it will become less of a problem. Ryan: Not really; the only criticism is the usual massive delays and resultant long waits reduces player experience. I would also like to attend events away from Blackpool. Jake at EGL4 in LondonDecerto: Following EGL5 Jake departed the team making way for Mohog who you played with at iSeries but now Jake is back. What were the reasons behind the move to leave and what has changed since then? Jake: Finishing 4th was a big blow for me at EGL5. It may not seem like a bad placement but we put LOTS of effort into that event. I personally went in expecting at least top 2, believing this to be our best chance at winning our first Xbox event. Even with the biggest attendance in history and highest level of competition I felt like we were more than capable. Then to lose to Optic 3-0 even though we deserved to at least take 2 maps off them and then to be thumped 3-0 by Prophecy, it took it all out of me. At the time I felt like we had done the most we could and only came 4th and made a pretty rash and immature decision to leave. However about an hour after leaving I realised my mistake and I tried desperately to prove myself again and fortunately I was forgiven and now we're trying again for EGL7. Ryan: Jake is in the prime of his teenage attitude years. He reacted hastily to what was a disappointing 4th place at EGL5 and decided to leave. He regretted the decision almost immediately. At first we weren’t prepared to let him back but we collectively decided with Jake we have the potential to win any event regardless of what competition is there. Decerto: So what is the difference in the team now to the team that played at EGL5? Jake: I think I personally have changed my attitude towards playing, I know that I need to prove myself and show why I'm in TCM. Team wise, we've changed our tactics a bit and adopted a less aggressive style. Our previous style was effective but clumsy, now we're more cautious and more willing to grind out a 1-0 victory rather than only settle for 8-0 triumphs. Ryan: I just like to think we’ve matured and have learned things about discipline. In the past we have tried to win the ‘perfect’ way but I don’t think it flies at the highest level. Decerto: It could be argued that this EGL is even stronger than EGL5 with 2 North American teams, what is your opinion on that? Jake: It's great, the more teams the better, especially with the reputation that American teams bring. I still think Optic are probably the best team on the game at the moment although I think the gap has been closed a lot, and anyone could beat them on the day. As for Fear, I know their S&D is strong and that'll be a big factor for them but I can't see them getting into the top 4 with their roster. Anything can happen on the day though. Ryan: I’m very pleased. Had Optic not returned after EGL5 any future EGL event would have belittled prestige. With them returning it gives us and others the opportunity to show what we’re capable of against the NA competition. I really hope the EU triumphs this time even if we as a team are unable to. Ryan at Reflex GT7Decerto: Teams have been mentioning that they are putting in a lot of work to achieve the most they can at EGL7, what is your schedule like? Jake: We don't really have a schedule, we play when we're available. We probably play the least of all the top teams, certain members of teams like SK have more playtime individually than our team put together. Practice is important but people seem to think that means practising non stop. I think we play just the right amount and it means no one gets frustrated from playing too much as well as no one feels pressure into having to play when they don't want to. Ryan: I think since the WGL final we played one night for an hour (due to Alex’s illness). Even before then we played maybe twice a week usually. We aren’t really practiced in that regard. We all know what we have to do in our minds; we should play more during the days leading up to the event to get rid of any cobwebs. Decerto: As is sometimes the way with these events, the people that are missing are almost more important than those attending. Do you feel people set to be missing such as SK's Mak, the Mythix line up etc. detracts from the tournament at all? Jake: It's hard to say, I don't think Mythix are as strong as they used to be and I think they are aware of that. As for Mak not being able to attend, yes that will be a big hindrance to SK in my opinion and I don't think they will be able to achieve as good a placement as if Mak was playing but Madcat is a more than adequate replacement and I'm sure they'll still place well. It's a team game and if one player is unable to play then with enough time you can easily fix that however chemistry is something you cannot replace and so you have to find the right balance with these things. This detracts from the level of competition at the event, but there is still 75% of the original SK squad and with the loss of Mythix we gain another top team in FeaR. Ryan: Yeah to a degree but the team list is so stacked that I think whoever triumphs will undoubtedly be the best team in Europe for definite; and arguably the world. Given Mythix’s performance at i45 and the fact that SK are only missing one player; I wouldn’t say the competition is massively affected. Decerto: Since Optic's win at EGL5 a lot was made of the rotation style of play, something that you implemented to an extent beforehand. Has seeing their play style affected your play at all or do you see more of a change in ethos in other teams? Jake: Optic play like us but a lot more passive. We've definitely taken notes on their play style seeing as it was so successful, they're all great individual players but not a cut above the European players so it's obviously the factor that was making them unbeatable. As I said before we've tidied up our tactics and in ways they replicate Optic's but we're still a lot more aggressive. Eventually everyone catches onto the tactics that work best and as the game comes to it's end the teams that win are the most skilled teams rather than the most practised. Ryan: We played a brand similar to that anyway. The thing that sticks out from Optic is discipline. When they need to act defensively they will do where as we have historically over-extended ourselves. We have tried to learn from that aspect of their play. TCM at i45. Flux, Rich, Steve and Hammers. Decerto: So in regards to both skill and team work, do you feel you are on the same level as the Optic line up? Jake: I never thought skill in our team was lacking but team work is always something that can improve. We're quite renowned for being a quiet team and yes it does cause us a few problems. To be able to execute Optic's kind of play style successfully you need impeccable team work and so that's something we're always working on. We have a lot of chemistry in our team and have been playing together for a long time however so I think it's a lot easier for us than other teams to execute this. Ryan: Yes I even think that was evident in our match at EGL5. Discipline was the difference even though we were slightly dominant in the kill feed. Decerto: How do you feel about the Team FeaR situation with regards to their seed? Obviously if they go in unseeded you could hit them very early on and potentially face a long run in the losers bracket. Jake: I think it's the right decision to not seed them as when an European team attends an MLG event, that team needs to prove themselves and attend regularly to be seeded. It might cause some early match ups between top teams but you can't assume Fear will be a top team because of their reputation. Ryan: I think Optic should have been unseeded at EGL5. However as they were seeded I think consistency should have been shown and FeaR should have had a seed as well. If we face them then I’ll be confident in beating them as I have the utmost confidence in my team’s ability. Decerto: Are there any teams that you would tip for a high finish that might have slipped under the radar of others? Jake: I think outside the top 7 teams there is a quite significant gap. Although if there was one team that was to cause a few upsets and get inside I would say it would have to be LiNK. Ryan: Fariko Yin are a tricky side and I was confused they didn’t perform better at EGL5. I wouldn’t be surprised if they upset a hotly tipped side. TCM at EGL5 on the feature stage. Decerto: Obviously a large portion of LAN events is the social side, how will you be filling your down time? Jake: Playing Lego in my hotel room while the big boys go out. Ryan: I enjoy the company of my fellow gamers; it’s always good catching up with familiar faces. As for planned events I think I’ll be making the trip out on the Sunday night for possibly a few too many drinks. Hopefully it will be to celebrate our resounding victory; as opposed to drowning the sorrows. Decerto: You most recently came off the back of winning the SoundBlaster ProAm tournament hosted by the WGL, beating favoured teams such as Collapse, do you feel this gives you any more momentum or motivation for EGL7? Jake: Winning a tournament of that calibre is always a big achievement, however seeing as it was an online tournament and especially an EU hosted tournament, there's only so much momentum you can take from it heading to a LAN event. LAN is a whole new playground and you have to be at your best on the day whereas there is more room for mistakes online. Ryan: It gives us a lot of momentum and confidence. We are very strong most of the time but we do perform poorly online sometimes and we’ve had a few such poor performances at LAN. With us it’s just consistency. If we play well and we’re riding a wave of confidence the chances are we’ll beat whoever’s in front of us. Decerto: Your team had well publicised troubles with finding an organisation, however since MindFreak picked you up at short notice you have been under the TCM tag. Does playing under such a big name put any more pressure on you to perform and how would you rate your experience with the organisation? Jake: I don't feel any pressure playing under TCM. The management are all pretty down to earth and extremely reliable. They are extremely supportive and if anything it boosts us to play our best. TCM are very close with their players which in my eyes is the best factor, as it's good to have a close contact with the organisation and it eliminates any problems that come up, as both parties can rely on each other. Ryan: I don’t feel any added pressure; I just want to perform well as a way of thanking TCM for their support. I’ve enjoyed playing under TCM; as a student their support is extremely helpful and the perks such as the booth at i45 are awesome. Flux at i45 Decerto: How would you rank yourselves in the current pool of teams? Jake: I think we're slight under dogs at the moment, but I think with the right mindset we can break the top 3. Ryan: Prophecy, SK and ourselves are in a trio behind Optic as I see it. That view may change with the addition of FeaR but I’m really excluding the rest of the US. Dignitas I think are the most likely team to break into that European top 3 though. Proph aren’t shy of giving it the big ‘I am’ but I think these delusions of grandeur will be foiled come this weekend. Decerto: This year looks set to be one of the best for events, which ones will we be seeing TCM attending? Jake: As many as we can, we're set for EGL7 and 8, iSeries and Dreamhack Valencia and hopefully we keep attending such a high quantity of events. Decerto: What are your top 4 predictions for EGL7? Jake: Excluding ourselves; 1) Optic 2) Prophecy 3) SK 4) Dignitas Ryan: FeaR, SK, Optic, Proph. Tipping an SK v FeaR final. Decerto: Do you have any advice to new players attending the event? Jake: Play as a team, not individuals. Don't do a McGee. Ryan: Get to know like-minded individuals and just enjoy the whole experience; the adrenaline of the competition and the whole spectacle. Will it be TCM on mainstage in the final this weekend? Decerto: Shoutouts? Jake: Yeah shout outs to TCM management, Swizz, all the sponsors, CoolerMaster, CM Storm, BenQ, CCL online, Multiplay, TCM Bricey and the heavenly blessed beauty that is Amy Oldfield. Follow me on twitter, www.twitter.com/TCM_Jake Ryan: Coolermaster, CM Storm, BenQ, CCL Online, Multiplay, euesports and TCM management. - Decerto: Following this interview it was confirmed that Hammers wont be attending EGL7 due to illness, we asked the team how they thought the event would go without him. Jake: Obviously it will be a burden but hopefully we choose the right replacement who can at least do his best and hopefully we can still go for a top placement, anything can happen on the day and 3 of the team still remain so we're more than capable. Ryan: Despite losing Alex so close to the event; I’m attending to try and win the event as I always do and I think my team mates feel the same. With a suitable replacement we can still launch a challenge that will threaten to any team I think. Follow Decerto all weekend for the latest European Gaming League updates for MW3! We'll be providing pictures, videos, articles and more from Friday till Sunday! Please follow us on Twitter for the latest!