I played the new Unreal Tournament game against Mousesports pro ScHiSch and got my ass handed to me

Rouven-ScHiSch-Falkewitz-unreal-tournament-2

At a PC trade show today, among a sea of desktops and boring-looking pieces of hardware, in the corner of my eye I notice a game being played in the next room.

From where I’m standing I can only see part of the monitor, but I can make out it’s an FPS. The first-person camera is moving like AI – fast, meticulous, unnaturally accurate.

As I enter the room, it becomes clear that it’s not the computer playing the game at all, but a pro gamer instead (though I’m not sure there’s much of a difference). It’s none other than Rouven “ScHiSch” Falkewitz – a German player for Mousesports and the team’s only pro for classic one-on-one deathmatch games, like ShootMania and Unreal Tournament, after his teammate and UK pro George "Caspa" Stephens was let go.

He’s currently destroying a middle-aged independent retail buyer in the upcoming free-to-play Unreal Tournament PC game – the kind of person who probably doesn’t game that much at all. The poor bloke is decimated as ScHiSch (pronounced ‘Sheesh’) racks up kill after brutal kill, eventually winning the match 19-0.

There’s barely enough time for a break, as another opponent steps up to challenge the pro lose. This time it’s the son of one of a store owner – a younger lad who looks like he’s played a game or two.

After less than one minute, the guy is 3-0 down to ScHiSch. The young man huffs and slowly raises his arms, like a little kid playing Call of Duty who really doesn’t want to lose but knows there’s nothing he can do to stop it, so may as well quit now.

Not only has ScHiSch not lost a single game today – he hasn’t even been killed once.

I introduce myself to ScHiSch, who responds with a warm handshake and smile. He asks if he can get some food before I play against him. I pretend it’s because he must have felt like he’s met a worthy challenger (in reality, I’m just mentally preparing myself for defeat, of course)!

He says he hasn’t eaten any breakfast or lunch yet. With it being 2pm, and myself being like that guy off the Snickers advert (seriously, I am an embarrassing angry mess when I’m hungry), I’m wondering how on Earth he’s functioning like normal.

After grabbing some food, I ask him how the eSports scene is today for games like Unreal Tournament and Quake, and what tournaments he has coming up.

“I’ve no idea when the next tournament is,” ScHiSch admits, openly. “This new Unreal Tournament game is still pre-alpha – everyone is focused on League of Legends, CS: GO and Dota 2 right now but I’ve always played these kind of shooters.”

ScHiSch seems a little disappointed Unreal isn’t up there with those other games. And when I think about it, I am too. Unreal Tournament is an absolute classic and deserves more love in the competitive PC gaming scene; perhaps when the new game fully launches it will be back where it belongs. But for now it’s still a long way from that. Nowadays, tournament prize money, wages and sponsorships in eSports far outweigh what they were during Unreal Tournament’s heyday.

It’s ironic, considering games like Unreal were among the first to be played in a competitive tournament environment, creating early eSports stars such as Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty” Wendel – a player that ScHiSch knew pretty well.

“I grew up with Fatal1ty,” he says. “He was there at my first CPL events. I was 15 back then – one of the younger players there.

“Anyone can do it. But it’s incredibly hard to stay at that very top level.”

He tells me more about practicing hard at Unreal Tournament and the importance of establishing map control early on. For example, knowing when weapons spawn, making a mental note of respawn countdown timers for each item and so on, to stop your opponent from getting anything that could put them at an advantage. Oh, and avoiding camping. 

How it feels to 1v1 against ScHiSch

Rouven-ScHiSch-Falkewitz-Unreal-TournamentMoments before ScHiSch gets another kill against an unsuspecting victim

As we head back to the game area, I ask about ScHiSch’s record at trade shows like this, where he helps to promote Club3D’s products including its range of graphics cards.

“No one beats me at trade shows,” ScHiSch grins. “At Gamescom we had a wheel of fortune, where opponents could spin the wheel to choose a handicap for me before I played them. For example, I may have had to play without a keyboard, or without a mouse, or with a super small screen resolution instead.”

Not only has ScHiSch not lost a single game today – he hasn’t even been killed once.

I log onto the computer, facing opposite him, and prepare for the worst.

We begin a five-minute deathmatch on the pre-alpha Unreal Tournament game, and I immediately go on the hunt for a better weapon. It’s like Unreal never change – the movement is super fast and the clustered map is designed for maximum fragging.

I find a pulse rifle – a tweaked version of the classic pulse gun from the original game – and after a few moments I stumble across ScHiSch.

He’s immediately dodging and moving fast to evade my fire, but I manage to hit him a couple of times!

Then he kills me.

I respawn, still basking in the delight of actually scoring a few hits. I walk around cautiously, struggling to spot him. After about 20 seconds or so, I can feel the tension. It honestly feels scarier than some of the survival horror games I’ve played – that feeling of inevitable death, futile to resist.

This time it takes a good 20 seconds or so to find each other, but as we do, I’m still in the process of testing out a new grenade launcher-type gun that I just found.

I die.

This calls for something different – desperate even…

Camping. I know, I know, I hate campers myself but I have to try a new tactic. I crouch under a wall with a gap underneath it, small enough to fit my character in. The only problem I have is I’m exposed to either side of the wall, but I’m pretty hidden.

After another 20 seconds or so, ScHiSch finds me.

And I die. Again.

Unreal Tournament is an absolute classic and deserves more love in the competitive PC gaming scene; perhaps when the new game fully launches it will be back where it belongs. But for now it’s still a long way from that.

This time I have all but given up, but I try to dodge and strafe like a better player would. Some of our stand-offs last a bit longer than before, and I do manage to hit him a couple more times, but he’s got his health back from before, so it makes no difference.

At this point I find myself just trying to survive for longer, by dodging and hiding behind walls a bit more, but it’s no use.

Dead.

Dead.

Dead.

Before I know it, the game is over, and I’ve lost 8-0.

ScHiSch leans across the desk and we shake hands. As I stand up to leave, I’m beaming from ear to ear (partly to mask my humiliation but mainly because it was a good laugh). Another member of the trade approaches me and says “you did well!” with the most unconvincing forced smile I think I’ve ever seen.

Clearly a lie, the person adds: “Well, if you thought you were bad, wait til you see me play him.”

That raises my spirits a jot. Is it pathetic to be happy losing to pro because you only died in the single digits?

My embarrassingly poor playing ability aside, one thing’s worth keeping in mind – Unreal Tournament will be back.

How big it will get this time within eSports remains to be seen, but ScHiSch will be waiting for it, and he will be ready.

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