‘It’s not that UK teams can’t make it, but you don’t have guidance from mentors in the UK scene’ – Mezii on breaking away from UK CS, the game’s latest patch and playing at Wembley in the Blast Premier Spring Final 2024

Mezii wearing a Team Vitality jersey

In this special series of articles, Esports News UK’s coverage of the Blast Premier Spring Final 2024 is in collaboration with the betting partner GGBET UK

Since joining Team Vitality in November 2023, UK rifler William ‘mezii’ Merriman has already won two big Blast events and now his team head into the upcoming PGL Copenhagen 2024 Major ranked second best in the world. Esports News UK’s Reece Barrett caught up with mezii to speak about the state of play in the UK Counter-Strike 2 (CS2) scene.

Reece Barrett, Esports News UK: We’ve just had Epic.LAN, and in the aftermath, Bleed player Cai ‘CYPHER’ Watson said to UKCSGO that it’s really bad how players like him or Owen ‘smooya’ Butterfield can walk into an event like that with a mix team, and still finish top four beating teams that actually practice together as a unit. You’ve come through the UK scene, even first playing with teams like London Esports and Vexed Gaming, so do you agree with his comments, and do you think the UK is still miles off of the top level of Counter-Strike?

William ‘mezii’ Merriman: I wouldn’t say miles off. I think there’s a big difference as well between the individuals and [quality as a] team.

Even when I first started, I think it’s always been the case that a lot of the top-end UK players that played maybe at a European level have come in as mixed teams and beat a lot of the teams. So even now It’s the same as when I was there, and I think it’s always going to happen.

The individuals are not that far off a European standard team, but I think teams as a whole have still got a bit of a way to go and that just takes time.

There’s been a big transition period and a lot of the UK teams are improving, because I think when I was coming through, and even just after me, it was always Team Endpoint winning everything non-stop. If they were attending, they were winning.

But now it feels like it’s finally transitioned out of that and you’ve seen some of the newer teams come through like Verdant, K10, and a few of these teams are coming through and they’ve got individuals who are shining as well. And some of these individuals don’t seem too far off a European level as well.

I think with these LANs, mix teams, it’s always going to happen. It happens even at a higher level as well with some of the lower teams in the RMRs, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing, and I think it’s good that there’s still improvements happening [in the UK scene] anyway.

And you say that you don’t think the individuals are too far off, there’s a lot of talk that maybe you have to join an international team to really succeed as a UK player, something that you obviously did yourself. You’ve broken away from the scene, so what advice can you give to players wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I think for me that it came at a good time. Especially now, having so many different platforms like Faceit and all of these hubs that you can play online.

The main thing is just trying to meet new people, make new connections and especially make connections with the European players.

And this doesn’t mean that UK teams can’t make it, I think they definitely can, it just takes a bit of time but also you don’t have the guidance from mentors in the scene. That’s always tough, because if you look at other scenes, like the Danish scene for example who have got IGL after IGL at every stage of their development, but in the UK it’s a bit different.

It’s tough to know exactly if you’re doing is the right thing or the wrong thing, and if you don’t know that, it’s very hard to improve. I think players need to keep grinding and if the opportunities arise then they can move into an international team.

In the tier one spaces, a lot of the teams are international now, and I think it provides a lot more opportunities for everyone in the esport. Just start grinding, make new connections, use all of these Faceit hubs and just see where it can take you.

‘If you have a dream, sometimes you have to take a risk, devote a lot of time and sacrifice a lot more to try and put it in that extra time. The opportunities do come and plenty of players are examples of that, whether it’s in CS or other esports, but even in the UK the opportunities do come.’

Mezii on going pro

Talking about opportunities, it’s no secret that some of the opportunities in esports are drying up with job cuts in what is being considered an “esports winter.” How do you think the UK CS2 scene can develop, despite the opportunities slowing up?

To be honest, it really is rough at the moment.

Throughout my whole experience within the UK Scene, I think it’s always been pretty rough, like never being able to fully commit full time hours to the game, because whether you have school or university, or if the funding isn’t there, then you can’t put as much time into the game as you’d want to.

I think as well there’s always risks, so if you have that spare time, like for me it was taking a year out after university to really focus on the game, but of course it’s tough to spend that much time on the game at the moment.

But it’s one of those things with esports. It doesn’t happen overnight, you always have to put this time in but time is not on your side with jobs and school and so on.

If you look at examples from other scenes though, Denmark, Sweden, Scandinavian countries, and they’re adopting CS and esports at a younger age and really putting time in. It can pay off.

If that’s your dream, sometimes you have to take that risk and to just devote a lot of time and sacrifice a lot more to try and put it in that extra time. It just takes time, the opportunities do come and plenty of players are examples of that, whether it’s in CS or other esports, but even in the UK the opportunities do come.

Let’s turn our attention away from the UK scene and look at CS2 as a whole, because there’s constant updates at the moment and there was a bit of a stir at the Americas RMR because teams voted not to use the latest version of the game. What’s your opinion on that – do you think tournaments should always be played on the latest version, even if an update is released after an event starts?

I think it was a lot different going from CSGO to CS2 because I think Global Offensive was so much more mature that if there was an update towards the end, it didn’t really change much. The game was in a good state and everyone knew how it worked, and how everyone else was playing, how the game works, and so on.

But CS2 is in a position where it really need those updates. You need to be playing the updates constantly to know where the game is heading, because the game is going to improve and evolve very quickly.

I do understand it’s tough for some of these players and teams to be practicing on one thing leading up to the event, and then getting to the event it’s something different, but then it’s different for every other team too.

It’s not like one team can get an advantage if an update drops the day before.

For me, it’s important to play on the most recent patch to just try and get used to it, because once you get out of the event, you’re going to be playing on the most recent patch with what everyone else has been playing on [while you were at a tournament].

Other players are going to evolve on that most recent update, so I think it’s best to keep playing, giving feedback to Valve and just trying to help get the game to where it wants to be.

‘Playing at smaller UK LANs when I was first starting out, there was always a good atmosphere. And to have that atmosphere in London [this summer] will be something special, and something that I’m very excited to play at.’

Mezii on the upcoming Blast Premier Spring Final 2024

Hopefully the game will be in that state where it wants to be by the time that Counter-Strike comes to Wembley Arena for the Blast Premier Spring Final! We’re only a few months away, how excited are you to play in front of a big home country crowd for the first time?

Super excited! It’s going to be crazy because I think even playing at smaller UK LANs when I was first starting out, there was always a good atmosphere.

[A big event] is something we haven’t had for a long time in the UK, and the fact I’m able to play it, it’s just another level.

Even at some other events since I started with Vitality, the atmosphere and support has been insane.

So to have that atmosphere in London will be something special, and something that I’m very excited to play at.

Thanks for your time Mezii and good luck in the Spring Final.

RELATED ARTICLE: Interview with KennyS and RpK on what Valve should change in CS2, the standard of play at Epic.LAN, and loving the UK’s weather and food

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