Sander "Vo0" Kaasjager has resurfaced in the Intel Extreme Masters North American Championship for QuakeLive. The record holding winner of $238,000 in one year in PainKiller currently lives in Dallas and is looking to qualify for the World Championship in 2010 from a group with DKT, griffin and chance.
How did a Dutch man end up playing in the American Championsihp?
Sander 'Vo0' Kaasjager: I moved to Texas in January this year to attend university and to be closer to my girlfriend. When the Intel Extreme Masters were announced I asked if I was allowed to participate and since I was, I started playing Quake Live.
So it's the competition, not the game?
Yes, it always has been.
Even in PainKiller?
Well I started PK the day it came out pretty much, because I wanted to get ahead, hoping the game would become big. The competition is what drives any player to become better. Yes, as soon as there is no competition, there is not much reason to play for, especially after you have played these types of games for over 10 years.
How is America treating you?
America is treating me well, I attend college full time, continuing (or rather, starting over) mechanical engineering, the course that I dropped in 2004 to play PK. I live together with my fiancee Rebecca (Iris), who is also a full time student. It's been a very good year.
How does being a competitive gamer in Europe compare to being one in America?
I prefered playing over in Europe. There's a larger player base over there. Many more tournaments are being played every week. Over here we just have the ESL American Championship qualifiers, while over there there are tournaments popping up left and right. America is bigger too, so usually I'm playing on a higher ping than I would like to; in The Netherlands I could find many players who were closer to me so I could find lower pinged games. I'm not really complaining, I just wish more people organized online tourneys over here, they are fun.
Is the general level of play lower in the US?
I have not played Quake Live in Europe so I can not comment on that. It seems to be pretty equal, maybe Europe having a little edge (larger playerbase), even though the current world champ is American.
How can it be explained? Europe delivers almost the entire top 8, but America delivers the winners? It has often been like this.
I have no idea, I don't think there is any logic behind it, it just happens to be this way.
How have you prepared yourself for Edmonton?
The preparations aren't done yet. I am trying to squeeze some hours in every day which seems to be working out alright. I will be very busy the week before Edmonton as I will have 4 final exams to take.
How big are the chances that the American Championship's winner will not be an American?
What's the math behind that?
I am one of 8 competitors. 7 are North Americans, 1 is not. :-) Seriously though, obviously rapha is the big favorite to add another title to his name. But on a good day it might be anyone's game right now, I feel the general skill level of most of the players is very balanced.
Do you feel in shape to find yourself in the final?
Yes, on a good day I believe I can beat any of these players. Hopefully I will have good days next weekend.
What advantages do you have over your opponents in Canada?
Being Dutch! I know I wouldn't like losing to someone not from my country if I were to play a national qualifier. :)
Honestly now, do you expect to qualify for the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship
Yes that is my goal, and I expect to achieve it.
This would mean that you have to go through your group, which is a very even one. Who's going to go through with you?
How would you compare rapha do DaHanG as a player?
rapha is more laid back, does not make many mistakes, but forces mistakes on you. When in control can be very dangerous, when out of control is hard to kill. DaHang plays more agressively and executes his attacks very well. They are both top notch players and can beat each other on any given day.
Do you get in trouble at home if you lose?
I will probably have to sleep on the couch for a few nights :(
How much will the transfer to compLexity change in your gaming life?
This will allow me to better prepare for events because I know I have an organization backing me up. They add bits of positive pressure to my matches; I'm not only playing for myself anymore, I am representing a team. I like to thank compLexity and their sponsors Creative, XFX, Puretrak, and g8 Clothing for getting me on the team.
Does having a fiance who's also a gamer influence your competitive gaming at all?
Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. Women like to shop.
That doesn't sound good... The American Championship will be played in the biggest shopping mall of North America. As far as I know, Iris is coming with you.
Yeah, I'm sure we'll do some shopping, kinda hard to use excuses like "I don't feel like going there" since we're already there.
Rapha is winning events left and right. Do you see many similarities between you in PainKiller and rapha in QuakeLive? Is such a comparison fair?
Not a fair comparison. Different times, different events, different prize purses. A World Tour like the one I had can not be compared to the current state of tournaments.
The big question, I guess, is: do you have the fire inside to dominate everyone that stands in your way? What needs to happen for us to see that kind of Vo0?
Another World Tour pretty much. Large amounts of tournaments with large prize purses. :)
//Interview by Michal 'Carmac' Blicharz
The Intel Extreme Masters American Championship will take place in Edmonton, Canada on December 11-13. Visit this page for more interviews, video coverage, live streaming, up to date scores and more.