Anthony Lim: Making an ImpressioN
Overview of ImpressioN's CS:GO career including interview snippets
Asian Counter-Strike is rarely ever done justice; the scene goes far beyond TYLOO. While Asia has historically lagged behind other regions, it isn't due to a lack of firepower. There's an incredible amount of mechanically talented players in Asia, what there aren't enough of is great leaders. While the likes of Zhuo "advent" Liang and QiFang "Karsa" Su proved to be solid IGLs in the past, their potential has always been artificially capped by their limited knowledge of English.
Though things may seem bleak in regards to Asia competing internationally, there's still hope. Anthony "ImpressioN" Lim currently leads Big Time Regal Gaming, a team composed of some of Asia's best players. His years of experience, individual capabilities and work ethic make him an incredible figure in the scene.
While he's in the big leagues now, Anthony elaborated on his discovery of Counter-Strike, stating, "I first started playing 1.3 when I was a wee lil' child at age 5. Everybody was playing it. My family didn't own a PC at the time, so when I visited the LAN shop with my elder sister, it fascinated me that everybody was playing this game. You can keep respawning every 2 minutes, you can control a gun with a ball mouse and move your avatar around with a keyboard. It was amazing to me! I also, at one point in time as a kid, wanted to be a police officer, so being able to live out that fantasy in a GAME was huge."
Young Anthony played CS on and off through the years. He owned a copy on his Xbox, but by the time he had gotten his first laptop, he had moved on to other games such as DotA. The youngster only revisited the Counter-Strike franchise at the age of 17 with the release of Global Offensive when his sister asked him to play. He instantly fell in love with the game again, despite not having played for several years.
More Than Just a Dream
He began taking CS:GO seriously and competed in several local events. At the start of 2016, he would go on to join dream[S]cape where he met his future long-term teammates Nevin "splashske" Aw and Benedict "Benkai" Tan. Though opportunities to prove themselves to the outside world were scarce, d[S] was improving at a relatively quick pace. The squad was establishing itself as the best team in Singapore, managing to qualify for eXTREMESLAND ZOWIE Asia CS:GO 2016 and ASUS ROG Masters 2016, placing 3-4th and 2nd at both events respectively. They were proving that they were able to compete with opposition beyond South-East Asia.
By the start of 2017, the reins of the team were passed over to Alexandre "alecks" Sallé as dream[S]cape was signed by Chinese organization B.O.O.T.cn, thus becoming B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape. This moment became a pivotal part of ImpressioN's career as it marked his first step towards becoming a professional player.
"Considering that I first started playing CS as a kid as a form of escape from reality and real-life troubles, for it to become such a huge passion in my life over time and then to finally make a profession out of it. I'm not gonna lie or mince words about it; it feels f*cking amazing," expressed ImpressioN.
Playing under alecks' leadership was also a crucial point in Lim's progression as a player. He would shadow the French-Singaporean captain and stated that "A big part of me learning to put my ego aside was thanks to him." The influence alecks had even went beyond the boundaries of the game as ImpressioN looked up to him like an older brother. That said, Anthony was quick to say that "As much as I have respect for him inside and outside of the game, all that is chucked away when we're on opposite sides of the server. Winning against alecks is, to me, my biggest form of tribute towards his teachings. Outgrowing a mentor is probably a student's biggest achievement."
It's during his tenure with B.O.O.T-d[S] that ImpressioN would meet Harley "dsn" Örwall, a former Counter-Strike 1.6 legend and the team's new head coach. Anthony described the Swede as "Probably the craziest guy I've ever worked with. He can at one moment impart to you knowledge that would instantly make you a better player and person and at another moment make you really think 'is this guy even human?'" He further added that "Working with him was a pleasure and a huge honor for me, learning from him was no doubt beneficial for myself as both a person and player. I still sometimes think he's an alien or maybe just a reborn, immortal viking."
A few months later, alecks had moved to a coaching position as dsn became the organization's Chief Digital Officer. The move allowed Anthony to test the waters of in-game leading while still having access to the duo's wisdom. Pair that with the financial backing brought by an organization and ImpressioN's career skyrocketed.
The next two years saw the Singaporean gain invaluable experience as B.O.O.T-d[S] attended a number of substantial international tournaments, such as DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017, WESG 2017, ESL One: Cologne 2018, IEM Sydney and IEM Shanghai. Though the Singaporean team may not have had any deep runs in those tournaments, it's impossible to overstate just how much impact attending events of that caliber can have. It provided the team the opportunity to face different playstyles and, quite frankly, get their asses handed to them. While it might not be the case for all, ImpressioN is the kind of person who turns those situations into significant learning experiences.
Time for a New Project
In March 2019, Anthony would leave B.O.O.T-d[S] in favor of the previously mentioned Big Time Regal Gaming. Following the Singaporean's addition, BTRG was like a revolving door as the team struggled to field a consistent roster. Despite this, ImpressioN played some of the best CS:GO in his career, averaging a 1.11 rating in 2019.
We are very pleased to officially announce the transfer of ImpressioN from BOOT.ds to BTRG!@ImpressioNCSGO pic.twitter.com/4zc0fL9hkZ— BTR GAMING (@BTRG_CSGO) March 27, 2019
With the New Year eventually came a period of stability, as BTRG finalized its roster in late May. Currently, the team is composed of Indonesian AWPer Kevin "xccurate" Susanto, Korean superstar Hyun-Pyo "XigN" Lee, Indonesian rifler Kevin "Eeyore" Gunawan, Thai youngster Kritthee "Geniuss" Sawatmuang and ImpressioN himself. While Yan "start" Zhang acted as BTRG's coach and analyst for a few years, he has recently become the team's manager with Piyangoon "MYM" Kitisin trialing for the vacant coaching position. Anthony touched on the Thai coach's addition, stating that "MYM has been trialing with us and honestly I think he's been a godsend, pointing us in the right direction and fixing a lot of problems we used to have a lot faster than we used to do. I look forward to working with him even more over the next few weeks."
BTRG may not currently be the best team in Asia, but the roster pieces forecast a bright future. Easily a top 2 AWPer in Asia, xccurate brings both firepower and experience from having played with TYLOO. XigN is the last Korean in the CS:GO scene, but his love for the game and understanding of the intricacies are unparalleled in the region. Eeyore is a hardworking team player who will play difficult positions if it gives his teammates a better chance of winning. Geniuss is young, incredibly sharp and brings a voice to the squad, which was missing for a long time.
With the firepower present in this roster, ImpressioN has taken a backseat and let his teammates shine. Instead of focusing on fragging, Anthony can shift his energy towards getting the most out of his players. "I aspire to be a leader that will spearhead the path towards victory for my team and constantly encourage and push them for more as we move forwards onto success together," he says.
BTRG's main issue, as with most international teams, is communication. All the players are very capable of speaking English, but comms are known to get messy in the heat of the moment. While ImpressioN is frustrated with the situation, he believes things will naturally get better once the state of the world goes back to normal: "Bootcamping right now would easily grow us as a team, I'm sure of it. Less comms issues, no Internet issues, no distractions and full focus." One shouldn't be too worried though; the roster is still young and these kinds of issues are resolved with time as more protocols are built up.
What the Future Holds
While it's unlikely ever to happen, Anthony states, "I would love to be able to move my entire team to another region to play and compete in if it'll affect us positively in the long run."
The captain also mentions that though it's not impossible, a future in VALORANT currently isn't in the plans. His passion for CS:GO is too strong as he eats and breathes the game. When asked what he enjoyed the most about CS:GO, the Singaporean replied, "Everything. The complexity of it all, how complicated it can get, how systematic the game can be, yet sometimes someone can do the bloody impossible and make it look like nothing. How this game can be so simple yet so fascinating, there can almost never be the same situation twice. Nothing is ever the same. Everything is always changing. This game is the height of esports; you don't need to know all the mechanics to understand something was a highlight play."
As a player, Anthony hopes to play at a Major as he'd enjoy every round of it. His outlook on the scene is positive and he truly believes that the game will only continue to grow in Asia, especially as the younger generations speak English among themselves. His only critique is that he wishes esports would be taken more seriously in Singapore, as most opportunities are cut short by country's mandatory military service. He believes that people should be given the option to apply for a deferment, like in South Korea.
Anthony has incredibly ambitious dreams, but he has the experience, discipline and talent to act on them. The Singaporean feels like even though he may eventually retire as a player, it's unlikely he will ever leave esports as a whole. He wishes to build a legacy, to put Singapore on the map, to be an inspiration to future generations like Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund were to him. Simply put, his passion is genuine and he wants to make a lasting "ImpressioN" on the scene.