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Shifty: The daily routine of a female esports professional

Interview: Team expert CS-GO player Shifty about the best female players and the Team Secret rivalry

Today, we are proud to present the English version of an interview with our very own CS:GO female captain Lisa "shifty" Catino. Big thanks go to Red Bull esports giving us the opportunity to create this English version. The original German version has been done by Matthias Holländer for Red Bull esports right after Copenhagen Games and can be found on their website:


RB: Some might know you from your Counter-Strike: Source career which started around 2007. Tell us something about your career and your teams.

That's true, I've started 2007 in the ESL. This was the first time I heard about leagues and teams. Especially the fact that teams existed who train together and play Counter-Strike. Back then, I only played with friends - later I came in touch with female teams in Counter-Strike: Source. There were no competitions in the female scene, but I was able to gather first experiences playing in a girls-only team. Then I started playing in 1on1 leagues, where they also had the first female competitions but this was already relatively late. It became professional with the switch to Global Offensive. Back then, the Counter-Strike 1.6 scene came together with the CS:S Scene and this was the point where it started getting professional. All existing competitions at that time like ESWC and Copenhagen Games for example became accessible for us CS:S players. This was also the time where I joined the first professional team, where we invested more time in practicing to participate in bigger events. With the goal to qualify for the first Intel Challenge in Katowice, I assembled my own team which included Stefanie "QueeN" Eydens who some of you may know. After the Intel Challenge, we were able to qualify for every other event. With Cooler Master, we found our first sponsor, which wasn’t easy back then, because sponsors just started showing interest in female teams. After that, we made changes to the team and were independent again. In that time, we drove to St. Petersburg. We were really lucky because the whole event was paid by the event organizer, including travel expenses. After qualifying for ESWC, we joined Team expert.


RB: Let's talk about the female players. What are their strengths and how do you guys distribute roles?

I'm already part of the older players, being 26 and have been playing CS for a long time now. I'm the team captain and in charge of the organization and team. Team Captain doesn't mean Ingame Leader in our team, currently, that is Julie's role which was a pretty recent change. She is the best in supporting the other players and has a good tactical overview. I look for tactics outside of training. Julie does that as well and executes those ingame. In addition to that she makes the tactical decisions. Gina, Jinjin, is our AWPer. In my eyes, she's one of the strongest AWPers in the european female scene. She always brings constant performance and dominates the scoreboard. She constantly gets 20 to 30 frags, gets clutches with the AWP like nobody else and I'm actually a big fan of her. She's in charge of most entry frags as well, so I work together with her to get good entry frags. Kelly is one of our most constant players and she has the best aim. She is the one who stays back and wins aim duels. When we go in to push, she stays back and gives us cover. She's really strong in clutching as well. If she's in a 1vs3, she often wins. She's a smart player. In addition to that, she's our second AWP. So, when we have enough money, she buys one and we go for double AWP. Petra is the newest addition to our team, she joined back during preparation for Katowice 2017. She's a really new talent who we found in a Belgian mix although she is Dutch. Her performance in the old team really made her stand out. She's a great allrounder, has an even better game sense, plays smart and has a really constant aim. Petra is currently our topfragger. One of the most talented female players in Europe if you ask me. That's why she gets a lot of offers from other teams, but sticks to us.


RB: Julia is your caller as of recently. Who called at Copenhagen Games and Intel Challenge?

Petra called at the Intel Challenge, because she replaced HellRose, our Ingame Leader before that. Petra called in her last team as well, so we wanted to stick to that and try it out. But that didn't work as well, because Petra should play her own game. Our best player shouldn't focus on calling. At Copenhagen Games, I tried calling, but that was really chaotic because we've only trained twice in this setup. Thinking back, that wasn't a smart move. We're trying to find out right now if Julie is the final solution.


RB: Who are the top 5 best female players in your eyes?

I'd definitely say zAAz from Team Secret. You have to say that she's playing on a really high level for a few years now. Vilga has been standing out as of lately as well. She plays on a top level in her team. I'd add Petra as well, because she fears nobody. She always plays constantly, has the right motivation and mindset to win. It's just the right mentality, that's why she's working hard on herself. Gina is probably one of the best AWPers. There is a huge talent, that I've noticed at Copenhagen Games. Her name is dunno, Katharina Helle Karlsson from Red Reserve. She's playing in a team with Hellrose, one of our ex-players.


RB: There are no american players in your top 5. Do you think Europe is stronger than America? How would you describe the difference between both regions?

That's a difficult question, because the American teams have to kick each other out in most events. Additionally, their qualifications are way earlier und CLG won almost every time. Nowadays, Dignitas is better than CLG. I don't really know why, but I think it's because of their changes. In direct comparison, European Teams usually perform better. I like to compare with Team Secret and they usually win single figure games against american teams.


RB: Talking about Team Secret, they seem to stand in your way really often. They kicked you out of Intel Challenge in Katowice and Copenhagen Games. Why is it so hard playing against them?

I have to say that secret really is a great enemy for us. We usually play better against them then against others. I'm always having the feeling, that playing against them is on another level. But I don't think it is necessarily harder to play against them mentally. I can talk for my team saying that we're relieved when we play against Secret, because we want to finally beat them. We always play tight maps against them. We actually were the first team to win a map against them. I think that intimidated Team Secret a little bit, or at least showed them that they have to respect their enemy. They're giving us credit for that and we're in a good relationship with them. We always wish to play against them in the final. They had their hardest matches against us that we sadly couldn't take these duels to the finals yet due to brackets. What makes it harder to play Secret as well, is the fact that they play fulltime and earn a wage. A pretty high one compared to the other girls. Of course because they're much more successful. Being able to invest more time makes it harder for other teams to catch up to them. That doesn't mean it's impossible of course.


RB: You just talked about earning a wage. Are any of the girls in your team playing fulltime?

Yes and No. Petra is currently unemployed, so you could say she's playing fulltime. She games a lot. The other members of the team can't do that. One of us is in her apprenticeship, I'm working, Julie is working as well, but only part times. Kelly could potentially play fulltime, but is still working on the side. In the german scene, it's really hard to go fulltime without the proper money to live from.


RB: Would your team go fulltime if there was the possibility for it?

Yes, it's a dream for all of us. We would love to spend all of our time with improving because we want to reach the top. We always ask ourselves what we could achieve when we were able to invest more time.


RB: Which top team would you compare your playstyle with?

We like to play chilled, pretty much like Fnatic does. Being strong individual players, we prefer going for direct contact and duels as our usual strategies. Our strengths are our good aim and knowing what we can do. That's why we're trying to build on top of that. I've to say that our play style just recently changed. We used to play a more tactical approach and discovered, that we've to play more casually.


RB: How does the future look for you guys?

I of course hope that we can stay at expert for a long time and maybe can go fulltime for them, now that we've presented our gaming house. Now we have the option to go to bootcamp for longer durations and maybe train a week or longer before an event. I'm really excited about that. We still have the goal to climb to the top and finally beat Team Secret. We want to be the first team to beat Secret and I think we fulfill all the conditions to do so. We do have a coach who already helped us a lot. Now we need to work on fine tuning and I'm motivated and confident that we'll be successful.


Thanks again to Matthias Holländer, Red Bull esports and Lisa "shifty" Catino



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