Interview With Splyce's CS:GO Entry Fragger- Taylor "Drone" Johnson
Tue 11th Jul 2017 - 11:43am
Taylor "Drone" Johnson's recent signing with Splyce probably didn't come as much of a surprise to the people who have watched him play over the last few years. Previously featured on now defunct Yahoo e-Sports "On the Radar", Drone is an up and coming star hungry to prove himself in the professional circuit. This week, I spoke with Drone about his transition from MDL/Premier to the professional circuit, and what it takes to succeed in a competitive enviroment.
As one of the newest and youngest additions to the Splyce CS:GO roster, what do you hope to accomplish over the next season, both personally, and within the team?
Drone: Personally, my goals for this upcoming ESL pro league season is to prove myself. It'll be my first pro season, and I individually want to perform to my own standards as well as do away with any doubt that anyone has in me in terms of whether or not I can play at the professional level. As a team, I want us to have a smooth transition to our new environment. Playing MDL, although still a prestigious league, is comprised of mostly lower level competition in comparison to pro league. I know that we can and have won against these pro teams, but I'm hoping for no bumps along the road in the transition from playing MDL/Premier teams to a full season of professional level competition. That coupled with our new players we'll be playing with is a challenge I want us to take in stride.
You were announced on the Splyce roster 7 months ago. What do you think is the biggest change, as a gamer, you’ve experienced since earning this tremendous opportunity?
Drone: I think the biggest change going from more amateur level teams to a professional team is the environment. It goes from a pretty unorganized environment when you're playing on an amateur team, to a completely professional, organized, scheduled environment. The change happens both within your own 4 teammates and any organization you play under. Schedules, official meetings with your organizations, expectations just go up in general. You're treated as a professional and expected to act like one, and in that area Splyce has really been good and supportive to me during that transitional period from amateur to professional.
In making the transition from the solo queue scene to organized play, were there any changes to your thought process or in game behavior that were critical to your success?
Drone: Absolutely. You go through a sort of shell shock when you switch, wherein almost everything you learned team-wise playing the game in a more casual environment is thrown out the window. Most times you'll have to completely relearn everything you think you know about how teamplay works and mold yourself to your team. It's a lot less about what you want to do and more about what you need to do for everyone else. You stop thinking as an individual and start concerning yourself more with what everyone else is doing. Being able to make the change from complete independent play to teamplay while retaining all of your mechanical skills in the process is difficult and takes a long time. It get's harder once you realize every team is different and that set of rules you learn doesn't apply across the board for everyone.
You’re an entry fragger, one of the roles that some people will shy away from in a solo queue environment, do you have any advice for players looking to develop that skill set?
Drone: Entrying is honestly one of the most frustrating yet rewarding roles in counter-strike, in my opinion. If you're trying to practice being that first man in and you don't have a team to do it with, its possible in pugs and solo-queue. You wont feel as rewarded for it, but you'll get the muscle memory of clearing the angles and the routes you take. And you'll die. A lot. Individually I'll play pugs and practice by just walking out onto bombsites with my team behind me. Just make sure you understand that in a team environment, your role is exponentially more important than it is in that pug and you're not practicing to be good in pugs you're practicing to be good in a team. But it's incredibly satisfying when you know you have the ability to win your team the round with a clean double-entry or heavily favorable trades
You climbed through the ESEA ranks, and put in a lot of work, to make it where you are today. What would you tell all the CS players out there who are looking to replicate what you’ve been able to do?
Drone: Play a lot and don't be stubborn. When I solo queue now, it makes me sad to see how much the environment has changed. Being hard headed and completely closed off to advice or criticism from anyone is the worst thing you could do for yourself. You watch streams today of professional players giving advice and being argued with constantly, or insulted. Pugs are meant to be an environment to grow in and practice in, not to repeat the same mistakes over and over and assume you're in the right. Just play the game a lot, fix your mistakes, be open to criticism and be self aware and you'll be on the right road, promise.
Game knowledge is paramount to being a talented player, what game play element should a player master their understanding of to really improve their overall ability to win?
Drone: There's so many things you have to understand at once to become a player like a fallen or a coldzera, and that's what makes it so hard. Pinpointing one gameplay element to make you significantly better is difficult, but a large one is understanding rotations. If you know, to a degree, exactly what the other team is doing based off of the pressure your team is creating and the picks you get, it makes your life so much easier and lets you see openings you otherwise wouldn't know are there. There's things like metagame, playing to the strength/weaknesses of your opponents, exploiting tendencies, recognizing patterns and so much more that makes players like fallen and cold that much more impressive when you realize they have all these things mastered, understood and accounted for at any given moment. But rotations are a good place to start, and watching demos and noting teams rotations are a good place to start.
What are some in game changes you’d like to see made to CS:GO?
Drone: I'd like to see a change in the pistols. I know I sound like a broken record, but I still think certain pistols are a little bit too overpowered. I feel like if you see a situation in which a fully kitted player dies to a pistol and genuinely couldn't do anything about it (running headshots, jumping headshots, etc) it's a problem. I don't like the economy of a team being based on whether or not this guy with a p250 is going to get a little lucky when he jumps.
What’s your favorite map in the competitive rotation, and which one do you to see rotated in, in the future?
Drone: My favorite competitive map right now is cobblestone. I'd like to see a cache rework. That's not to say I dislike the map, but there's a number of problems with it and I think a reconstruction of it would be good. FPS problems, bugs with certain parts of the map, etc.
Who, if anyone, were you inspired by to pursue this path? Who should young players be watching for inspiration today?
Drone: When I first started, I looked up to n0thing a lot. He was the guy, at the time, that was young and good. He was playing professionally at some ridiculous age and I respect that and wanted to be like that. Nowadays though, professional players are younger and younger. Players like twistzz, stewie, elige, are all good inspirations.
Any final words or shout outs you’d like to offer?
Drone: Just keep playing and don't do anything to stunt your own growth. Those two things will lead you to a degree of success. Shout out to my organization, Splyce, for being so good to me and shoutout to all of our sponsors. And my family, specifically my near 80 year old grandmother who ritualistically watches my games and supports me.