Today’s eSports Spotlight is on the GASHPLUS_NightEagles, an intrepid young team from Taiwan best known for their aggressive play style and ever-evolving strategy. We caught up with current team captain, HanksOAO, to find out what makes these tankers worth watching – read more in our interview below!
It’s tempting to dismiss the GASHPLUS_NightEagles as just another bunch of young upstarts looking to make a name for themselves in the league, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They’ve been training and competing together in military-themed games since 2004 – that’s more than a decade of experience – and specifically in WoT since early 2013. Some of the team’s members have even been playing since the WoT NA server’s beta days!
So why WoT? “I haven’t been with the team that long, but I’ve heard many legends about NE’s glory days from my more senior teammates,” says HanksOAO, who’s flown under the NightEagles’ banner for more than 5 years. “We formed our WoT team hoping to be able to recapture some of that splendour, and lead NE to victory once more.”
The proof, though, is in the pudding. In 2013, the still freshly-minted NightEagles took part in their first ever tournament, the TanksAsia Masters Open Season, on a whim. There, they surprised everyone – including themselves – by pipping 2 former champion teams for a spot in the Grand Finals in Bangkok, Thailand.
“This was something we never thought we’d be able to do,” recalls HanksOAO. “We actually only took part to challenge ourselves and test out our skills – many of us weren’t even fully prepared for the match, but participated anyway.” Though the NightEagles eventually emerged runners-up, their gamble paid off – their outstanding tournament performance attracted the attention of GASHPLUS, a major e-payment provider, who offered them support and sponsorship.
For a team specializing in military games, it seems only fitting that a certain degree of regimentation is built into its structure. It’s even less surprising when you consider that the NightEagles’ founder, XYZ, came from a military background. “Every new batch of recruits will get assigned a specific rank… We used to attach a lot of importance to the seniority system,” explains HanksOAO. “Our team places quite a bit of emphasis on discipline.”
Clearly, such a system would require that some members step forward to take up leadership roles, while the others work together to support them. “cksbb and dino are the driving core of our team,” says HanksOAO. “They’ve both previously held positions of authority in NE, and they rank higher than me, so I have to address them as ‘Senior’. Even now that I’ve become the tournament team leader, there are still times when I need to look to them for support and battlefield experience.”
So what are they like as senior members of the team? “bb is very meticulous, so he’s very careful even when playing,” HanksOAO says of cksbb, who specialises in light tanks and scouting. “Maybe sometimes even a little too meticulous,” he laughs. “And dino is one of our main callers on the battlefield. His forte is the IS-3,” he adds. “I would compare the relationship between him and his IS-3 to that of Guan Yu and his Red Hare (a famous historical Chinese general and his prized steed). But of course, dino and cksbb have a very close relationship as well – dino’s wife often jokes that cksbb is like his mistress!”
Unfortunately for these seasoned players, though, their offline commitments have recently meant that professional gaming has had to take a back seat. “It’s a pity, but this year they’ve had to enter society and start work, so it’s difficult for them to remain as invested in the game as before,” admits HanksOAO. “I too graduated last year and have a job now.”
With their veteran members stepping out of the limelight, the NightEagles have had to look to their most promising recruits, such as GUMP, MilkTea, Nejojo and Trigger, to form the next generation of top tankers. “We’ve chosen to train a new tournament team – after all, everyone has their own life to live, and we can’t expect them to forsake their jobs in order to compete,” declares HanksOAO. “Our new lineup was mostly selected from the existing team: Those with both the passion and prowess to succeed.”
Despite having already selected the cream of the crop for training, it hasn’t been easy. “We still need to work on the team’s chemistry, and the way they execute directives,” says HanksOAO. “These are all things that need time to perfect; we know it can’t all be accomplished in a few days.”
So that being said, what’s top of the team’s priority list at the moment? “That’s a pretty difficult question to answer,” muses HanksOAO. “We feel that the main purpose of training and tactics is to build team chemistry, as well as to ensure that players are aware of the strategies they may have to employ in the coming matches.”
“But I say ‘may’ because we all know that the battlefield is ever-changing, and it’s impossible to fully predict what your opponent will do. All we can do by way of preparation is to plan our steps for the first 30 seconds,” he adds. “After that, we just have to rely on our general’s commands and react to situations as they come… This is where tactical implementation is crucial. However, you need a certain level of personal skill to correctly execute the learned manoeuvres, so it’s equally important to be constantly training and refining yourself.”