Interview with fpsZED of team Ferocity (PC NA)

About ZED

Real name: Ron Zimmer

Age: 30

Location: Ontario, Canada

Vocation: Application Developer\Database Administrator

What do you do when not working or playing siege?

Play Tennis or hang with the girlfriend.

Just casual tennis or competitive?


What level of competitive play?

In the 4.0 - 5.0 level of competitive play, so still amateur.

Do you play any other games competitively now or in the past?

Counter-Strike 1.6/Source, quake 3 arena. Technically Counter-Strike 1.5 on LAN for about 2 years as well.

Have you been able to transfer a lot of skills from that?

I would say game sense was all transferred from that for sure. Much of feeling out the opponent and expecting his next move comes from my 10+ years of competitive FPS gameplay. Aim transfers somewhat I'm sure as well but gamesense = win.


Gamesense is a term that gets thrown around a lot, how do you define it?

I would define it as the ability or "sense" that you are predicting the opponent's next move and reacting to what that next move is going to be before it happens. So in turn you're setting up for an attack or a flank that hasn't happened to get the upper hand on the opponent.

How do you go about developing that sense?

This comes with time and learning an opponent's play style. Certain players like noted, nvk, lamelle, etc. would be very fast play types and expect to get entry kills within the first 15 seconds of the round start. Knowing this and setting up for that early push or holding a much more aggressive defensive hold can quickly throw off their game or catch them off guard. Knocking down players like this early would be huge. A player like kanine plays much more passively and you can expect him anchoring site much more often than not and can assume he won't make the first move of aggression while you are pushing a site. He’s a very reactive player rather than a proactive style. I think just knowing who you are against gives you that edge.

As far as game sense in terms of the class you are running against: Fast classes Ash, IQ, Capitao, etc, it's easier to kill them if you're the one making the first move. They move so fast that trying to react to them running into a room can get you killed. However if you’re the one running in forcing the reaction could catch them off much easier.

Knowing it's a Blackbeard gives you that "game sense" to say, well me looking outside for him is going to get me destroyed so I should wait. Knowing he will be a slow moving target, setting up for body shots and finding a location most beneficial that gives me more coverage than he has, or gives him an awful line of sight towards me. These things will pay off huge.

In terms of knowing who you are playing against, do you have to rely on teammates for a lot of that information?

In a lot of cases you need to feel this out yourself. What does the sound of the guns they're using sound like for Capitao, BB, Glaz. etc. They have very distinct shot sounds. Knowing who that is could set you up for dodging fire arrows, not making aggressive plays on BB, or long range vs Glaz.. How fast are their footsteps? Do they sound like a 1 speed, 2 speed, 3 speed? If I know it's a slow class maybe my nades will force them out of position, and more likely to hit than throwing at a fast class that can dodge them in time. Obviously team info is huge and always very helpful. However just being able to deduce that information from the sounds, will make you and your team decide on the best next move ahead of time.

How does one go about developing all that knowledge?

Play time. When you die to someone take note of the gun they killed you with, the sound of it, the range they shot at you with it. Maybe they killed your teammate and you didn't hear it. Which icon was the gun when they killed your teammate? Try to absorb all the information you can. Even in ranked just take it in. While your teammates run around listen to what they sound like. Rook/Doc are stupid heavy sounding when they move. Have a friend in a custom prone around, duck, and run around you, while you LISTEN. Even a character tilting left to right makes a unique sound or swapping from standing to crouch! Knowing these sounds will allow you to pre-aim at the right height to get that headshot.

When you can't play, watch other pro players or players with high skill caps. You will learn much more off of watching a pro play than watching someone run around casuals dominating people. Sure it may not look as "skilled"  but when you watch a match or a game of Diamond vs Diamonds compared to Platinums vs Coppers in casual it can give you the wrong idea about the game. Ranked is getting to the point for most pro players that we don't bother trying. We just try to have fun in ranked and make stupid moves.

The move angles, spots, kill holes, nade/c4/impact spots, smoke/flash bounces you learn, the better you will become. Just knowing that those are possible will help you pre-aim those spots and save you from dying next time to it.

How long have you been playing Siege?

I played about 6 hours in beta and that was enough to let me know to buy the game. I have played since December release with only a 1 month break to test out overwatch and play that with friends. Nearing the 1k hours of play time, probably by end of September. That number is high because I stream as well, so I add a lot of ranked play to that.

I think it's important for Pro League players that can stream, to stream. It gives casual or aspiring competitive players that extra push and maybe gives them a look at what they could be doing down the line. Obviously stated before it's one of the best ways to learn how to play the game and learn new tactics. Especially for someone who just plays ranked, watching a Pro League match could easily up their game on any given map just from watching how a pro player plays a certain position.

Any streams besides your own you'd specifically recommend?

Off the top of my head, if you are a casual player you will learn a lot from Serenity because he gives basic info a lot as he streams, and will answer a lot of the easier questions. He is new to the pro scene so for now it will take a bit for him to be able to give higher skilled players the info they might be looking for, but I'm sure he will have everything learned solid by season 4. Some other good ones are dalycan's, tangyd's, panky's, ecl9pse's, and BKN's. I would say those players are the lesser known streamers (aside from panky/tangy), but there is much to learn from them.

What kinds of footage do you usually watch?

Pro League matches, pro player twitch streams, and recordings of my matches. Generally I will watch other pro players stream as it's nearly impossible for them not to do certain kill holes or Valkyrie cam spots that they would use in Pro League setups. If they have trained themselves to use them, and be good at them for league they will end up using them in ranked at some point.

Watching Pro League matches is a great way to learn, however it can be hard with casters talking or swapping cams while trying to focus on setups or kill holes people are making during prep phase. The knowing of WHY is most important. Why make a crawl or vault hole here? Is it for fast rotation? Is it because they have a roamer hidden that your drone missed? Are they planning on late round flank?

Recording your own matches and being able to see your mistakes and your teammates is a HUGE benefit. While you're playing you are not in the same mindset as when you're analysing your gameplay. Try to review League play whenever you feel you were playing serious. ESPECIALLY when you lose.

Do you record any of your play outside of Pro League to review?

Scrims should generally be used to attain knowledge and test site holds/attacks. It shouldn't be so much for winning. Having a recording of it is important sometimes for times when you need to figure out how or where someone killed you from. However if your point of view doesn't give that your recording is not nearly as meaningful. Where a game like Counter-Strike has demos, that’s huge as you can get all the information you need from a demo so it’s much better.

Twitch footage is rare that you would play how you normally would. If I am streaming scrims it's because we are trying new sites, playing against weaker opponents where we aren't going to use our defaults, generally a “let's see what we can learn” or test out type of scrim, and that knowledge won't need to be looked back on too much. The moments where you are trying your best to win and still failing, those are the ones you need recorded.

How much time do you spend studying other teams vs focusing on your own strategies?

I would say anytime I play I will try to counter a certain play as much as possible until I find something that works. Even in ranked I do this. Maybe someone gets a great spawn peek on me, and I want to contest it until I find a way to kill him when he is there that gives me the advantage on him. I might die 3 or 4 times doing it, but eventually I will find a way that is reliable or at least find out that hey, if they are spawn killing this location you can't spawn there or need to run around a safe route as it can't be contested safely.

It’s hard to put a time on it though. When you scrim you need to take away what worked for them, why it worked for them, was it a certain smoke/flash or nade that pushed you out that can't happen? Put more ADS. Did everything get EMP'd? Stop wasting ADS there then. Move it to a further play where Thatcher would be more likely to have wasted EMPs already.

Your strategies for countering should be created based on what is the most reliable setup you can make for your team's playstyle. When it isn't working it will need to be changed to account for the greatest flaw vs your current opponent. Whether that mean more barbed wire, different reinforcements, more or less lurkers.


How would you describe Ferocity's playstyle?

We are adaptive. A lot of the time you may see us lose our first attack and defense, then roll in the rounds. This happens generally as we are feeling out the opponent. Maybe we hadn't played them in a while and they swapped things up heavily, so learning on the fly is important.

We are also very aggressive early game, to clear roamers. Between myself, Kuush and Dalycan, we have some very strong early game aggression happening. Sometimes it’s to our disadvantage, but in most cases it’s showing to be a positive trait that catches many teams off guard.

In Season 1 early aggression was something of an asset to Orbit, but by Season 2 they had shifted to a much more patient style as teams adapted. Do you expect teams to adapt and Ferocity to have to adapt accordingly?

I think we have been adapting well. The transition from S1 to S2 came because of the EU passive plays paying off because of the acquisition of information to be able to make better moves. Sometimes taking that extra 30 seconds of drone information to be able to make a more reliable decision on what to do even though you now only have 15 seconds to do so. For the most part I think because we have aggressive plays and passive plays, this will keep people guessing as to which we are doing more often than not. Some plays we are very passive 5 man site plays, next time we play that bombsite we may have 1-2 roamers. It creates the illusion of "hey they play 5 guys down for this site" and then they rush in early without droning fully and might end up running into an unexpected roamer and dying to assumptions. You'd be surprised how often this works.

As an underdog do you worry about other teams studying footage of Ferocity?

I think it's much less likely or very overlooked. We have run into some teams that honestly message me saying "we literally watched how you guys played this map last week and you guys played nothing like it this week, we were not ready for that at all".

Do you think there's more pressure to adapt quickly in a LAN environment like finals?

I would say for sure you are always under more pressure when the match has higher stakes. When you get into semi-finals, finals you are always a little more on edge, so being under pressure or nervous already, plus knowing that when a wrong move is made it still needs to be quickly adapted for it's going to be way more weight on your players. Making sure everyone is calm and focused on the goal is key to keeping strong on this front.

Who's the in game leader calling the shots and adaptations for Ferocity?

Initially I was doing the majority of the decision making, however this was slowing down our pacing or delaying some adaptions we needed to be called quicker. We decided to move Xclusive onto the IGL position as he is playing thermite, and that will allow him to be droning in a much less likely fire fighting position while making these call outs. This way I can focus on clearing roamers efficiently without delaying any decisions about cross map callouts. Most callouts and choices will be made based off drone/support callouts. Xclusive and Talon will let us know what info we need and if we find hey B site is empty, we set up quickly for a B take and decide what to do from there. Everything can swap on the fly at any point just from 1 player on defense being out of position. It could call for a completely different push than what we had gone into the round expecting to do. That’s the fun about siege!

Do you find that Siege matches offer a lot more tactical variety and unexpected outcomes than CS:GO?

Honestly I think so much so because map destruction can open up so many different scenarios and options for both attacking and defending teams. CS:GO is great and requires a lot of tactical experience and setups, so I would never discredit that, but because there is info gather, decision making and destruction, it will create endless variations of the same bombsite attack or defense. Still allowing for the site fakes, smoke/flash combos that you would see in Counter-Strike, but adding in a huge variation of what is to be expected at the same time.

Can you explain the often mentioned "Doc with no Rook meta" we've seen from Ferocity?

Doc has been, and is not especially after the 4.2 patch, a HUGE asset. with or without Rook. It is a very common misconception that Rook is required. Sure his gun is great, hitboxes can be wonky, and 3 armor is beautiful, so is giving out armor. Nothing is wrong with Rook. We decide on using Doc instead for different plays and sites holds however, because of how teams are likely to take sites. For maps where many of the kills will be done from say, grenades underneath the floors, or gunfire from thru walls/ceiling, the likelihood of being downed rather than killed is HUGE, with or without armor. So being able to ranged revive rather than waiting for your teammate to crawl away or be revived in gunfire, or another potential nade from beneath, is huge.

We did extensive testing over a month or so of scrims, and 90% of the time honestly when we were dying, it was to headshots, so armor has no effect to this. We experienced nearly no different aside from sure it takes 1 extra bullet to down you when you have rook armor, that's it. Since most shots are headshots the likelihood of being downed anyways is very low. So we are accounting for the nades more than anything. Chalet, kanal or destructible maps we would tend to take doc over rook. On maps where vertical destruction is limited or nade spots are uncommon then a rook is a better choice.

With ranked/casual or lower level play, Rook is a better bet because everyone is random or out of position, so having that safety net is huge. We are starting to see more and more teams even start looking at not using Jager, as you can account for most of where smokes/flashes/nades will be landing, and either play safe, or assume and setup for those plays. ADS’s that are still up by the time defuser plants are ready won't help late game, or still be active even. Overall if a team wants to play Rook there isn't a bad reason to do it. We just found it is more efficient for many of our setups to run a Doc. Some sites will obviously call for Rook being priority.

Future of Siege

What do you think about the future of Siege as an eSport?

I believe Siege is still at the growing stage. It had hit many rough patches initially that dropped the hype and initial success that it could've floated on for a while. However we are growing past that point and only getting stronger. I think it will continue doing well as an eSports game so long as the developers keep up with their awesome support, and taking professional player input to create a balanced and competitive gameplay style.

However, I think problems like Blackbeard need to be addressed in a much faster pace. Balancing issues honestly should not take more than 1-2 weeks of testing to get enough feedback as to how overpowered something is. Having to play an entire season with an extremely unbalanced operator on attack and extremely unbalanced shotgun use really dropped the skill cap down. You started seeing 4 shotguns or more on defense for certain sites just because they are overpowered. One body shot was better than a headshot and way easier to hit. Speaking with other countries (EU, brazilian) pro teams, they were running into the same issue where they were forced into using it just because it would give them their defense win. It wasn't fun, it wasn't skilled, it was just unbalanced. Those tweaks will have to be fixed asap for this game to keep competitive.

Where do you feel like the balance is now that 4.2 just came out?

Since I honestly came off a work trip I’ve only played 1 day and started traveling again. I am not sure other than DMRs are overpowered. They are extremely strong and down targets in 2-3 shots, if not killing them, and can shoot very fast with very little accuracy loss, even with an acog. Twitch for instance, shoots insanely fast with next to no recoil. Everything else at this point I will need more time playing with.

Outside of operator/weapon balance, what do you think Siege needs most right now?

Hype. Pro League streams need to be advertised DAYS ahead of time. Not just in game same day or twitter posts the day of. Ubisoft and ESL need to promote this huge to get it huge. Connect with large streamers and have those streamers play with other large streamers. Giveaways will help with this quite a bit. For me personally I love stickers in game. I want stickers, and to be able to put them all over my guns. Pro League team stickers or something. I have 700k+ renown and nothing to spend it on. For me I feel like playing ranked, terrorist hunt, casual, or anything at this point is useless, I don't gain very much from it. Give me something game mode or variety wise that I can work with.

The entire competitive community will benefit the most from a demo recording system (much like Counter-Strike) and a deathmatch mode. I get that deathmatch is not what siege is about, but I need to practice my aim and pushes against players constantly, so let me deathmatch. Terrorist hunt is not working. Having a target practice mode that doesn't shoot back would be awesome. We need ways to hone our skills. If I jump into a ranked match to get pvp experience, I literally end up waiting 4 minutes for some random to run in and die, not exciting.

All ranked gameplay settings should mimic ESL Pro League settings. This will give anyone playing ranked MUCH easier transition into leagues when they're ready, as the timings will be the same and queue times will be much faster since more games will be played. Those changes are huge and NEED to happen for this game to continue to thrive and grow. Currently we still have to go into Counter-Strike to practice our aim since Terrorist Hunt isn't very reliable and slow practice in most cases. Counter-strike custom aim maps for twitch shots, flick shots and reflex practice is huge still. Only because it's not in this game.

Does that still help with your aim in Siege? Is that something other players should be doing?

I would honestly recommend it. Make sure you are just aiming for headshot, your goal shouldn't be to spray down targets or control recoil like you would if you were practicing for counter-strike. Everything you do should be reflex, flick shot, pre-aim practice. aiming strictly for headshots whenever you can. Target practice maps that have timers, moving targets and other such are still huge benefits and are widely used for some of the higher skilled players. Terrorist hunt gives us a small taste of that but again it is slow and unreliable as you end up chasing down the last 5 terrorists on a huge map, rather than being able to focus on your aim and perfecting it.

What do you think of the newer Tactical Realism mode?

I think it is fun as hell, but will not be received heavily and should not be focused on, unfortunately. Right now ranked needs to be set to Pro League rules (which will solve many issues with queue times and overall player frustration). Tactical realism is just too hard for casual/low tier players to get into I believe. Having a casual mode in the game is great I suppose, but just having ranked mode and a better matchmaking system will bring queue times down, and give a more balanced approach.  Rather than having people constantly dodging us and moving to casual to pub stomp and ruin the experience for lower tier players, just let those lower tiered players be copper in ranked and match them vs coppers.

What do you think of the current Pro League system?

Honestly I think it's awesome. Giving teams the opportunity to compete and move up the ladder is a huge step. I would like some sort of structure towards counter-strike league separation too however. Like open, intermediate, invite/pro. Right now I think what is killing team numbers in go4pro cups is that pro players can compete openly in it the entire pro team can jump in a community cup and just pubstomp. This brings the community to just say "oh orbit is playing? flipside is playing? why bother signing up".

Final thoughts

Overall honestly I think rainbow six siege has improved a ton since release, and will only continue to get better. Developers are taking more into account Pro League player input and that is a huge plus. I think we should expect big things down the line so long as developers are actively working on the game.

Also having casters on the game this early in will mean when it's polished, the casters will be as well, and make for but stronger front facing pro scene. The offstream matches need to be advertised as to who is streaming them just as much as the onstream ones. I get that they want more people watching the mainstream, but how will I find my team I'm rooting for if you never tell me where it's being streamed. I'll miss the first few rounds by the time most players find it.