Ritesh 'RitZ' Shah
Ritesh was also a brand ambassador of Lenovo gaming laptops

Over the past decade, Ritesh ‘RiTz’ Shah has been synonymous not just with the Indian Counter Strike scene, but the gaming community as a whole. After attending several international tournaments representing ATE Gaming during the CS 1.6 era, RiTz is one of the few veteran professionals, who successfully transitioned to CS:GO.

After attending the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) with Team ATE Gaming, the Mumbai-based rifler consolidated his place as India’s most successful CS player, by attending ESL One Cologne 2014 with Team WOLF.

Commercial highs also came knocking on his door, after he was part of an advertisement promoting  Lenovo’s range of gaming laptops. However, it’s not been a smooth ride for the ace marksman, since the second half of 2014.

Several team and roster changes saw him go through a slump of sorts. But as they say, form is temporary and class is permanent, RiTz with the rest of team NeckBREAK blew their opposition away by comfortably qualifying for the ESL Asian qualifiers.

With the team set to depart this month to battle for Asian supremacy, TalkEsport sat down with RiTz to know more about their preparations of the event.

Q. There was a massive roster reshuffle in the Indian scene prior to the event, your thoughts on that?

Ahh. The money making question. Let me start from the beginning, 2014 was the worst year for me and my teammates (Wolf). We had lost almost all the major events in India and everyone in the team including me were frustrated and hence, we decided to split. Ibra and Mithil planned to make a team, which would gel better. However, later on even that didn’t work out for them and they started losing.

At the same time, I was playing for brutality for a month and things again were not in favor for me or my team.

When all of this was happening, Krissh wanted to play for the very first lineup of CS:GO with 1 change, which was manan instead of smx. This deal was almost confirmed, but Tejas ‘Ace’ Savant had a dream of quitting csgo and focus on his future.

Him quitting made us a little weak as he was the backbone of our lineup. So we took smx and we were finally ready.

We were struggling but at the same time, but we were learning a lot. We were getting a little better, after every loss ,but misfortune struck us again in the form of Krissh getting a VAC ban, almost killing our team.

We all tried very hard to get him unbanned because I knew he was innocent, but we had to give up at some point.

Then I tried my best to get ‘Come back Ace Savant,’ but his answer was NO. I feel that way because he has some personal issue with me.

We wanted a better teammate and we gave Machinegun an offer, only a madman would refuse. He accepted and finally we have a non-stop winning streak. I do not believe there is anything unethical or unprofessional about giving Machinegun an offer, because this is how any professional sport works.

Q. Any specific plans/strategies for the Asian qualifiers? Which team do you guys fear the most?

Honestly, we do not fear any team. We want to go in this tournament with a very positive and a fearless attitude. We will give our best and win hearts if we fail to win games. We are well prepared and we will not miss this opportunity.

Q. You personally have been a part of the CS scene, since its inception, what are the changes you have seen over the years?

Honestly, I haven’t seen any changes. In fact, I feel like the scene has deteriorated from what it was a few years ago. During WCG we were used to seeing about 52 teams participate from Mumbai itself. The participation isn’t even close to that now.

Everyone back then was keen on travelling to LAN events and competing. Everything happening now is online and people just want to comfortably sit at home and play with bad ping and packet loss.

We have had barely any good LAN events in this past year. Personally, I feel that CS is not a game you play online. You have to compete on LAN to actually feel what the game is all about.

A lot of scams and shady organizations I believe are killing this scene. The day I retire I will make sure I give you all the information and names of everyone that have fucked us over in the past. I will also do my best to prevent what has happened to us from happening to the young cs blood of the country.

Q. Thoughts on your Mongolian import, Machinegun and his performances?

He is an amazing teammate. Me, my team and our management are extremely happy with his performances. It is not easy at times to communicate with him but we are working on it and will overcome this hurdle as well.

Honestly, though adding Machinegun to the roster just makes my job more difficult. Astarr, Mithilf and Machine are like a tornado. They tend to want to destroy whatever comes in their path.

But, I as a leader have to control, which direction this tornado moves in. It is not an easy task but if I dont do my job well I dont think the result will be the same. Can you imagine the damage a controlled tornado can do?

Q. Who do you think is the best player in India right now?

Mithil without the shadow of a doubt. Just in case you weren’t aware, Mithil is physically disabled (He can only hear through one ear).

What people can’t do with 2 ears, he does with just one. And you know how important sound is in CS:GO. I adore his dedication to the team and the game. He has the ability to make his team win single-handedly at any point in the game.

Q. Any particular role models from the international scene?

Definitely, Nikola “NiKolinho” Kovac . That guy is a beast.

 Q. What next for Team Necbreak, in terms of practice and regional tournaments?

Wins. A lot of wins. Wins everywhere!! The management of Neckbreak has done a lot for us. Me and my team will make sure I give them returns.