Former player, and now commentator, Robin “Binet” is one of the figures on the French Counter Strike scene. He has been around for many years and has agreed to answer our questions. His career, his beginnings, his relationship to the sport… He tells us everything.
K: First of all, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
B: Hello! I’m Binet, former competitive Counter Strike player! I played a lot of esport games until 2013-2014.
Today I am no longer a competitor, but I still have one foot in the market. I comment on national and international competitions on Counter Strike. Besides that, I have a managerial position in a large company that sells energy! Esport is therefore not my main daily activity, but it remains of enormous importance in my daily life.
K: How did you get into the airport? Was that a vocation you had? Or did it come a little by chance?
B: So that was done over many years! I am a sportsman from the beginning and I have always loved competition. I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid! I started playing online in 2003, and I started CS in 2004-2005. I was good at the game but not above the competition either! I stopped playing sports in 2009, but I kept playing video games. It allowed me to compensate for the lack of sports competition spirit. But since I kept this competitive soul, I had it on CS. Over the months, I played with stronger and stronger players… I also made my first LANs at that time. In 2012, after several years of experience on the game, we were well established on the French scene! We were in the top three. So I’ve been here for a few years.
K: You’ve been playing Counter Strike for over 10 years. What do you think about the evolution of the game?
B: The evolution of CS is quite simple, it doesn’t change much. The maps evolve a little bit, or sometimes you have a new one… But the game mechanics don’t change. As players, you must know the maps, know the different strategies to anticipate the opponent’s movements. So yes, all that changes over time, but the game has remained basically the same.
K: How would you describe a game of Counter Strike professionally?
B: It’s a game of chess. It is a mix between the intelligence of the players, their knowledge of the opponents and the knowledge of the game’s macro. It’s still “easy” to handle! It is technical in the overall content more than in pure mechanics. It’s a game of intelligence.
K: If we come back to you a little bit, you said that you were an athlete when you were younger. Did your experience in traditional sport help you in the development of your sports career?
B: I would like to point out that I have not had a sporting career! I did a lot of sports when I was younger but I was not a professional or in phase with being a professional. I played judo, tennis, football too… So I experienced anger, learning too, in sport at a very young age! And there’s no secret, if you want to be good at your sport, you have to get involved. Well, it’s exactly the same with video games. And sport helps you on these parts because you only apply what you were taught when you were younger.
K: And so, how do you go from esport player to caster? What has been the path to this point?
B: As I said, I was a good player. And quickly I started doing other things besides the game. In particular, comment on games for fun and do international interviews on Vakarm. I also did video reviews and CS video reviews… Finally I was trying things! But it was for fun next to the competition.
It was in 2016 that it started again, I was contacted again for a caster position on CS and I went for it! I had taken a short break before that and I wanted to get back into the business. It’s my way of staying connected. Today I am still a regular contributor to the French and international scene.
K: On the current pro scene, we saw Vitality coming on stage. What do you think of their first few months?
B: For the French scene it’s already great that they came on this game. It is one of the largest structures in Europe. And in France they are among those who are building the sport of tomorrow. Counter Strike is a “historical” game of the esport scene, it is important to be competitive at the level of your brand image. The game is much powerful in esport.
When you put it all together, it’s a good thing for everyone that Vitality is here today. Besides, they did things right! They have surrounded themselves with the best in order to build a solid team with talented players like ZywOo. They have the best French team, and are in the top 5 in the world… Not bad for newcomers to the scene. It’s well deserved for this team as today, they are able to beat anyone in a day and that’s not given to everyone!
It’s also a good thing for the Counter Strike scene that Vitality has arrived because it takes newcomers to try to reach a new audience! Vitality fans are most likely watching CS now because their favorite team is competing on this game. So it is a win-win for all parties and it is a very good thing.
K: And do you think the game is still attracting new players?
B: CS is pretty closed if you want to get to the top of the competition. There are many players but few elected officials if you want. The players who are at the top today either are very talented or have made esport a top-priority in their lives and have invested a lot of time over the years.
In fact, wanting to be at the top of the scene today requires too much work, too much sacrifice… And few people are ready for that. After the game remains basic to understand: you have two teams, and the goal is to beat the other. So yes, from a casual player’s point of view if it can still attract the new audience that is starting to watch from esport now, my answer is rather yes.
After that, like all games, there is also a life cycle and CS: GO was released some time ago now. We could potentially reach the end in 2 years time… To see if Valve wants to bring something new out or not. We don’t know that! But the license is popular. We play CS because we’ve heard about CS.
K: If I go a little more on the global esport. This year we saw the arrival of Fortnite and its young audience. Do you think that this new generation of viewers and esports consumers can be interested in the Counter Strike scene?
B: Everyone talks about Fortnite. Even in the traditional media, the game was so popular that they talked about it. And what you also have to see is that many players have discovered video games with Fortnite. So it necessarily brings back a new audience that will discover other games over time and potentially one day become interested in CS, LoL…
And don’t forget that this young and new audience also watches a lot of YouTube videos! Fortnite has also skyrocketed on this platform so it opens up new channels for these people to discover other games, other competitions… So yes it can indeed bring new viewers and players back to a game like CS.
It has democratized video games, and it has probably also helped parents to understand what this gaming and esport market is like.
K: And what do you think of Fortnite itself?
B: The skillcap is impressive, I have nothing to say about that, but from an esport point of view, it’s complicated to look at… They have mechanics that are really interesting. You see it when you compare a pro player and a very good player at the game… It’s not the same thing at all. The game is very frustrating for competitive players I think because of the randomness and some broken aspects of the game in addition to which it is very difficult for a person who is not playing the game and quite hard to watch.
K: What are your personal ambitions in relation to the esport?
B: I didn’t necessarily want to evolve in esport from a professional point of view, not yet. I even took a few breaks at the beginning of my “career” because I wanted an academic background, I knew it was complicated and less well supervised at the time and there was not many opportunities for real jobs, which is no longer the case today. Otherwise I am lucky today to have a good job, I do some esport in addition to my job and it suits me perfectly. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to get into it, to see…. I have found a balance that suits me to be honest.
If a good position is created one day in a structure linked to the gaming world, I would think about it!
K: To conclude, I like to ask this question: what are you playing at the moment?
B: So before I was only doing Counter Strike. But I’ve played a lot of games! And mostly in multiplayer mode.
I played a lot of LoL. I climbed up to Master during the 5th & 6th seasons to some of the challenger’s games. And I tried a little Overwatch at first as a ladder.
In the BR genre, I played Apex and PUBG. But it was more for fun than to tryhard really.
Right now I like autochess, TFT, etc… it’s more as a hobby 😊
K: Thank you very much Binet, see you soon!
B: Thank you and good luck!