I recently managed to pry Rams “r2k” Singh away from his busy schedule as Senior Lecturer of Esports at the University of Chichester, located on the idyllic south coast of England for some insight into the rising world of esports education, the trajectory of esports and some illuminating perspectives from a man who has seen and done everything the industry has to offer over an illustrious 20-year career.
He was an influential part of Team Dignitas, represented the UK in the Electronic Sports World Cup, served as a coach, manager and team captain of the UK for the World Cyber Games, worked as a TV host on Ginx TV, was a brand specialist for Scan Computers alongside a host of other roles. Today, he’s imparting all the knowledge he’s gathered over the years onto students at the University of Chichester with a course designed to broadly prepare students for a wide range of careers within the esports industry.
What was the esports scene like back when you started? How did you manage to get involved?
GoldenEye was the first FPS that got me into it, playing against other students and kids in the neighborhood. Our first big desktop rig had all of these other FPS games: Wolfenstein, Doom, Rise of the Triad, all of these sorts of games… that came out, it was Quake that started it off, really.
Quake World, or straight into Quake 3?
Quake World initially. We started taking the big PC around to friend’s houses, playing network games. You know how awful that was to set up at the time…
Yeah, it was extremely fiddly.
Exactly, so we played a lot of that. Eventually, I was playing in school and against friends competitively, I started to feel something, but I didn’t know what it was. It was only when they announced the Quake 3 test and I got into that on my 56k modem with 150 ping, experiencing what it’s like to play others online, that I thought “wow, there’s something here.” When the game came out, teams were forming and my brother and I got involved in that scene. It just kept developing, developing, developing.
What was it like going into these early competitions?
The first event was in Coventry called Savage Lan. I was playing a Quake mode called “classic CTF”, a three-way version of capture the flag. I was playing that and another mode called “Capture Strike”, a cross between CTF and Counter-Strike. We played for mainly pride: there was some money in it but it wasn’t like today.
But the funny thing was, I never really had the cockiness I used to there. I was really cocky at the age of eleven. You feel invincible as a little kid, you think you are going to beat everybody. I think I realized quickly, quicker than a lot of people, and quicker than people do nowadays, that you don’t need to be a dick at all.
Your actions speak louder than words, and my skills spoke for me at the time. If I was very cocky, I wouldn’t have met many of the important people in my career. It would have been off-putting and stalled those relationships. I always tried to remain humble and approachable and I think that’s a common trait among those with long careers in this industry and something I try to underline for my students.
(One of the most bonkers TDM matches in the history of Quake from r2K’s perspective – Credit: Dignitas)
When did you start getting involved with Team Dignitas?
After I won the European Championship in 2004 I moved over to Unreal Tournament. I had already met Odee (Michale O’Dell, the founder of Dignitas) through the Quake scene, but then I also met Zacc (David “Zaccubus” Treacy, former Dignitas player and world champion) playing in a team called Silent Chaos. So that was Maximus, Recoil and a bunch of other people, yourself down the line, Kharn and everybody else.
It moved on from there. I kept playing Unreal, Quake and Battlefield. Odee moved onto build Dignitas in 2003 for Battlefield but I didn’t really join until the launch of Quake 4 in 2006.
I remember trying to play in that launch tournament at Insomnia. To put it mildly, it didn’t really run well for me on my rig.
Oh my god, haha, yeah it didn’t really run well on anybody’s computer at that time. It was built on a tweaked Doom 3 engine. It was terrible at launch.
I remember an infamous moment in that tournament where I was completely battering Shed (Steve Wilson – Head of Video and Live Production at Jagex), so I passed my computer over to one of my Call of Duty teammates and I snuck down and sat down behind Shed and watched him lose to me for the last couple of minutes. Then as soon as the round finished, I instantly tapped him on the shoulder, and said “good game.” It was all in good spirits though.