I have been playing Counter Strike since November 2003.
When you think about it – that’s a long time. 13 years. What can you achieve in 13 years? If this website is anything to go by – apparently a lot more than becoming slightly above average at a video game.
It started when my friend Gareth (Optic) decided to tell me over and over again to get this game. I was playing Wolfenstein at the time on a server called ‘Wolfstuff’ =W= and had made quite a few friends over there and I didn’t really feel as though I wanted to make the jump over and start a brand new game.
Back then buying games wasn’t as carefree as it seems to be now. I look at a game – see a price tag and react to what my bank account tells me. What I should do however is look at game, assess whether or not I will; a) Enjoy it b) have time to play it c) Have any friends to play it with. If I took C in to account I would never buy a new game. So after months of pestering me to get Counter Strike Source I did. I made the jump. I had never played Counter Strike – Counter Strike 1.6 or even Half Life 2 for that matter. Admittedly I was pretty skilled on Wolfenstein by the end, regularly accused of hacking by now good friend Smurf^ due to consistency at the top of the leader boards. It was here I even had a taste of what a clan battle was, or scrim as they tended to say back then. Although I was good, it wasn’t an overly competitive gamer and I wasn’t really in to the ‘scene’ either, I just played because I enjoyed the challenge, and I had thirst to be better than the last time I played, and a thirst to be better than my opponent. It’s a drive I must attribute to my football playing days. I again, was semi successful at that too – I had various trials with Derby County, Sheffield United and an extended 12 week stay in the Chesterfield ‘Centre of Excellence’ before eventually being told I wasn’t going to make it (largely due to my height and lack of physical strength) – I did try though, and I always wanted to be better. Winning was a huge thing for me and still is to this day. If you’re going to try anything in life, whether that be football, gaming or stamp collecting (for the record I don’t collect stamps) you might as well try and be the best that you can at that possible task. There is a sense of fun and achievement attached to this. If you try hard, you can improve, and when you do improve, you can enjoy it more. Simple!
My early days of Counter Strike
Back to Counter Strike. My first memories are very limited. Scouts and Knives was the first game mode I was introduced to and I played a lot of hours just playing this game mode with Optic – why? I presume he wanted to better his scope skills and I just didn’t know any better. My many hours on this game mode must have had an effect on my ability with the AWP. The only weapon I am actually any good at. But we will come to this later because I was godly awful at Scouts and Knives. Like – really bad. There were times I almost put down the game because I didn’t know how I was so bad. You could jump so high – there were people stabbing me in the back and there were people shooting me in the head every which way. Demoralised, depressed and uninspired I turned back to the only thing I knew I was good at – Wolfenstein. I had friends on this game, I had hours and hours of enjoyment, and that was something I didn’t really want to give up. The game however was giving up – it was dying – the scene, the bugs, the servers which I once loved – the horrible mods. It was going backwards and what does a GOOD captain do? Yes you’re right – he stays with his ship – I am not a good captain or even a captain for that matter and I was going to hypothetically jump ship and hypothetically swim to shore. Or in real terms, play counter strike again.
Ok Counter Strike. Have I missed you or not? I had been playing LMA Manager 2003 pretty obsessively on Playstation 2 at this point and taken Albion Rovers from Division 3 in Scotland to the division 1 title. How? There is a player called Camera I believe who you can sign on loan and he is amazing. Sorry – Counter Strike. I keep trying to avoid the subject. Like when your girlfriend/wife asks you what you did in the day whilst she was at work. You’re supposed to say, ‘I sorted our finances and we are now saving money!’ or ‘I did the dishes, hoovered and tidied’ but really you know you did neither so you try and start an argument so she eventually forgets she asked that question.
Counter Strike Source. Ok here is goes.
I played it again. And again. Then again. I couldn’t stop. It went from being bottom of the scoreboard, to hovering around the middle of the scoreboard to dominating the top of the scoreboards. I was obsessed. I was good, but not naturally – I played hundreds and eventually thousands of hours to reach the level which I reached. I found myself regularly playing on a server called Simiancage. As soon as you joined the server it would start with the same tune. ‘Hey Hey we’re the monkeys, and people say we’re monkeying around…’ you know how the rest goes. Every single time. This was therapeutic and I knew I had found my new gaming home. It was here I met a very talented Swedish player called Naxon (no idea what his real name was) who i became very good friends with, Smurf^ made the jump over from Wolfenstein and ended up on this same server with me too! That was great to be honest, having a mix of old and new really made it something special for me because it was an experience for all involved.
I managed to meet a player called SharpS who is now kind of big on YouTube called 3kliksphillip. He was a great clan leader. He was a people person and literally tried so hard to keep people happy and to keep his group of friends (some real life, some online including myself) happy. In this video of his https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeNx1WUIQiM we get mentioned a bit as GpX around the 6-7 minute mark including sweet print screens of one of my games. 13-8 and second on the leaderboard? Hell yeah! Genuinely it was the start of something great for me, i had expereince meeting and talking to a range of different people over Teamspeak, arranging clan matches on Clanbase and Enemydown and going on mIRC to search for PCW’s using the following saying ‘low+ server on 5v5 uk’. Everybody used low+ as it was the only way to guarentee a game. Nobody wanted to play against any team who considered themselves high as it was just a practice game and we wanted to try out new things, and mid was so over used you get lost in the crowd. I swear some of those low+ German players were secret professionals though.. We had great days, great games and I met some great people. I was however getting to the stage where I knew what I wanted to do with Counter Strike, and that was to run my own gaming clan. Having previously been captain of my football and cricket clubs at the time i knew exactly what it took to be a leader. Whether it’s on a pitch or a field or on de_dust2 I know how to organise a group of people and mould them in to a team.
The game propelled beyond just a small hobby in to my life once i formed Fox Hound however. Now the name is completely ripped off from Metal Gear Solid. There is a story behind it all though of course. Basically when i played Wolfenstein i played under the name Wraggy – pretty uninspired as it was a rip off of my surname. Lame. I was getting a lot of heat at the time (in wrestling terms heat means people were getting pissed off at me) and I decided after much debating on the name Raiden. Raiden was the character in Metal Gear Solid 2 and at the time was considered a terrible character to the people who loved Solid Snake and he was getting a lot of hate. Perfect. I already had the handle Raiden then by this point (it wasn’t until much later i added the ^ – oh in fact it flicked between Raiden, RaIdEn and RaIdEn-GoD on a regular basis, as should all handles owned by teenagers trying to stand out from the crown) and it was my good friend Vernon who played under the handle Grey Fox and Alex who changed his name to Solid Snake when I realised it would be kind of stupid to avoid the obvious.
Practice, Patience and Pwning noobs.
We played PCW’s on a number of weird and wonderful maps! De_nuke, de_piranesi, de_cbble, de_dust2 I think were the main noes we appeared to focus on. It was beautiful, we laughed, we got angry, we improved.. Genuinely gaming doesn’t begin until you find a group of friends to all engage in trying to reach the same goal in together. The clan did evolve however. Me and Smurf^ were joint leaders at the time and decided we wanted to step it up to the next level as we were the most skilled members of the clan (both of us were in Simiancage and then GpX after our switch over from Wolfenstein).
In fact let’s talk about Smurf^ (real name Tom who is a year older than me). I haven’t really given any insight in to; who he is or what he does or what he even represents. We met playing Wolfenstein and we genuinely hated each other. There was a lot of bad blood on Wolfenstein (like I said I wasn’t very well liked on that server!) and there were many times he accused me of hacking and just generally we didn’t get on as people when we were on voice chat. As with anything though – when you’re good at something and me and Smurf were both very good on Wolfenstein, there was a mutual respect for one another. We had each other on Xfire and when I started on CS:S we naturally started playing together. I’m not sure how or when the transition happened, because it was real hatred towards one another to borderline best friends in what must’ve been a short space of time. But alas there we were, playing games together, speaking on Teamspeak and apparently we had the same sense of humour and a lot more in common than we dared to admit. It’s a friendship which has lasted to this day (although we don’t regularly chat whenever we do we always have a good laugh).
Ok back to the clan. Me and Smurf^ decided it was time to take our gaming more seriously if we were ever going to break on to the gaming scene. We recruited and recruited heavily. We bought in Naxon who played on the Simiancage server to our clan, we had a whole host of top quality players of whom I genuinely can’t remember the names of apart from LongShot, Reecey, ByePuppy(LOL), Campin Carl, L3g1T and UnleasheD. Please if you’re reading this and was a part of FoxHound.css then get in touch and I will happily add your name to this exclusive list! I think the tag was we played under was the extremely creative and innovative ‘[-FH-]’.We went on to create our own Xippy website, and thanks to Smurf’s ‘links’ we were able to get a free website hosted to us as a sponsor by Tigit game servers with a 66 tick server! We were able to play, play and play some more. Whether that be practice games or league games we finally had freedom. To any small clan looking to grow this is the best way to do that, you get a location for your clan to play matches, learn tactics and generally hang out all in one place. Perfection.
There isn’t much in the way of screen shots or videos which have survived from these days.. Numerous computer changes and just general bits and pieces which have been deleted over the years I haven’t much to show. There is the world’s worst video which was uploaded after I did some public matches to see if the recording was working. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9-v5PtOpT0 – side note.. this video is bad.
It was a great time and things were on the up for Fox Hound, I genuinely thought this would build in to a clan with great prestige and be on the main stage at gaming tournaments for years to come. Instead it crashed and burnt in dramatic fashion.