In this continuation of my interview with Dario “Akraken” Falcao-Rassokha of Team Australia, we learn a little bit more about how he’s balancing his career with schoolwork, how he vibes with the rest of the Aussies, and what depths “Akraken” comes from! Check out Part 1 here.
Korjubzot: So what’s it like to represent Australia in the big leagues? Apart from Custa, we don’t have anyone playing on such a high level. What’s it like to show off for your country?
Akraken: For me, it’s like a surreal sort of experience. Three years ago I’d be watching the CS:GO pros like Pasha and Renegades play, thinking ‘Oh man, wouldn’t it be great to be one of those guys?’ And now I’m here doing it! That was a really good experience for me. More so for me for my actual play, it’s going to these international events and seeing players who are considered best or close to the best for their roles and realising they’re not gods. Obviously, they’re good players, but they’re just human. Everyone makes mistakes, and that really lent perspective. There is a chance Australia could become really good. If we can compete with these players who are being touted as really good internationally, with strong performances, we can still beat them.
Korjubzot: You’re pretty confident for Blizzcon then?
Akraken: (Laughing) Uh, well, I’m confident we can put up a good show against South Korea and America. I think we can potentially take a map, put that over into a second map, and then who knows? (Note: this was before the Paris qualifiers ended and we found out South Korea and Australia were seeded against each other. I’ve cut a couple minutes of interview because we were talking about hopefully seeding against France.)
Korjubzot: Yeah, it’s not that Australia isn’t good, I just wouldn’t say they’re up to the tier of Canada, South Korea or the US. It’s gonna come down to them, isn’t it?
Akraken: We could beat Canada, we had a show match against them and I was on high ping. We did lose 2-3, but…
Korjubzot: I saw that, it was a tight match. I think you could give them a run for their money.
Akraken: We’re not so scared of Canada, but South Korea obviously – I don’t think they’ve lost a game yet. That’s obviously pretty terrifying. As far as everyone is concerned, though, the major goal is making it to Blizzcon. Once we accomplished that, we’re happy for now. We’re not gonna take it easy, we’re gonna give our best showing and try to win, always.
Korjubzot: So how are you balancing school and competing? You’ve only just turned seventeen, in grade eleven (a high school junior, for my American readers).
Akraken: This school term in particular is pretty rough. We had the Contenders finals at the Melbourne Esports Open, and a boot camp before that, so I missed school for a week. I got back, and I was sick for a week, so I missed all that, and then I went to Thailand for another week, and then when I came back I had two 90 minute maths exams to do in one day, with about half a day prep. I was still jetlagged, too. I got back on Tuesday at 12pm, I had the test on Wednesday. I don’t really predict it to be a long-term thing. That sort of schedule’s not going to be happening all the time, obviously, because the World Cup only happens once a year, and I don’t usually have much more than Contenders finals. This month or two is pretty rough, but it should calm down a little bit. I’ve always been a good student, though, and my parents have fair expectations. As long as I can fit in time, and be organised, I can manage to get good grades and still perform well.
Korjubzot: What’s the plan for once you finish school? Are you looking to get signed to an OWL or academy team, or will you quit playing pro and go on to university?
Akraken: Currently I’m actually looking for an academy team to join. That’s because, especially in esports, momentum is everything. I’d be willing to leave Australia and go play overseas, especially if I could study while doing that. I’m trying to get that done. I see this as something I can really make the most out of in a short period of time, even if it is quite risky.
Korjubzot: I mean, even on the off-chance you don’t get signed, you’ve still got so much experience. You could work as a coach, an analyst, or just keep getting signed to Contenders teams until it does kick off for you.
Akraken: Yeah, potentially. I consider myself a logical person, so I could do well in a coaching or analyst type role. For me to do that effectively, though, I’d probably need more life experience. You need to have really good communication skills, leadership skills, to be an effective coach or manager, and that requires a lot more experience than I have. Especially since I’m so young, and most of the people who play this game are nineteen to mid-twenties or so. For me to manage them, I’d have to be older, I feel.
Korjubzot: You seem pretty mature to me. The sort of silly nonsense some of these Contenders kids get up to, you’re not doing too bad.
Akraken: Yeah… it’s harder for someone my age to get the respect a coach would need to perform their job. I’m not sure, even if I’m mature, I don’t know if I have the experience to be an effective coach. You have to be really harsh at times, to be a good coach.
It’s Not An Australia Article Without Custa
Korjubzot: How’s your synergy with Custa? You’ve shown up as a really talented support, and Custa was big on that for the LA Valiant. Is he the shot caller for the team?
Akraken: Oh, shot calling is 100% Custa. He’s been Gunba’s extension for the team. When Gunba has strategies, often he’ll tell us the brief of it and go over it in detail with Custa, and then Custa will explain it in game. Gunba only has maybe ninety seconds to talk with us at half-time, so Custa will take us through everything else. He’s also a major identifier with problems, especially on stage. ‘We need to fix this, this isn’t happening,’ he really acts as the team’s leader.
Korjubzot: Do you think he gets that from playing with the Valiant?
Akraken: I think Custa’s got really good leadership traits, so I assume he would do similar things on Valiant. He’d be their leader, take them through things, and obviously he has a lot of experience on stage as well. Not to say that my other teammates don’t, but he would have a ridiculous amount playing so many games for the Overwatch League.
Korjubzot: He’d do it so often he’d be used to it. It’d be different playing LAN for the first or second time in Contenders finals, or the World Cup.
Akraken: Yeah, I mean, no one in Team Australia was inexperienced. Me and Punk, we played in both Contenders LANs, the Blank guys went and lived in Taiwan and played LAN every week or so there, so they’ve had a ton of LAN experience, but Custa takes it to the next level.
Korjubzot: Last thing – where did the name Akraken come from?
Akraken: I used to play a lot of 2D point and click adventures where your name didn’t really impact the game at all but you still had to pick one. I had just finished watching Pirates of the Caribbean – great movie by the way – and decided I wanted a name that looked cool when you saw it and sounded alright when you said it. So I picked Akraken, after my favourite mythical monster.