Rhys  ‘Exparilis’ Maddren gave us an insight into the team that’s been dominating the NUEL for the past 3 seasons.

The Lancaster Bombers are so far unbeaten this season, continuing their run of form.  We talk to the former In-Game-Leader for the team about how he started off, the secret to their success and what the future holds.

How did you start playing Counter Strike?

I started playing with friends in the summer of 2014, my friend told me about matchmaking and I sunk a solid 700 hours into the game before I started college. Carrying my friends every step of the way.

Do you play many games other than CS:GO and why did you choose Counter Strike as your main game?

I like playing all sorts of games, I actually bought a PC just to play the DayZ mod. Before that I was playing on console and grinding out Halo games, matchmaking in counter strike gave me those same feelings that halo did. It brought me back to when I was 12 screaming at my TV because someone killed me with a gravity hammer. The only thing that’s changed really is that I have a 144hz monitor and I’ve got older.

How long has the team been together?

This current NUEL line-up has been together for the last year, there’s been substitutions over time which have not worked out and we have seemed to gravitate together. This roster will not exist next year as two members are graduating, if by then we’ve won 4 seasons in a row then we’ll step aside and let someone else win. Prize pool dependent.

Why do your players work so well together?

Two words. Mate dates. We are good friends and meet up in person when we can. Callum ‘Enigma’ watches from a distance though, mainly from his bedroom window because he’s rarely out of bed before 2 pm. It’s honestly all about game time, the more time you play together there better you will get as a team.

Has anything about NUEL particularly surprised you? 

In the first season (Winter of last year) it was a shock to the system, whether or not there were better teams playing back then or we were just terrible is something I’m not quite sure of though. There’s always potential for players to have good games, were not really impressed unless someone can do it consistently though.

What do you think makes you a good team?

Individual skill primarily, we have played a lot together but don’t really practice due to obligations with teams outside of NUEL. Everyone has a good attitude, there are a fair few players in the NUEL who could be better if they didn’t play like they were too good for the league when they’re struggling to make playoffs in ESEA open.

Why did you get involved in competing in the NUEL?

I personally entered because I enjoy the competition. Everyone was inexperienced in the first couple seasons of NUEL so every game was exciting. Toby used to breathe so hard that he powered the wind turbine on campus – he was living in town at the time. Now it’s just another day at the office, we have nothing to prove. In the NUEL final Toby’s heart rate was almost as low as Enigma’s headshot percentage.

Last season you seemed to overcome the ‘choking issues’ you confessed to struggling with. Is it a concern again with the finals being played on LAN this season?

Inexperience was our biggest issue at LAN, no doubt nerves played a factor in questionable decision making. Obviously we’ve demonstrated that that’s not the case anymore. It’s fair to say that the LAN at York was a nice holiday, although I need to give credit to Warwick who played well. I’ve come to realise that it’s the quiet teams you’ve got to worry about, if a team is shouting after winning the knife round you know they’re grateful for every round they can get.

Enigma is one of your newer players and whilst he performed well last season, he was inconsistent. Is this just a symptom of not being as familiar with the system as others, or something else?

Enigma is comfortably in the top 5 players in the NUEL, the issue being that he knows this. At times he underestimates the ability of the enemy team and runs at them guns blazing, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.

Last season Tobs described you as ‘a fantastic leader of men’ to what degree does your role as IGL extend outside the server?

Helping the team outside the server can be tricky, you just have to treat players with respect. If you approach a game with confidence it rubs off on the team.

What adjustments have you made since last season to improve even further?

Well here’s a scoop for the NUEL, I have stepped down from in game leading for now, so I can focus on my personal skill. I’m looking forward to being able to take up another role, tobz will be in game leading which everyone is excited for.

Do you have aspirations of taking this team further in the UK scene, particularly if you’re victorious again in the current season of NUEL?

Tobz, Enigma and I are currently playing in Esea intermediate. We have joined forced with the hope of Southampton university, more commonly known as Zelan. So, we essentially have an unofficial NUEL super team.