Credit: StarLadder Twitter

AZR after joining Sprout: I almost feel like a youthful student

We have spoken with the newly-signed in-game leader for a talk about his return to CS:GO, joining Sprout, and how he still has something to learn despite having turned 30.

Aaron “AZR” Ward is finally back in competitive CS:GO following a lengthy break on the sideline. With the transfer to Sprout, the Aussie veteran once again got the chance to lead a team to lead as we have seen him do at Renegades, 100 Thieves and EXTREMUM.

510 days to be exact had passed before we again saw him again compete in the higher tiers of Counter-Strike. A hiatus he’s used to visiting relatives and family down under and preparing for his long-awaited comeback.

- While it was nice to have a breather and reground myself, I’m really happy to be playing again, AZR says to Pley and continues:

- The break gave me a lot of opportunities to visit family in Australia for a longer period of time compared to the usual 1-2 weeks back home. I also spent quite a bit of time working on my mental health which was rewarding. So, after all this time, I’m definitely feeling motivated and ready to get back into the game.

A 30-year-old student

On Sprout, AZR joins a super young squad embodied in the promising teenage trio of lauNX (17), Staehr (18), and Zyphon (18) with the Romanian AWPer XELLOW (22) rounding off the roster. Despite the age difference for the 30-year-old IGL, he still believes he has a thing or two to learn.

- It's a breath of fresh air that's for sure. They are all young, skilled and highly motivated which motivates me even more. I definitely think the potential is great within the team and with hard work and motivation I think we can take it very far… I almost feel like a youthful student of the game again which is quite reinvigorating.

A new challenge

AZR explains in the interview with us that the deal between him and Sprout was decided after only a couple of practice days and a meeting with the team. Here all parties felt a good connection and “luckily we all wanted to move forward together”, he describes.

But he also notes that it’s a different task that awaits him now compared to his previous tenures at Renegades, 100 Thieves, and EXTREMUM.

- I first stepped into the role of IGL when I played on Renegades - A team that I had been playing with for years at that time. So, when I started in- game leading I had the advantage of knowing the players very well. I knew their strengths and weaknesses which is a key to being a good IGL in my book. This is the first time in my career that I’m faced with a new challenge of leading a new team who I need to get to know. I need to know how they play in order to lead most efficiently.

- This is also the first time I’m on an international team so I need to get used to the communication. All in all, excited to see what the future holds.

Where he previously has had the comfort of leading a majority of Oceanic players, AZR now has to navigate between having a couple of Danes and Romanians each in his arsenal (Staehr at PGL Major Antwerp RMR)

We also asked him about his own individual level and how he has kept an eye on the CS:GO meta while being back.

- Watching cs and playing cs are two vastly different things. While I have been able to watch and learn about the meta now, I need to be able to play it. I'm currently putting in a lot of hours playing and watching Counter-Strike. Also getting a lot of input from BERRY who is catching me up on the meta a lot. I definitely think I can learn a lot from the team and its players… it’s been interesting to see how the meta has shifted in just the last 18 months.

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