Ricky 'Jalgorty' Schlenk from Durban is rated as one of South Africa's best armour players in Battlefield 3 (BF3). Now playing with Immersion (iM Redemption) after moving from Gs, Schlenk hasn't been playing Battlefield for as long as his team mates have, but came onto the scene during the days of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 before Battlefield 3 was released.
“I've taken eSports more seriously with Battlefield 3 than I ever did with Bad Company 2 as I was younger then and was gaming more for the fun of playing with friends than anything else,” he says.
His eSports career began when he was asked to join FiB. Two of his good friends, Helgard 'Chaotic' van Rooyen and Reinhardt 'PeStil3nc3' van Rooyen, were already part of the clan.
“That's when things started becoming more competitive and I found myself first sitting in clan games in a tank,” he says. He played for FiB for three quarters of 2012 and he eventually moved to the captaincy of the team.
However, when the big FiB fiasco hit, which included allegations of hackers in the top leadership of the clan, he and most of his team (and much of FiB) moved to Gaming synthesis (Gs).
“We reformed the team and put in a lot of hard work to try and keep us with the Premier League,” he says. They did well during the leg and got into the Do Gaming Championships (DGC) 2012 – where they played a brilliant semi against ASF.
So what, according to Schlenk, makes for a good armour player?
“I'd rate a top armour player by how consistent they are and what they are like to play against. It's easy to sit like a statue in the middle of a highway with three engineers repairing you whilst you shoot at a tank with one repairer and think you're a better armour player,” he says.
He pauses for a second.
“Which more than a few people think is the case. Quite amusing. So a good armour player is someone who has great comms with his squad and his team and knows when he is out-matched in certain situations and how to best deal with each armour encounter.”
A lot depends on the map, of course, and whether the player is using the main battle tank (MBT) or APC.
“And of course, a tank driver is nothing without his squad supporting him and his trusty old faithful repairman.”
How can a team support their armour players, making them better at what they do?
“I would say that teams need to learn the maps, learn positions, work out timing and calling and find out what the their strength's and weaknesses are,” he says. “Also, it's a good idea to learn the spawn times of your armour.”
He hints at a few other things – such as reading the game well and also knowing how your opponents play:
“Generally, teams are split down the middle and have four infantry and four armour players but it does differ per map. In a typical four armour layout you would have one armour driver with one repairer and two flankers, but it always varies according to the team's strengths and weaknesses for either an extra repairer for weaker drivers or drivers under too much fire and trying to retreat / stand their ground; or more flankers for attacking positions; or if their enemy have bread-crumbed them into a spot and surrounded them.
“Teams like Bvd have been known to leave a tank / APC driver by himself, drawing fire while sending out three or more flankers to hit the tank / APC hard and take the repairers out, moving on to support or flank the infantry after that.”
But the number one rule for being a good armour player?
“NEVER GET OUT OF YOUR TANK,” Schlenk jokes. After I laugh along he gets a bit more serious. “You'd be surprised,” he says.
I ask who Schlenk rates the best armour players in the country are. He avoids the question, but he provides a great answer nevertheless.
“I think a more accurate question to ask would be which team has the strongest armour squads and why. So... Bravado (Hackem is the MBT driver and in my opinion the guy I like to measure up against and always have the most fun playing against since I'd say we think alike at times.) I would also say that ASF have a strong armour squad; and the same for NSD and SSG.
“All these teams have a great squad dynamic and attack with synergy. If you catch them off-guard or one or two men short of their full squad, they would struggle, but as 2012 went by they have worked around it and made sure they are always working to the advantage of the squad and the team ( never leaving the tank too far away to support it).
“A successful team has a good balance of infantry and armour players and they support each other. Depending on what map you're playing, the balance is more often than not the key to winning. Knowing where people need to be and when is important.”
I want to know more about why Schlenk enjoys playing armour in Battlefield – what makes him passionate about this game.
“Well at first, in FiB, I started playing armour just because I was the best at it when we started, so I was the obvious choice. Nobody liked driving in a tank but we realised that I wasn't that bad and I slowly started enjoying it more and more.
“Chaotic, who has always repaired me and been in my squad since day one, and I have worked together really well. Every armour player is only as good as his right hand man.
“I also enjoy playing armour because it's a different part of the game. And since I need to make a lot of the calls in situations it can be easier from the tank. Also it's fun shooting up an enemy tank and dropping buildings on people!”
How is he and his iM Redemption team feeling about this upcoming season?
“We're feeling great. With things reduced down to two legs this year it's going to give all the teams more time to get in the practice they need and this will lead to stronger competition, especially in Prem.
“It's pretty much been a fine line up until now competitively, and with the game having been out for a year now and people coming back from their break and starting to get back into the swing of things, it's going to get very exciting.
“We're approaching this year with high spirits and the right attitude to work hard and play fair. We believe that what you put in is what you get out and since we are starting this year on the right foot, things are going good so far.”