Ahead of the Fortnite World Cup, G Fuel got to sit down with Calum "itemm" MacGillivray — one of Eleven Gaming’s latest pick-up. After an absolutely dominant showing at ESL Katowice, itemm was signed to the Canadian esports organization. With a storied introduction to the competitive Fortnite scene and an appreciation for creating a positive esports scene, itemm has some really good tips for gamers of any level.
Let’s get into the interview!
G FUEL: Let’s start with ESL. Talk to me a little bit about the event and the process leading up to ESL.
itemm: The process leading up to the event was a bit unclear because it was all invite based and it wasn’t really invite based on performance. Nobody was really sure how the invite was being sent out. So for the first two months, I just sat there with my mom and every day I’d hope to wake up to an email. Then when we finally did get the email, it was kind of just an amazing feeling for us.
G FUEL: How long did you have to wait all together before getting an invitation?
itemm: I think about a month.
G FUEL: That’s a good amount of time to be waiting for an invite. How did it feel when you finally arrived at ESL Katowice after waiting so long for an invite?
itemm: I was feeling pretty good. It was my first LAN event but also my first ever tournament with EPIC. I was too young to compete in any of the previous ones. I kind of thought I was going to be more nervous going into it, if that makes sense, but I was really confident going into [the event] because I had been practicing against the players who were going to be competing for ages.
G FUEL: That makes sense that you felt more confident because you’d had the practice behind you. Was the event overwhelming for a first-timer?
itemm: Well, it was the best experience I’ve had in my life so far. I’m sure New York is going to top that though.
G FUEL: What made it the best experience of your life?
itemm: I think just meeting everyone, meeting all the other players who I’ve known for like six or seven months now. I’m just being out there to meet them in person. It’s kind of like meeting your online brothers. Someone who you basically talk to regularly and you’re really close with and then getting to meet him in person is so good.
G FUEL: Was there anyone, in particular, you were looking forward to meeting?
itemm: Ares- he’s such a nice guy.
G FUEL: As far as the actual competition, how did you place at ESL?
itemm: I placed 12th in Solos and 15th in Duos. I was a little bit annoyed because Duos were across two days and for the first day we were really high up in fourth place going into the second day. The second day, we got strategy copied and that put us back quite a few places. On the day of the event, the whole map got completely changed and the place where we normally land was wiped off the map. So we had this backup plan we played and we ended up using that after the map change.
G FUEL: How did you feel after ESL Katowice had finished?
itemm: I felt amazing. I was really an unknown player at the time. I think I was known within the pro scene but I wasn’t known to the public. It was just amazing to be able to prove to myself because I had never had the opportunity before. I got overwhelmed because I had so much support after ESL and I got like 60-70 DMs on Twitter.
G FUEL: Let’s talk about getting signed to E11 gaming. What was it like to get signed to your first ever professional Fortnite team?
itemm: I think it’s amazing. I think the things that a team can offer you, not just from helping you grow as a player but also branding and stuff. I think they also support the mindset of it. That side, which I think a lot of players overlook, is really really important. I personally was in a bit of a slump for the two weeks prior to being signed and I think I would’ve had a good chance qualifying for the Fortnite World Cup by myself but E11 DEFINITELY helped me qualify without a doubt. They have a really good analyst who helps us look over our gameplay, review them, and show us what we need to do to perform better and what we can do to change. And then obviously Matt [E11 Gaming’s Head of Scouting and Player Relations], who has helped me personally with a lot of the mental things which I think has boosted my confidence.
G FUEL: We often overlook the mental side of gaming when it comes to competitive gamers. We tend to think it’s just sitting down at a computer and playing. How did Matt support you through your process?
itemm: He’s kind of been in that role of a mentor, leading me in the right direction and just putting me on a positive path to success.
G FUEL: It’s almost although Matt has indirectly helped you balance life and Fortnite. How has that balance been?
itemm: I think the balance is really good right now. I’ve got an important year of exams. I also had exams during World Cup. For the first four weeks of World Cup, I had exams. I was kind of trying to juggle with three or four hours of study during the week, and practicing Fortnite, and then I’d play on the weekend. I was juggling studying hard and Fortnite but thankfully the World Cup fell at a time where I could focus solely on the Fortnite World Cup for three weeks when I transitioned into my next school year bracket. So I just completely focused on the World Cup those three weeks.
G FUEL: We have to ask, how was going through exams AND the qualifiers at the same time?
itemm: Oh yeah - it was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. Obviously.
G FUEL: That’s not an easy situation to be in, but you clearly nailed the qualifiers and hopefully, your exams. You seem to handle yourself well under stressful situations. Do you find that you are a more level-headed player than some of your colleagues in the competitive Fortnite scene?
itemm: Yeah, I think so. I think I got it from my parents. Even when I was an unknown player, there’s definitely a problem with toxicity in the community - even some pro players being extremely toxic. I think coming from other sports, especially ones where you need to be sportsmanship, there’s a kind of credibility in that. I think I’ve always kind of thought myself not as me but as a brand. So if I go out and be extremely toxic to someone and this guy’s blown up on the internet, it’s going to ruin me forever, you know? So I think a lot of people forget that things stay there [on the internet] forever and I think a lot of people don’t understand this. They just think because they are saying it online, it doesn’t really matter but it does.
G FUEL: Do you think that competitive players, and fans of the game, forget about the mental health aspect of gaming? Especially when you consider their toxic behavior online?
itemm: I definitely don’t think it’s stressed enough and that’s the one thing that I think has helped me so much. The mental health side of gaming is so important.
G FUEL: What does a strong mental health state look like for you?
itemm: It means obviously not being toxic or anything like that. And then I think it also means having a completely positive mindset and not surrounding yourself with negativity or putting yourself down negatively. For instance, this is something I think happens to a lot of people - if they lose or they do one game badly, they’ll completely start to shut down, be really angry and they’ll think that they are playing terribly. We’ve seen that most of the time one game doesn’t define your whole tournament. We’ve seen people come back and qualify from having a bad game. I think that having a positive mental attitude and just constantly be willing to improve, wanting to improve, and just being generally nice - it’s something that a lot of people understate and don’t know how important it is.
G FUEL: That’s good advice for gamers at any level. Do you have any strategies or tips for gamers who are looking to keep a good mindset and positive attitude?
itemm: So there’s an app on your phone called Headspace which I use - normally before I go to sleep. It’s a kind of meditation. I would recommend that for staying calm and having a good mindset. But I think it also has to do a lot with who you surround yourself with, right? Because if you surround yourself with a lot of negativity and people constantly being toxic, I think that is going to definitely weigh your mindset down. Most of it is on you and it’s really hard if you have a bad mindset to change this. So I think a lot of it is how you start your mindset.
G FUEL: There has been a lot of toxicity and drama in esports recently and it’s good to see that you have found a good mindset to avoid it. Let’s talk World Cup Qualifiers, how are you preparing for it?
itemm: Right now there’s been kind of a lack of practice, in Europe especially. I think Europe’s got the worst practice region of any, which is concerning, especially these three or four days after World Cup - there’s been barely, barely any good practice anymore. I don’t know if this is just because people taking days off or if it’s because there’s nothing to be serious about anymore for players.
G FUEL: When you are practicing and playing, how would you describe your playstyle?
itemm: I’ve been used to playing with pros and a closed community, so my plays have been passive and calculated and smart compared to everyone who has learned to be reckless. This reckless playstyle has affected me because if you look at the Qualifiers, you can see that the high-placed players have been more of this reckless playstyle - it’s done really well. So I kind of have to transition that. So I think now it’s kind of transitioning from these small calculated playstyles to this more open and loose playstyle but remaining, or trying, to be calculated. I’m just trying to find the balance between not being stupid in what I do but trying to still control it.
G FUEL: It sounds like you’re still trying to figure out how to transition or evolve your playstyle. Would you agree with that statement?
itemm: Yeah, definitely. I think I’m evolving my style every day because there’s new things being found and there’s new things that Epic is throwing at you and your methods have to shift. I think if you’re not willing to adjust your playstyle, you’ll fall behind.
You can catch itemm at the Fortnite World Cup this July playing alongside his Duo partner Derox. We appreciate itemm taking the time to sit down and talk with us about all things Fortnite.
This article was written by Hotspawn. Hotspawn combines news, in-depth analysis, and how-to guides into one place to help you learn everything you need to know about esports.