Capture The Flag
sassa  /  7 May 2024, 12:36
Mastering the Flag: Interview with Shining
Capture the Flag (CTF) is an adrenaline-fueled arena in Quakeworld and few players have the insight and experience of Shining, a veteran known for his long commitment to the scene.
In this interview, Shining dives into the intricacies of CTF, from fundamental strategies to advanced tactics for competitive play. He discusses the evolution of CTF, the significance of teamwork, and his personal CTF journey.
First of all, what is CTF and can you walk us through some general strategies?
A QuakeWorld mode where you are divided into two teams. Both teams have a flag and if you grab your opponent’s flag and take it back to your own, you will get 15 points for yourself and another 10 for each player on your team.
Other than the aspect of the flags, a couple of main differences to TDM are the four runes, the hook and that we play with team damage off and weapons stay nowadays.
The four runes are Resistance (takes less damage), Strength (gives more damage), Regeneration (refills you armor and hp back to 150) and Haste (makes you move and shoot faster). Resistance is clearly the best rune, but Strength is great to defend the base with and run around with LG. Haste is excellent to use when capturing. Regeneration is probably the weakest, but if you can get both Strength and Regeneration to your base – you can really lock down your base by switching runes with a team mate to always being strong.
The one thing I think most new players haves issues with is the hook. By combining the hook to gain speed with bunny jumping you can really move around the map fast. It sure takes some time to get used to, but I have been impressed by new CTF players who have being able to get comfortable with the hook and speed very fast. Then of course, there are map knowledge that comes with experience, where and how to use the hook.
With the aspects of flags, runes and quad – there are a great mix you have to balance being able to control the game. If you have too much attention to quad, without always securing enemy flag – you can get destroyed by fast captures. One of the most important things in today’s game is to always hold enemy flag – in something like offense is the best defense strategy – and build momentum from there. Back in the early 2000s, there were a lot of attention to defending your own base. Obviously still important, especially in 4on4, I personally favors putting more attention to controlling the middle of the map while securing enemy flag. A common strategy is to have a flagcarrier that plays very safe (hiding, Niltons expertise) while the rest of your team try to get quad control and bring your own flag back and hopefully controlling the tempo.
It may sound obvious, but one of the todays most important and underrated thing in todays game is that your flagcarrier dosen´t die. That way you wont give up easy captures. Velocity is a player who excels in this, hooking and flying around the map sometimes not even trying to pick a fight. Then when his flag is returned, he will directly go for the capture. It´s nothing so stressful in CTF (according to me) when you are trying to build quad momentum when you see that enemy team going all in on fast captures. During this CTF revival, we play only 10 minutes rounds, which means that it is a very limited time to make a comeback. Back in the old days, when we played 20 min games, you could easily give up 4-5 captures in the beginning and still being able to stage a comeback by just taking over the game. If you give up 4-5 fast captures in a 10 min game, it´s very very hard to win.

(space, lethalwiz, dag, velocity)

What initially drew you to playing CTF in QuakeWorld, and how did it feel coming back after such a long break?
Around 97/98 my big brother and his friends began playing QWCTF. Also, we did play single player Quake in schools computer rooms after classes. So it came naturally to me trying it out. It was a rash surprise for my mother, as she suddenly got heavy telephone bills. Not a happy mother. Then me and my brother got some restrictions that we could only play for like one hour a day. Yeah, good luck with that.
During the pandemic, me, Elguapo and Velocity began to play some 1on1 games. Suddenly Creature came from nowhere and destroyed us – apparently his TDM years did pay off. Since then we tried to get people back playing, and I think we succeeded decently. During 2022 we had three 4on4 tournaments which were great. Andeh did an excellent job streaming two of them. Now we are hosting a new tournament in May, hopefully it will be a success.

fourier, jerp/zilch, shining, elguapo, nilton, velocity

Walk us through the CTF community back in the days.
It was awesome. The era of public servers. and to name a few. Chaotic public 7on7 games every eve.
Clans quickly emerged and in the early days it was all about Lords. One player that comes to mind is Lord-Poodle. Lords were students at the time and were sitting in Lund and Linköping with way better connection than the rest of us.
As the scene continued to grow more clans came popping up like legendary clans as The Hellraisers, Warriors of the Realm, CoP, OFF, [YD], Rekyl, ACE, green zeros, Nii!, Oj!, TT, Wuff, Return, First. Then suddenly there were a gang called Cute that not only emerged – with star player Space in the lead – that completely took over the scene. They did only lose one game in all those years. Actually, an old Cute player named Caveron just recently did return to the CTF scene and also put up Cutes old homepage. Take a look - a lot of fun stuf -
CTF began to die from early 2000s when CS and some other weird games came around, but like each year until 2005 CTF had a revival for like 4-5 months with some fun tournaments.

1 vs Cute BAte final on e2m2

1 vs WR

Can you share the story behind the formation of First and what you aimed to achieve with the clan?
Me and a couple of other guys started First around the time when I went from HPW to LPW, around 98/99. After a slow start winning wise, we got some new players like Spawn, Bullet, Weqo and Concept which gave us a formidable lineup. Some of us began to play games on Nine and other internet hubs, and we quickly became better. Probably our greatest accomplishment happened when we beat the old powerhouse WR with 4-0 in a tournament Semis. Suddenly, everyone wanted to join First. The legend from Hell - Capten signed on, and also Borka from Return. We were so hot at the time that in the final vs Cute (Space, Charon, Wow, Goose) - we benched top ten Swedish players like Capten and Borka. After a couple of tight rounds on E2M2 we got humiliated on CTF2M1, and suddenly Borka and Capten went missing. I actually think Capten signed on with Cute like a hour later.
After that we had some other good runs with players like Zeke, Deathangel, AzzBlaster, Nano, Velocity, Elguapo - but never got over the hump (Space) and the red hot Return (Borka, Maralek etc).
In hindsight, despite our somewhat success of becoming a pretty good clan, we were not a very liked or respected bunch of people. We were pretty immature and did complain way too much. Yeah, I haven´t gotten all of that out of my blood yet – but i´m trying!

(tiebreaker round on mammoth on qhlan 2022 CTF final)

During the peak moments of First, what strategies and team dynamics do you believe contributed to your success, especially in the early 2000s?
I actually think we did our homework. Just looking at my own game and also on First as a clan, we understood that we are not good enough to win on their terms, but we may have a shot on ours. This meant going all in on speed and constant flag pressure – playing more like CTF 2024 than CTF 2000. Hiding a lot with the flag when other team has the advantage, making the other team frustrated. Less focus on actually grabbing the quad against good opponents but instead going kamikaze with GL/RL to disturb their rhythm when playing from behind. And incorporating discharges as a main weapon, which I think stood out back then – both as effective and lame. Enemies should never feel safe going water way. We practiced strategies of our flagcarrier acting as an bate - tempting enemies to follow him water way - where a fellow mate waited with LG. This was (and still is) an efficient way to get runes back. We had team says to let your teammate know that now is time to discharge them. Me and Elguapo sneaked out an epic last second game saving discharge against DQM in 2005 this way. Funny thing is that our Brazilian CTF stars like Nilton and Purezinho that regularly plays with us now, use the similar strategy.

How did you develop your unique playing style, particularly your skills with the grappling hook and rocket launcher, and any tips for mastering these techniques?
Aim has never been my thing. But I have been decent with the hook and tried to play with different rhythms. Something I use a lot being followed is throwing a fast grapple hook into the roof and on the way up sending a couple of rockets back at enemies, before continuing forward.
Strategy wise I’m trying to put constant pressure on enemies when I don´t have any runes – just trying to disturb them from getting control of the map. On the other way around, when I get Resistance or Strength, I´m trying to play very safe controlling the middle. Actually that is probably also one of my biggest weakness as well, playing a bit too safe when I should be more in an attack mode. In todays game there are so many excellent players like LethalWiz Creature, Elguapo, Velocity, Zigg and others – so if you don’t take advantage and play offensive when you have the good runes it can be hard winning the game.
I guess balance is the key here – one of the most important things in CTF is to not lose Resistance and Strength. This also makes CTF intriguing strategy wise, which probably can relate to TDM when you are sending boomstick guys in ahead of the rocket guy. Same applies to CTF, that your teammates can go to quad area before Resistance carrier comes and hopefully takes the quad relative unharmed.

(Epic one frag game Vultures and Seagulls in CTF Showdown 2 on RCTF1, dec 2022)

You've played against some legendary players and teams. Can you share a memorable match or rivalry from your career and what made it stand out?
In 2005, Me, Elguapo and Creature joined Hell for one last CTF ride. Other nameworthy clans were DQM (our nemesis, me and Elguapo got somewhat kicked the previously year) and of course LegeArtis with Space, Dag, Diamond and Gato. Also, a Dutch great clan VVV were tough and American Idiots with the top dog Blood_Dog. We had a rough tournament, but somehow still managed to get to the semis against a strong LegeArtis team.
This was actually the last real game played in Sweden back then. We def had our chances, especially on a very close E2M2 game where we lost with a capture in a truly epic round. Space was hiding in our base with our flag the last minute chatting with his teammates – genius.
The game was lost 1-3 but actually, I think this is just how it should be. Space was the greatest CTF player during all those years and should go out on top. During those years when CTF was non-existent, me and Elguapo met up many times watching old demos and talking way too much what we did good and bad - especially in this game.
Coming back to that specific E2M2 round, I think many fellow quakers could enjoy to watch the game from Space perspective to see his greatness (ask me for the demo). Sure, he was pretty inactive during this time and his hook and rhythm was a bit off. But his mind wasen´t. He did top frag without taking a single quad in 20 minutes - something that explains the greatness of Space. He was so unselfish and understood the game well that if he can get his mates to shine (quad+Res role), he can play a secondary supplementary role which he excels in. Helping teammates to get armors, and being nightmares for enemies by disturbing their rhythms. Personally I had a pretty good run in the game in the middle part with Resistance, but I could never get the true rhythm I needed to seal the deal. Why? Because Space was waiting for me everytime I tried to regroup and get armors in the most awkward locations. He was on another level reading the game for sure. For example, if he read that Elguapo or Creature won a fight against a stacked teammate, he understood that we were probably pretty weak, and then he went to those places you go when to refill. It sounds very easy to do, but I guess in the very fast paced game as CTF, your mind has to be on another level to being able to break down all info and move in the right way instantly.
I believe Space unselfish play always laid the ground for his teams success. In Cute, he let Wow and Charon go for the quad runs, and with LegeArtis he let his teammates run the show – even though he was the best player. This is a very interesting way to approach the game. To let a somewhat ‘lesser’ teammate have his way with the best rune together with Quad - the opposite team will have fewer weak spots to gain advantage from.

(e2m2 semifinal game between hell and legeartis 2005)

What game mode in CTF do you prefer?
Clearly 4on4. Those games can be so hot. But actually, I also really enjoy the aspects of a 2on2 game. During a 4on4 game there are so many aspects you really can’t control that can shift everything. Like enemies spawning just in front of you on a weapon, or at RA. In 2on2 it’s easier to dictate the terms of the game by understanding where and what the enemies are about to do. Maybe sometimes not to kill an enemy without a weapon, because that delays the enemy from impacting the game. If you kill the enemy, he can spawn on a weapon or armor just in the direction you are heading and disturb your rhythm.
In a 2on2 game, when the opposite team has Strength and Resistance and controls the game, I really like to grab enemy flag with like 7-10 seconds before quad. This forces enemy team to make a decision. 1) Leave quad and grab our flag or 2) stay at quad. This gives you the chance of a fast capture (while your mate can wait to grab the flag again), or to attack quad with your teammate to hopefully grab the quad and take a rune back.

Given your extensive experience, what advice would you give to someone looking to get into QuakeWorld CTF today?
Just come around and play. We always try to balance the teams and we are usually all in the same voice having fun. In one way, I think the transition to CTF from TDM is a lot easier than the other way around. Obviously because we play with dmm3 mode (weapons stay), no team damage and that its somewhat easier (?) to take a role in CTF. Like to play defensively or offensively. But I understand it is frustrating to see the good hookers just fly by (I can feel the same thing). But with some patience it is possible to learn the angles on the maps and how to limit the great hookers a bit.

Can you share any insights into your plans or aspirations within the CTF community going forward?
Actually CTF feels pretty hot at the moment. After a slow year a lot is suddenly going on with a lot of 5on5 games. First of all, we got a couple of new players into the playing mix. Very fun! Some of them are new to CTF and some are old-schoolers. Suddenly we can play 4on4 regularly again and that itself creates more interest.
Second of all, we have finally set up own servers with CTF bots (thank you hiipe for this!!). Both a FFA type of CTF server which autofills with bots up to 8 players – finally a CTF Public server again! As for now, we only have 4 maps with bots, but all of them are maps that are regularly played so this is a perfect way to try on CTF.
And last but not the least, we are in the planning of another edition of CTF Showdown – which will be held May 23rd and May 27th. It will be a 4on4 Draft tournament so both experienced and new players can join and contribute. As it will only last over two evenings (group play and playoff), it won´t take a lot of time. The format also fits new players pretty well, as you will team up with some more experienced players who can help you out figuring what to do. But hopefully it will be as hot as our previous editions. Just reach out if you want to participate!

Don´t hesitate on reaching out to CTF crew in CTF Discord. Link
CTF Showdown 3 will be played Thursday 23rd of May and Monday 27th of May
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