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DarK: "[I] often studied my opponents"

By Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
Mar 18, 2012 20:01


ImageNorwegian Q2 and CS legend DarK discusses his career playing for MA, SK.sca, eoL, 4k, GamerCo and NoA. From winning CPL with SK to the unfulfilled potential of eoL and his latter days with XeqtR in NoA.

NO Ruben 'DarK' Bielenberg is a legendary, if often forgotten, name within the Norwegian esports scene. After an impressive Quake 2 Team DeathMatch career with NO MM, who never lost an official match, he successfully transitioned into a professional Counter-Strike career which lasted from 2001 to 2005. During that time period DarK made a name for himself as a clutch player and placed 4th at CPL Winter 2001, 1st at CPL Cologne 2002, 1st at CPL Summer 2002, 2nd at Clikarena, 5th at CPL Summer 2003 and 3rd at CPL Summer 2005.

DarK not only found success at the highest level in two distinctly different esports titles, but was also one of only a handful of Norwegian players to play for teams from other countries, from his time in SE SK.sca to UK 4kings and US GamerCo. Playing with his fellow countrymen he made NO Massive Attack and NO eoLithic famous.

In this interview DarK takes us through his whole career, from his early days in QuakeWorld to his Quake 2 heyday and through to his lengthy Counter-Strike run. Find out DarK's thoughts on eoL, elemeNt, Potti, XeqtR, REAL and more.


QW, Q2 and Q3

Were you a competitive player in QuakeWorld? Did you have any special aptitude for Quake 2 that you didn't have for QW? How did you rise through the ranks in Q2 and how did NO Memento Mori come to be formed?

I was never properly competitive in Quakeworld when it was at its peak, I did attend several small lan-parties with some of the best QW players in the world though: Sectopod, Stalin and all of the old GameOver crew. It was not until Quake2 was released and I got my hands on the railgun that I really felt competitive. My early days of Quake 2 were basically facerolling people on a server provided by the biggest ISP here in Norway, but once in a while there were some players that facerolled me: NO Scion, NO oWo, and NO Shub-niggaruth. Shub and myself had met each other at some local LAN here, and after we all met each other at The Gathering and some other local LANs the idea of making a clan together came up.

Memento Mori quite famously dominated the Q2 TDM scene to the extent that it was often cited that you'd never lost an official game. How true was that and what mixture of roles helped account for the level of success you achieved?

I think we understood from the very get-go that we had some great talent in our team, you have to remember that some of the best QW players in Norway were also members of MM: NO Sectopod and NO Mastah-killah. The point of creating Memento Mori was also to make a competitive team for the online competitions that were going on, and after a while we attended some more major LANs in Sweden and Norway.

We did brag a bit about the fact that we never lost a game, and that's a fact. We even played the best American team on their US server and beat them there, as they refused to play on a neutral Icelandic server. I think we barely lost a map with what became the first team lineup: Scion, oWo, Shub and myself. After a while we became quite close friends and to this day i keep in touch with Scion, oWo and sometimes Shub :)

The roles of our team were quite different: Scion and Shub ran around spawnfragging people while oWo and myself were more like the workhorses of the team, trying to keep their frag-horny behinds in line.

After [9] famously won the war of styles over DeathRow with their 'cess' style of attacking a key position em masse with the starting weapon there was a period of time where that was acknowledged as the best style for QW TDM. How did TDM work in Q2 in comparison?

4 guys shotgun rushing a guy was the way to go in QW, Quake2 was a bit more item oriented though, but you could trade weapons and ammunition. Map control was the way to win matches in Quake2 just as in QW, the maps were obviously different from QW but the tactics were not that different.

ImageYour team-mate Shub is still remembered as one of the best Q2 players of all time and is still brought up in discussions over who the best Q2 duel player ever is. What were his strengths and how does he fit into that conversation for you?

Shub was just a raw talent and a complete player, I must say Scion and him are the biggest "raw" gaming talents I've ever seen. Shub had everything: insane aim, very calm and collected and just played a really smart game. He was also very unpredictable, so you never knew where you had him in a duel. Shub is to me the best Q2 duel player that ever touched a keyboard :) Unfortunately he didn't really play anymore when the bigger tournaments started popping up at the end of the Quake2 days.

ImageAt the end of the Q2 era, before Q3 came out, MM picked up SE Blue, another legendary individual player. Thanks to his incredible rail aim and air rockets he quickly acquired a cult following in Q3. Being as you saw him in Q2, Q3 and then later in CS, where he played with SK.sca, what are your thoughts on him as a player? You once told me during the CS days that in a future FPS he is one of the players you'd want to reconnect with in a team.

oWo was studying to become an air-traffic controller, Scion was in the army, Shub was playing Don Juan and Motorsagfaen was stuck at work, so we had to get some new players in. Blue was one of the best players out there at the end of the Q2 days so we decided to take him with us. Blue is also from the city of Malmö, which has a weird mix of Danish and Swedish accent, so he was as foreign to the other Swedish clans as he was to us Norwegians. I think Blue was also one of those "raw" gaming talents, where he could pick up anything and be competitive within a short space of time

I've got a funny story bout MM. It was a Eurocup semi-final I think, we had all gathered up at a local LAN place, called NLO, and were ready for the semi-final against some swedish team and some smartass had the idea that we should drink a bit before the match to calm our "nerves". After we had a few drinks it was time for the match and after 5 minutes or so into the game I see Scion standing still in-game, and I'm unable to get in contact him when I'm shouting to him, so I turn around and there he is with a huge pillow on his keyboard sleeping. We were unable to wake him up while still playing the game, so we had to play the rest of that semi-final with 3 people having to guard the 1 afk'er, and we still won.

Another story: In one of the games I was shouting my lungs out to Scion, trying to get some weapons from him (as you could trade weapons in Q2). I kept shouting and shouting and I got no response. After a while of tearing my vocal choards a new one Scion turned to me, took off his headphones and said "I can't hear what you're saying dude, my volume's too high". I cracked up so hard I was crying on the floor for the rest of the match.

How long did you play Quake 3 for? How did you come to start playing Counter-Strike?

The old Memento Mori had basically died out when Quake 3 came out, we did get an invitation to the Razer CPL where Shub, Voo [not to be confused with the Dutch Q3 CPMA and PK player], Blue and myself attended. I was never a duel player, although I did really well in practice games, where I even made Blue throw his keyboard and mouse away, but once it was down to the official duels I got so nervous I became a shivering Niagara Falls. We also attended the Q3 Eurocup but we didn't really play at all together so it basically all fell apart after a little while.

I actually tried the first beta of CS, and I kept trying it once in a while when a new beta came out. Some friends of mine were also playing CS at the time in a clan called SAS and they persuaded me to join them. The fact that my friends were playing CS and that some retard replaced John Carmack in the patching department of Quake 3 made me stop. I did play some CTF though with VSE.

Did you dislike Quake 3 overall? Why did you stop playing it?

Quake 3 was alright until they had a new guy patching it, he figured he'd switch the whole mouse registering system and mouse accel system around and he removed several "bugs" that had added an extra dimension to the game, like floor damage. I was doing really well actually in the beginning of q3, tearing people apart, then the first patch John Carmack wasn't responsible for they changed the mouse sensitivity system and I never found my sensitivity back, it was fuckin' weird, so i gave it all up =D


Moving to Counter-Strike and the early days with NO MA

For a lot of the top Quake players of that time CS was always made out to be a terrible game which didn't require much skill and was inferior to the different Quake games. What did you like about CS back then and how well did any of your skills translate over?

It was a quite different game for me, and it took me a bit of time to adjust to. I always had my rail-aim but that didn't help me much when my screen was white and my bullets flew all over. Watching a lot of demos and the fact that I got recruited into one of the best Norwegian cs teams quite fast (riotsquad [not to be confused with the American team]) helped my progression a lot. The game itself had its flaws but it was way more fast paced than it is now when I started playing it. So the version of CS that is arpimd today I would move towards the "rubbish bin", but the old school CS was a lot of fun and a good game all in all.

CS is a lot more team oriented than Quake ever was, you actually have to work as a team to stand any chance at all, while in quake you could get away with having 4 guys with great aim. The fact that you can headshot people and all the extra tools, like smoke grenades and flashbangs, makes the game a bit deeper tactically in a sense, and more random.

NO Naikon was one of your team-mates back on that early Massive Attack team, and obviously went on to be quite famous playing in eoLithic and NoA. What can you say about him as a player and team-mate? It seems like the consensus from other team-mates is that he was the ultimate backup player, where you put in a site as CT and he held that site down by spraying down all of the rushing enemies.
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I think thats an accurate description of him, he was the ultimate backup guy and a monster when holding bombspots. Naikon was a complete team player throughout his career, you could always rely on him clutching the major rounds as well. Winning important 1on2s and 1on3s was a daily routine for him. The fact that he was one of the nicest and funniest pro-gamers out there didn't hurt either. In his later career I don't think he played that much either, as he got tired of the daily CS grind.

One of my biggest regrets in my gaming career is that I didn't continue playing with Naikon after Massive Attack. I had gotten an offer to play with Nordic during the next few Wuropean CPLs and as we were struggling to get together a competitive Massive Attack team I took the offer.

ImageMA's fourth place finish at CPL Winter 2001 was impressive, and perhaps overlooked a little, since your team's lineup wasn't close to as famous as the likes of SE NiP, US X3 or even some of the lesser American teams, being as the LAN scene was largely centered around America at the time.

After losing to X3 in the second round of the upper bracket your team went on a five win streak to make the top 4. Along the way you even had a triple overtime game, an incredibly rare occurance in MR12 for that era of CS, against a semi-known American team called US dr (deadly riot).

What was the experience of playing at the first huge CS event like and does your team's losses to X3 and SE GoL, who finished second and third respectively, mean your overall placing was reflective of MA's level at the time?


It blew me away. The CPL winter event in 2001 was our first major tournament, and aside from the CPL qualifier and a few other small LANs we had basically only played on the internet to that point. GoL and NiP thought we were cheaters for sure, as I would be so brave to say that we were the first to use wall spamming in CS to a large extent in our play. The practice games we had online usually ended up with the other team rage quitting and branding us as cheaters.

As my recollection goes we somehow ended up in overtime in most of our games, and the one you are referring to against DR was an epic one, although I also remember the Infernum game for 4th place quite well too. The 4th place finish we had was quite fair I would say, although I feel some of our players underperformed in that tournament and when we played X3 I thought we could have won it for sure.


SE Nordic Division

ImageAt CPL Cologne in early 2002 you played with a Nordic Division lineup which read like an all-star lineup from that era: yourself, SE vesslan, SE Swift, NO XeqtR and SE trance. As well as winning the tournament without a single map loss the team didn't give up more than eight rounds to any single opponent. Was that you at your peak as an individual player?

XeqtR and Vesslan managed to convince me to join them for CPL Cologne, that Summer I had been playing with a fubar'd internet and 200+ ping, so when I finally came to Sweden and later Cologne to play I felt like a beast. I think that was the start of my "peak", at least I felt very comfortable every time I played and I felt I had great control over the game, if that makes any sense.

After that event SE vesslan told me you were the best player in the world. Was he exaggerating?

I don't know, in a game like CS it's always hard to decide who is the best player as I consider it a team game. But I also do think you have to have an inner belief that you are the best to succeed, and I sure had a strong inner belief during that period of time.


SENO SK.sca

With your departure from Nordic to join up with the new SK.sca lineup it always seemed, from the outside, as though Nordic kind of fucked in using XeqtR as a stand-in for CPL Cologne, since he was so impressive individually at that event and connected with you so well that he kind of stole you off to SK with him when he joined up. Is that how it happened?

First of all the whole Nordic team was a great bunch of people, and I do feel I betrayed them a bit, but XeqtR and I got along really well, both IRL and in-game. When you're young the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence it seems, so the attraction of playing with the, then already, legendary HeatoN and Potti, along with XeqtR, became too big for me to say no to. I must also confess that even though I am a very laid-back individual I do have an extremely competitive personality. I love measuring myself against others and against myself, so the attraction of playing on what could be one of the best teams in the world was definitely a deciding matter as well.

You played with NO XeqtR in a number of teams so how would you describe him as a player and person?

ImageXeqtR was a great player and in his early days I think he was more of a fragger than the leader/tactician, but when he took that role upon himself I think he really excelled in it. I don't think there were that many players that could match his ability to think so clearly for the team in tight situations and he always came up with a quick solution to the problems we would face in-game. His winning mentality is second to none as well, noone wanted to win as much as XeqtR, or at least noone showed it as vocally as he often did :) He also took his job very seriously. I remember vividly how he one day came to me and said "Listen, I dreamed up this tactic last night...listen closely". I thought to myself "this guy means business!".

ImageWhat is your take on SE Potti? In terms of fame SE HeatoN overshadowed him, thanks to how appealling that player's playing style was, but amongst his peers it always seemed that Potti was the consensus best player.

Potti was a beast as well in his prime I would say. Always so cool and calculated in the close situations, and when he bothered to play more than the minimum amount required he was a force to be reckoned with for sure. I do think it's hard to say who's the "best", CS was a team game and you need the right mix of people to be able to perform. I think Heaton and Potti were a great duo because of the fact that their playstyles were so different.

CPL Summer 2002 was one of the most wide open CPL tournaments ever. Your SK team had a star lineup but had placed really poorly at LanArena 7, GoL came in with new hot player elemeNt in their lineup, esu was a mix of top Swedish players, 3D had three ex-X3 members and tso had gone undefeated for an entire season of CAL invite in North America.

We had just come from LanArena 7, which was a disaster, both for us as a team but also as a tournament, and that definitely took a toll on our confidence and I think lowered my expectations a bit coming into the CPL summer.

Although I always felt we should win it based on our team I did not really know what to expect. As you mentioned the competition was really stiff, with a lot of great teams. I think that event was the peak of my playing ability in a way, I did play really poorly in all the early morning matches but once I managed to wake up I felt confident and i think i did really well.

In the upper bracket final you faced the US tso team who had gone undefeated for an entire CAL-i season and utilised much more of a tactics and teamplay approach than top Americans were known for at the time. The map was train and after your SK only finished the first half with 3 terrorist rounds you swapped over and went 10:1 as CT to take the game. What do you remember of that match?

I remember that game well, and not in a positive sense. That game must have been the worst game I have ever played in an official tournament :) early morning games never suited me well. Luckily I played on a team that saved my ass more than once that match, to say the least.

Playing TSO was just another game for me really, I guess there might have been some extra pressure since they were unbeaten and all that but I do remember it was quite satisfying to win because they were quite loudmouthed (like most of them I guess lol :D) There's always been a silent rivalry between EU and the US teams since the QW days, so I guess that's an added bonus.

Having beaten up esu 13:2 on inferno in the upper bracket final you awaited the other finalist, who would be coming from the lower bracket. GoL ended up making it, beating the esu team who had taken them down earlier. Was GoL the team you expected to face in the final? What was your reaction to them smashing you 13:1 in the first map?

We knew the GoL players really well, so it wasn't a surprise when we met them in the final, and we did get an ass whooping in the beginning, although I thought I made an honest attempt. I'm not sure what happened really, we just got molested in the first map.

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The CPL structure back then meant the second map was the same as the first, nuke, so what changed going into that second map? You and XeqtR combined to win a number of 2vX situations, is that your memory of it? Do you still remember the winning moment?

I remember we had a 10 minute break between the two maps and I just thought to myself "We've gotten this far, I'm not gonna lose a final", and I'm sure XeqtR had the same thoughts. To my recollection XeqtR and myself won a lot of 2on5/ 2on4/2on3 situations, and after a few rounds the other boys started picking it up as well and Heaton especially started to play like he usually does. He ended the match with the epic Smoke grenade fake to win us the match, a trick I had used on him a ton of times in the side entrance on inferno ;D

It's rare that a team splits up after they've just won a big event, but your team didn't even survive to the next American CPL. Shortly after CPL Oslo you and XeqtR were kicked out by SK. The story XeqtR told me was that SK wanted to have only Swedish players so they could compete in future WCGs, so you and him went off to join eoL, which resulted in elemeNt being kicked out of that Norwegian team and started the elemeNt-XeqtR "beef". How do you remember the circumstances behind you leaving SK and joining eoL?
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We had a month break or so after the CPL summer event where I basically didn't touch the computer, and I think Heaton and Potti wanted to keep playing more regularly, as well as get a Swedish team together I suppose. I never really got any clear answers as to why things happened, I just saw a news post one day that they had gotten a new lineup, and then XeqtR phoned me up and said he had fixed us a couple of spots in eoL, so I tagged along for the ride :) I think the ordeal with SK was a bit unprofessional.

I've to this day not gotten the whole story around the XeqtR vs. elemeNt beef. elemeNt and I had a little rivalry going when he had just broken into the scene as well, he was such a talented player and he was sometimes very confident, to put it that way, although at this point we had gotten to know each other better and I think we had a good tone between us which later developed into a friendship.


NO eoLithic

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That first eoL lineup of you, XeqtR, Damien, knoxville and Naikon established itself as the best Nordic team by winning MindTrekLAN, best Nordic team being analogous with best team in the world at the time. So going into CPL Winter 2002 you were the favourites to win and at least place top 3. Instead your run was derailed by an 11:13 loss to zEx on train, famous for sunman's "shot heard around the world". You then lost to team9 and riot squad to fall in 8th place. What happened?

We felt really confident, perhaps overconfident that we would do well in the next CPL after we won MindTrekLAN. I think that zEx match was the turning point for us in a way, at least mentally. If I recall correctly there was more than just one random situation that turned the game for them. It was one of those games where I would say we just had plain bad luck as well, not to take anything away from zEx. To end it all sunman shoots Damien randomly through two walls or whatever one second before it's too late to defuse the bomb. I think that broke us down mentally in a way, the rest of that tournament is almost just a big blur.

When elemeNt rejoined eoL it setup what was basically considered a Norwegian dream team, and both XeqtR and elemeNt remember that lineup fondly. Since that lineup didn't get that much time to show its potential what is your feeling about it?

I do think it was a dream team, and I think we all felt that way. The mix of players we had in that team was amazing: everything from element's random inventions to XeqtR's tactics to the clutch play of Naikon, i think we had it all. We had good chemistry as well. Our biggest problem was that we did not have proper sponsorship, so in the end our team got picked apart by the other well sponsored teams.

ImagePeople to this day bring up eoL's name in discussions about who the best team ever is, but the fact that lineup with elemeNt had only one significant LAN placing, finishing runnersup at Clikarena, means others feel that eoL gets overhyped. What is your take? Was eoL better than the SK team you won that CPL with?

Personally I think I was a better player back with SK, since I had taken several breaks from the game since CPL Summer 2002, so I felt really rusty. As a team I think I would give the edge to eoL. Had we stayed together for a longer period of time I think we would have been able to fulfill our potential as a team. The fact that we did so well against SK, winning six out of seven matches vs. them, and that one of our players ended up there is not a coincidence I think.

elemeNt seemed like a complex figure in the sense that he moved around a lot of top teams but those teams were always better with him than without him, leaving many to wonder if he wouldn't have had a more stacked resume if he'd stayed with one or two of those lineups. What do you think?
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elemeNt was the complete player, I guess there's nothing more to say about him that hasn't been said really. A lot of the changes in lineups were often down to who had sponsorship money and who didn't, it didnt matter how good your team was if you couldnt afford to go to the tournaments. I think this became a problem for elemeNt too and that might explain some of it. I think that's an issue that demotivated a lot of us: unprofessional and dishonest people who tried to take advantage of a new type of business, e-sports. I have nothing bad to say about Ola, we keep in touch from time to time to this day :)

Is he the best Norwegian player ever?

I do think he was one of the best players, if not the best player, in the world =D but it's a team game :D


UK 4kings

After eoL you reteamed with SK.sca team-mate xenon when you joined 4kings, who he was playing for since he was attending school in the UK. You helped 4k to 5th place at CPL Summer 2003, which was the highest placing ever by a UK team at that time, and even came close to placing higher as a triple overtime mill game vs. 3D ended saw Bullseye winning a 1v3 with only a deagle. How did the move to 4k come about and what did you think of the team?

I had basically quit playing again, and suddenly I got a phone call from Xenon where he persuaded me to join his mates in 4kings and go to CPL with them. I was a bit reluctant, since I was in school at the time, but the temptation was too big, and I dont regret it a bit. I had talked a bit to the 4kings lads at earlier CPLs and I knew they were a good bunch, and we quickly got things going. It was hard to get training partners, as the UK connections limited us to playing with English and Icelandic teams, so we went into that CPL without any huge expectations I think. But again I do feel we had a bit of bad luck against 3D, so I think we surprised ourselves a bit as well.
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The later results with 4k gradually went downhill more and more. The perception of some in the UK was that 4kings had a mentality of "we'll just practice a week before the qualifier/event" since they always had the best overall pool of talent in the UK and by far the best, and only real, sponsorship available in the UK scene, so they were always a huge favourite to win every UK qualifier and LAN. So some felt they didn't make the most of their priveleged position. What is your take?

That might have been true, when I played there we tried to practice as much as possible but since we often lived so far apart and with the UK ISPs not being up-to-date we always had problems. Some of us also started taking the game less seriously I suppose and that might have been a side effect of that. I don't think it was really intentional, but that is the way it ended up: we did well in the UK qualifiers and mediocre at most of the international events.

From speaking to xenon I always got the sense that 4k was ideal for you and he, since you were both busy with school, so the fact the team didn't practice much meant you could make money as a progamer while still studying. How accurate is that and were there any difficulties with members of the team being from different countries?

When I did attend school that was a good solution for me at the time indeed, in retrospect though I might regret not taking some things more seriously. It was not really difficult at all for me to communicate in English on an everyday basis, but I guess there were some cultural differences sometimes :)

4kings essentially never lost any UK LANs back when you played with them so it made their loss to UK WOLF, who were made up of the best players from other top UK teams, at the ESWC qualifier in 2004 even more notable. On top of that you were involved in a controversial incident where a hardware failure during a defuse attempt led to you breaking a monitor. What is your memory of that event?
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I remember that clearly, during that ESWC UK tournament they decided to use a set of undescribably bad LCD monitors. All the players were complaining about them so I brought it up with the (insert the name of the retard that was responsible for the tournament, don't remember his name) and even when confronted with how horrible his LCD monitors were we got into a big argument. I guess that had already increased my temperament that day, when we went into the game against WOLF they placed us on each side of the table, so we were basically staring the other team in the face 1m away.

The players on the WOLF team were shouting so much bullshit throughout the whole game, so I guess that got under my skin as well, and it all culminated into a big blowup when I won a 1on3 and there was some bug that reset some of your binds, so my defuse button didn't work! It ended up with me wanting to throw the monitor into the kid in front of me, since he had been shouting obsceneties at me the whole game, but since it had a chord attached to it the monitor went its own way I suppose. It was kind of hard to get back into the match mentally after that.


US GamerCo

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By November of 2004 you'd gone officially inactive from 4kings and didn't reappear again until April of 2005, when it was announced that you were going to play in GamerCo. Had you lost interest in CS at the end of your 4k time? How close were you to never coming back? How did you end up returning in GamerCo and was the fact they had a WEG spot lined up in South Korea a motivating factor behind your comeback?
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I was starting to get quite tired of the scene and the game in many ways, and I thought I had quit for good when I went inactive from 4Kings. Then one day in 2005 I get a message that an American team wants me to join them for the WEG Season 2 tournament and CPL. This came out of the blue but the temptation to first go to the US and then to Korea was too big to let go for me, and I think in a way it gave me a bit of a boost to get back into the grind. At that point I thought I was gone for good and that I was already forgotten in the community, so it was kind of surreal to get such an offer.

At WEG your team beat Catch Gamer, who ended up finishing runnersup for the whole tournament, and made the second group stage but there lost all of your games. What can you say about the difference between playing in that WEG tournament, where each match was played days apart, and Western tournaments, which are played over a couple of days all at once?

It was a great experience to be able to stay in Seoul for a prolonged period of time, but for the match performances it depends on the kind of player you are: some need a game or two to settle their nerves and to basically get their head straight, while others adapt much quicker to a competitive situation. The fact that there were such long periods of time between each match also made you able to make specific counter-tactics and really get them practiced, so if you were not prepared to be countered you were basically screwed.

The Western version of tournaments lets you play many matches each day, but that also has its pros and cons as while it may allow you to get into a good flow, it can also exhaust you as you have to concentrate over such a long period of time.

The only thing people usually remember about CPL Summer 2005 was SK.swe winning it, since the majority of the top teams were at ESWC during the same week. Your team, with method as a stand-in, finished third and only lost to the champions throughout the tournament. Was it always a certainty you'd leave GamerCo after that? What was it like to play with US method?

We did quite poorly in the official matches at WEG with GamerCo and we had some internal issues that I regret to this date, so we brought along method for the CPL, since he wasn't playing with anyone at the time. We went into that CPL without any expectations and did alright I guess. I think it was my time to go after that event, I did attend some smaller LANs with GamerCo in the US but there were too many IRL temptations lurking around for me. Playing with method was really fun, he's a great guy and was a fantastic player.


NOSE NoA and the end

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How seriously were you still playing when you joined up with NoA for the CPL UK stop and WEG Season 3? You had an experimental lineup of three up and coming, but fairly unproven, Swedish players along with you and XeqtR. What is your take on that lineup?

I wasn't really playing that much on my own when I got the offer to join NoA, but once the offer was on the table I did take the game more seriously than I had for a long time. I don't think you can argue with the individual skill of the players in that lineup, but I don't think we had enough time to really gel as a team. And a few personal errors cost us the win against project_kr that prevented us from going further. I was also really sick at the time, which prevented me from concentrating for more than a map or match at a time. I looked like a frog!

Your last international event was CPL Winter 2005, where you attending with your friends from NO slakkt as a stand-in. Obviously, being as they were unknowns, there were no expectations for a high placing but it's interesting to note that you ended up in a quadruple overtime game against an American team called toysoldiers on nuke. Did it seem like overtime games followed you around in your career? How did you think your career played out on the whole?

ImageBetween Naikon and myself I bet we must have the most overtime games in tournament history or something, when playing with MA we were almost surprised if we didn't end up in OT. I do regret some things in my CS career but I all in all I can't really complain, I was able to travel and meet new people all the time and actually get paid for playing a computer game. This also let me ventilate my competitive nature. Even though I do think we had some situations where lady luck wasn't on our side in some of the tournaments I won my fair share of them and was always able to compete at the highest level. Life's a rollercoaster :)

I did play from time to time with my mates in NO XpreZ but that's a long time ago now.

How would you describe your strengths as a player? Which weapons were you the best with? Did you need a lot of practice to get into rhythym or could you hop right in?

I think I was quite cool under pressure, had a good aim and my intuition seldom failed me as well. I think I was the sort of player that performed best after a lot of practice, where I get into the "zone", as you would call it, where most of your actions feel natural to you instead of having to think about every move you do. My favourite weapon was definitely the desert eagle, before they stopped bunnyhopping. After that I never really had any proper preferred weapon, it all depends on the situation.

You seemed comfortable in clutch round situations in your prime, winning 1vX and 2vX siutuations for your teams. It seems like being clutch is one of those qualities which can't be taught, so even some of the great players don't have it while some of the less skilled players have the knack. What is your take on the matter and what makes a good clutch round player in your book? Do you always act without hesitation? Do you plan ahead?

ImageIf you want to simplify it a bit I think it's just down to problem solving, how fast you can come up with a viable solution to the challenge you are facing at any time. That in combination with good aim/technique and all the other things that make a top CS player. Also some people perform better under pressure than others. In a lot of situations some people get demotivated if the odds are stacked against them, while others see it as a challenge and rather relish the opportunity to meet such a challenge head on.

Hesitation has never been a good thing for me personally in CS, everytime I've hesitated to do my next move it hasn't paid off. That is different from patience though, which is also needed to succeed in my opinion. I also often studied my opponents and that gave me an edge in a lot of 1on2 situations etc. where that sometimes let me predict a certain pattern that player would perform. Often you just have to be able to try and see things from the view of your opponent and try to predict what he does, and then trying to figure out a way to counter that.

Thinking of the generation of Norwegian players who came after you many historically look back and feel that they didn't live up to their potential, whether for sponsorship reasons or the fact Norwegians had a tough time getting into Swedish teams due to the WCG. An example being REAL, who many have speculated could have been a NEO/f0rest/Potti figure if he had accrued the accomplishments to back up his talent. What is your perspective?

I think Norway had a lot of young talented players like REAL, prb, oops juvenile etc. but the fact that it was almost impossible to get any real sponsorship deals for Norwegian teams at that time made it close to impossible for up and coming Norwegian players to really stay competitive in a team without having to risk some cash themselves (paying for trips to qualifiers etc.). I do believe they could definitely have had the same legacy as some of the older players had, if the circumstances were different. I must admit I do remember REAL as especially talented but I don't really know the whole story behind why he never became a f0rest etc.

Let's say in the future you're given the task of creating a super team of CS players, from the eras you played in, to win the ultimate CS match. Which five players would you select to match all the different categories a CS team could need?

That is indeed a tough one, but from my knowledge it's not that hard for me to answer it, the Lineup would be the following:

The complete player and unpredictability of NO elemeNt, the tactics and leadership of NO XeqtR, the clutch factor and teamplay of NO naikon and probably NO REAL or SE f0rest for their raw skill. I would add NO eVERLAST to that list but he'd probably just be behind bars at each other tournament so he doesn't really count.

The final words belong to you.

I would just like to thank all the positive people I met on the journey I had through the weird world of e-sports. There are too many to mention but hopefully they know who they are.

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(Photographs courtesy of fragbite, GotFrag, Gamers.nu and their respective owners)


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