In the first of three parts of will be his final ever CS interview the Norwegian legend explains what he has done since he retired and how he got his start in tournament level competition. Sit back as XeqtR guides you through the first part of his Esports story: his journey from being a StarCraft player up until the end of CPL Summer 2003.
The present 
What have you been doing since you stopped playing Counter-Strike competitively?
I've just been doing normal stuff, working and studying, haven't really gotten anywhere with either. Right now I'm working as a teacher at a comprehensive school, teaching kids from 13-15. In my spare time I've just been doing all the things I've always been doing: playing some computer games, working out and going out on the weekends. So basically just been living a relaxed life :)
The end and the beginning [2006 and 1999]
Spirit of Amiga (SoA)
2nd CPL Cologne 2000
Did you ever consider coming back to Counter-Strike or once you retired did you know that was the end for you? Since you've played other games semi-competitively like StarCraft: Brood War, WarCraft III and DotA do you have any plans to play StarCraft 2 competitively if you become good at it?
When I decided to retire from the competitive CS scene I knew that it was finally over for me. It wasn't a hard decision and it was something I had thought about all the way back to the days when I was playing for Adrenaline. This was way back in 2004, but the success with NoA kinda kept me motivated to play the game for some more years.
To explain how I perceive myself as a gamer I must take you back to the beginning of my "gaming" career:
From the moment I got interested in computer games I've always been fascinated the most with strategically based games, such as civilization, The Settlers and Heroes of might and magic. I really never excelled in games that didn't require some kind of "thinking" or strategy part to them. So when I got introduced to the multiplayer arena I started off playing games such as Red Alert and Warcraft I/II and then later on StarCraft, and whenever I tried games like quake I was just mediocre in them compared to my friends and lost interest in such games quickly (I hate sucking at things)
I got pretty good at playing StarCraft when I got my first internet connection (ISDN) and quickly found out ways to abuse this advantage, to such a degree that people at our regular LAN LAN parties did not want to play with me anymore in those type of games. At the peak of my StarCraft/Brood War career I was about to break into the top in the Norwegian scene, then just by chance I got into the CS scene. One of my clanmates in my SC clan was gonna try-out for the team that was supposedly the best team in Norway in CS, and wanted me to try-out as well. I had played the game some over the internet, because frankly it was the only game that I could play online except Brood War and sometimes I was bored of playing the same game all the time.
I don't know how it happened, but at the time there were really no really good people playing. On public servers people were still buying their guns when I came to their spawn location, and I really felt superior I remember. I even topped the world ranking stats for the guy who had best K:D ratio in the world on all public servers combined.
This was the only reason why I started playing CS: it was my chance of becoming the best at something, because I realized that it would be an uphill battle to keep advancing in the Brood War scene. I had watched the best players play on LAN and I felt that they were on another level then me, so this was an easier way of reaching the top.
At the time CS was just a mod for Half-Life and I had no ambitions of playing games for a living or anything, and so it was for the next 2 years. It was just random chance and my physical health that made me decide to go on and make an effort to do more with the game. I got an illness that kept me from doing any physical activity for over 2 years, and I had a lot of time on my hands, so I thought "Why not? Let's do something more with this".
This was around the time when the first CPL Europe event was announced, and I backstabbed my way into the Danish clan called SoA. I was really just doing everything I could to keep advancing in terms of indivdual skills and also getting into the "better" teams. I still think that was the only way to go, but I don't think I would get any prize for being the most sympathetic guy in the scene at that time.
From the 2nd place finish and my own individual perfomance, that to be frank was on a level above most players at the time, my career was already set for the remainder of my time in Counter-Strike. It was here I met Potti for the first time. It was here it all started.
If we look at the my current gaming situation it's like when I was playing StarCraft and CS for fun. It's a hobby of mine and I enjoy SC2 a lot. Many people thought I was doing DotA seriously, but I never intended DotA to be on that kind of level. It's just that I've got a talent when it comes to strategy and playing computer games so when I do it for fun I still become better then the average gamer. I have no intention of playing SC2 on the same level as CS, that was by chance and something I don't think will ever happen again. But do I think I can be a top player in Norway and play some fun tournaments. Yeah why not? As long as I enjoy it.
The first three CPL titles [2001-2002]
Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP), Allstars (All*), GameonLine (GoL) and Nordic Division (ND)
2nd CPL Amsterdam 2001
1st CPL London 2001
1st CPL Berlin 2001
3rd CPL Winter 2001
1st CPL Cologne 2002
The NiP lineup you were a part of (XeqtR, HeatoN, Potti, MedioN and Hyb) was one of the greatest of all time, whether many still remember it or not. Explain the birth of that lineup and what occured at CPL Amsterdam to make you all realize that team needed to be reformed?
It started as I said above at the first CPL Europe in Cologne, I met up with Potti. He was there with his team e9, me with SoA.dk, and we got to become friends then. I knew right away that this guy was very talented and also extremely charismatic. I remember thinking that this guy was everything I wanted to be: very good at his game, well mannered and good looking. If I ever had a role-model in the game it was Potti in the beginning.
So after this CPL I got to start talking with Potti, and he was really into the idea of us making a team because I was also at the top of my game back then. So we did and we formed what I think we could call a really sick lineup. What was funny with this lineup was that we didn't really know how good we were, so we were practising like crazy a lot as well as already being superior to everyone else. But this was also back in the days when there were a lot of shady people running things, within both the "pro" teams and the people who were organizing the events.
Basically the first NiP team got disbanded because we couldn't go to the Speakeasy CPL event that was being held in the states. So Potti, Heaton and I decided to take Xorgal [at one time a famous Swedish Quake player] with us to collect some free cash from the Norwegian LAN event The Gathering while MedioN and Hyb joined up with vesslan and his SoA.swe team. What happened after the event was that Heaton also left the team to join up with vesslan. I mean everything was happening on IRC and we were all very naive back then, I remember I had stopped using IRC because of all the spam that we kept getting so I didn't even know what was going on before it had already happened.
It left me and Potti with some options and I recommended my old teammates from SoA.dk, Majestic and Jackieboy, who were really cool guys, and also one of the up and coming stars in the Danish scene: Vicon. We formed the team under the Allstars organization that was also sponsoring some top Quake players at the time. While we did this vesslan had formed his own superteam, and to be honest we had only Potti and me that could keep up with the level of play that was required to be at the very top but that was almost enough.
At CPL Amsterdam HeatoN, Hyb and MedioN realized how bad the others in their team were, and so did Potti and me who were really keeping our team together, and we realized what kind of potential a merging of the old team would have and well the rest is history. We won everything we attended but again it was too shortlived, mostly because everything was so new, as everyone was backstabbing each other. I got the shortest straw in the lottery that was going on after CPL Berlin.
What was the storyline behind the scenes that led to you being removed from NiP? The team had won back-to-back CPL Europe events in London and Berlin and the upcoming CPL Winter Event had $50,000 for first place. Souledge had been trialing at CPL Berlin so how did you and he end up in GoL for CPL Winter while vesslan and ahl attended with NiP?
Hyb was determined to play with Souledge, even though the rest of the team thought that he wasn't good enough at the time. Potti and MedioN were kinda running things back then, because Heaton did whatever Potti wanted and Potti knew that MedioN was too important for the team. So when MedioN took Hyb's side in things that left me in the open. I mean in one way you can call it karma catching up with me because I had become very complacent with everything, all the success that I had gotten up to that point was in large part because of the way I had been acting prior to joining SoA. Now I was barely online, only between events, and just played whenever we were gonna practise with the team. I was never on IRC talking with my team and that cost me my spot I think.
Funny thing was that shortly after they picked up Souledge they realized he wasn't good enough, something I had said all along, and I was actually on my way back into the team but from nowhere vesslan came with some sort of proposition that they couldn't refuse. I remember this all too well, and I know I could've done things differently back then but I was just used to everything going as I wanted without much effort. Everything was going on on IRC and I was barely there anymore. GoL was because I did not want to miss the event, and I knew that I would get back into NiP if I could talk with them face to face. I've never ever been a good talker online, I go straight to the point and I don't really care what other people think of what I say.
Despite some flaws (such as using default online rates) CPL Winter is fondly remembered for the highly anticipated NiP vs. X3 final. What did you think of that final and X3, since you had played them in the tournament? Would the NiP lineup you'd been a part of have been significantly better?
I was sitting right behind the guys at that final, I was already "in the team" at the event, but yeah all I can say is that Potti showed that he was the best player in the world right there, and that without him they were really nothing. I think HeatoN suffered the most with the rate issue, since he was relying heavily on his LAN spray that obvously didn't work as well with those bad settings.
I am 100% sure that we would've been a lot better with me in the team, basically because I carried GoL to a third place almost by myself. I mean Notorious was the 2nd best player at that event, and he really stepped it up, but that kinda speaks volumes of what I was back then. Another example is the CPL Cologne event that I won with Nordic Division some months after, it was kinda sick how easy it was to win such a big event almost by myself.
I remember playing X3, they knocked us out of the tournament on train, and Ksharp came up to me and said "nice awp" but yeah they were much better than my team then. Strong with their jumping mp5s and deagles.
After XeqtR's play as a stand-in for Nordic Division at CPL Cologne in 2002 won them the event Swift described him as a "one man army".
Another title with HeatoN and Potti 
Schroet Kommando Scandinavia (SK.sca)
7th-8th LanArena 7 2002
1st CPL Summer 2002
After NiP died due to lack of sponsors in early 2002 a new SK.sca lineup was formed with you, HeatoN and Potti from NiP, DarK from Nordic Division and xenon remaining from the previous SK.sca lineup. You once said that team won based on its skill and clutch ability but not its teamwork. How do you think of that team and its short tenure at the top?
We had set up a team combining players that were basically two man teams: Potti and HeatoN, DarK and me and xenon was there because that was a requirement from SK's side if we wanted to join their organisation. So that kinda reflected the social setting in the team: we were never five players working together but we were all skilled as hell and we knew how to play to our strengths.
Though first it went really bad at an event in Paris [LanArena 7] back then there was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. Potti was in a love triangle with some random CS chick and wasn't focused at all on the game, and then HeatoN was not motivated and it was just a big mess. After the big fiasco we found out that we had to do something to make things better. I took over the in-game leadership, Potti fixed his relationship issues and we went to the tournament with much more determination to do well. And so we did.
The Norwegian superteam [2002-2003]
1st MindTrekLAN 2002
8th CPL Winter 2002
2nd Clikarena 2003
When that SK.sca lineup broke up there was some confusion as to why with comments being made that the team had wanted an all-Swedish lineup to compete in the WCG. How did you end up leaving SK and joining eoLithic, with element being ousted from that lineup? After winning the MindTrekLAN CPL qualifier eoL was considered the best team in the world and a big favourite for CPL Winter but finished that event in a dismal 8th place. What happened at CPL Winter and can you also relate the escalator story?
The SK team was just not gonna be something that was gonna last for a long time, I was at that time tired of playing with the same guys and wanted to try playing with some norwegians, so we were never forced out. We decided that it was best for all parties to go our seperate ways, I had already been talking with knoxville about teaming up with them. Back then element and me weren't the best of friends you might say so I forced him out of the team bringing DarK with me.
This was right after the eoL guys had won CPL Oslo and I saw a lot of potential in the team, something we proved after a lot of hard practise and I remember the dedication back then. I wrote down all of our strats in .txt format because we had Damien in our team who was slow at picking up the strategies we were going through in practise, something that caused a lot of headaches for me so I just typed down everything so he could memorize it.
We went on to win MindrekLAN, an event that was supposedly as hard to win as the CPL itself. But then again, I have this really bad habit of getting complacent when things go too well/too easily like they did then. So the genius that I was, and being the leader, I decided that we didn't need to bootcamp before CPL, we had practised enough for the tournament. I take full responsibility for us failing the event. Sadly I couldn't do it back then and that kinda cost Damien a spot in the team later on, but that's a different story.
The escalator incident hmmm well it was kinda stupid. I was looking down in my own thoughts and my head got caught temporarily in a crack next to the escalator, it really hurt and I started to bleed from the nose but I didn't break anything. I guess it was hilarious to watch though.
When element was brought back into eoL in Damien's place it formed a Norwegian superteam which is still fondly remembered by fans to this day. Along with a 2nd at Clikarena, which had a very taxing enviroment in the finals which were played at 5am, there is the much lauded six out of seven win record against SK.swe. Despite all of this the team never won a title and when element left for SK it fell apart.
element and you went on to high placings at both ESWC and CPL Summer but do you think eoL should have been one of the great teams? The two of you were a deadly combination when playing together.
I think with eoL we would've had a good chance of winning both those events. It wasn't that big of a deal at the time, I mean I got 1st and 2nd at the events anyway, but in hindsight I think that we would've done even better if we could've managed to keep the team together for the years to come. I think element and me were a really good combination when it came to the calling of strategies and reading the opponent but unfortunately we couldn't get along outside the game.
The first ESWC champion 
1st ESWC 2003
2nd CPL Summer 2003
Joining up with team9 you won the first ESWC event and were runnersup at CPL Summer. At ESWC some felt as though zEx did your team a huge favour in upsetting SK.swe on train since the final may have been a different story had you had to face the Swedes. What do you think of that?
Yeah for sure they did us a great favour since we had a much bigger chance of beating them than SK but that doesn't take away the fact that they did beat SK, and deserved to be in the final. I remember we were setting ourselves up to play GoodGame on the main stage for the semi-final, when an admin from the ESWC organisation came running in and said that SK had lost. I can't say we didn't smile when we heard that.
How confident were you going into CPL Summer that your team could win the event since many would have considered that lineup as being less skilled than SK.swe even if your teamplay was a really good?
The CPL Summer Event was really a joke for me and for the team, vesslan had some personal issues going on so we couldn't practise in between the events so that was two weeks of zero practise with the team. I decided to go and visit a good friend of mine in Oslo for a week instead, dominator, and he and I played WarCraft 3 for a week. I got pretty good though.
So coming into the event we had zero expectations, we just played and we kept on winning. I have to say though that the Summer of 2003 was probably the peak of my CS career when it comes to individual abilities, even better than the year before, so it was really easy to play back then.
To get into the final your team edged out 3D 16-13 in overtime. Still your games against SK.swe were not too close so was it a problem for you that you lost to ex-team-mates like HeatoN, Potti and element given your history with them?
Yeah, I remember that game so well. quick won that game for us with the most clutch pistol round ever, and also ksharp failed big time shooting the usp in his back, but I think there were some hitbox bugs at that event as well. We were mostly just happy reaching the finals. I was really the only one that got really disappointed in losing, the rest were like "whatever we came 1st and 2nd, we did good".
In part two of his last ever CS interview XeqtR takes you from the late 2003 experimental Adrenaline lineup, which lived and practised in the USA, up to the end of his playing career which finished with him as a member of a hybrid Danish-Norwegian NoA side.
Find out why he thought Adrenaline could have swept the Summer's tournaments in 2004 but for a key change. Does XeqtR think SK.swe would have given NoA a tougher time than EYE in the finals had they attended CPL Winter 2004? What stopped him from accepting an offer from HeatoN and Potti in 2005 to make a new NiP lineup? The answers to all of these questions and more are to be found in part two.
Part two will be published on Saturday the 27th of March.
Part three will be published on Monday the 29th of March.
(Photographs copyright of their respective holders)
@Thooorin on twitter.
2001-2002 Pro-cybernews (Editor-in-Chief)
2002-2003 Gamers.nu (Lead Editor)
2004-2005 ESportsEA (Editor-in-Chief, Consultant)
2006-2008 ESportsEA (Editor, Community feature host)
2008 TAO-CS volume 1 (Co-author)
2008 TAO-fRoD (Co-author)
2008-2009 WinOut.net (Editor-in-Chief, Consultant)
2009-2012 SK Gaming (Editor-in-Chief)
2012-2013 Team Acer (Editor-in-Chief)
2013-2014 OnGamers (Senior eSports Content Creator)
Pro bono publico:
2001-2002 XSReality (Site administrator)
2003-2004 Team3D (Editor-in-Chief, Consultant)
2012-2013 fragbite (Blogger)
2013-XXXX [POD]Cast (Co-host)
2005 Down with the s1ckn3ss
2009 fRoD Quick and nasty (part 1)
Events attended for coverage purposes:
2001 CPL London (Pro-cybernews)
2001 WCG Qualifier (Pro-cybernews)
2002 CPL Summer (Gamers.nu)
2002 WCG Qualifier (Gamers.nu)
2002 CPL Oslo (Gamers.nu)
2002 CPL Winter (Gamers.nu)
2003 CPL Cannes (Gamers.nu)
2003 Clikarena (Gamers.nu)
2004 CPL Winter (ESportsEA)
2009 WEM (SK Gaming)
2010 IEM IV European Championship (SK Gaming)
2010 IEM IV World Championship (SK Gaming)
2010 Arbalet Best of Four (SK Gaming)
2010 Arbalet Cup Europe (SK Gaming)
2010 e-Stars Seoul (SK Gaming)
2010 WCG (SK Gaming)
2010 WEM (SK Gaming)
2011 IEM V European Championship (SK Gaming)
2011 Assembly Winter (SK Gaming)
2011 IEM V World Championship (SK Gaming)
2011 Copenhagen Games (SK Gaming)
2011 Dreamhack Summer (SK Gaming)
2011 SK vs. FX showmatch (SK Gaming)
2011 e-Stars Seoul (SK Gaming)
2011 ESWC (SK Gaming)
2012 IEM VI Kiev (SK Gaming)
2012 IEM VI World Championship (SK Gaming)
2012 WCS Europe (Team Acer)
2012 Dreamhack Open Valencia (Team Acer)
2012 Dreamhack Winter (Team Acer)
2012 IPL5 (Team Acer)
2012 HomeStory Cup VI (Team Acer)
2013 IEM VII World Championship (Team Acer)
2013 MLG Winter Championship (Team Acer)
2013 LCS Europe Spring Week 10 (Team Acer)
2013 WCS EU S1 Ro16 (Team Acer)
2013 LCS Europe Summer Week 9 (Team Acer)
2013 WCS EU S2 final / LCS Europe Summer playoffs (Team Acer)
2013 Riot S3 World Championship (Team Acer)
2013 Battle of the Atlantic (OnGamers)
2013 Battle of the Atlantic (OnGamers)
2014 LCS Europe Spring Week 5 (OnGamers)
2010 IEM IV European Championship (ESL-TV)
2010 IEM IV Asian Finals (ESL-TV)
2010 IEM IV World Championship (ESL-TV)
2010 IEM V Shanghai (ESL-TV)
2011 ESEA-invite S8 (WinOut)
2011 GameGune (WinOut)
2011 SEC (WinOut)
2013 Dreamhack SteelSeries CS:GO Championship (DH-TV)
2014 Dreamhack Steelseries CS:GO Invitational (DH-TV)
2014 Dreamhack Summer (DH-TV)
2014 Gfinity G3
2014 Dreamhack Stockholm CS:GO Invitational (DH-TV)
Pro bono publico:
2010 ESWC (lvl^)
2010 Arbalet Cup Dallas (lvl^)
2010 GameGune (lvl^)
2010 fnatic PLAY (lvl^)
2010 WCG Nordic (SK Gaming)
2011 Dreamhack Winter BEAT IT (whisenhunt)
2011 EPS Winter (whisenhunt/ESL-TV)
2011 WCG (whisenhunt)
2011 IEM VI Kiev EU qualifier (SK Gaming)
2013 FACEIT Sunday Cup April 28th (FACEIT)
2013 Prague Challenge (District)
2013 FACEIT Sunday Cup September 8th (FACEIT)
2013 FACEIT Monday Cup September 9th (FACEIT)
2014 ESEA Invite S15 LAN finals (NiPTV)
* Winner of the Heaven Media 'E-sports Journalist of the year' awards for 2012 and 2013.
Hall of Fame: Ali
Throwback Thursday: SK Gaming in Counter Strike 1.6
The CPL & SK Gaming - 20 Years of eSports
HeatoN enters Esports Hall of Fame
SK's Impossible Dominance in 2003
THE NEW JERSEY