The final part of his last ever Counter-Strike interview has XeqtR talking about his ex-team-mates from his own unique perspective. He addresses Norway's lack of success and why no great players have risen up to replace those who have retired. He also picks the players he'd take into battle to decide the fate of humanity. This is how a legend finishes his story.
element worked really well with you in the teams you played together in and yet there was always some degree of friction between you it seemed. With all of his high profile moves over the years his character remains as elusive and enigmatic as his play style. What is your take on element as a person, player, team-mate and rival?
Well, I will give you my honest view on element. I think element was first a boy with great ambitions and a lot of talent coming into the game. He knew exactly what to do to get what he wanted, and he was also very good at adapting to any situation. This reflects a lot in his playstyle. He had an uncanny ability to read his opponents and always be in the right place at the right time.
To have element in the team was very nice for me as a stratcaller for advice about small adjustments according to how the match went, we had a good synergy together. I was the one preparing all the strats before a game, if we did A and they did B we could do C etc. I could plan any eventuality in a game, but what element could do was he could read the opponents right there and then and come up with a plan on the spot that would work. So we could play standard or we could mix it up, it was truly amazing to play when we were on.
But when you have that kind of personality, a person who can be everything at any given time, you tend to never be the same person over a period of time. He could suddenly decide that he was best friends with you and then the next day you were not. I mean he said that he went to SK because ahl and he were best friends. I've spoken with ahl a lot and we've both shared some laughs about some of the comments and moves that Ola has done during his years. I've never seen myself as an enemy or rival to Ola, we didn't get along because I thought he was too fake and too sporadic in his choices for my taste, and he didn't like me because I was too rigid in my way of leading a team I think. We had our disagreements, and also some money issues with him and our former NoA manager [Seige], but I am not a person who looks back with regret so I think if I meet him now we can be friends.
Since he left elite level teams so many times when they were at the top do you think he underachieved in terms of overall accomplishments? Do you think those impulses were a part of what made him successful as a player in the first place?
I think he chose his timings pretty well and that's just how he is, he is a restless soul. He needs a new environment all the time I think.
I think you can sense when your time is up, and I think Ola espacially knew that. You know in SK Ola was not good friends with them either, he got tired of being with the same people fast no matter who they were. Only person I've seen be with Ola over a long period of time is Gary [Seige] and maybe Mikey [method].
In your case is it reasonable to suggest you underachieved in light of some of the titles you missed out on despite being in elite level teams at the time? In NiP you missed the biggest title of the era, during your short stint away from the team, for example.
I can agree with that, I could've taken more titles but I have also won my fair share of tournaments. I only missed WCG to have a complete throphy cabinet. I never attended WCG because they disqualifieded us in the qualifier and it wasn't our fault even, we said we could play with 4 when I couldn't make it in time.
As someone who played alongside the likes of HeatoN and Potti, who have huge CPL trophy hauls, were you a guy who had to win? Could you feel content in finishing second if you knew your team had played its best?
Well for me you know it is like I kinda dug my own grave to keep me motivated, subconsciously. I would do well then I would feel I was #1, and then it's just not in my nature to push myself. I need something to keep me motivated and then I falter, and the team I was in also faltered, then I came back with new motivation and energy and was really a driving force for any team but you know then we achieved great things, and burned out again. My leadership style was very hard for any team. I would get very angry if they didn't do exactly as I said and I didn't tolerate any mistakes.
Do you look back with any regret on that style of leadership? Do you think it was required to win titles in that era?
Looking back at how I was I really feel embarrased about many of my actions and comments towards my teammates. It was needed to win titles but it was never gonna keep things going in the long run. I mean it's no coincidence that I won every major title with a different team, except when I won two big titles with NoA¨and when I was in NiP but that awas also in a short timespan it was just that there were more tournaments at that time. But the time in NiP wasn't all my fault though.
You were never known for having the smoothest tracking or the most dominating aim so what made you so good at Counter-Strike and kept you at the front of the pack for so many years?
Well you know, it's like any sport. It grows and became more competitive with better players with better individual abilities, but what never changed is the way to read the other team and prepare yourself against what they can do against you. The first 2-3 years of my pro-gaming career I was an individual much like the star players you see today, I would never be on that level even then I think but compared to the rest back then I was superior. Then when the times changed I just adapted and I was became the in-game leader. I mean I have had the best teachers, in Potti and vesslan and you know all of the greats I've played with and against.
I think my biggest strength in general is that I always have my head in the game, I try to analyze why we won a round or why we lost the round or why I killed him instead of him killing me. So that has been my edge for all these years, and that's also why I can always be above average in most things I try out in life I think.
vesslan is a player you spent a lot of time with in your career, and had success with. He's someone who was always battling HeatoN and Potti to try and prove he could beat them with teamplay and tactics and have his team on top of the scene. From conversations in the past I always got the sense that HeatoN and Potti felt like he was a level below them in skill and so he always had something to prove. As someone who has seen him at his best and his worst how would you describe him? How good was he as a tactician?
Well I've mentioned vesslan before, and he and I are great friends. As a gamer, he did his job and he was, at his peak, very good individually as well. But I think that he got a lot of heat because of the way he played. He could either hit everything or he missed everything. And you know he could come up with these bold statements that they would win a tournament and then he could end up with 0-12 in stats etc... that didn't help of course. As a tactician I learned a lot from vesslan and I think he was one of the smartest people who was involved in the game, too smart sometimes even.
Johan for me was more then just a player or a teammate though, I lived at his house for many weeks and when we were bootcaming we always had a lot of fun together discussing cs strategies or picking up girls, mostly him trying to teach me (as if I needed that), but yeah we had many laughs together.
REAL is someone you didn't play with but who had the expectations on his shoulders of becoming the next great Norwegian player. In a recent interview bsl said he could have been on the same level as a f0rest or a neo. What is XeqtR's take on REAL and why he wasn't able to realize that kind of potential?
He is most likely the most talented player to ever come out of the forests of Norway, but again his mentality wasn't the best. His raw natural abilities were I think better than most people in the world. Much better than myself and I still won many more tournaments. It's not only about having the talent, you also have to have the drive to want to win. I think REAL lacks that, or at least he lacks the motivation and will to play not just for fun, but also with the desire to be the best. He just naturally became the best because of his abilities, not because of his mindset.
Were there many underachievers in this generation of the Norwegian scene?
Not many, prb and him I think could've done great things but prb also lacked a lot of mentality and also being very socially insecure doesn't help either. Both of them had that problem, you know young kids.
What about Oops? He was considered one of the potentially elite Norwegians before he quit.
He didnt have his heart in it. He was really good but he was just not into the whole gaming life I think. He chose another way of life, and I think that was the right decision for him to make even though he was really a very talented player.
One of the themes of your career, taken as a whole, was of having to go outside of Norway to play in teams and be truly successful. Now with element and you retired Norway is in a terrible state and has no presence on the international level. What do you put that down to?
Yeah, thats something I've always said: the winning mentality when it comes to competition in Norway is non-existent, players say they only play for fun etc. The ones that "try" will only play with other Norwegians, and then they complain about lack of sponsorhip. The problem with Norway is that, in general, the people here have it way too easy. If you can't get a job you will be taken care of by the state. If you get sick you can get free health care. If you want an education you can always get it no matter what. There are no demands on you and of course that's a good thing, we live in a welfare society, a socialist-democratic society and it's working.
But what it also creates is a state of what can I call I could call... laziness? Maybe indifference. Players with talent don't do anythign about it, they just expect things to happen for them, or they don't care because things will work out anyways. The drive in Norwegian people is often very lacking but you see there are always some exceptions: like Creolophus in wc3, he was the best in the world, slayer in SC and you have element and me. But in general it is a big problem that we don't want to make an effort to become the best, it's enough to say "yeah I could've been the best" or "yeah I just play for fun" or "it's not about winning or losing".
I mean look at sweden, why do they have so much more success? It's because they have much more determination in their approach to a challenge then most norwegians do, and I speak from many years of experience now that I've retired from CS. I played DotA with many people in Norway, friends and people who are good, but they are nothing compared to the rest of the world and they just don't care. They dont even want to try, because then they can fail and they can't take crictiscm at all.
DarK was your team-mate on a number of separate occasions in your career and was known before his time in Counter-Strike for being one of the great Quake 2 Team DeathMatch players. His name has largely been overshadowed by some of the other names of those eras you played in so what do you make of him?
Well you know DarK isn't a player you notice, but he is damn good at doing his job. He can follow any strat and he knows what to do when he is alone. I have nothing bad to say about dark, except maybe that he could be a little unmotivated at times. You know, he was a very laid back person, everyone likes him... you can't dislike him, much like naikon. They were much alike I think, and yes he was very succesful in other fps games as well and his aim could be trusted for sure. It's no coincidence that I've played with him in those different teams, I've especially requested him because I know exactly what I get: a player who wins games. He retired at the right time too I think, his head wasnt in the game any longer and he wanted to do other things.
You saw the early f0rest in action before you retired and as a commentator you got to see neo play. What can you say for newer fans about some of the legendary names you've played with like Potti in his prime, HeatoN with his spray back in 1.3 or MedioN's all around game before his first retirement?
Well I don't think I want to compare the greats of the past and the greats that are today, because it is like comparing Pele to Ronaldo today - it's not fair to either player I think. But what I can say is that in the beginning Potti was the best player in the world and the best leader any team could have. Heaton became famous because of the movie but in reality it was always Potti who carried the team. MedioN was really a strong player also but he could also have a bad game, such as at CPL Winter 2001 against X3. I think I haven't seen anyone as nervous as I saw MedioN back then. But he was really a great player most of the time. Heaton again: great player, fantastic spray and very dedicated to the game. Biggest motivator a team could have and he gives the team so much confidence just by his presence.
What I think about today's top players: I've played with/against players like f0rest and neo and yes they are amazing players, they do things I could never dream of doing myself and really deserve all the praise they get. What I don't like about newer players and the new generation is the lack of star power in them. I don't feel like they have the personality or the charisma that made players like Potti and HeatoN so well loved in the community. I think the new gamers lack a lot of social competence because they come from a social environment that doesn't require them to be out with other people, but just communicate over the internet. I remember I didn't even have internet when I was 13-14 years old.
Have you seen any players in the modern era who play the way XeqtR played or have similar qualities which make them successful?
Like me? I'm unique haha... noooo. I don't really know, I guess players who have been influenced by me can play the game like I wanted it to be played. I can't mention names right now but I know when I hear people calling strats they say "do standard" or whatever and I think we were one of the first teams who came up with the idea of having a standard strat that you could have variations on depending on what the opponent was doing or you were thinking they were doing. I mean a lot of the terms used today I think we were the ones inventing back in the day.
In an XeqtR-themed version of Space Jam advanced aliens have come to Earth and they're going to play a game of Counter-Strike for the fate of the human race against the team of your choosing. Which four players would you select from your career to be on your team for that game?
Well to complement my team I'm not gonna pick players based on purely abilites, but just how I think they would work with me and know my philosophy the best.
Naikon because he was always the guy that nobody talked about but you could always rely on. He edges out DarK just by a little bit, they are too alike to be on the team together I think.
shaGuar because I need an awper in the team. Always nice to have a strong awper that can be used to complement any strategy and also very good to keep the mood up, and I disregard the fact that he can also have the opposite effect.
element because we really did work well together when it came to in-game stuff. He could do some crazy calls that I could never think of and have the balls to take action and pull it off and you need that in a tight spot.
Last I would have f0rest, just because he is crazy good. Don't know the guy that well but I think any team needs a player like him, especially on CT side. He can lock down a spot on his own with his rifle in a way that even an awper can't.
Me staying in spawn telling them what to do.
How good was shaGuar's AWP? Some of his movie footage was crazy yet his play could also be erratic.
He was crazy good but yeah kinda erratic. He needed to be on but you know I made him be on. Just put him in the right spots, know where he is more lethal, and unleash him.
The last words belong to you.
This my final interview regarding Counter-Strike and I want to say thanks to all those that have been with me during these years, both players and fans, and all the friends I've gotten over the years.
Part one: XeqtR: "[If I] had a role model... it was Potti".
Part two: XeqtR: "[NoA was] a perfect combination".
(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.
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
Moments: ESWC 2011
THE NEW JERSEY